(E) C-U in September
There’s an interesting trend in East Carolina’s 13-game series with West
Virginia. The Pirates have played the Mountaineers very close in September
and not nearly so close later in the season.
The good news about that situation is that ECU travels to Morgantown for
a noon start this Saturday. That’s Sept. 28 and if history tells us
anything, then the non-conference game should be decided by seven points or
West Virginia leads the overall series 11-2. ECU’s only wins in the
series have been in September — the first coming in Greenville on Sept. 30,
1995 by a 23-20 margin. The Pirates got the other win at Ericsson Stadium in
Charlotte on Sept. 4, 1999 when ECU prevailed, 30-23. Total score for five
games in September between the Mountaineers and Pirates is 101-100 in West
Virginia’s favor with no more than seven points deciding any of the
WVU won 24-21 on Sept. 13, 1986 in Greenville, 10-9 on Sept. 14, 1996 in
Morgantown when Pirates coach Steve Logan opted for a two-point try that
failed after a late touchdown, and 24-17 on Sept. 6, 1997 at Mountaineer
Though the games have been relatively tight in September, turn the
calendar and the Mountaineers have owned the series. WVU’s eight wins in
October and November have all been by double figures, the worst being a 49-0
drubbing on Oct. 3, 1987. The Mountaineers’ average post-September margin of
victory has been 22.6 points or a little over three touchdowns.
The closest post-September score was a 41-28 WVU win in Morgantown on
Nov. 7, 1992. The last time ECU played the Mountaineers was on Nov. 18, 2000
in Morgantown when the Mountaineers rolled to a 42-24 win and left a stack
of injured Pirates in their path.
Perhaps the trend is as simple as ECU being a warm weather team and the
Mountaineers functioning better in colder weather. The size and physicality
that former Mountaineers coach Don Nehlen coveted in his players may not
have been as subject to wear down in cooler temperatures. Perhaps the
Pirates have been better able to stand up to WVU’s physical style earlier in
the season when ECU may have been fresher.
Whatever the reason, the series has been drastically different depending
on the time of year the games have been played. (Note to ECU athletics
director Mike Hamrick: Schedule the Mountaineers early.)
The last time ECU went to West Virginia it was Nehlen’s last home game
and that provided an emotional impetus for the Mountaineers. The chill
factor was nine degrees with some snow flurries before the game — not
exactly Pirates weather.
The artificial surface at Mountaineer Field could accent ECU’s speed and
some balmy September weather also could work to ECU’s advantage.
The extended forecast for Morgantown on Saturday is calling for a high of
71 degrees and a 30 percent chance of scattered showers. Then again, the
extended forecast on Monday before the Tulane game was calling for no rain.
Transition for Mountaineers
West Virginia went from 7-5 in Nehlen’s last season with a 49-38 win over
Ole Miss in the Music City Bowl to 3-8 overall and 1-6 in the Big East
Conference in its first season under Rich Rodriguez, a former offensive
coordinator for Tommy Bowden at Tulane and Clemson.
Rodriguez played defensive back for Nehlen at West Virginia from 1982-84
but the style of play he prefers contrasts sharply with that of the former
“When you went to play West Virginia in the past you took extra jocks and
extra cleats because they were just going to line up in the I and run that
toss sweep until you gave up,” said ECU coach Steve Logan. “Defensively,
they were just so physical they left you bloodied. That was Don’s trademark.
“I haven’t ever met coach Rodriguez but on film they’re running a spread
offense and they have a quarterback (Rasheed Marshall) who is in the mold of
Woody Dantzler. That’s his model to work from (Dantzler). They’re explosive
if you can’t defend that style of offense, as they showed in one of their
games (a 56-7 romp over Tennessee-Chattanooga).
“Their running back Avon Cobourne is a guy we’ve seen before. He’s a lot
like Art Brown. He’s a short guy who can make you miss. And their
quarterback is really mobile.”
Marshall has completed 47 of 82 pass attempts (57.3 percent) for 571
yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions. The Mountaineers’ top
receiver has been Miquelle Henderson with 15 catches for 240 yards. Cobourne
is averaging 5.8 yards per carry and Marshall is averaging 4.5. Cobourne has
run for 156 yards total in two previous games against ECU.
“Defensively they’re faster and not as big,” Logan said. “They’re built
somewhat along the lines of us now.”
That’s really his name
There have been some posts on ECU boards joking about the supposedly
inbred nature of West Virginians. I’ll avoid that issue but I couldn’t help
but notice in the WVU media guide that they once had an offensive guard
named Gordon Gordon. He was a captain of the 1980 team.
STATE LINE POWER RANKINGS©
- N.C. STATE ... Wolfpack pulls one out in overtime after leading 38-10.
- CLEMSON ... Tigers take care of business against overmatched Ball
- SOUTH CAROLINA ... A win over Temple gets the Gamecocks back to .500.
- WAKE FOREST ... Deacons get a rare triumph by an unranked team at
- EAST CAROLINA ... Pirates used an open week to prepare for West
Virginia and Army.
- NORTH CAROLINA ... Tar Heels had a week to heal after 52-21 loss to
- DUKE ... Blue Devils were out of their league in ACC opener at Florida
SNAPSHOTS FROM AROUND THE CAROLINAS
N.C. STATE (5-0, 1-0 ACC)
Remember when ECU played Texas Tech and quarterback Kliff Kingsbury in
the Galleryfurniture.com Bowl in Houston in 2000? The Pirates led 34-0 but
needed a late interception to clinch a 40-27 win. The Wolfpack had a similar
experience in Lubbock, Texas on Saturday, leading 38-10 in the third quarter
but needing T.A. McLendon’s fifth rushing touchdown to win 51-48 in
overtime. State hosts Massachusetts on Saturday at 1 p.m.
CLEMSON (3-1, 1-0 ACC)
Tigers receiver J.J. McKelvey caught 10 passes for 123 yards and a
touchdown as Clemson defeated visiting Ball State, 30-7. Tigers back Yusef
Kelly lost a fumble when he ran into umpire Rosie Amato, the older brother
of N.C. State coach Chuck Amato. Clemson will rest up this weekend for a
Thursday night game at Florida State on Oct. 3 matching son Tommy Bowden,
coach of the Tigers, and dad Bobby, coach of the Seminoles.
SOUTH CAROLINA (2-2, 0-1 SEC)
Gamecocks quarterback Corey Jenkins threw for two touchdowns and ran for
two more as South Carolina broke a two-game losing streak and beat Temple
42-21 in Columbia. Coach Lou Holtz was happier with his team’s turnover
reduction. They had 12 in their first three games but just one against the
Owls. South Carolina visits Vanderbilt (1-3, 0-2 SEC) on Saturday.
WAKE FOREST (2-2, 0-1 ACC)
Wake’s own kicking game has struggled this season and perhaps the
condition was contagious. Purdue missed three fourth-quarter field goals in
a 24-21 Wake win on Saturday, only the second victory by an unranked
opponent at Purdue in the six-year regime of Boilermakers coach Joe Tiller.
Freshman Chris Barclay scored all three touchdowns on runs of 18, 11 and 5
yards for the Deacons, who host Virginia on Saturday.
NORTH CAROLINA (1-2, 0-0 ACC)
The Tar Heels open league play at home against Georgia Tech at 3:30 p.m.
on Saturday. Tech dropped its league opener at Clemson but is 3-1 overall
with a 28-19 win over Brigham Young on Saturday. UNC quarterback Darian
Durant has been plagued by turnovers in the Heels’ two losses. The voids
left on defense by the loss of eight starters, including two first round NFL
draft picks was apparent against Texas.
DUKE (1-3, 0-1 ACC)
The Blue Devils dropped their 18th straight league game 48-17 at Florida
State on Saturday night. Chris Dapalito added some respectability to the
final margin by throwing for two late touchdowns and Alex Wade bulled his
way for 114 yards rushing on 25 carries. The Devils will be much more
competitive at Navy (1-2) on Saturday. The Middies have lost 11 straight at
home. That’s one streak Duke doesn’t want to end.