GREENVILLE Saturday is the traditional
day for college football, but East Carolina is set to embark on the
portion of its 2009 schedule that is anything but traditional.
Following a 49-13 homecoming rout of Rice
on Saturday, the Pirates head into a stretch of made-for-television
dates that will send them to Memphis for a Tuesday night game on Oct. 27
ECU will then get a nine-day break
before hosting Virginia Tech on Thursday night, Nov. 5, on ESPN. Then
there's a 10-day gap before a Sunday night game on Nov. 15 at Tulsa,
which is also on ESPN.
"There's no one I can call to find out
how to handle this," said ECU coach Skip Holtz. "There's not a formula
But after the offense, defense and
special teams contributed significantly to lift the Pirates to 4-3
overall and 3-1 in Conference USA, Holtz was ready to give the troops
some down time.
"We finally finished a football game,
which is something we've been waiting for all season," Holtz said. "I
was really proud of the way we hung in there and competed."
The Pirates, who scored five points in
the second half of their first three games, tallied three touchdowns in
the fourth quarter, albeit against winless Rice.
"The way they came out and finished, I
thought we should reward them with a couple of days away after this
game," Holtz said.
The entire program has been going hard
week after week with games on seven straight Saturdays dating back to
"We need some time off," Holtz said.
"It's been a long seven weeks. It's been a hard seven weeks. We went
three-and-a-half weeks of camp. We reported to camp around the third or
fourth of August it seems like 2007.
"We reported August third or fourth and
we've pretty much gone straight through. The coaches haven't had a day
off. The players get their one day a week off. We need some time away."
ECU players will lift weights and run
today (Sunday) before getting Monday and Tuesday off.
"I'll relax and visit some family,"
said Pirate defensive end C.J. Wilson who was in on seven tackles and
had a sack against Rice of his plans for his free time. "I'll get my
mind fresh and get hungry for another win."
Patrick Pinkney, who completed 18 of 26
passes against the Owls for 231 yards with three touchdowns and two
interceptions, said he will use his extra time to get mentally prepared
"I'll watch a lot of film, rest and get
healthy," Pinkney said.
The senior quarterback was sick and
threw up during the Southern Methodist game last week. He said he still
wasn't 100 percent against Rice. He said he didn't know if what he had
was the H1N1 virus.
"It will feel good to get some rest,"
said wide receiver Dwayne Harris, whose effort against Rice included
nine catches for 128 yards with two touchdown receptions. Harris also
returned a kickoff 92 yards for a score.
The Pirates hope to get linebacker
Jeremy Chambliss healthy before the Memphis game. Dominique Lindsay ran
for 78 yards on 12 carries before sustaining an ankle injury on
Saturday. His status was not clear following the Rice game.
Holtz changed the practice routine last
week to address mistakes that had contributed to
a 28-21 loss at SMU.
"We really pushed this football team
hard here the last week with some of the mistakes that were made a week
ago," Holtz said. " ... We practiced in pads Tuesday, Wednesday,
Thursday, which is off the norm of what we normally do. We came out
here, we went at it hard this week.
"The guys were really into it. Their
attitude has been great. They want to be good and they understand with
where we are that we stubbed our toe last week and we made some mistakes
that are going to cost you a football game. I thought they bounced back
tonight and they competed."
Holtz will try to keep his team in its
routine as much as possible even though it won't play on a Saturday
again until Nov. 21 in Greenville against UAB.
"We'll start on game day and count back
seven days," Holtz said.
At that point the Pirates will be in
their regular pattern of pregame preparation.
ECU won't be playing in a virtual
vacuum as at SMU, when less than 14,000 were on hand. The Pirates had
plenty of crowd energy to fuel their emotions against Rice as a crowd of
43,023 lent their support.
Now ECU heads into a trio of games with
a lot more folks watching.
"It's always exciting when the country
is watching," Harris said. "We want them to see what we can do on
offense, defense and special teams. We want the world to see we're a
team that can play with some of the best in the country."