Take on Conference USA
From the Anchor Desk
Friday, November 2, 2001
By Brian Bailey
Sports Anchor of WNCT-TV 9
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 galleryfurniture.com 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
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
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:
CONFERENCE USA THIS WEEK
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
Southern Miss at Penn
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
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
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.
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
Houston at South
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