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College Sports in the Carolinas
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View from the East
Monday, September 23, 2002

By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News & Observer

Calendar, artificial turf boost Pirates' prospects

©2002 Bonesville.net

(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 less.

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 matchups.

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 Field.

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 coach.

“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©
  1. N.C. STATE ... Wolfpack pulls one out in overtime after leading 38-10.
  2. CLEMSON ... Tigers take care of business against overmatched Ball State.
  3. SOUTH CAROLINA ... A win over Temple gets the Gamecocks back to .500.
  4. WAKE FOREST ... Deacons get a rare triumph by an unranked team at Purdue.
  5. EAST CAROLINA ... Pirates used an open week to prepare for West Virginia and Army.
  6. NORTH CAROLINA ... Tar Heels had a week to heal after 52-21 loss to Texas.
  7. DUKE ... Blue Devils were out of their league in ACC opener at Florida State.
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.
 

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02/23/2007 12:59:34 AM
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