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Bailey's Take on Pirate Sports

From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, September 6, 2005
By Brian Bailey

After long absence, clutch play is back


Replay the archive of Monday night's Brian Bailey Show, with guest Junior Smith:

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Several players simply made plays on Saturday. That’s the biggest difference in this East Carolina team and those of the past two seasons.

At least in the opener, a number of Pirates stepped up and made winning plays.

The coaches had preached simplicity since day one. They wanted to put the players in positions to make plays without having to stop and think.

Through game one, I’d say, “Mission accomplished.”

“I’m just real proud of all of these players and coaches,” said Skip Holtz shortly after the 24-21 victory. “They have all worked so hard to get to this point. It was a great effort.”

On offense, Aundrae Allison had an unbelievable day. He had 10 catches for 164 yards and a touchdown.

Allison was the story of the spring football game when he flipped into the end zone for a touchdown.

He was the best player on the field in the win over Duke. His catch to set up the last Pirate touchdown was as good as I’ve seen at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

Credit James Pinkney for making plays. His touchdown toss to Allison was a perfect throw, and Pinkney scored two touchdowns on quarterback sneaks. His last touchdown was a rare quarterback sneak that “snuck” through the entire Duke defense.

As far as the Pirate defense, the most obvious big play performer was Zack Baker. Baker picked off one Duke pass in the end zone, saving a touchdown. His second pick came in the fourth quarter as the Pirates held on for the victory. He also had a fumble recovery in the game.

On familiar ground

East Carolina running backs Coach Junior Smith was my guest on the radio last night.

You could see by the smile on his face that he is extremely proud to be back on the Pirate sideline.

“I really enjoy working with the guys,” Smith said. “It’s great being back in the area and coaching.”

Smith is the all-time leading rusher in East Carolina history. He is also as humble as a former great player can be.

Skip Holtz was on record as saying he wanted to add someone to his staff with East Carolina ties back before he hired Junior. Obviously, Smith is a great fit for the Pirates and I think Junior is an outstanding young coach.

Junior said the films showed a couple of times that Chris Johnson could have gotten more yardage with a cut here or there. He also said Johnson learned from his early fumble, when he had the football in his right arm, instead of protecting it to the sideline with his left.

Worth noting

Besides the 24-21 win on Saturday, I saw several other positives at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium:

1. The crowd was electric, and I felt the number of fans on hand was at least 3,000-4,000 more than the 35,000 and change that was announced.

2. The opening video was the best that I have ever seen at East Carolina. The animation absolutely told the story of a “Pirate” Ship arriving at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. The entire production was very well orchestrated and organized. I still think the purple smoke could come from a different source, but all in all the open was a real plus.

3. Morgan Ahlers was great as the PA announcer. Sure, he’s a friend of mine, but the "ARRRRGH" call on touchdowns was a thing of brilliance.

4. The students were out in force, and they stayed until the very end.

5. 24-21, Pirates Win! Enough said.

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02/23/2007 01:32:03 AM

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