From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, September 17, 2013

By Brian Bailey
WNCT-TV 9 Sports Director

Brian Bailey

One opportunity missed, another ahead


Audio: Pirate Radio 1250 Replay

The Brian Bailey Show airs on Pirate Radio 1250 on Mondays at 6:30 p.m. Brian's guest last night was Darrell Harrison: Replay show...



By Brian Bailey
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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 Conference.

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 Virginia Tech.

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 victory.

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 three-quarter funk.

“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 missed.

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 two weeks.


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09/17/2013 03:51 AM