Insights and Observations
Monday, October 31, 2005
By Henry Hinton
Progress comes in painful
in on the radio or catch the live audio feed of
today's Talk of the Town with
On the TV news clips
after Saturday's loss to Central Florida, Skip Holtz had a different look on
his face. Disappointment, concern, even a little frustration.
It seems Holtz has
entered a new phase in his journey as head coach of the East Carolina
It is a phase that begins
when expectations increase.
The Pirates, it can be
argued, were beaten by an inferior team on Saturday. In fact, ECU has lost
two in a row to teams that it certainly could have and possibly should have
Now Holtz and his staff
have to coach up the players to believe they can go on the road and defeat
Tulsa — another team in the top echelon of Conference USA. He will have two
weeks to prepare for that tough challenge, since the upcoming weekend
provides an open date.
Most observers believed
ECU could have a winning season with a win over UCF. Now the Pirates must
win all three remaining games to be considered for a post-season appearance.
Again, all three games — including the November 12 matchup with Tulsa —
appear winnable, but the margin for error is thin.
Speaking of errors, the
turnover bug has been a huge problem. It literally cost the Pirates the game
on Saturday and made a big difference in the Southern Miss game, a contest
that may have been close otherwise.
In the next two weeks
Holtz and staff will be working on finding a way to keep the running game
going. It seemed they may have found the answer in the second half against
UCF when Brandon Fractious finally came alive.
Fractious, who has
awaited his turn behind Chris Johnson, seemed to be quicker to the hole and
showed great instincts when the left side of the ECU line found a soft spot
in the Golden Knights defense.
fumble problems returned at a most inopportune moment, just as the Pirates
were turning it around. It will be interesting to see how Holtz and running
backs coach Junior Smith deal with that situation leading to the Tulsa game.
The frustration in
Holtz’s furrowed brow may well be coming from the fact that the coaching
staff has put ECU in position to win at several points this season but come
up short due to untimely mistakes.
Making a change in punt
returners after the first quarter special teams blunder inside the five yard
line was a clear message to the team and everyone in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium
that enough is enough. It is too late in the season for those kind of
Every coach in America
teaches returners not to try and field a ball that deep with their heels
near the end zone. At some point the student must respond.
Pirate fans should join
Holtz and his staff in their frustrations, yet recognize that this team has
been in a position to win nearly every week. That is a change from the
previous two seasons.
In assessing where the
program is at this point, it should be apparent to fans that Holtz and his
staff have made great progress even though the win-loss record is not as
positive as it could be.
The stage is set for
better things to come.
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04/21/2008 07:02:59 PM