TAKE ON PIRATE SPORTS
November 2, 2010
Adversity, Part II
All rights reserved.
Earlier this season I
wrote that the way East Carolina handled the adversity of the losses to
Virginia Tech and North Carolina would go a long way in determining the
amount of success this team would have.
I say it again.
Just how the Pirates
loss at Central Florida will
determine how they finish this season.
East Carolina is now on
the outside looking in as far as the championship of the Conference USA
East Division is concerned. [View
Standings] UCF would have to lose two league games in
November, and the Pirates would have to run the table. Both are
While a third straight
Conference USA title is now a long shot, there are still several bowl
opportunities out there.
That’s the new rallying
Ruffin McNeill still has a
chance to take his first ever ECU football team to a bowl game. He would
be the first East Carolina coach to take his team bowling in his first
season in the modern era. Jack Boone led then-East Carolina College to
the Lion’s Bowl in 1952 in his first year as the Pirates coach.
McNeil says it’s a good
point, but that all is not lost as far as Conference USA and the East
Division goes. He also understands that it’s how his team handles the
disappointment of the loss that will determine the squad’s ultimate
“It's all about learning
and developing,” said McNeill. “East Carolina lost one game last year
and won the East Division and two games a couple years ago and won it
here. I look at it that way. The glass is more than half full for me and
McNeill was able to rally
his team after the pair of tough losses in
Chapel Hill. His Pirates fell
behind by 20 at Southern Miss before
coming back for the victory. The
Pirates were able to beat the Golden Eagles, and followed that up with
N.C. State and
Now comes another
disappointing outing. How the Pirates respond will tell the story.
"It's a part of developing
a team, tough,” said McNeill. “We had some tough times versus Virginia
Tech and North Carolina and battled back. We won a couple games and went
into a tough, tough environment Saturday and played a very, very good
football team. We knew that all week. I knew they would be tough from
top to bottom. We had beaten them eight of nine times, but they did a
great job. My hat is off to Central Florida.”
Next up is Navy, a program
that always offers up an oddball option attack on offense that usually
gives teams problems. Duke didn’t seem to have any problems early in its
upset win over the Midshipmen on Saturday, but that’s certainly not the
North Carolina State coach
Tom O’Brien said after his team’s loss to the Pirates that the ECU
offense was much like the Navy offense in that both offenses get
everyone the football. Oddly, that’s how the offenses are similar. How
both teams get players the football is done in a completely different
Most will look at the
matchup between the Pirate defense and the Navy option as the key in
"It'll be a physical day
for our defense this week versus Navy,” said McNeill. “It'll be a
discipline and assignment-focused day for our defense playing this type
of offense. Ken Niumatalolo (Navy coach) has done a great job installing
his system. They do a great, great job. It'll be a physical contest for
our football team. It'll be about the sixth game in a row of pretty
For the Pirate defense it
will be a very difficult challenge. Teams have piled up yardage running
the football. North Carolina cut its game plan all the way down to
“three yards and a cloud of dust” in rolling by the Pirates in the
second half of that game.
That’s the worrisome part
for the East Carolina defense. Navy will come to Greenville to run the
football. It’ll be the Pirates' job to stop that run. The Pirates will
have to play a disciplined defense to have success. The Midshipmen tend
to capitalize on over-aggressive teams. It will certainly be physical!
It will be a tall task for
the defense, but it should make for an entertaining contest.
This East Carolina team
still has plenty to play for. Saturday’s game, though not critical, is
very important to that goal of getting to a bowl game.
E-mail Brian Bailey.
Brian Bailey Archives
11/02/2010 01:32 AM