Take on Pirate Sports
From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, October 4, 2005
By Brian Bailey
Fighting for progress, one
fumble at a time
the archive of Monday night's Brian Bailey Show,
with guest Darrell Harrison, ACC football
official, for the annual "Beat the Ref" show:
Select audio clip
Holtz's weekly press session (recorded by
Every week it seems to be
something different when you’re trying to teach your team how to win again.
This past weekend, the
turnover monster reared its ugly head. The Pirates lost a couple of key
fumbles in the first half, and could never really get into the game against
Turnovers are usually the
difference in games. The fumbles, though, were inexcusable, according to
Pirate Coach Skip Holtz.
“The thing that was
frustrating about it was, it’s third and three and you run a toss sweep and
you get a first down,” said Holtz. “Then you get a defensive back that puts
a hit on the runner, and the ball gets loose. Our big guys were creating
holes and we were moving the football.”
Holtz says his offensive line
continues to improve. He also says the offense deserved much better than
what they got with all of the turnovers.
“I feel bad for those seniors
on the line,” said Holtz. “It’s not easy to move a 330 pound lineman out of
the way to create a hole. Those guys are doing their job and our running
backs have an obligation to do their job. Part of their job is to run and
make someone miss, but the other part is to hold on to the football.
"When you go back and look at
the film, it looked like it was greased. We couldn’t hold on to it and it
didn’t matter who had it.”
Southern Miss was picked to
win the East Division of Conference USA for a reason. The Golden Eagles,
despite the problems with the two hurricanes, are a solid team that came to
Greenville with a mission.
Jeff Bower is an outstanding
coach, and the Golden Eagles played with a purpose on Saturday night.
Owls force different approach
East Carolina now turns to
game number five on the schedule, a first ever match-up with the Rice Owls.
Rice is 0-3 on the season,
with losses to UCLA, Texas and UAB. Those three teams are a combined 11-1 on
the season so far.
The Owls are a true option
football team under Ken Hatfield. Hatfield is the fifth winningest coach in
Division IA, with stops at Clemson, Arkansas and Air Force. He is the second
winningest coach in Rice history. It is hard to believe that this is
Hatfield’s 12th season with the Owls.
Each year, the Pirates seem to
play one “option” team per season. Recently, Army has fulfilled that role.
This year, Rice comes to Greenville with an old-fashioned option game ready
The Owls are riding two
separate nine game losing steaks. Overall, they’ve lost nine in a row, and
Rice has dropped its last nine road games.
Still, the Owls cause just
enough problems to be a real thorn this week for Skip Holtz and the Pirates.
“The option takes away your
aggressiveness on defense,” Holtz said. “It takes away your run to the
football mentality. That makes everybody play assignment football. You’ve
got to take care of the dive, the quarterback, the pitch. And what it does,
it spreads you out across the field. It takes away the mentality that you
run to the ball. Then, when they break a tackle, there’s no one there to
The only way to stop the
option is to get off to a good start. That’s what UCLA, Texas and UAB were
able to do, building big leads to make the Owls put the ball into the air to
play catch-up. Unfortunately, that plays against the Pirates, a team that
has gotten off to a slow start most of this season.
“That has not been our 'M-O'
to date, to start fast,” said Holtz. “We came out Saturday with a plan to do
just that, but we couldn’t hold on to the football. I think this is going to
be a challenge for us for sure. I think we’re going to have to help our
defense by putting some points on the board with our offense, especially
Holtz knows that his offense
may not see the football that many times this week. In normal games, the
offense may get 15-17 different drives. Against a ball-control,
option-oriented team that number may go down to 9 or 10.
The formula for victory this
week is for the Pirates to get off to a good start on offense, to hold on to
the football, to score in the red zone, to force a few turnovers, and to
make Rice have to come from behind.
The coaches know what it will
take; the question will be in executing the game plan. This is certainly a
work in progress. A team with only four wins in three seasons is still
learning how to win.
“When you learn how to win,
you make all the plays to close the deal,” said Holtz. “We’re finding ways
now to lose. That’s the hurdle that we have to climb. We’ve made huge
strides to date. We’re close, but this team needs to see some success. We’ve
played three pretty good teams. But we’ve made critical mistakes in each of
those games and lost.”
Learning how to win is perhaps
the toughest lesson for a team desperate for success. It’s a hard road, with
Rice out to provide another bump on Saturday.
Rice has lost nine straight.
East Carolina has dropped three in a row. Something has to give on Saturday.
The victor takes another step
in learning how to win.
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02/23/2007 01:32:08 AM