What the East Carolina football program and the Pirates fan base needs
right now is a good case of selective amnesia.
Thereís not much point on dwelling on a 37-17 loss at West Virginia on
Saturday other than to figure out just how the Mountaineers ran for a Big
East Conference record 536 yards.
If somebody asks you at the water cooler today what happened to the
Pirates over the weekend, a functional response would be, ďWas there a game?
I thought we had an open date.Ē
Actually, here are just a few thoughts on a non-conference loss to a
program that regularly lines up against league foes such as Miami, Virginia
Tech and Syracuse. The Pirates resorted to some gimmickry against the
Mountaineers, which was interesting but for the most part, unproductive.
ECU seems to feel that it canít beat some of the heavyweights on the
schedule straight up. Youíll recall the failed onside kick at Syracuse last
year and the successful Gamecock play to Damarcus Fox last year against
The Cardinals, incidentally, took the edge off earlier losses to Kentucky
and Colorado State by stunning Florida State 26-20 in overtime in a driving
rain at Papa Johnís Stadium on ESPN on Thursday night. That was a great win
for C-USA and non-Bowl Championship Series teams. The bad news is that it
probably restored waning confidence for the Cards in themselves as they bid
for a third straight league title.
While U of L was still basking in the glow, Halloween came early for ECU
in the form of the trick or treating at WVU on Saturday.
The Pirates put Richard Alston at quarterback for several plays,
including the start of the game, and moved Paul Troth to a receiver
position. Putting Troth at receiver kept the Mountaineers from realizing
something was up from a personnel on the field situation. A procedure
penalty on ECUís first snap defused the surprise value of Alstonís position
After ECU had seized the early momentum with an 80-yard fumble return for
a score by Kelly Hardy, the Pirates tried an onside kick that gave the
Mountaineers possession at their own 48. Avon Cobourne raced 52 yards for a
score on the next play to start West Virginia on a roll.
The Pirates kept gambling, even springing a fake punt to Christshawn
Gilliam that worked for a first down, but WVUís ground game ultimately
proved too powerful.
ECUís own running game didnít answer the Mountaineersí stampede and
eventually the Pirates didnít have time to get it done on the ground. They
had to throw and got respectable numbers from Paul Troth ó 22 of 33 for 207
yards. Thatís the highest completion percentage yet for the sophomore
quarterback in four starts, although it was coupled with his eighth and
ninth interceptions of the season. To WVUís credit, their guys made very
athletic plays on the pickoffs, one of which followed what appeared to be a
volleyball set by Alston.
Kevin Miller did hit a field goal and was flawless on conversions but in
general the positives were pretty scant. The Pirates came home much
healthier than their last trip to Morgantown in 2000 ó and that was good.
It will be a physical week in practice, according to the coaches, and
maybe thatís what the Pirates need. They were pretty much whipped in the
trenches in Morgantown.
The referees appeared to have given WVU quarterback Rasheed Marshall a
touchdown when his knee was down short of the goal line as he picked up a
fumble and slid on his back into the end zone. The Mountaineers certainly
didnít need any help from the guys in stripes on Saturday, but they got it
on the score that resulted in a 20-7 deficit for the Pirates.
That pretty much wraps up my thoughts on the WVU game. Short, sweet and
kind of bitter I guess. Other than that, ECU needs to remember that its
preseason goal was a Conference USA championship and beating Army at home
this Saturday will get the Pirates to 2-0 in the league. It will be military
appreciation day. Thatís for the service personnel in the stands at
Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, not the Cadets players between the bushes at Bagwell
On to the State Line Power Rankings, where the Wolfpack is 6-0 at the top
and the Pirates have dropped anchor at the bottom for the time being.
STATE LINE POWER RANKINGS©
- N.C. State ... Massachusetts is nicknamed the Minutemen and thatís
about how long they lasted.
- Clemson ... The Tigers will catch Papa Bobbyís team coming off a
stunning loss at Papa Johnís.
- South Carolina ... The Gamecocks beat Vanderbilt, about the only
breather in the SEC.
- Wake Forest ... The Deacons couldnít get it done for 60 minutes after
leading Virginia 34-17.
- Duke ... Two wins is two more than some expected from the Blue Devils,
who sank Navy.
- North Carolina ... Two teams beat UNC on Saturday, Georgia Tech and
the Heels themselves.
- East Carolina ... That was ECUís biggest margin of defeat since 41-7
at Southern Miss in 1998.
SNAPSHOTS FROM AROUND THE CAROLINAS
N.C. STATE (6-0, 1-0 ACC)
Wolfpack coach Chuck Amato wasnít happy after his teamís 56-24 win over
UMass improved the Pack to 6-0. Maybe he doesnít want State to be
overconfident with an open date before the meat of the ACC schedule. State
starts league play at rival and nemesis North Carolina on Oct. 12. The Heels
have been on the Pack like a hobo on a hamburger, winning eight of the last
CLEMSON (3-1, 1-0 ACC)
The Tigers had an open date after beating Ball State before they play at
Florida State on Thursday night. Clemson catches the Seminoles coming off
the loss at Louisville in a season where coach Bobby Bowdenís program was
supposed to return to its customary prominence after last yearís 8-4 mark.
Clemson has some offensive weapons but hasnít beaten FSU since 1989.
SOUTH CAROLINA (3-2, 1-1 SEC)
Gamecocks quarterback Corey Jenkins accounted for 277 yards ó 97 rushing
and 180 passing ó as the Gamecocks tuned up for Mississippi State at home
this Saturday with a 20-14 win at Vanderbilt. Coach Lou Holtzís club catches
the Bulldogs coming off of a 31-13 road loss at LSU.
WAKE FOREST (2-3, 0-2 ACC)
The Deacons were in position to get a rare win over Virginia with a 34-17
lead in Winston-Salem with five minutes left in the third quarter but
Cavaliers quarterback Matt Schaub led a comeback that resulted in a 38-34
Wake loss going into a league game at Georgia Tech on Saturday. The Deacons
rushed for 349 yards, the same total the Cavs passed for.
DUKE (2-3, 0-1 ACC)
How íbout those Blue Devils! Down 10-3 at Navy early in the second
quarter Duke rolled up 40 points before the Middies scored again and that
accounted for a 43-17 Blue Devils win. Alex Wade ran for 123 yards and Adam
Smith completed 11 of 17 for 144 yards and two touchdowns. Duke hosts
Virginia on Saturday.
NORTH CAROLINA (1-3, 0-1 ACC)
A week off from a 52-21 loss to Texas didnít seem to benefit UNC, which
fell victim to its own mistakes and Georgia Techís offensive depth. Tar
Heels tight end Bobby Blizzard fumbled away an excellent scoring chance on a
day when fans in Chapel Hill were left wondering what might have been in
regard to that and other miscues. Still, the Jackets had a 24-12 lead in
first downs, a 396-299 edge in total yardage and almost 15 minutes more in
possession time. UNC will leave Thursday to play Saturday at Arizona State,
which just whacked Stanford 65-24.