(Photos: ECU SID)
East Carolina coach Skip Holtz will
have his program on national television the next three games, but he
rarely gets to watch live college football on the tube himself.
Holtz will get to view some matchups
this Saturday with the Pirates biding their time before a meeting with
Memphis at the Liberty Bowl on Tuesday night.
"I'd like to turn and watch some of the
other college football games," Holtz said. "I don't get an opportunity
to watch much college football during the season. Even if you play at
home at 12 o'clock, you're not getting home before about seven o'clock
so you don't get an opportunity to see many other teams play.
"When you normally play on Saturday
night, you get a chance to watch a little bit of college football, but
for this one (at Memphis), you're going to sit in the hotel room all
day. If you have college football on, you have something to occupy your
"The only thing that's going to be on
Tuesday is soap operas. We have to come up with what we're going to do
with them on Tuesday afternoon."
The Pirates will fly to Memphis on
Monday afternoon and work out at the Liberty Bowl on Monday night. There
will be team meetings and walk-throughs on Tuesday to keep the team
focused on the task at hand.
ECU (4-3, 3-1 C-USA) has already been
to the Memphis Zoo, a trip Holtz missed as a youngster when his dad,
Lou, had his N.C. State team in the Liberty Bowl. The Pirates visited
the zoo before last year's 25-19 loss to Kentucky in the Liberty Bowl.
There will be less time in Memphis before Tuesday's kickoff on this
regular season trip.
Like the bowl game last year, Lou Holtz
will be on hand. In fact, Papa Lou will be involved in the television
analysis of ECU's next two dates on national television.
"He's going to be busy this Tuesday and
(Nov. 5) because he's going to get a chance to do our next two games,"
said the younger Holtz. "It'll be great to have him in the stadium and
be able to watch our team play. I'm excited about having a chance to be
around him again."
Once the game starts, Skip won't be
preoccupied by who's in the broadcast booth.
"You're pretty much focused on what you
have to do on the field," said the Pirates coach. "He was at the Liberty
Bowl (last Jan. 2) with my Mom, and my brothers and my sisters. The
whole family was there but during the course of a game, you just focus
on what's going on between the lines.
"It'll be great to see him."
The Pirates' unique schedule over the
next several weeks provides longer intervals between games that will
have value on several fronts.
ECU has more time to prepare for games
with Memphis (Oct. 27, ESPN2, 8 p.m.), Virginia Tech (Nov. 5, ESPN, 7:30
p.m.) and Tulsa (Nov. 15, ESPN, 8:15 p.m.). The additional days also
will be used by the coaches for recruiting evaluations. The longer than
normal span between games also will give ill or injured players more
time to recover.
The national television exposure over
the next several weeks also will showcase the program, which obviously
has potentially positive implications in recruiting.
No "looking ahead" factor
One might wonder about the danger of
looking ahead to the Thursday night game with Virginia Tech in
Greenville as ECU goes into the key Conference USA clash at Memphis.
"I think their focus is pretty much on
conference play," Holtz said. "We realize the experience this team has
that we're playing and just how good a football team they are. You can't
just look at their record. They did just beat UTEP, which obviously is a
lot better than people thought in beating both Houston and Tulsa, and
right now is one of the teams on top of the West Division."
Holtz respects Memphis' experience.
"They have eight four-year
letterwinners on defense. ... They've just got a lot of guys who have
played so much football," he said. "We've been seeing the same numbers
and the same players for four years now.
"It's the same thing on offense.
They're a very experienced team and they're a very talented team."
Holtz hopes the Pirates learned
something about being focused on the road in a 28-21 loss at Southern
Methodist on Oct. 10.
"After we went to SMU and stubbed our
toe a little bit, we realized just how important this conference game
is," said Holtz. "It's the last one we're going to play for the next
three Saturdays. This conference is going to really start to take shape
by the next time we play our next conference game, which will be Tulsa
on that Sunday (Nov. 15)."
Jordan may see action again
Redshirt freshman quarterback Josh
Jordan, who completed all four of his passes last Saturday in a 49-13
win over Rice, may see similar duty at Memphis.
"We have talked about keeping a very
similar plan, where we have a chance to get him in the ball game a
little bit early like we did last week as well," Holtz said. "He really
responded well in the fourth quarter."
Jordan had an unproductive series in
the second quarter against the Owls.
"By the fourth quarter, I thought he
had really calmed down," Holtz said. "He went in there and he did a nice
job. We've got to turn and start to get him a little bit of experience
as we go. I talked all along about putting him in when he's ready to
play and I think he proved last week — having the opportunity to play
the fourth period against Rice — that he's ready to handle a series
during the course of a football game."
Ben Hartman's status
The flu sidelined Pirates senior
placekicker Ben Hartman last week against Rice.
"I hate to say the flu was a good
thing," Holtz said. "But when you look at Ben Hartman's situation, he
had missed most of summer and camp because of that hip injury that he
has gone through the last two years.
"Kicking the last seven weeks in a row,
I think his leg was a little bit heavy," said Holtz. "His leg was a
little bit tired. He didn't have the same pop on the ball, the same
height on the ball. I love the experience that he has, but our kicking
situation is very similar to the quarterback situation. You've got a
sophomore, Ben Ryan, who is very talented, who was able to step in and
handle some of the kickoff duties last week at the Rice game.
"(Ryan) was also able to handle all of
the PAT duties and even get a field goal in there. The more experience
we can get for our sophomores speaks very well for the future but
obviously with the experience of a guy like Ben Hartman, I would love
for him to be the guy who's going to be the kicker as long as his leg is
back to full speed and he's healthy from the flu standpoint."