Insights and Observations
Watch for Henry Hinton's
feature story on veteran Hollywood actress and ECU alum
Beth Grant in
Friday, August 27, 2004
By Henry Hinton
Crystal ball cranks into
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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
Football fans always do it. They take a look at the
upcoming schedule and make their game-by-game predictions.
Which games are winnable and which ones are not?
It's time to play “Predict the Record.”
Coaches will swear they do not play the game. But get
real. This time of year they, too, are looking to see what kind of record
their team is capable of producing.
So, get out your schedule and play along.
Let’s start with next weekend’s opener at West
Virginia. Not much to talk about here. Rich Rodriguez starts his fourth year
in Morgantown and the Mounties are in everyone’s Top 15. They are ranked as
high as Number 4 in some polls. An undefeated season is being whispered
about in the hills, leaving a Pirate team still trying to rebuild with
little chance in this one.
ECU kicks off its home schedule on September 11 when
Wake Forest comes back to town. The Deacons have had the Pirates number of
late and Jim Grobe continues to show a propensity to have his team as
prepared as any team in the country. Don’t be too quick to chalk this one up
for Grobe, however. Noah Brindise’s offense may be finding a rhythm by game
two and — with a wild crowd in Dowdy-Ficklen for opening day — call me
crazy, but I see this one as winnable.
Week three will be the first league test for the
Pirates when Cincinnati visits Greenville. The Bearcats and new head coach
Mark Dantonio, who joins UC after a stint as defensive coordinator at Ohio
State, will try to better a 5-7 record from last year that got Rick Minter
fired after three straight bowl appearances. This one will be about the
Pirates' ability to stop the prolific passing Gino Guidugli, who enters the
season with nearly 9,000 passing yards. This one is a maybe… actually, a
A trip to Louisville will start the month of October.
The Cardinals are picked by most to win Conference USA in their last season
of participation in the league. The Cards offense is loaded. with Stefan
Lefors at quarterback and the top two receivers and top three running backs
returning. John Thompson’s defense will get a huge test at Papa John. Better
not count on this one being a W.
Homecoming will feature the Tulane Green Wave on
October 9. Great news in case you haven’t heard: J.P. Losman and Patrick
Ramsey have both graduated. So has C-USA all-time leading rusher Mewelde
Moore. There is no clear cut QB in New Orleans and history shows that,
without that great field general, the Wave can be flattened. At this point,
I see this one going the Pirates' way. Happy Homecoming and possibly
Thompson’s first win in Greenville.
Next up will be Thompson’s good friend and mentor Jeff
Bower at Southern Miss. ECU traditionally plays poorly in Hattiesburg and as
usual Bower’s defense is loaded. Add to that nine returning starters on
offense and this one shapes up to be another long day for the Pirates in
October will close with a visit to Greenville by the
U.S. Military Academy. This is always a big game with lots of fanfare. This
year, add a big-name, high-profile coach to the mix. Bobby (“I was bored and
willing to take any job”) Ross is the most recent coach to believe he can
actually build a program at Army. And who knows, he might. But first year?
Probably not. New coach. New system. Same result for the Black Knights. The
Pirates should get this one. By the time he gets to Greenville, Ross will be
wondering why he came out of retirement.
November starts in Houston and the Pirate defense will
again be forced to deal with another terrific passing quarterback. Kevin
Kolb returns after an amazing freshman year in which he threw for over 3,000
yards and 25 touchdowns. Coach Art Briles also has other weapons on offense.
Winnable for ECU? Yes. But Brindise’s offense will have to put up some
Pirate fans looking to extend the warm weather season
can accompany the team to Tampa on November 13 as ECU visits South Florida.
You’ll get to see a great stadium too. Oh, by the way, don’t be shocked when
you enter…it’s not a high school game. That crowd really is all that USF can
draw for a home game. The Bulls will be hard to beat down there. Lots of
returners on both sides of the ball. Unless ECU has built some significant
momentum by then, this will be a tough one to win. Not impossible, but
Memphis comes to town on November 20 and Tommy West is
the new hero in Elvis-town after winning nine games last year. The Tigers
have 19 returning starters including quarterback Danny Wimprine and Deangelo
Williams, who might be the best running back in the league this year. Again,
this late in the season a lot will depend on momentum and probably who is
less injured, but Memphis has the upper hand on paper.
Thanksgiving weekend will feature the Charlotte matchup
with N.C. State. Most people don’t give ECU any chance at all in this game.
I don’t see it that way. The Wolfpack will miss Phillip Rivers more than
anyone knows, in my view. Chuck Amato will have to rely on more of a running
attack featuring T.A.McClendon, who has been known to get an injury or two.
This late, anything can happen with an offense that reliant on a running
strategy. Just for the heck of it, I’m picking ECU to win. (Why not? It’s my
game anyway. You can play your own. Plus it will frustrate all my State
friends to pick ECU.)
OK, then, under the category of “no way-no how,” I have
West Virginia, Louisville, Southern Miss and Memphis.
Unfortunately, there are only two, Tulane and Army,
under the heading of “we ought to beat ‘em.”
How does this compare to your prediction?
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02/23/2007 10:13:54 AM