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This busy November brings East Carolina home for a pair of games before
the regular season ends with two road games.
First up, it’s preseason Conference USA West Division favorite Tulsa.
The Golden Hurricane limps into town at just 2-6 on the season, 1-3 in
the league. The Pirates counter at 6-2 and 4-1.
It will be another test to see if the Pirates can execute as the better,
more talented team. East Carolina did a great job of this in
the Southern Miss game. The Pirates got passing,
though not glowing grades, on the same assignment against Florida
It may not have been pretty, but the outcome against the Panthers was a
win and the Pirates will take it as a start to what they hope will be
a November to remember.
“It was great to get the win at FIU,” said head coach Ruffin McNeill as
he opened his weekly news conference on Monday [Replay
press conference audio...]. “We knew we would face a team
that was feisty and I knew who was coaching them. Coach (Ron) Turner has
been at every level in the coaching profession. He has great respect for
our program, and I have great respect for him. To go on the road and win
is hard. I think sometimes there’s a tendency to forget that.”
Just the mention of Tulsa brings a smile to Coach Ruff’s face. McNeill
was a winner in his very first game as the ECU coach when his Pirates
slipped by the Golden Hurricane 51-49 on
that Dominique Davis Hail Mary pass to Justin Jones to end the game
on Sept. 5, 2010.
It was certainly a game I’ll never forget. Coach Ruff agreed.
“It has a special meaning. I remember after that game, Coach (Terry
Holland) and the staff gave me a game ball for my first win," he
More than that first win though, McNeill is very familiar with the
history that is Tulsa football. This has been a down year for the Golden
Hurricane because of injuries.
McNeill knows not to let his guard down.
“They have a lot of tradition at Tulsa over the years,” he added. “They
recruit from Texas and Oklahoma, which are two really good football
Among the East Carolina positives of late has been the defense. Rick
Smith’s bunch has made great strides this season.
The Pirate pass rush has been instrumental in the team’s improvement.
ECU heads to the ninth game of the season ranked number one in the
nation at 3.6 sacks per game.
“I thought we controlled the run and then affected the quarterback,”
added McNeill. “The kids did a great job of executing. Interior pressure
sacks are hard to come by, so if you can create pressure and tighten the
pocket around the quarterback, I’ll take that. I’ll take hurries.”
It’s a busy weekend for the Pirates. It’s Homecoming and Hall of Fame
weekend at ECU.
Former Pirate quarterback David Garrard and former coach Steve Logan [Replay
audio of this week's Steve Logan Show...] will be honored with
enshrinement ceremonies this weekend.
Every team in C-USA now has a league loss, so
the divisional races and the race to host the league’s title game
are certainly up in the air.
East Carolina must take care of its own business at home, and then brace
for a non-league faceoff in Raleigh with N.C. State and that East
Division showdown at Marshall.
A November to remember is very much a possibility. That great November
could lead to another home game come December.
We all know how much fun it was in 2009 when the Pirates
beat Case Keenum and Houston for the league title. Keenum put on a
show for the NFL Houston Texans Sunday night in a loss to Indianapolis
in the NFL. The Pirates got the upper hand on him on that December
Saturday at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.
The next few weeks will determine if 2013 will be another championship
year for East Carolina.