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Bailey's Take on Conference USA

From the Anchor Desk
Friday, November 2, 2001

By Brian Bailey
Sports Anchor of WNCT-TV 9

That’s Entertainment!


It wasn’t the only game in town on Tuesday night, but it did rival the World Series in excitement.

Unfortunately, though, any viewers that did give the ECU-TCU game a try probably gave up on the Frogs by halftime, when East Carolina led 27-3.

But for as good as the Pirates looked in the first half, they were that much less impressive in the second half.

It’s almost like when your child comes home with his report card. The four “A’s” are great, but are they good enough to offset the one “D”?

On the positive side, the Pirate offense was clicking on all cylinders in the first half. This Steve Logan-Doug Martin machine is a thing of beauty when everyone is on the same page.

Leonard Henry continues to excel as one of the nation’s top running backs. I really thought in the preseason that he would have a very solid year. He has been much better then that!

Henry’s leap from the 5-yard line with the game’s first touchdown was unbelievable. He soared, just like Jordan or Dr. J., and set the tone with the touchdown.

David Garrard made some great play calls in that first half. Coach Logan has Garrard “checking” the Pirates into just about every play at the line of scrimmage. Garrard’s decisions in the first half were on the money.

The Pirate first half rivaled last year’s bowl with its success. Everything clicked, and this looked to be an easy victory at the break.

On defense the Pirates were also dominant. This was a championship team on defense in the first half. TCU couldn’t run, couldn’t pass and the Horned Frogs couldn’t hide!

The second half, though, was a nightmare of poor decisions and bad defense.

Garrard started the mess with a poorly timed pitch deep inside his own territory. The Pirate defense had just held TCU, to keep some of that momentum from the first half.

The fumble came on a play similar to the one Garrard made in the Carolina game. Against UNC, Garrard was stopped, but somehow got the pitch to Richard Alston, who took it in for a touchdown.

This time, deep in his own territory, Garrard should have taken the loss. The fumble on the pitch gave TCU a gift that got them back in the football game.

In fact, the Pirates gave out presents like it was Christmas Eve instead of the night before Halloween.

A rare, special teams blunder on a sky kick gave the Horned Frogs another possession. And have you ever seen an onsides kick that was so easy for the other team to recover? Everything was going against the Pirates in the second half.

There is a football saying that says all that a prevent defense does is prevent a victory. That almost unfolded on Tuesday night.

However, without the turnovers the prevent defense would have most likely done its job. It is designed to not give up a big play. Casey Printers got hot, and with no pressure he picked away at the Pirate defenders.

The game came down the final play, when the East Carolina defense made a play to preserve what turned out to be a very difficult victory.

Still, the bottom line is that the Pirates are undefeated in Conference USA, and a first ever league title is just three wins away.

Here's the rundown on the rest of the league's upcoming action:


Louisville at Tulane

The Cardinals look to stay unbeaten in the only conference game this weekend. Louisville leads the series 6-2, and won last year’s game to snap a two game streak by the Green Wave.

The Louisville defense, which continues to play at a championship caliber, forced four turnovers in the win over Cincinnati last week. The Cards have forced 25 turnovers for the season, second best in the nation.

This was a great game last season, won by Louisville 35-32. In that game, both Dave Ragone and Patrick Ramsey put up big numbers.

Tulane back-up quarterback J.P. Losman played for Ramsey last week against Army and threw for 384 yards and three touchdowns.

Southern Miss at Penn State

This is another key, non-conference game for the league. Even though the Nittany Lions are struggling, they are still a “name” team. The league has struggled in these games all season long.

Last week, Joe Paterno became the winningest coach in college football history with his 324th career victory. The Nittany Lions started 0-4, but have won two games in a row.

With two league losses, Southern Miss. is playing for pride, and a secondary bowl bid from Conference USA.

Army at Air Force

Air Force has given up all kinds of points of late, losing to BYU 63-33 and to New Mexico 52-33.

The Black Knights scored 42 last week in their win over Tulane in Conference USA. Army also had 506 yards in total offense.

Air Force leads the all-time series 22-12-1 and has won the last four games in the set. The Falcons took last year’s matchup 41-27.

Connecticut at Cincinnati

This is the first ever meeting between the Bearcats and the Huskies. UConn is in its second year of Division I football, and will begin play in the Big East Conference in 2005. The Huskies lost to future Conference USA member South Florida earlier this season 40-21.

The Bearcats play four of their last five games of the season at home, including the November 10th meeting with the Pirates.

Houston at South Florida

This is a future Conference USA rivalry for the Cougars and the Bulls.

South Florida, which is 5-3 in its first season as a 1-A independent, is in the midst of a six-game home stand, at Tampa's Raymond James Stadium, to close out its 2001 campaign. The Bulls bullied Liberty last week 68-37.

The 0-7 Cougars, who will be staring Louisville, UAB and Georgia in the face down the stretch, are quickly running out of opportunities to claim that first win of the season. The league hopes they get that victory in Tampa.

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02/23/2007 01:19:45 AM

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