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From the Anchor Desk
Monday, October 3, 2006
By Brian Bailey

Pirates' bye week complicated by ailments

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One college coach this past weekend said he didn’t like to call his bye week an “off week” because it wasn’t a time to relax or take any time off.

He said he called it a “get better” week. The week off would give his charges a chance to “get better” as far as injuries go, and to get better as far as the overall play of his team would go.

East Carolina coach Skip Holtz hopes his team has gotten a little better this week, but injuries and the flu bug had the coach shaking his head on Monday.

“I like to take this past week as a spring football week,” said Holtz at his weekly news conference. “I would have liked for us to go back to the basics and really work on getting better as a football team. Unfortunately with all of the injuries we’ve had, we haven’t been able to do that.”

Injuries and a current bout with the flu have certainly slowed the Pirates' progress. Holtz said that 11 players missed Sunday’s practice with the illness, and he expects some of them, and maybe others, to be out again on Tuesday.

ECU wide receiver Aundrae Allison is questionable at best for Saturday’s matchup with Virginia. Allison has a high ankle sprain that hasn’t improved all that much this past week. I believe the Pirates will plan on not having Allison in the lineup, while still hoping for the best.

ECU tailback Chris Johnson continues to struggle with “turf” toe, an injury to the ligament in the foot that is extremely painful. Word from the Pirate camp is that Johnson should be ready to go on Saturday.

East Carolina continues the greatest home stand in Pirate history this week, hosting Virginia.

The Cavaliers come to Greenville after steamrolling Duke 37-0 this past Saturday. The big question surrounding that game: Was Virginia that good or was Duke that bad?

“This is a much better Virginia football team then when they first started the season,” said Coach Holtz. “They’ve lost to some pretty good teams in Pitt and Georgia Tech.”

Holtz continued: “They are a lot like us. Both teams are very young, with inexperience in key positions. We’re both trying to get some experience by playing some younger players.”

The Cavs will start a redshirt freshman at quarterback in Jameel Sewell. Virginia has struggled on offense all year, but really didn’t need much 'O' against hapless Duke on Saturday. The Devils dished out five turnovers and the Cavs barely broke a sweat.

Like East Carolina, Virginia has a young offensive line that is getting better each week. Throw in an inexperienced quarterback and the Cavs' problems are most evident.

On defense, UVa is among the ACC’s best. Georgia Tech beat Virginia Tech in Blacksburg this past week. Two weeks ago, those same Yellow Jackets needed a big night from Calvin Johnson to get past Virginia at home, 24-7.

That’s where the game will be won or lost. Virginia is good enough on defense to keep the game close. The Pirates need to frustrate the Cavs' young quarterback with their defense.

Neither team has been able to run the football, so, if it comes down to a passing frenzy, James Pinkney should get the edge over Sewell for sure.

Oddsmakers like the Pirates by 6 points at home. ECU must have impressed some folks in the loss to West Virginia.

The Pirates are a perfect 4-0 against the point spread this season, and 11-2 in the Skip Holtz era.

The Pirate Nation came out in force for the game with the Mountaineers. East Carolina will need that same type of atmosphere against Virginia this time out.

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04/21/2008 07:08:31 PM


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