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From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, September 1, 2008

By Brian Bailey

Pent up energy set to be unleashed

By Brian Bailey
All rights reserved.

Was it irony or coincidence that game week kicked off with a cool, autumn-like day in Greenville?

East Carolina coach Skip Holtz opened his weekly media gathering with a big smile, relieved that it’s finally time to play a football game. Holtz was certainly upbeat in his first “game week” presser.

Holtz answered questions for some 30 minutes. One of the big concerns was the health of running back Brandon Jackson. Jackson hurt his thumb in the final scrimmage, but will still play in the opener against Appalachian State.

"Right now we're just going to play it by ear with injury,” said Holtz. “They (Jackson, Dominique Lindsay, Jonathan Williams and Giavanni Ruffin) are all going to play a more prevalent role in the kicking game because we do feel like we have some depth.

"Those guys can play a more active role on kickoffs and punts. They can give us some quality reps.”

“They will all play," Holtz continued. "I can't say they will all see time at tailback, however. I feel like we have four backs that can play. Right now, I'd be very comfortable looking up and seeing any one of those four out there."

On defense, the depth chart is loaded with experience. This should be, by far, Greg Hudson’s best defense on paper. It was Conference USA’s best last season, and Hudson has high expectations for this year.

“When you create the monster, you have to let it loose,” said Hudson, who was a guest on my radio show last night on Pirate Radio 1250 and 930. “The expectations should be high. You certainly don’t want to create the monster and not let it loose.”

Hudson’s defense may see as many as three quarterbacks against Appalachian State on Saturday.

Armanti Edwards is an All-American in the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division IAA). Edwards, however, had a mowing mishap earlier this summer and his availability is certainly in question.

"We're preparing for him to play," said Hudson. "I don't think this game is Edwards versus East Carolina. They have other players on their team. I know they have very capable backups and I know they are very excited about their new freshman quarterback they have in camp. He's doing a lot of good things.

"Whoever they put back there, as long as they only put one back there at a time, I think we'll be OK. Whoever plays, we're preparing for an athletic quarterback who can run around, make things happen and beat you with his feet or his arm."

Edwards must be the real deal. He has his own weekly teleconference during the season on Wednesday mornings.

“They aren’t going to change their offense for their quarterback,” said Hudson. “It’s kind of like recess when you were young. One guy played quarterback and the other nine or ten guys went out for passes. That’s what this offense is like."

Anyone that thinks the East Carolina football team might overlook this band of Mountaineers is seriously misled. Coach Holtz and the Pirates know they will get Appy State’s very best effort.

“I look at it as very similar to when we go to North Carolina and N.C. State with a little bit of a chip on our shoulder,” said Holtz. “We're trying to prove that we're on a competitive playing field with UNC or N.C. State and that makes your players dig a little bit deeper. I think App State is going to come in here with that very same mindset.”

It’s game on in Greenville!

The Pirates are favored in the opener, but I wonder if Coach Holtz and company showed this squad a little tape from two years ago, when Appalachian State stunned Michigan in the Big House.

It can happen, and that’s the magic of why they play the games.

It’s the big game for our state on Saturday. The buzz will continue on up to kickoff, as we finally set sail on a new Pirate season.

It should be fun.


E-mail Brian Bailey.

Brian Bailey Archives

09/01/2009 01:33:30 AM


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