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From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, October 23, 2012

By Brian Bailey

Brian Bailey

Steady as she goes towards November


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Steady as she goes towards November
Audio: Coach Ruff Monday Presser
Conference USA Players of the Week
Spied from the Crow's Nest
Audio: WTIB (Doug Raymond)
Web Headlines Roundup
Big East needs ECU football
Denny O'Brien's Harris Poll Ballot
This Week's BCS Rankings
This Week's Harris, AP & USA Today Polls
Conference USA Standings & Schedule
Game Center: ECU 42, UAB 35
Pirates master Momentum 101
Game Day Photo Gallery
Audio: Coach Ruff Post-game
Conference USA at a Glance
Greg's Game Day Breakdown
This Week in College Football History
Audio: WTIB (Steve Logan)
Kevin's Keys to the Game
Pirates venture to historic venue
ECU Football Schedule
Year-by-Year Recruiting

By Brian Bailey
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East Carolina finally found enough consistency to string together a pair of wins, beating UAB down in Birmingham 42-35 Saturday night. It was an old fashioned Conference USA shootout won by a band of Pirates that stuck together when things got difficult.

In an atmosphere that featured maybe a couple of thousand fans in a 72,000 seat dinosaur of a stadium, these Pirates created their own excitement and got a much needed victory.

“We knew it would be a difficult place to play,” said Pirate coach Ruffin McNeill. “We did a good job handling things and we’re glad to return home with the win.”

Shane Carden continues to display the type of leadership skills normally found in a much more experienced quarterback.

“It was a different atmosphere,” said Carden. “We just had to worry about us as a team and that’s what we did.”

Carden hooked up with former West Craven star Justin Hardy on a touchdown pass in the second half that may go down as the play of the year for Pirate football program.
Hardy climbed the ladder and made an unbelievable catch on a ball that was actually tipped by the safety, who was barely late in getting over for coverage.

ECU video guru Brian Meador got an “NFL Films” type of shot on the play for the coach’s show. In slow motion, the ball rotates in the screen. The angle widens just in time to see Hardy make the magnificent catch.

Television replays also captured the catch from different angles. It is one of the best catches by a Pirate receiver I’ve ever seen.

“I was just running a vertical route,” said Hardy. “I had just dropped a couple of passes, so I was thinking I had to really hang on and catch this one. It was tipped, it hit my pads and I just hung on.”

Next up for the Pirates is a non-conference matchup with Navy. The Middies slipped by Indiana from the Big Ten on Saturday, 31-30. After dropping three of their first four games, Navy has reeled off three wins in a row.

Two years ago, Navy came to Greenville and rushed for over 500 yards in a devastating 76-35 win over the Pirates.

Last year, East Carolina won a thriller in Annapolis, as the Middies missed a field goal at the gun.

“Two years ago is two years ago and last year is last year,” said McNeill. “The points don’t carry over. This is a brand new deal and we’ll have to be ready.”

Option football has made a return in many spread offenses. Several NFL teams also use forms of the option in their game plan.

Navy’s option is much different. This year, the Middies have found a passing game to go with the run, making that offense that much more difficult to stop.

“It’s a totally different type of option,” explained McNeill. “It’s something you really have to work on year round. We put in some phases of our defense against it last spring and during the summer.”

It’s Military Appreciation Day at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium this Saturday. What a great way to honor those in the military, by taking them out or treating them to a Pirate football experience.

The schedule certainly favors a strong finish for the Pirates. East Carolina has Navy this week and then struggling Houston to open November.

After a bye week, East Carolina returns to action, visiting Tulane and then hosting Marshall to wrap up the year.

The season is down to a handful of games. The Pirates are still in the running for postseason play and for the East Division title in Conference USA.

It’s exactly where a team wants to be as November draws closer.


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10/23/2012 02:19 AM


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