View from the East
Thursday, October 22, 2015

By Al Myatt

Al Myatt

Payback not officially on ECU agenda


In contrast to the chilly, rainy and windy conditions that accompanied East Carolina's 20-10 loss at Temple last season, the forecast is calling for a temperature of 64 degrees and clear skies as the Pirates host the Owls at 7 tonight. There is a zero percent chance of rain throughout the American Athletic Conference contest. The humidity will be 78 percent at kickoff, increasing to 100 percent by game's end, meaning that the playing surface likely will have some dew. Winds will be slight at one mile per hour, shifting from west-southwest at the outset to southwest by the final firing of the cannon at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. (Filed by Al Myatt)

Full-size radar loop Scientific forecast


Pirates' season arrives at crossroads

No game last season sticks in the craw of East Carolina fans more than the Senior Night loss to Central Florida in which the Pirates pried defeat from the jaws of victory by allowing the Knights to score on a 51-yard Hail Mary pass as time expired. But that wasn’t the most damaging loss of 2014. ... More from Brett Friedlander...



'Flipping the Déjà Vu?'

These five days may turn out to define the 2015 East Carolina football season. Part one was a success. ECU beat Tulsa 30-17 for the Pirate’s 10th straight homecoming victory. ... More from Brian Bailey...

Audio: Ruff Weekly Presser

ECU coach Ruffin McNeill met with reporters on Monday in his weekly press conference. (Audio courtesy of Pirate Radio 1250; archive photo): Select audio clip...

Audio: The Brian Bailey Show

The Brian Bailey Show airs on Pirate Radio 1250 on Mondays at 6:30 p.m. Brian's guests this week were ECU unit coordinators Rick Smith (left) and Dave Nichol (middle) and ECU media specialist Brian Meador (right): Replay show...


Infographic: Pick 6 set the tone



East Carolina forced two turnovers, kicked three field goals and pulled out a 30-17 win over Tulsa Saturday afternoon in front of a Homecoming crowd of 43,065 at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. Cornerback Josh Hawkins set the tone early for the Pirate defense, returning an interception 100 yards for a TD ... Details and data from Greg Vacek...



Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium | A: 43,065 | TV: ESPNN

ECU 30, Tulsa 17 | Photos... | Post-game Audio...

Ball 'Hawk' boosts Pirates

GREENVILLE — Everything seemed to feed off one game-changing play in East Carolina's 30-17 American Athletic Conference football win over Tulsa on Homecoming Saturday.

The Golden Hurricane was moving the ball as advertised after taking the opening kickoff and traversing from their 19 to the ECU 12 over the manicured turf of Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. Tulsa came in averaging 568 yards of total offense and 36.6 points per game. ... More from Al Myatt...

View W.A. Myatt's game day photo gallery...

Ruff post-game audio

ECU coach Ruffin McNeill spoke with reporters on Saturday after the Pirates' Homecoming win over Tulsa (recorded by Al Myatt): Select audio clip...
>>>  AAC SCOREBOARD  >>> ..... Friday: BYU 38, Cincinnati 24 ..... Houston 42, Tulane 7 ..... ..... Saturday: USF 28, UConn 20 ..... ECU 30, Tulsa 17 ..... Memphis 37, Ole Miss 24 ..... Temple 30, UCF 16 ..... .....

By Al Myatt
All rights reserved.


The symmetry of tonight's Temple-East Carolina game compared to the two teams' 2014 matchup is pretty remarkable.

A year ago, the Pirates were a ranked team playing on the road. This year, the Owls (6-0) come in for a 7 p.m. kickoff at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium ranked No. 22 by the Associated Press and No. 24 in the coaches poll.

There are dramatic differences, too.

Lincoln Financial Field last Nov. 1 was a chilly, rainy and windy turnover-producing setting as ECU lost five fumbles in a 20-10 defeat despite holding a 428-135 command in total yardage.

The forecast for tonight's game is about as good as it gets for this time of year in Eastern North Carolina.

The American Athletic Conference contest last season was played before a sprinkling of fans. Although attendance was announced as 22,130, it appeared about one-tenth of that figure were on hand.

The Pirates should draw over 40,000 tonight although it will be easy for some of the ECU fans to watch the game on ESPN2 on a week night, especially if they have to be at work or in class early on Friday.

The loss to the Owls marked the start of a late season decline for the Pirates. It damaged AAC title hopes and led to a 2-4 record over the second half of the season.

The Pirates were in contention for a major bowl before getting derailed in Philadelphia.

"It was a heartbreaking loss, the fashion and style that we lost because we were a good football team and they were a good football team, taking nothing away from them," said ECU junior inside receiver Isaiah Jones. "They played in the conditions as well and ultimately we didn't get it done. I believe that week in Greenville all week it was about 80 degrees we were practicing in fair conditions. We went there and it wasn't what we were ready for but there's no excuse. They played in it as well.

"We're ready. I wouldn't say it's revenge or anything like that. They're the next team on the schedule. That's why it's important. They're a good ball club. We know what they've got. They're undefeated. They're ranked. They're a good football team. They're coming into Dowdy-Ficklen and we're going to be ready."

It's doubtful that Pirates coach Ruffin McNeill has spent much time this week on 2014 history. Emotions dealing with factors like payback are extra baggage.

"I’m big on having clear minds," McNeill said. "Cloudy minds have slow legs and clear minds have fast legs. We have a fast football team, so we want their minds clear so we can play fast. ...

“They beat us last year. It wasn’t luck. They did a good job. I talk about getting better. Let’s play our best game our next game, but play our best game our last game of the year. Temple has a great team and proposes a great opportunity, but a challenge for us. I talk more about preparation. That’s how I’m built and that’s what I believe in.”

Adjusted practice schedule

The Thursday night slot on national television required some careful planning to maximize the results from reduced practice time.

"It was a normal Sunday," McNeill said of the adjusted practice schedule with the short week. "We went late on Monday (normally a day off for the Pirates), installing the game plan."

Tuesday combined a normal Tuesday and Wednesday workout during a regular game week.

"We cut down on time of practice (Tuesday)," McNeill said.

The Pirates were on a normal schedule for the day before a game on Wednesday, including walk-throughs in the afternoon and a movie at night.

"It's routine, as much as we can," McNeill said.

Crowd factor

Crowds at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium seem to be at their most supportive for an Atlantic Coast Conference opponent such as for a 70-41 win over North Carolina in 2014 and a 35-28 victory over Virginia Tech this season.

This game is important in terms of the Pirates (4-3, 2-1 AAC) maintaining control of their fate in the AAC East Division race with a victory. The East and West division winners will play in the league's inaugural championship game on Dec. 5.

"I want to get a (conference championship) ring for the seniors," said sophomore defensive lineman Demage Bailey. "I want a ring, too."

The degree and intensity of fan support are not factors the team can directly control but McNeill knows their value.

"When we're playing at home, it's an opportunity to feed off the energy from the fans," said the ECU alumnus and coach. "The fans have fed our opposing teams (at Florida, Navy and Brigham Young). The presence and energy of our fans really motivates the kids if the crowd is excited."

Lots of experience

Temple has 11 starters back on defense, eight returning on offense and two specialists back from a team that went 6-6 overall in 2014 and 4-4 in the AAC.

The Owls opened the season with an impressive 27-10 home win over Penn State, the alma mater of Owls coach Matt Rhule, and have a 3-0 league record.

"They have a lot of starters back," McNeill said. "Matt Rhule is a very good coach. Offensively, P.J. Walker leads them at quarterback. Jahad Thomas is a very talented running back. Again, receivers with size. An experienced offensive line. P.J. has 22 starts. They have guys with a lot of starts. Defensively, it's the same. They're one of the tops in the country. They play really good team ball. They play extremely hard. A lot of looks and blitzes.

"Their special teams are always solid. Again, Jahad is their top returner. He's averaging 33 yards a return. They block kicks. They've got a real fine team."

The Owls host Notre Dame on Oct. 31 but figure to have their hands full against the Pirates tonight.

Short week focus

Temple has had ECU's full attention since the Pirates put the wraps on Homecoming with a 30-17 win over Tulsa.

The Owls have also been dealing with a short week since topping Central Florida 30-16 on Saturday.

"We know we had to have great practices," McNeill said. "Temple has got a really good football team. Their ranking is deserved. I've been watching them. They're a really well-rounded football team. Those guys have done a great job. They've earned their ranking. We know we've got a tough challenge."

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10/22/2015 02:01 AM