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College Football in the Carolinas
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View from the East
Thursday, January 3, 2002

By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News & Observer

Logan and Rose Consider New Schemes

©2001 Bonesville.net

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 Bowl.

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 Rankings© [01/03/02]

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: improved.

6. East Carolina ... Primary off-season focus is secondary.

7. Duke ... Ahh, it’s basketball season.

Checking the Pirates and the most recent bowl participants:

EAST CAROLINA

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 starts.”

Will next year's Pirate team be able to shake off the undesirable characteristics of the 2001 squad?

“It 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 mistakes.”

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.

“We’ve got 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 balls.”

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 prospects academically.

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.

“Paul will 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 interception.

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.

SOUTH CAROLINA

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 game-winning boot.

The Buckeyes tried to ice the South Carolina kicker by calling two timeouts before the decisive kick. Weaver said he stayed positive while he waited.

“I was thinking, ‘It’s a beautiful day,’ ” Weaver said.

It was indeed. A beautiful season, too.

NORTH CAROLINA

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.

The play 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 championship?

Tigers coach Tommy Tuberville, the Riverboat Gambler? Playing what? Penny ante?

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 en masse.

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.

CLEMSON

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 Boise.

“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.”

Send an e-mail message to Al Myatt.

Click here to dig into Al Myatt's Bonesville archives.

02/23/2007 12:58:18 AM
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