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Bailey's Preseason Wish List

From the Anchor Desk

By Brian Bailey

Bailey:  What I’d Like to See in 2001


Greetings from the sports desk at WNCT-TV as we get set for another college football season.

I am back in the column writing business, courtesy of I thoroughly enjoyed writing my column for Pirate’s Chest for so many years, and now I look forward to this exciting new venture.

In each of the preseason columns for Pirate’s Chest, I penned my thoughts about the things I really wanted to see happen during that particular football season. Some of the things I wrote about did in fact come true, some never materialized and other 'wishes' were made just in good fun.

So now, for my debut column for, I present  What I’d like to see in 2001:

Let’s start at quarterback, where I would love to see David Garrard have a Heisman Trophy type season. Obviously, Garrard is the longest of long shots when it comes to college football’s biggest honor. Still, wouldn’t it be nice to see Garrard make that trip to New York at the end of the season as one of the finalists for the award?

Garrard is one of my all-time favorite Pirates. He always has a smile on his face, regardless of the situation. He is confident, but not cocky. He enjoys his role as the Pirate’s leader, and he’s just as comfortable behind center as he is in front of a microphone.

At media day recently, Garrard told me about his goals for 2001.

“The main thing is that we have to win a Conference USA championship,” he explained. “We have accomplished a lot, but it’s my job to bring this school a conference title. And we’re going to do it this season.”

That brings up another thing that I’d like to see in 2001.

In accordance with Garrard's plans, East Carolina needs to win the C-USA title. The Pirates haven’t been to the Liberty Bowl since 1995, and have yet to win a league championship as a true member of Conference USA.

While the Pirates have the ingredients to challenge for the crown, the task will be anything but easy.

Louisville and Southern Miss. are expected to be very good teams this season. A quick look at the Pirate schedule brings U of L to Greenville on November 15th, and the Golden Eagles to Dowdy-Ficklen on the 23rd of November.

If the Pirates are in contention, as expected, then the time right before Thanksgiving and right after the holiday will be some of the most exciting times in years for ECU football.

Let’s hope it’s a holiday to remember.

I’d like to see the running game return to top form. The Pirates have had great success on the ground, but that success has been inconsistent at times.

Garrard says the running game is the key to the passing game, and I agree. I’d like to see Leonard Henry vault to the top of his game. Henry can be a punishing type of runner. Mix in a little Art Brown or Marvin Townes for speed, and this could be a great year on the ground for ECU.

On defense, I’d like to see the Pirates improve outside of the red zone in 2001. East Carolina did a nice job in scoring defense in 2000, which is the bottom line. But it was more of a ‘bend but don’t break’ mentality, especially after all of the injuries.

Pernell Griffin is also on my list of favorite Pirates. Here’s another guy that always has a smile on his face, unless he’s running down an opposing quarterback.

I’ve had a chance to cover Pernell since his days at Williamston High School. I was especially proud when Pernell was named the Preseason Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year. He is a guy who is very proud of his roots in Williamston, and very proud that he’s able to play football at East Carolina University.

I’d like to see the special teams at East Carolina evolve into something truly special. Kevin Miller worked out all summer and is in top shape to handle the placekicking duties. He hopes to return to the form that made him one of the top kickers in the league as a freshman, before a leg injury really hampered his play.

The Pirates have the athletes to dominate on special teams. Add in Coach Steve Logan’s flair for excitement with on-side kicks and fake field goals, and ECU could become the next college football team to be known for great special teams play.

Coaches say you have to win every phase of the game to be successful. That means offense, defense and special teams. The Pirates have the tools, and I’d like to see East Carolina dominate in all three phases in 2001.

Finally, I want to see you at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium in 2001. This team needs your support in each and every game. Be there early, and be loud!

The football season is the best time of the year in Greenville. The excitement of a new season, the tailgate planning, the thoughts of leaves changing and the contemplation of cooler weather inspire enough positive thoughts to transform any Pirate fan into gameday mode.

There is truly no place that I would rather be.

Wake Forest comes to town with new coach Jim Grobe on September 1st. Thankfully, we have all survived another spring and summer -- and now, we can point towards another football season.

Coming up later this week, I’ll preview the weekend ahead in Conference USA, which features Louisville hosting New Mexico State on Thursday night. On Saturday, TCU travels to Nebraska and Tulane is at BYU as the college football season shifts into gear.

Football season is just about here, and I can’t wait!

Send an e-mail message to Brian Bailey.

02/23/2007 01:19:23 AM

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