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From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, September 25, 2012

By Brian Bailey

Brian Bailey

3rd quarter lapses put Pirates on the ropes


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3rd quarter lapses put Pirates on the ropes
Audio: Coach Ruff Monday Presser
Conference USA at a Glance
Spied from the Crow's Nest
Web Headlines Roundup
Past time to lighten the load
Game Center: North Carolina 27, ECU 6
Inside Game Day: No justice for Pirates
Game Slants: Not much 'Air' in ECU’s 'Raid'
Game Day Photo Gallery
Audio: Coach Ruff Post-game
Audio: Jeremy Grove & Shane Carden Post-game
Greg's Game Day Breakdown
Game Day Weather Notes and Radar Loop
This Week in College Football History
Football Recruiting Thumbnails Added
ECU Football Schedule
Year-by-Year Recruiting

By Brian Bailey
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East Carolina failed to get into the end zone a couple of times when it had the chance in the first half of the loss to North Carolina on Saturday. Still, the Pirates were very much in the game as they trailed 10-6 at halftime.

Many of us on the sideline were all thinking the same thing during the intermission. The team that comes out and makes a play in the third quarter would win this football game.

The Tar Heels made a couple of big plays that turned the tide in their favor. Brynn Renner hit a streaking Sean Tapley on a 62-yard connection for a touchdown. Shane Carden followed that by fumbling on one of North Carolina's seven sacks.

That third quarter flurry was pretty much the difference.

“We felt good going into halftime, although you always want touchdowns instead of field goals,” Pirate coach Ruffin McNeill said on Monday at his weekly news conference. [Replay the Windows Media audio of Monday's press conference...]

"Settling for field goals was a feeling of mixed emotions for us," McNeill added. "We were glad to see Warren (Harvey) make them and get some confidence, but on the other hand we wanted to capitalize and get touchdowns when we are in position to score them.”

Adding a little salt to the wound was the news on Sunday that senior receiver Dayon Arrington had been arrested on drug charges. Coach McNeill took swift action. Arrington caught one pass for 29 yards against the Heels, but he will not be a part of the Pirate game plan the rest of the way.

“We call it our “Pirates in Public” program,” said McNeill. “It was Dayon’s second offense during his time with the program here so we made the decision and spoke with him about it last night. I have been very steadfast about how I feel about this university and representing it in the proper manner, and it starts with me as a coach and I hold the players to the same standard.

"I take the representation of our team, athletic department and school very seriously.”

The Pirates were able to run the football against the Tar Heels. Throwing it was a much different adventure, with the North Carolina defensive lineman dogging Carden on just about every play.

“Some of the sacks were my fault,” said Carden afterwards. “I have to get rid of the football faster and make quicker reads.”

The Pirates now get set to host Texas-El Paso at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. Like East Carolina, the Miners have played a tough schedule to date with losses to Oklahoma and Wisconsin.

“They have a veteran team and are well coached,” said McNeill. "Their offense has the speed and ability to stretch you defensively. Their quarterback is mobile and moves well in and out of the pocket. The committee of running backs that they use throughout the game does a great job of reading their offensive line.”

The Pirates go in at 2-2 on the season. The team certainly had a chance to make a dent against North Carolina in that first half, but just couldn’t punch it in from the red zone.

“I feel like we have a very good red zone package and it is something we practice weekly on Sunday nights, Wednesdays and Thursdays,” said McNeill when I asked him about possible changes in the red zone. “We just need to make sure we are efficient, realize where we are on the field and be patient with what the defense is allowing us to do.”

East meets west on Saturday night for this fifth game of the ECU season. The Miners will spread things out and will certainly send vertical routes at the Pirate secondary.

The Conference USA race is wide open. Tulsa is the only team with a winning record in the West Division, while Central Florida is the only team above .500 overall in the East Division. Five of the 12 teams in Conference USA have yet to win a game this season.

It’s still very early though. ECU and Marshall have the only league wins in the East, while Tulsa has the lone league victory out West.

It’s a long season and it’s really just getting started. When the year began, a 3-2 month of September looked pretty good to most prognosticators. The Pirates are right on track to get that third win, but they will need a rowdy, Saturday night crowd to get it.

Saturday night football at "The Fick” is a great time for sure.


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09/24/2012 08:38 PM


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