Skip Holtz isn't taking anything for
granted based on UAB's 2-5 record as the East Carolina football coach
prepares his team to meet the Blazers at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday in a key
Conference USA clash at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.
"As I told the players and I told the
staff, it's a trap right now to sit here and start looking at anybody's
record and make that as the determination on whether they're good or
not," Holtz said. "We just played a 1-5 N.C. State team that had lost to
Florida State and Clemson and Boston College and just came off an open
The rested and refocused Wolfpack
outperformed the Pirates down the stretch for a 34-20 win last Saturday.
ECU hasn't had an open date since leading off the season at national
power Virginia Tech.
"Playing eight straight weeks, I don't
think you can take anybody for granted," Holtz said. "We're beat up a
little bit right now and we have to turn and focus on this UAB team
which is kind of in the same boat. Even though their record doesn't have
a lot in the wins column right now, when you look at 'em they've lost to
Florida State, Mississippi State, Michigan State and to Houston and
"They've lost to five really good
Some strong Blazers personnel also
makes Holtz wary.
"I've really been impressed with Sam
Hunt," said the ECU coach. "He's having some success there throwing the
ball around. They've got a very good running back in (Rashaud)
Holtz said the Pirates are fortunate
they're not matching up with the Blazers for a hoops contest.
"From a receivers standpoint, I'm glad
we're not going to a basketball game because they're all 6-4 and 6-5,"
said the Pirates skipper. "We wouldn't have much of a chance there."
The Blazers will present a 4-3
alignment defensively. Pirates quarterback Rob Kass said UAB's
experience in the defensive backfield will impact ECU's game plan.
"They have a very talented secondary,"
Kass said. "We know we have to exploit where they're not as strong.
Their front seven against our front seven we feel like we have an
advantage so we'll try to run at them and use the play action pass to
hit them over the top."
N.C. State had six sacks in last week's
win in Greenville. UAB has 14 sacks this season.
"Any team in third down and medium is
going to be more consistently blitzing," Kass said. "On film, we've seen
that they do tend to blitz. We feel like as long as we recognize the
blitz our receivers recognize it and the offensive line recognizes it
that we'll be able to handle it and get rid of the ball on time."
UAB topped the Pirates 17-12 in
Birmingham last season as ECU receiver Phillip Henry was stripped of the
ball at the 1-yard line after a 56-yard pass play from James Pinkney in
a fourth-and-15 situation.
Blazers senior cornerback Will Evans
recovered the loose ball in the end zone with 1:12 remaining. UAB safety
Chris Felder was credited with dislodging the ball from Henry's grasp.
Henry had seven catches for 64 yards last week against the Wolfpack.
"Obviously, it's in the back of our
minds," Kass said of last year's loss to the Blazers. "Going down to
their place last year and having an opportunity to win the game was
great. Having it slip away was tough.
"I know Phillip has been reliving that
moment and learning from it. I guarantee that he will come back and have
a big day on Saturday. He's learned from it and he's become a better
player from it. We know that as long as we go out there and be
productive on Saturday that we'll get the job done."
ECU is 7-7 in its next game following a
loss to the Wolfpack.
"We watched film on Sunday, we learned
from our mistakes and we're moving on," Kass said of the non-conference
loss to a regional rival. "Whether it's a big win or a tough loss like
this past Saturday we move on.
"There's a short work week in college
football with having Monday off for academics. We really have to move on
and look forward to our next opponent because if we don't win this week,
we're out of the conference race. We really feel like we have to go 1-0
each and every week from now on."
Kass and the Pirates are counting on a
supportive home crowd on Saturday afternoon.
"Obviously, the State game was a tough
loss," Kass said. "But the Pirate Nation is amazing. They're going to
support us through the tough times and the good times. They're there for
Holtz didn't fault the effort last week
against the Wolfpack but noted that ECU struggled at times with its
"I was really proud of how hard our
players played," said the Pirates coach. "They played hard. They gave
great effort. We just made some costly mistakes that cost us the
football game. We had some unforced turnovers when we were backed up and
gave them a short field to work with. Offensively, we didn't execute
"We were kind of forced into a little
bit more of a passing game where we were dropping back every down. One
of the things we've been trying to do was kind of hide our quarterback
and receivers a little bit with so many of them being new and
"They played a lot of man coverage and
they tackled very well in space. They kind of forced us into a kind of
one-dimensional game of throwing the ball and we did not execute very
ECU did climb out of a three-touchdown
deficit hole against the Pack.
"We found ourselves down 21-0 and we
came back in the second quarter," Holtz said. "We made it a 21-17 game
and then there in the third quarter, we were playing really well on
defense. We had a couple of three and outs. We just couldn't get
anything going from an offensive standpoint to get the ball downfield
and get it into the end zone.
"It was a close game and then in the
fourth quarter they scored that last touchdown to go up 31-20."
UAB is coached by Neil Calloway, who is
in his first year with the program. His name had been mentioned in some
previous ECU coaching searches.
"This is a very talented football team
and it's going to be a heckuva challenge," Holtz said. "It's starting to
take a toll on us coming into the ninth straight week in a row with some
of the injuries and as many emotional games we've been in."