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Don't miss Al Myatt's profile of new ECU Chancellor Steven Ballard in the 2004 Bonesville Magazine.

View from the East
Tuesday, September 21, 2004

By Al Myatt

Wrong kind of streaks on the line for ECU, UC

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• PAT DYE: Short on Tenure, Long on Impact

• INSIDE PIRATE FOOTBALL
• Recruit Profiles
• Rookie Books
• Tracking the Classes
• Florida Pipeline
• NCHSAA & ECU: Smooth Sailing Again

• HIGH HOPES FOR HOOPS

• STEVE BALLARD: New Leader Takes Charge

• SCOTT COWEN: Busting Down the Door

• KEITH LECLAIR on ECU's Field of Dreams

• BETH GRANT: Actress Still a Pirate
 

 
 

 

©2004 Bonesville.net

East Carolina has lost eight straight home games and Cincinnati has lost its last seven road games. Obviously, someone will celebrate the end of a streak in the Conference USA opener for both clubs at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium at 7 p.m. on Saturday night.

The Pirates have had an open date to prepare for the Bearcats while Cincinnati is addressing three turnovers in the red zone in a 19-7 loss at Syracuse.

"Anytime you've got an open date you try to balance a lot of things," said ECU coach John Thompson.

The first ECU objective was continued improvement. The Pirates practiced Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons as well as Friday morning last week.

"We're going to be a better football team hopefully," Thompson said.

ECU took the weekend off to allow some players time to heal physically. Thompson still isn't sure how running back Marvin Townes will respond in a full speed situation after sustaining a right knee sprain in the Wake Forest game but the Pirates coach is looking for more production from the ground attack.

"We've got to get our running game going," Thompson said. "We've been working with a makeshift offensive line but our running backs haven't done what we know they can do or what they've done before."

Although Townes and Art Brown both have 1,000-yard plus rushing seasons as Pirates, neither has had a 100-yard effort in ECU's 0-2 start.

Still, Thompson has been generally pleased with the offense coordinated by Noah Brindise and directed by sophomore quarterback James Pinkney.

"I think our offense has improved game to game and half to half," Thompson said. "James had some errors in the first half of the Wake Forest game but once he relaxes and gets in the flow, he can do some good things."

Pinkney indicated this may be the week that ECU snaps its home losing streak. The Pirates' last home win was a 31-28 stunner against a 22nd-ranked Texas Christian team on Nov. 23, 2002.

"We're coming along," Pinkney said. "The offensive line is coming along slowly but surely and this bye week is going to help us out a lot. Cincinnati is going to be surprised."

It was the Pirates who were surprised last season with a 40-3 loss at Cincinnati in the season opener on Labor Day. Thompson had worked in the offseason to stoke excitement in the fan base but lining up against the Bearcats showed him how much work there was to be done.

"They're a very talented, very physical and a very good football team," Thompson said of Cincinnati, which hired Ohio State defensive coordinator Mark Dantonio after dismissing Rick Minter following a 5-7 season.

UC has nine senior starters on both sides of the ball, including quarterback Gino Guidugli, whose last trip to Greenville was a tune-up for the Bearcats' most recent bowl appearance, the 2002 New Orleans Bowl.

Guidugli produced 323 passing yards and four touchdowns in that 42-26 win over the Pirates, which, incidentally, occurred on Friday night, Dec. 6, 2002 — Steve Logan's last game as ECU's head coach.

East Carolina leads the series, which dates back to 1986, 12-4.

Thompson cited Cincinnati defensive end Trent Cole as a player to watch.

"They're very physical and they come at you in a lot of ways," Thompson said. "They get after you very well with that 4-man front and they do some different things in their coverages."

ECU obviously has room to improve with its own defense, which is giving up over 600 yards per game. Thompson indicated it's a matter of fixing mistakes.

"Everything we did was correctable," said the Pirates coach. "It wasn't confusion. We simply made mistakes. So much of football is confidence and experience. Without it, instincts take over. Our instincts took over too much against Wake Forest and that resulted in mistakes.

"What we've had to do is rep (repeat) things over and over so that when our instincts take over, we'll be doing things the right way."

Thompson also cited a need for ECU to improve its pass rush from its 4-man front.

Dantonio expects a challenge.

"Coach Thompson will have his guys ready," Dantonio said. "They fly around. They have great team speed on defense. ... They've given up a lot of points but they've played quality opponents. They use a variety of alignments. They have a good middle linebacker, (Chris) Moore, who makes a lot of plays and a good defensive end, (Richard) Koonce. ... Offensively, they have good athletes as well. They look for the big play in that area. Their quarterback is very athletic and their tailbacks are athletic."

This will be the last time the Pirates play the Bearcats in C-USA. Cincinnati moves to the Big East next season.

"Syracuse was a Big East statement for us and we didn't quite get it done," Dantonio said. "But if we execute and don't beat ourselves, we should be a competitive football team."

Thompson put several assistants on the road to look at some junior college players across the country during the bye week as the Pirates continue to seek some quick solutions to some pressing personnel needs.

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02/23/2007 12:46:31 AM
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