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College Football in the Carolinas

View from the East
Thursday, October 25, 2001

By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News & Observer

Duke, Vandy Grab for Last Pork Chop;
Can Holtz Avoid Hearing Loss Lawsuit?


The big game this weekend involving Division I-A teams from the Carolinas sends South Carolina to Tennessee with the Gamecocks, No. 1 in the State Line Power Rankings, needing a win to stay in the running for the SEC championship.

Clemson visits Wake Forest, N.C. State hosts Virginia, and Duke has a chance of snapping its nation’s longest 19-game losing streak at home against Vanderbilt.

North Carolina has the weekend off after dominating Clemson last week. I didn’t foresee the Tar Heels’ win and that put my record for the week at 4-1 and, for the season, at 27-14.

East Carolina is getting ready for the national stage on Tuesday night on ESPN 2 in Fort Worth, Texas against TCU. Here are the picks:

Tuesday, Oct. 30, 8 p.m.


Pirates coach Steve Logan has said that revenge is a junior high motivation, but the memory of a 28-14 loss to TCU in the inaugural Mobile Alabama Bowl in 1999 still lingers for many Pirates players and fans.

“I remember the looks on the faces after the game of guys like Jeff Kerr, Norris McCleary and Mbayo Ahmadu,” said ECU safety Anthony Adams.

The loss to the Horned Frogs was indeed a disappointing ending to a great season and the college careers of the ECU seniors that year. The Pirates went into the game with a 9-2 record that included wins over West Virginia, Miami, and N.C. State.

ECU limped out with a minus-16 yards rushing against a swarming TCU defense. The Pirates ended the season on a sour note in the purple-tinged battle at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.

LaDainian Tomlinson ran 36 times for 124 yards and scored two touchdowns for TCU. He’s since departed for the San Diego Chargers of the NFL but Casey Printers, the freshman quarterback who ran the option with aplomb and completed 13 of 19 passes for 174 yards on that cold night in Mobile, is still darting around.

Printers missed TCU’s 38-20 win over Army last week with an injury but is expected to return against the Pirates. TCU turned to junior Sean Stilley in Printers’ absence and Stilley completed 21 of 29 for 273 yards and three touchdowns as he earned Conference USA offensive player of the week honors.

“I think we’ll see Sean Stilley more,” said TCU coach Gary Patterson, who was defensive coordinator in ’99. “You don’t lose your job because of an injury. That’s a long-standing policy. But if Casey isn’t moving the team, we know more about what Sean can do.”

TCU had its largest Homecoming crowd (38,168) since 1970 when the Cadets visited. It was the first C-USA home game for the Frogs.

“It was uplifting to know that a lot of people were still behind us,” Patterson said.

The Frogs are 4-3 overall with a 2-1 record in league play. TCU lost to Division I-AA Northwestern State 27-24 in overtime and also was beaten 48-22 by Tulane in New Orleans.

Despite those defeats, Logan still has respect for the Frogs’ capabilities.

“They’ve still got the quarterback that we played against two years ago,” said the ECU coach. “He’s a great athlete, much like the young man over at North Carolina (Ronald Curry). He’s very hard to tackle and would just as soon run it as throw it. We’re going to have to stay in our rush lanes on him.”

ECU is coming off one its most complete performances of the season, a 32-11 Homecoming win over Memphis.

The Pirates defense played its best game of the season and senior quarterback David Garrard had his best day throwing. The running of Leonard Henry, the pass-catching of Richard Alston and the place-kicking of Kevin Miller were also highlights.

“We’re going to find out if this last weekend was an improvement or just a flash in the pan,” Logan said.

The combined league record of the teams remaining on ECU’s schedule (TCU, Cincinnati, Louisville, and Southern Miss) is 9-3.

“The competition we’re facing in each successive week, in my opinion, is going to get better and better all the way down the stretch,” Logan said. “We’ve got a lot of improvement that we’d better make or we won’t be able to keep pace.”


ECU leads C-USA in rushing offense at 217.1 yards per game. ... TCU’s defense is third in the league in total defense, allowing an average of 316.7 yards. ... The Horned Frogs’ average of 12.5 yards per punt return is the highest in the league. ... TCU also leads C-USA in penalty yards with 545. ... The Frogs are also first in the league in fourth-down conversions (5 of 7) for 71.4 percent. The Pirates are second at 70 percent (7 of 10). Frogs kicker Nick Browne also plays soccer. ... Leonard Henry is averaging 134.7 yards rushing per game. ... ECU has scored 24 times in 25 possessions inside the opposition’s 20-yard line (14 touchdowns and 10 field goals). ... In Logan’s 10 years as head coach, the Pirates are 45-5 when scoring 28 or more points. During that span, ECU is 31-6 when holding the opponent to 18 points or less.


The Pirates are on the larger mission of winning the league championship and a berth in the Liberty Bowl. If the Memphis game was an indication, the team is coming together for a stretch run. Intermediate pass defense was much better last week with the return of cornerback Kelly Hardy. The Pirates certainly won’t take a gritty TCU team lightly after what happened in Mobile.

PREDICTION: East Carolina 31, TCU 27.

Saturday, Oct. 27, 6 p.m.


All the Gamecocks have to do to be SEC champions is keep winning within the league but that appears to be a very difficult assignment this week before 106,000 at Neyland Stadium.

USC coach Lou Holtz played “Rocky Top” over the sound system for the last 20 minutes of practice on Tuesday at Williams-Brice Stadium to try to prepare his team for the crowd noise the Volunteers fans will generate.

“We want to be better prepared for the crowd noise than we were at Arkansas,” Holtz said. “We practiced with the sound on and it has bothered us some but we’d better get used to it. We had difficulty getting the play off at Little Rock. We want it to be where we don’t even notice the noise.

“I just hope our players don’t decide to sue me five years from now for loss of hearing.”

The showdown with the Vols has the potential to be a battle for the ages.

“Our players will remember this game for the rest of their lives,” Holtz said. “They’ll probably remember the practices, too. We’ve had some tough practices. ... Needless to say, Saturday night will be no place for the timid or weak of heart.”


This is USC’s last road game of the regular season. ... Tennessee is ranked No. 9 by the Associated Press and USC is ranked No. 12. ... The Vols lead the series 15-2-2 and are 10-0 in Knoxville. USC is 0-8 against Vols coach Phil Fulmer. ... ESPN 2 will show the matchup. ... Tennessee won 17-14 last season in Columbia, scoring the winning touchdown with 26 seconds left. ... Travis Stephens has run for over 100 yards four times this season for Tennessee. ... Vols freshman wide receiver Kelley Washington has made 24 receptions for 457 yards and two touchdowns over the last three games. ... Tennessee held its first four opponents to less than 75 yards rushing and no rushing touchdowns. ... Tennessee leads the SEC in possession time, averaging 35:57 a game. ... The Vols are one of four schools to make 12 straight bowl trips, joining Florida State, Michigan and Nebraska. ... Coach Holtz’s record is 14-16 in two-plus seasons. ... USC is first in the SEC in turnover margin. ... Vols quarterback Casey Clausen is 10-2 as a starter, 8-1 in SEC games.


Vols are a little stronger and it will show.

PREDICTION: Tennessee 24, South Carolina 17.

Saturday, Oct. 27, Noon


The Deacons are 1-6 against the Tigers on Homecoming, not that it’s a big deal to first-year Wake coach Jim Grobe.

“Well, we have to play Clemson,” Grobe said. “We can’t take them off the schedule. For a football coach, you don’t notice holidays that much. For us, it doesn’t matter that Clemson is here for Homecoming. What does matter is that Clemson is in town and we have a really good football team coming to Groves Stadium.”

Clemson gained 623 yards of total offense last year in a 55-7 win over the Deacons but is coming off a stunning 38-3 loss at home to North Carolina.

Home teams have won just eight of 20 games in the ACC this season and Clemson quarterback Woody Dantzler has been better on the road. Over the last three seasons, Dantzler has averaged 304.6 yards of total offense in 11 road games and significantly less, 213.3 yards, in 15 games at Death Valley. Clemson had just 209 yards of offense as a team last week.

“I think he played some superhuman defensive players from North Carolina,” Grobe said. “They (UNC) have some first round draft picks. I don’t think it detracts from Dantzler, it just tells you how good Carolina is on defense.”

Tigers coach Tommy Bowden says Grobe is part of an influx of quality coaches in the ACC.

“I wish he would go back to the Midwest where he’s from because he’s done a really good job,” Bowden said. “The games they’re losing, they’re losing close. To me, that’s a sign of a well-coached team — they’re in every game. The new coaches in this conference have all done an excellent job. I hate it. I like it when they hire bad guys and they do a poor job. It’s good for the conference. It’s bad for employment and the rest of us.”

The Deacons hope to have quarterback Anthony Young available. He had a cast for a fractured bone in his right foot removed earlier this week.


Clemson leads the series 51-14-1. ... The Tigers’ only points against UNC came on a 48-yard field goal by Aaron Hunt, the longest of his career. ... The Tigers have averaged 418.6 yards of total offense in 30 games under Bowden. ... Tigers running back Travis Zachery needs 26 points to become the program’s career leader. ... Bowden is 7-1 at Clemson in the game following a loss. ... The Tigers are No. 25 in the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll, unranked by the AP. ... Wake is 24-29-1 in Homecoming games. ... The Deacons are averaging 235.5 yards rushing. ... Wake has 10 interceptions this season with redshirt freshman Marcus McGruder leading the team with three. ... Wake defensive end Calvin Pace has 17 career sacks.


Dantzler’s big-play capability should be decisive although Wake should be rested with an open date since its win over Duke.

PREDICTION: Clemson 35, Wake Forest 28.

Saturday, Oct. 27, 1:30 p.m.


The capital improvements at Carter-Finley Stadium this season have seen little return in terms of the Wolfpack’s performance on its home field, where State is 1-2 this year with an 0-2 mark in the ACC.

But the Pack hopes to reward the home folks, who bought out the renovated stadium this season, against the Cavaliers, who were 24-17 winners over the Wolfies last season in Charlottesville.

“We feel we owe it to our crowd,” said NCSU senior linebacker Brian Jamison. “They come to see us and they’re fantastic. They’re always cheering whether we win or lose.”

Developing a home field advantage is a mark of a great program as former Florida State assistant Chuck Amato knows from his experience with the Seminoles.

“It’s very important,” said the second-year State coach. “We owe it to us, to our fans, and our university.”

State also needs a win in terms of becoming bowl eligible. Providing the Pack wins at Duke next week, it would have to knock off Florida State on the road or Maryland at home to accomplish that.

NCSU’s Austin Herbert, who hasn’t place-kicked since injuring an ankle before the UNC game, may resume those duties.


State has lost three of its last five to the Cavs, who are trying to regroup from a 43-7 loss to Florida State, their worst defeat at home in 17 years. ... Virginia has a three-game losing streak, while the Pack has dropped three of its last four. ... UVa receiver Billy McMullen leads the ACC with 51 catches, 613 yards and nine touchdowns. ... State had hoped for more production from its running game. The Pack’s top back, Ray Robinson, is averaging 3.3 yards per carry. ... The Cavs have played two quarterbacks. Matt Schaub has passed for 956 yards with eight touchdowns and seven interceptions while Bryson Spinner has 740 yards, seven TDs and three picks.


Philip Rivers will find a way to get a win for the home folks.

PREDICTION: N.C. State 31, Virginia 24.

Saturday, Oct. 27, 1 p.m.


These teams are looking at one another like they’re the last pork chop on the boarding house dinner table. Realistic winning opportunities are few and far between for both. Duke has lost 19 straight while the Commodores have four wins in their last 19 games.

Duke athletic director Joe Alleva said this week that Blue Devils coach Carl Franks is not in danger of being fired this year and will be given time to develop the preponderance of youthful players in the program.

Duke lost 59-17 at Maryland last week while Vandy (1-5) was riddled 46-14 at South Carolina.

“I am more concerned about our improvement this week than I am who we’re playing,” said Commodores coach Woody Widenhofer, whose team topped Duke 26-7 last year in Nashville. “I do know that we have to get a whole lot better this week to go down there and beat Duke.”


Vandy leads the series 5-3. ... Duke sophomore Chris Douglas has 1,014 rushing yards for his career. ... Blue Devils quarterback D. Bryant has thrown for 1,330 yards with five touchdowns but has been intercepted 10 times. ... Duke’s top receiver, Ben Erdeljac, has 28 catches for 385 yards. ... Vandy will be without reserve defensive end Ryan Nungresser, who had arthroscopic knee surgery on Tuesday. He had eight tackles in six games. ... Vandy trailed 19-14 at South Carolina before the Gamecocks scored 27 unanswered points and limited the Commodores offense to one second-half first down. ... Duke has forced eight turnovers in its last three games.


Duke will have a Blue-White basketball scrimmage after the football game. It’s sold out — the scrimmage, of course, not the football game.

PREDICTION: Vanderbilt 17, Duke 10.

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02/23/2007 01:03:17 AM

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