INSIDE SLANTS ON THE PROGRAM
Been There, Done
Sunday, August 27, 2006
By Kevin Monroe
is real for Pirates
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Probably the oldest cliché in sports is the
famous “One game at a time” adage. Coaches usually instruct their players to think
of only their next game, rather than look into the future. This practice
helps to keep the team focused on the present and not what may come down the
If you have heard any television or radio
interviews from East Carolina’s coaching staff or players in the last few
weeks, you have no doubt heard each of them allude to this mindset. The
mindset comes from the top down, and Coach Skip Holtz has this team
believing in itself and doing it one game at a time.
Being in the media and having to interview
coaches and players, I have heard them all:
We just want to win the
We are only looking at one
game at a time.
We are just trying to go
The most important game is
the next one.
For the first time in my media
career, I actually believe this is a team that isn’t looking past the next
game. East Carolina has won four games in a row for the first time since
2001 and has a chance to extend to five this week at Rice. If the Pirates
can achieve that feat, it would be the first time it has happened for an ECU
team since 1999.
During its current streak, the
Pirates won back-to-back road games at Southern Mississippi and Central
Florida, another difficult accomplishment the program hasn't achieved in a
East Carolina can clinch the
Conference USA East Division title with a win over the Owls. Since entering
C-USA in 1997, ECU had never before had a chance to control its own fate
this late in the season.
Coach Holtz deserves the
majority of the credit for the turnaround in the program. The Pirates are
not only better on the field since Holtz’s arrival; they also have an
Holtz has only had two years
to recruit at ECU, so the majority of his players are from the John Thompson
regime. The most important thing that the program has regained under Holtz
is the expectation to win every week. Every time the Pirates step on the
field, they feel like a victory is achievable.
The Giant Killer attitude is
also slowly coming back to the program. After the loss to West Virginia in
week four, cornerback Travis Williams said, “I don’t see any reason we
shouldn’t win the rest of our games and go 9-3.”
ECU managed to lose one more
to a good Tulsa team, but the Pirates have seized control of their own
destiny since that defeat by the defending C-USA champs.
Considering a pair of close
adverse outcomes at Navy and UAB in the season's first two weeks — a time
when the team was still finding itself — the reality that an 8-4 regular
season record is within the Pirates' reach is a testament to the validity of
the 'one game at a time' philosophy.
The challenge resumes on
Saturday at Rice, which had a huge win over Tulsa this past Saturday and
will have the home field advantage over East Carolina. I feel comfortable
it’s a game that ECU can win if for no other reason than, it’s the next game
on the schedule.
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