ON PIRATE SPORTS
From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
By Brian Bailey
Adverse outcomes test
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Last week I wrote that I was
hopeful that the East Carolina loss to Southern Miss didn’t bite the Pirates
I wasn’t the only one with
Pirate coach Skip Holtz said
as much as his team gets set to travel to defending Conference USA champion
Houston this week.
“2-2 would feel a lot better
then 1-3,” said Holtz at his
weekly news conference on Monday.
“There’s really no shame in losing to Virginia Tech and West Virginia.
"Don’t get me wrong, Southern
Miss is an excellent football team, but we feel like we let one get away at
home in that one.”
Unfortunately, this past
week’s assignment wasn't nearly as competitive. West Virginia put on a
clinic on offense, executing to near perfection. The game was a blowout,
something we have seen rarely during the Skip Holtz era.
West Virginia Coach Rich
Rodriguez told Holtz that even he was surprised at how well his team played.
“Rich said it was by far (WVU
quarterback) Pat White’s best game ever. I told him I was sure glad I got
the chance to see it up close,” Holtz joked.
The Pirates knew September
brought with it a laundry list of potential pitfalls. Next up is a Houston
Cougar team that, like West Virginia, likes to spread the field.
In coaching lingo, the term
“open field” has been replaced by the word “space.” I don’t know how it
evolved, but if you listen to coaches they are always talking about creating
“space” and tackling in “space.”
Where West Virginia creates
space to run the football, Houston has a different philosophy.
“They like to spread you out
and then throw the football down the field,” explained Holtz. “We know that
they are going to get some yards. This certainly won’t be a “stat” game. We
just hope that we’ll execute better.”
Defensive coordinator Greg
Hudson says his defense could see dozens of different looks. The Cougars may
show well over 100 different formations, with the same basic philosophy.
They want to spread the field and throw the ball around.
As for the mood of this Pirate
squad, Coach Holtz has always done a good job of keeping his team at an even
This is a team that usually
never gets too high after a win, nor too low after a loss.
Obviously, there were very
few, if any, positives on Saturday in the 48-7 loss to West Virginia.
There are, though, several
things worth noting.
The Pirates have yet to fumble
this season, and are ranked No. 1 nationally in that category. Okay, go
ahead and pencil one in this week after I just put the jinx on them!
The Pirates also rank fifth in
the nation in fewest turnovers lost.
East Carolina also hasn’t been
shut out in 117 straight games. That stat was very much in jeopardy on
Saturday, until Chris Johnson scored a late Pirate touchdown.
We all knew that September
would be very difficult. I’m not sure what everyone thought about October,
but that month is looking awfully challenging as well.
The Pirates return from
Houston and get set to host George O’Leary’s Golden Knights of Central
Florida. UCF may be playing the best football in the conference.
UTEP will be a great challenge
after a cross-country road trip. Then it’s essentially a short week to
prepare for N.C. State.
Holtz said last week that his
team could not and would not throw themselves a “pity-party.”
The old adage is that when the
going gets tough, the tough get going.
We are about to find out how
tough this team is.
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