Insights and Observations
Wednesday, September 6, 2006
By Henry Hinton
No surprises in loss but
bright spots emerge
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The script for the East
Carolina-Navy game could have been written in advance of kickoff. For once,
all the pundits were right. The game would be decided by turnovers. It was.
Unfortunate but true, the
one Pirate turnover probably changed the outcome of the game.
At the very least, it
changed the momentum enough for the Midshipmen to use their ďgrind it outĒ
option to control the rest of the game.
Give credit where it is
due. The ECU offense was dazzling at times. James Pinkney completed passes
while rolling to his right, rolling to his left, eluding would-be sackers
and even a few sitting in the pocket.
The receiving corps was
as good as advertised. Maybe even a little better. It was good to see
somebody other than Audrae Allison get the ball on critical downs. In
addition to Bobby Good, Phillip Henry and Kevin Roach, there were a few
surprises. The much talked about arrival of Jamar Bryant, along with another
newcomer, Steven Rogers, adds to the potential of this offense.
The running game also
went according to the script. An inexperienced offensive line will have to
grow up fast for it to get better.
What did we learn about
the ECU defense in Annapolis? Not much.
The Navy offense is so
unorthodox as compared to the rest of the college football world these days
it is hard to project where this defense can go based on last Saturday's
Speaking of Navyís
running game, did anyone other than me want to scream while watching them
clip off five to seven yards on first down on each drive? What a frustrating
scenario for a defense. The Middies are simply unstoppable.
I have asked several
people who should know the answer to this and still have not gotten a
logical response to the question: Why donít more schools run that offense?
It worked in the 'seventies didnít it? Why just the service academies?
Donít even try to make
the argument that it is too boring and the athletic directors donít want it
because it wonít sell tickets. In college football if a team wins, there
will be ticket sales.
Perhaps the best argument
I have heard is that todayís student-athletes donít like the wishbone so it
is hard to recruit with that offense.
OK, Iíll kind of buy that
One thing that was not
monotonous was the ambiance of the Navy experience. Having been there
several times now, I can honestly say it is my favorite place to visit for a
There is the military
academy pomp and circumstance that you get at Army, and West Point may have
a more beautiful stadium setting, but for lovers of the nautical scene it is
hard to beat Annapolis.
A trip to the quaint
downtown area to have a look at the sailboats on the Chesapeake Bay and a
visit to one of the taverns for a brew and some Maryland crab cakes makes
this road trip one of a kind in the nation.
Pirate fans that missed
this opportunity should make sure they join their ECU brethren for the
relatively short trek in 2011, which is the next time the Midshipmen show up
on the away schedule. Navy comes to Greenville in 2010 and 2012. [View
Now itís on to UAB.
Skip Holtz and company do
not need to be reminded of the state of Alabama jinx on the Pirate program.
This year would be as good as any to end it.
True, ECU has never won a
football game in Alabama, including several attempts in recent years.
However, if the old axiom holds true, most teams improve the most from week
one to week two.
This time around the
Pirates go to Birmingham with a real chance to win and a coaching staff that
will have them ready.
The growing confidence of
the Pirate offense was evident in the Navy game. With a little help from
their friends on defense, ECU will break the Alabama jinx this week.
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This page updated
04/21/08 07:03 PM.