Take on Pirate Sports
From the Anchor Desk
Thursday, September 30, 2004
By Brian Bailey
Pinkney's guts will pay
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• 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 have been very few bright spots in the Pirates 0-3 start. This has
been a struggle. When the offense is good, the defense is non-existent. When
the defense is good, the offense can’t quite get the job done.
James Pinkney is inexperienced and perhaps not yet an All-Conference
candidate. He is, however, one tough young man.
Play after play last Saturday night against Cincinnati, Pinkney took a
pounding. I mean, it looked like he got pounded on just about every
Don’t blame it all on the blocking. The Pirate offensive line struggled,
but give credit to an outstanding defensive line for Cincinnati. Play by
play, the ‘Cats took their shots at the Pirate quarterback. Every time he
got hit, Pinkney shook off the cobwebs and returned to the huddle.
“When you’re getting up, and spitting up blood, and wiping the grass out
of your teeth, and you get back up and still fire that thing down there, it
really says a lot,” said Pirate Coach John Thompson.
“We know that our quarterback is tough," Thompson continued, adding a
note of caution. "But we have to find a way to protect him better. Even
James can’t keep taking that kind of punishment.”
The tough-nosed angle is an integral part of the quarterback's persona.
“I play every play with my heart,” said Pinkney. “I play every play like
it is my last.”
If the Pirates don’t get a better protection plan in place, Pinkney could
be telling more of that story then he’d like.
Pinkney also didn’t get a lot of help from his receiving corps. There
were numerous drops, and a couple of those would have been for touchdowns.
That makes for a frustrating night. You are taking a pounding but still
getting the football where it needs to go — and the receiver can’t make the
“We just can’t have dropped passes,” Thompson said. “They came at
critical times. Some of them cost us touchdowns, where we ended up kicking
field goals. You add that up and we win the football game.”
“The dropped passes really hurt,” said Pinkney. “But I also fumbled a
snap on a fourth and one, so the offense in general needs to get together as
one this week.”
The receiving corps has had an interesting time of things. Last year, the
only guy that ever got any love from the quarterback was Terrance Copper.
This year, if it’s your night, then you are the star.
West Virginia featured the Edwin Rios show. Bobby Good was more than that
against Wake Forest. Last week, Damarcus Fox was the star, catching that
75-yard bomb that was a part of his 161-yard night.
Thompson says the trio, plus others, must stand up in the same game.
“It has been three different receivers in three different games,” said
Thompson. “We’ve got to spread it around, and not count on this guy in this
game and that guy in that game.
"Damarcus really competed last week. He was blocking. He was running
around making great catches. He can be a big play guy for us, but we have to
get that kind of effort from all of the receivers.”
Not the best of friends
East Carolina’s John Thompson and Louisville’s Bobby Petrino had words
after last year’s game in Greenville.
During the midfield handshake, the two exchanged words about the Pirates
calling time outs with the game out of reach. Thompson seemed miffed that
the Cardinals scored in the game’s final seconds, with the outcome already
settled. Petrino was upset that the Pirates had kept calling timeouts
instead of letting the clock wind down.
I think it was probably much ado about nothing. Thompson was trying to
show his team that you keep fighting until you use your last bullet. But
really, the timeouts were meaningless and there were and still are bigger
problems to overcome.
Still, the argument made for great conversation.
If the Pirates are to win on Saturday, they’ll need a game much like the
one with a nationally-ranked Texas Christian team in 2002. They will need
Louisville to come out flat, and then the Pirates will need a turnover or
The key to pulling off an upset when you are a 30-point underdog is to
just hang around — and be ready to win late. That’s what happened when East
Carolina beat the Horned Frogs in ’02, and that’s the kind of effort that
the Pirates will need on Saturday.
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