TAKE ON PIRATE SPORTS
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East Carolina first-year
football coach Ruffin McNeill called this part of the East Carolina
schedule a “big boy slate.”
certainly have some growing up to do in a hurry.
In its last two games,
East Carolina got off to great starts, only to get blown out in very
similar fashions against Virginia Tech and North Carolina.
The games were eerily
alike in the ways they unfolded. Both the Tar Heels and the Hokies
regained control of the football game after intercepting Pirate
quarterback Dominique Davis and returning those interceptions for
Once that momentum swing
took place, Tech and the Heels went to work gashing the East Carolina
defense on the ground.
In the North Carolina
game, the Pirates held their own on defense in the first half, giving up
just 41 yards on the ground on 12 carries. The second half, though, was
an absolute nightmare, as the Heels rushed for 222 yards on 34 attempts.
Both Johnny White and Shawn Draughn went over the 100-yard mark after
both struggled early in the game.
The defense is a huge
concern after four games. McNeill asks for patience.
“I wish I could magically
sprinkle some dust on them to make them grow up and get stronger,” said
Coach McNeill. “But that’s not going to happen. ... The only time you
can develop the things we have to work on is through game experience.
" I wish I could do it
differently, but I can’t and we can’t. We just have to be patient. I
wish we could rush it, but we can’t.
"Those guys are working
hard and even getting extra work. Our opponents have done a good job
attacking where they should attack. But our guys will get better and
improve. You have to believe in them and I do.”
On the other side of the
football the East Carolina rushing game has to be a concern. The Pirates
ran only 16 running plays, picking up just 64 yards on the ground. They
were unable to sustain drives in the second half, keeping the defense on
the field for way too long.
Penalties are killing the
Pirate cause. I marveled earlier in the season that a new staff came in
with so many new players, and everybody was on the same page. Through
two games, there were very few false starts and holds. That changed in
McNeill stressed that the
penalties were probably his team’s biggest concern. The Pirates were
flagged 12 times for 120 yards in the loss to North Carolina. McNeill
pointed out that his team had 12 penalties for 91 yards in the first two
games and 24 penalties for 220 yards in the last two.
“We have to do a better
job as players and coaches," he said. "This is a dual assignment.
Players have to do a better job of technique and fundamentals and we as
coaches have to do a better job emphasizing in practice. We started
doing that during the off week and I thought we had it handled. We had
some big ones Saturday, though.”
From the outside looking
in, it appears as if this “Air Raid” offense is virtually unstoppable
when executed properly. If the execution isn’t there then the offense
drags. This new system has shined at times, but has really bogged down
at others, especially in the second halves of games.
There’s a lot to work on
and little time to get that work done. The Pirates now head to
Hattiesburg, and Southern Miss has always served as an ECU nemesis.
The Golden Eagles lead the
all-time series 26-9. The Pirates are 6-11 all time in Hattiesburg, and
a miserable 3-15 against the Golden Eagles in Greenville. The Pirates
beat USM 25-20 last year at
Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium to win the East Division of Conference USA.
On a positive note, the
Pirates are number one in the nation in fumbles lost. Through four
games, East Carolina has yet to lose a fumble.
While the Pirates aren’t
turning the football over, the defense also isn’t creating turnovers.
That’s a big part of this defense, and for this “D” to begin to improve
it will have to start making things happen with turnovers.
It won’t be easy against
Coach Ruff asks for
patience from the Pirate faithful.
Patience is a virtue. Or
The web site
“Patience is not so much a virtue as it is a reward that comes to those
in balance. Do not try to "be" patient, or to practice patience, or try
to emulate those who are patient. It isn't a habit, or something to be
learned for its own sake. Patience is no virtue; patience is a reward.”
Ruffin McNeill and the
Pirates hope that “reward” is just around the corner.
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10/05/2010 04:31 AM