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From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, September 16, 2008

By Brian Bailey

Wounded Pirates forced to adjust

By Brian Bailey
All rights reserved.


Replay last night's Brian Bailey Show with guest Donnie Kirkpatrick. The show, Eastern North Carolina's longest running sports radio call-in show, airs every Monday night at 7 p.m. on Pirate Radio 1250-AM and 930-AM.
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Injuries are simply a part of the game of football. But that doesn’t make it any easier when a star player goes down.

Quentin Cotton played as good a first half at the Louisiana Superdome on Saturday as any player has played on defense in East Carolina football history.

The Pirate players are graded on film. Twenty bonus points is considered a great game. Cotton had 38 bonus points in the first half. He had the interception and he ran that blocked field goal back for a touchdown.

Cotton had his knee taken out on a goal line stand. According to one of the coaches, the Tulane fullback came through the line, missed his block, had his head down, and hit Cotton directly on his knee.

That’s how quick a season can end.

ECU defensive coordinator Greg Hudson was still shaken by injury on Monday. Hudson almost got choked up talking about it at lunch. He spent time with Cotton on Sunday.

Coach Skip Holtz says it’s important to make sure that Cotton is still very much a part of this Pirate program.

“It's just a shame,” said Holtz. “It's one of the things that really breaks your heart in sports, when you see somebody who has come as far as Quentin Cotton has, and to see all the positive things he has done on and off the field, and to see this taken away from him.

"He's having a hard time with it right now.”

The Pirates have pretty much played with four linebackers in the first three games. Holtz says the challenge now is to get someone else in there, and to also develop more depth.

“We started (Pierre) Bell, (Jeremy) Chambliss and Cotton, and then (Nick) Johnson has been the swing guy,” explained Holtz. “He has come in and taken about 10 plays from each of those three guys so Johnson has averaged about 30 plays per game.

"I'm concerned, not only in losing Cotton, but all of a sudden Cliff Perryman, Melvin Patterson and Steven Spence find themselves in a position where they might have to turn and step in the game.”

Offensive lineman Stanley Bryant was another key player to go down against Tulane. Terrance Campbell and D.J. Scott will be called on to lessen that blow.

Next up is the rivalry game of the year with North Carolina State. State came to Greenville last year and rolled over ECU.

The Wolfpack has struggled thus far this year, but Holtz says the records mean nothing in this game.

"I think we've got to have a really good focus this week in order to go 1-0,” Holtz said. “I think this is a game that our players are really excited about playing. They're revved up for this one.

"There's a little bit more energy in these rivalry and geographic games. The spirit is a little bit higher in practice; the attitude is a little bit more upbeat and everybody has a little bit more pep in their step and we're excited about having the opportunity to go over to Raleigh and play."

The Wolfpack has dropped a pair of games against Clemson and South Carolina. The Pack did beat William & Mary and would like nothing more then to pull the upset and wreck the unbeaten season for East Carolina.

"(N.C. State) is a very talented football team,” Holtz said. “Over the past couple of years, we have tried to recruit most of the players currently on their roster. When I turn and look at their talent and the game film from last year, I know that we've got one heck of a challenge.

"We certainly have to play better than we did last week. I think it's going to take more of an effort like we put together for West Virginia if we want to have a chance to go over there and have a chance to be successful."

The Pirates escaped what many felt was a trap game in beating Tulane 28-24. This time there’s a wolf set to pounce if the Pirates don’t play well.

Rivalries make for great games, regardless of the records. That’s the magic of college football.

It’s another national stage for the Pirates on ESPN. All roads lead to Raleigh for what should be another great atmosphere for football!


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09/22/2008 04:11:12 AM


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