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Been There, Done That
Wednesday, September 10, 2008

By Kevin Monroe

One game at a time

All Rights Reserved.

East Carolina has begun the season by defeating two Top 20 opponents, the first time in school history the Pirates have pulled off such a feat out of the starting gate.

Those two victories landed ECU a No. 14 ranking in this week’s Associated Press poll. The early-season leap up the rankings ladder is important because it positions the Pirates to potentially move into the Top 10 by the end of the year, which could mean a berth in a BCS bowl.

For the past two weeks, every sportscaster’s favorite team to talk about has been East Carolina. Mel Kiper already has East Carolina winning 10 or 11 games this season. ESPN’s Mark May said it's time to start seriously considering the Pirates as this season’s non-BCS team that could end up in a BCS bowl game.

Wait a minute! IT'S WEEK 3!!!

The Pirates still have 10 games left to play in the regular season, and any one of those teams can beat them if they don’t play well.

I sent a text message to a friend after Saturday’s game to tell her that Kiper predicted the Pirates would end up with 10 victories. She responded with the words that you will probably hear from the coaches and players from now until the end of the season: “One Game at A Time.”

She went on to remind me of how the 1999 team started out 5-0 and then lost at home to Southern Miss, on the road to a bad UAB team, and then got clobbered by Texas Christian in the Mobile Bowl. That team ended up 9-3 — tied for the second most wins in school history — but lost three games that it could have and should have won.

It’s so easy to overlook teams that you should beat. The Pirates had opportunities to play for conference championships each of the past two seasons, letting the opportunities slip away at the hands of Rice and Marshall, respectively.

ECU will now become the hunted by every opponent left on their schedule. Each week, starting with Saturday's Tulane game, the Pirates will get their opponent's best effort.

Who would have thought that the Giant Killers would become the Giants?

Last season, Coach Skip Holtz told his charges that they needed to go 1-0 each game over the last four. That approach worked fairly well with the exception of the Marshall loss.

ECU ended last season winning three of four, and it has won nine of its last 11.

Expect to see the same approach from the staff and players from now until the season-ending Nov. 28 game with Texas-El Paso.

This could be a dream season for the Pirates, but with all the hype starting so early it will be nearly impossible for the players to ignore the pats on the back and stay focused on the big objectives:

 — Goal No. 1: Eastern Division championship

 — Goal No. 2: Conference USA championship

 — Goal No. 3: Bowl victory

To achieve these goals, the Pirates will have to go 1-0 each week the rest of the year. Easier said than done.

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09/10/2008 02:17:15 AM


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