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From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
By Brian Bailey

Pirates on right track

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For the second straight year, Greg Hudson’s defense put the clamps down on one of the nation’s top rushing teams, giving East Carolina a chance at a victory over West Virginia.

Last season, the Pirates held the Mountaineers to their lowest ground production of the season, a 127-yard performance in that 20-15 Pirate loss.

This year, West Virginia came to Greenville as the top ranked rushing team in the nation. The Pirates held Steve Slaton to just 80 yards on 24 carries. The Mountaineers ran for a grand total of 153 yards, almost 200 yards off their average.

Hudson coached with enormous emotion on Saturday night. Early on, he got a couple of player’s attention with some “tough” love.

But Hudson smiled more then I’ve seen him smile on the sidelines before. By the end of the game, he had transformed some of that “tough” love to true appreciation for what his defense had accomplished.

Part of the success came with the Pirates' scheme, a base defense that the players really seem comfortable with. The other part was the team's tackling, which showed vast improvement against the Mountaineers.

West Virginia’s Rich Rodriguez came away impressed.

“You have to give them credit,” he said. “They did a tremendous job of tackling. This is probably the best tackling job a defense has done against (us) so far.”

I’m sure Hudson, though, would echo the comments from head coach Skip Holtz, who declared after the game that there are no moral victories.

“It’s frustrating to watch a team play that hard and improve as much as they have in some areas but continue to come
up short,” said Holtz. “I love this football team, their attitude, their work habit, their effort.”

The Pirates are 1-3 on the season, but if this team can put together that kind of effort in the next eight games, a winning season is certainly in reach.

Next up, UVa

The Pirates have this week off, and then host a struggling Virginia team in two weeks.

The Pirates and Cavaliers have several similarities but are much different at the quarterback position. East Carolina is enjoying the senior leadership of one of the toughest quarterbacks in school history in James Pinkney.

The Cavaliers will counter with redshirt freshman Jameel Sewell, who is the third quarterback the Cavs have used this season.

Sewell had a late touchdown pass in Virginia’s Thursday night loss at Georgia Tech. Sewell is probably lacking in confidence, and he’ll try to find some as UVa travels to Duke this weekend.

Pirate fans should think about making a scouting trip to Durham this weekend. East Carolina has an off week, as do N.C. State and UNC-Chapel Hill. Duke is a great place to watch a game, and I’m sure the Duke brass would welcome another fan or two — regardless of their allegiance — to Wallace-Wade Stadium.

Coach Holtz looks forward to the Pirates' open date.

“I’m glad we have a bye week,” Holtz said. “We have to go back to the drawing board and improve on some things, but I’m proud of this team and they’re going to stick together and there’s no quit in this team.

"The comments in the locker room were still positive and they want to improve and bounce back.”

The season flies by. One third of the slate is in the books. I think I’m looking forward to the off week as well. That unprecedented five-game home stand continues a week from Saturday.

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04/21/2008 07:05:17 PM


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