ON PIRATE SPORTS
From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
By Brian Bailey
One that got away
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Hopefully, this one won’t be
the one that really bites East Carolina at the end of this 2007 season.
East Carolina certainly had
Southern Miss on the ropes this past Saturday night after a 21-point blitz
in the third quarter.
Good teams, though, withstand
the best the opposition has to offer and then go about the business of
That’s the magic of Southern
Miss against East Carolina. The Golden Eagles always believe they’ll win the
game against ECU. Someway, somehow, the Golden Eagles always seem to get the
The teams have now played 17
times in Greenville. Southern Miss now has 15 wins in the series on the
Pirates' home field.
It’s truly hard to believe.
I’m certainly not one to buck
new traditions. However, the two plays to end the third quarter at the last
two ECU home games, just before the "No Quarter" flag was raised, were huge
plays for the opposition.
Against North Carolina, the
Tar Heels' Brandon Tate went 58 yards with a punt return for a touchdown to
tie that game at 31-31. Ben Hartman would save the day by finally hitting a
field goal after missing three.
Then in the Southern Miss
game, the Golden Eagles faced a key third and 15 from their own 25-yard
line. Again, just before the No Quarter flag was to go up, Damion Fletcher
burned the Bucs on a 48-yard run off of a screen pass. That one play pretty
much took the wind out of the Pirate ship’s sails.
One new tradition, two big
plays for the opposition. Maybe it’s just a coincidence. So far, though, the
new flag ritual has at the very least featured some ill-timed success for
That’s all ECU defensive
coordinator Greg Hudson could think about as he walked off the field. He
just walked by, shaking his head, and muttering, “third and 15…. third and
Fletcher’s run certainly
caught the attention of Pirate coach Skip Holtz.
Holtz thinks his own running backs should be making similar plays.
“It was a big play and that’s
probably an understatement,” said a dejected Holtz in the post-game news
“[Fletcher] did a great job.
He caught it, a couple of guys over ran it, and missed a couple of tackles,
and then he stuck it up inside. Fletcher is a tremendous back. He did a heck
of a job running the ball. He runs hard, he runs physical, and he breaks
"I was really impressed with
him; I think we can take some lessons on how he runs.”
Holtz knows that his offense
can only be as good as his running game makes it. With that stated, the
coach may give some of his young backs a shot at some playing time.
“I did not think our running
game was very good and I don’t think our running backs are making a lot
happen," Holtz said. "I don’t think we are creating a lot of holes for them,
but when we do, we are not making a lot of things happen on our own.”
Next up is West Virginia, and
the Mountaineers will be big favorites for sure. The early line out of Las
Vegas named the Pirates as a 27-point underdog.
With that said, the Pirate
coach announced at Monday’s weekly news conference that changes could be
coming in the Pirate lineup. The two obvious spots are at kicker and in the
“I don’t think we’re asking
too much to be better then 2-6 in field goals after three games, especially
from where the kicks came from,” said Holtz. “We’ll certainly look at the
kicking spot for sure this week.”
“I also think some guys have
to step up in the secondary, and be accountable,” Holtz added.
Holtz seemed a little
distracted at Monday’s media gathering. You can see the frustration in the
coach. This is his best team in his three years, but all he has to show for
it is a 1-2 record and a big mountain to climb this week in Morgantown.
Holtz says he knows his team
is working hard. The effort is there. Holtz says it’s the little things that
are getting the Pirates beat.
“We’re three plays away from
being undefeated,” Holtz said. “But you have to take care of the little
things in order to find success.”
It’s the start of a tough,
two-game road swing this week. The Pirates play at No. 5 West Virginia and
then travel to Conference USA foe Houston.
“We’re a better team, but this
is a tougher schedule,” Holtz said. “We just have to keep working.”
Holtz has had success against
the Mountaineers, playing them tough in both encounters during his first two
“They just have such
tremendous speed,” Holtz said. “They spread you out so you really have to
tackle well in space.”
Every week it seems like the
same song. This will be the Pirates' toughest test to date.
Holtz will have to pull out a
great game plan and the Pirates will have to execute to perfection this
ECU has frustrated the
Mountaineers before under Holtz and defensive coordinator Greg Hudson.
It will take a great effort,
but upsets happen every Saturday.
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