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Bailey's Take on Pirate Sports

From the Anchor Desk
Wednesday, September 22, 2004
By Brian Bailey

Pirate Nation pining for success

Bonesville Magazine

• PAT DYE: Short on Tenure, Long on Impact

• Recruit Profiles
• Rookie Books
• Tracking the Classes
• Florida Pipeline
• NCHSAA & ECU: Smooth Sailing Again


• STEVE BALLARD: New Leader Takes Charge

• SCOTT COWEN: Busting Down the Door

• KEITH LECLAIR on ECU's Field of Dreams

• BETH GRANT: Actress Still a Pirate





There is really no way around it. The Pirates just need to win a football game. For themselves and for the faithful.

Second-year East Carolina coach John Thompson takes that mission to heart. He says too many people have worked too hard not to see a reward.

Thompson also says he sees something different this week.

“The mood of this team is very hungry,” he said at his weekly meeting with the media on Tuesday. “I sense a different feel, after taking a few days off. Usually it takes a little bit to get back in sync, but this team went right back to work. I sense this urgency in this team."

That sense of urgency extends beyond the team, noted Thompson.

“We do need to get a win," he said. "We need to get a win right out here for this university, this team, and this community. It is really important.”

It won’t be easy, though, against a team that was much more physical then East Carolina in that 40-3 Labor Day drubbing last season in Cincinnati.

“There is no question that the gap has narrowed,” said Thompson. “They’ve got a lot of the same guys back, and they are very, very physical with them. They have eight seniors on offense and nine seniors on defense. But we are a better football team this year and we’ll have to show that on Saturday.”

East Carolina is an early 12-point underdog for Saturday’s game. The Bearcats come into the game at 1-2, with losses at Ohio State and Syracuse.

Ironically, Cincinnati was favored to beat the Orange last weekend but lost that game 19-7.

I called it

Let me take you back to the Wake Forest game, when ECU faced a 3rd and 4 from their own 14-yard line.

I told anyone within earshot that the Pirates really needed for true freshman Chris Johnson to get loose, to bust a big one to get the team and its home crowd crowd back in the football game.

Much to my disbelief, I watched as Johnson took the pitch and headed right. He was a blur as he passed me at the 20-yard line. He was still a blur as he waltzed into the end zone after an 86-yard sprint.

Those that heard my “prediction” were as stunned as I was. I only wish I could predict a couple of more great plays.

“When I got the ball there were two good blocks,” Johnson said. “I got through the hole and I made one man miss. That’s when I looked up and I knew I was going to score.”

Johnson is just what the doctor ordered for a team with two outstanding backs, both of whom are far from 100 percent.

Marvin Townes is listed as questionable this week. He took a really tough hit against the Deacs and never returned last week. He has yet to return to practice.

Art Brown is another outstanding runner, still trying to return to form. Anyone that saw Brown’s big gain against Wake could see that he is working hard, but he is still no where near the runner that he was in 2002.

Art is a great guy, and hopefully the off week will get him closer to peak form.

As for the rookie, Johnson understands his role on this Pirate squad.

“I’m still third on the depth chart,” he explained. “I just come in when I’m needed. This is their (Marvin Townes and Art Brown) team. I just come in and do the best that I can when it is my turn. They both have really helped me, telling me the tricks, what’s going good, the game situations…”

Johnson is also hoping for a win on Saturday.

“We’re ready,” he continued. “We’ve been working hard. This is a new slate in conference play so I feel like we’re going to get a win this week.”

I think I see one as well. Maybe I can go 2-2 in the prediction game with Chris Johnson’s help!

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02/23/2007 01:29:42 AM

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