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This first loss of the 2013 season for East Carolina was
certainly a missed opportunity for the program.
The game itself was the same way. The Pirates had plenty
of chances to knock off a well-known BCS program from the Atlantic Coast
In the days leading up to the clash with Virginia tech,
one Hokies player had gone as far as to say the game would be East
Carolina’s “Super Bowl.”
I didn’t buy that for one minute. But I do think Coach
Ruffin McNeill and company came away from
the 15-10 loss knowing that they
lost a game that they very easily could have won.
It reminded me of
the ECU loss in Blacksburg in 2007. Then-coach Skip Holtz and the
Pirates were huge underdogs that day. The ECU defense played better than
expected and the Pirates lost 17-7. Holtz gathered his team at midfield
and told them that they certainly deserved to be on the same field with
Once again the Pirates lost in a low scoring game. Once
again the Pirates certainly had their chances.
Once again the Pirates certainly deserved to be on the
same field with Virginia Tech.
Unlike 2007, this ECU team wasn’t in need of a moral
McNeill was deflated but not defeated when he spoke to
his team after the loss.
“I talked about team chemistry, our coaches, our team,
our program, and our pride,” said McNeill after the game. [Replay
post-game press conference...] “We believe in ourselves.
We expected to win the game today. So they know what’s to be expected of
them, a team of this caliber.”
East Carolina moved the football at will on its opening
drive on Saturday. Aided by a Virginia Tech personal foul, the Pirates
went 75 yards in just five plays to take the early lead.
After that, the offense was pretty much clouded in a
“After the first series, (defensive coordinator) Coach
(Bud) Foster said we don’t need to correct anything but we need to play
the way we practiced, the way we are supposed to execute,” said Virginia
Tech Coach Frank Beamer. “If you don’t make your assignments against
these guys, they will hurt you there good.”
On the positive side, the Pirate defense certainly played
well enough to win the football game. Throughout most of the game, the
Pirates seemed to control the line of scrimmage and never backed down.
East Carolina was just one break away from pulling off
the upset. The Pirates' best chance came when linebacker Montese Overton
stepped in front of a Logan Thomas pass with nothing but Bagwell Field
turf in front of him.
Overton couldn’t make the interception. An opportunity
ECU quarterback Shane Carden was harassed all afternoon
long. Tech seemed to blitz at will and pressed the Pirate receiving
corps at the line of scrimmage.
“I thought we missed some opportunities,” said Carden.
“We will learn from this for sure and get better.”
“We had a tough day, but they’ll bounce back,” responded
Coach McNeill when asked about the problems on offense. “We’ll watch
film tomorrow and fix it. That’s what we do. I think we do a pretty good
job of that. We need to take advantage of the ability to take advantage
of our opportunities. But we’ll fix it.”
The Pirates will now take a big chip on their shoulder to
Chapel Hill in two weeks. This loss stung, and it’s the kind of loss
that can stay with a team if it lets it.
McNeill talks a lot about the 24-hour rule. Win or lose,
the topic moves to the next game after 24 hours.
While the Pirates may not talk about the loss after that
time, they certainly will remember the missed opportunity.
They certainly don’t want to miss another opportunity in