College Football in the Carolinas
from the East
Thursday, January 3, 2002
By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News & Observer
Logan and Rose Consider New
The 2001 football season for Division I-A teams in the Carolinas ended in
dramatic fashion on the first day of 2002 as a 42-yard field goal by South
Carolina’s Daniel Weaver cleared the crossbar by about a foot as time
expired to give the Gamecocks a 31-28 win over Ohio State in the Outback
That kick negated a rally from a 28-0 deficit by the Buckeyes and gave
the Gamecocks their second straight Outback triumph over Ohio State.
“I don’t know what happens if that sucker doesn’t go through,” commented
USC coach Lou Holtz after his team finished 9-3.
Well, for one thing Lou, the Gamecocks might not have wound up atop the
final State Line Power Rankings© in its first year on Bonesville.net. For
another thing it made for a 3-0 record on View from the East’s last round of
predictions for the season and ran the total for the year to 51-20.
The night before South Carolina’s triumph, North Carolina rang in the New
Year in Atlanta with a 16-10 over an Auburn team that appeared severely
limited in its offensive presentation.
Clemson celebrated the holidays in Boise, Idaho with snow falling on the
blue synthetic turf of the Humanitarian Bowl as the Tigers rolled to a 49-24
win over Louisiana Tech.
Looking out the window, it appears the Tigers brought some of the snow
back to the Carolinas. Looking at the season's last edition of the State
Line Power Rankings:
State Line Power
1. South Carolina ... Gamecocks finish with a flourish, beating Ohio
State — again — in Tampa.
2. North Carolina ... Tar Heels play with emotion
and stifle Auburn’s struggling offense.
3. Clemson ... Boise is transformed
into a Woody’s Winter Wonderland.
4. N.C. State ... Pitt beat Pack at the
basics in Tangerine Bowl.
5. Wake Forest ... Deacons in a word in 2001:
6. East Carolina ... Primary off-season focus is secondary.
... Ahh, it’s basketball season.
Checking the Pirates and the most recent bowl participants:
Pirates coach Steve Logan has had about two weeks to put the GMAC Bowl
into perspective, a game in which ECU’s 38-8 lead wasn’t enough to keep
Marshall from coming back for a 64-61 win in double overtime.
“That game was
typical of our season,” said the Pirates coach. “We were so very close to
being very good. We were what we were. We weren’t able to finish great
Will next year's Pirate team be able to shake off the undesirable
characteristics of the 2001 squad?
better,” Logan said with a tone of determination. “We’ve got to play better
on the defensive side and we’ve got to play smarter on the offensive side.
Our offensive numbers (32.7-point scoring average) were No. 1 in the
conference and in the top 20 in the nation. But we still made debilitating
A misread on coverage and a missed blocking assignment led to two
interceptions returned for Marshall touchdowns in the Thundering Herd’s
second half comeback. Five turnovers turned into a 28-21 loss to Southern
Miss in the final home game.
“For 12 football games our aim is to have 23
turnovers or less,” Logan said. “We had 24 for the season, which is in the
ball park. But our turnovers were deadly — and we had almost no takeaways.”
Solid special teams and a promising running game are encouraging elements
going into spring practice, which will run Feb. 12 to March 15.
to play better pass defense and that’s an all-encompassing statement,” Logan
said. “We’ve got to rush better. We’ve got to do a better job of contesting
Logan said he and defensive coordinator Tim Rose have been
discussing some possible schematic changes. Extensive systems and personnel
analysis will be conducted in the spring.
“We’ll look at the way we go about
our business long and hard,” said Logan, who didn’t indicate any coaching
staff changes were imminent.
“We have good teachers here,” said the 10-year
ECU coach. “What we will do is take a look at what it is we are teaching and
make some changes there.”
The Pirates will scour the junior college ranks
for help in the secondary but Logan said transfer requirements for public
universities in North Carolina eliminate about 80 percent of the juco
For the second straight year, no public display is
planned during spring practice. Last year, the Pirate Club chose to have a
spring gathering centered on a baseball weekend and Logan is not displeased
to see his own program take a break from the spotlight.
“Spring ball is such
an imposter,” he said. “Because you don’t know what you’re looking at. If
you run the ball well, you don’t know if it’s because you have a good
running game or if your defense is poor against the run. It’s a paradox. But
the areas you generally work on are stopping the run, running the ball and
making sure you’re punting the ball well.”
The Pirates will also go about
developing a replacement for four-year starter David Garrard at quarterback.
Rising sophomore Paul Troth will go into spring as that guy.
start out in the first huddle,” Logan said. “He’s been here two semesters
and he understands the offense. Desmond Robinson understands the offense. Sakeen
Wright has got to learn what’s going on in the spring but he’s a run/throw
talent. He’s almost as big as Paul at 6-2, 230. We’ve got to integrate him
in. We’ll probably get back into a rotation. We’ll have a main guy and the
No. 2 guy will probably get a series a half.”
Richard Alston, the former No. 2 guy who moved to receiver in 2001 and
made 31 catches for 443 yards, is another variable in the quarterback
equation, although he didn’t produce great numbers in two years as Garrard’s
back-up — 21 completions, 51 attempts, 344 yards, 2 touchdowns, 1
Logan said that Troth can run the option effectively enough that the
Pirates can get what they want out of that dimension of the offense.
In contrast to the snowy conditions that Clemson fans endured in Idaho,
the Gamecocks fans I saw on television seemed to be enjoying their stay on
the Gulf coast of Florida. There was tape of Coach Holtz addressing the
faithful and reminding them of how far the program had come since that 0-11
season in 1999.
Senior quarterback Phil Petty bowed out in style as he
passed for 227 yards and two touchdowns against the Buckeyes. He was named
bowl MVP. Petty’s counterpart, Steve Bellisari, led Ohio State’s fourth
quarter comeback but his interception with 1:12 to play proved crucial.
Sheldon Brown made a 37-yard return to the Ohio State 29 to set up Weaver’s
The Buckeyes tried to ice the South Carolina kicker by calling two
timeouts before the decisive kick. Weaver said he stayed positive while he
“I was thinking, ‘It’s a beautiful day,’ ” Weaver said.
It was indeed. A beautiful season, too.
With a top receiver and its best running back sitting out, Auburn looked
like sitting ducks for a fired up Carolina defense. The Tigers managed just
176 total yards with an extremely dull offensive package. They ran on over
half of their offensive snaps and didn’t seem to discern that the ground
game wasn’t working. They managed less than one yard per carry.
that epitomized Auburn’s ineptitude was when center Ben Nowland hiked the
ball when quarterback Ben Campbell wasn’t looking. How could Carolina lose
to those guys? How could that team have contended for a berth in the SEC
Tigers coach Tommy Tuberville, the Riverboat Gambler? Playing what? Penny
It was a great matchup for UNC, which stayed the course after an 0-3
start and maneuvered into an Atlanta bowl slot that attracted Tar Heels fans
It was also a fitting farewell for quarterback Ronald Curry, who has
dealt with considerable adversity during his college career but scrambled 62
yards for the deciding touchdown.
Julius Peppers gave the NFL scouts little reason to stop drooling
although tackle Ryan Sims earned defensive MVP honors.
The bottom line: UNC finished 8-5 and beat an SEC team in the Peach Bowl,
further validating the hiring of John Bunting and a wave of assistants with
experience at ECU.
The Tigers (7-5) got four touchdown passes from quarterback Woody
Dantzler as they won their first bowl game since 1993. Tommy Bowden became
the first Tigers coach to take the program to a bowl in each of his first
three years although Clemson essentially bought its way into the matchup in
“This year was pretty rocky and didn’t go the way we expected, but to
come to a bowl game and win is a great blessing,” said Dantzler, MVP in his
last college game. “This is a great catapult for our team next year and a
great way for me to go out.”
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