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From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, October 26, 2010

By Brian Bailey

Heavyweight bout has big stakes

By Brian Bailey
All rights reserved.

Ruffin McNeill
(ECU SID images)


Replay Monday night's Brian Bailey Show with guest LINCOLN RILEY. Eastern North Carolina's longest running sports radio call-in show airs each Monday night at 7 p.m. on Pirate Radio 1250 AM and 930 AM.
Replay Show
Pirate Radio Home Page


Heavyweight bout has big stakes
Audio: Coach Ruff Game Week Press Conference
Pirate Nation riding on the "Ruffwagon"
Week #2 BCS Rankings
Harris, Associated Press & Coaches Polls
C-USA Standings, Scores, Schedule, TV
East Carolina-Marshall Game Center Coverage
Pirates exceeding expectations
Blacknall effective upon return
Audio: Dustin Lineback Post-Game Comments
Audio: Coach Ruff Post- Game Press Conference
Kevin's Keys to the Marshall Game
Pirates preparing to avoid trap
Hilliard's stock rises in final prep season

In this corner, the challenger, wearing black and gold and coming into this game with a 5-2 record and perfect 3-0 mark in Conference USA, it’s U-C-F…..

And in this corner, the two-time defending champions, wearing purple and gold and coming into this game with a 5-2 record and perfect 4-0 mark in Conference USA, it’s East Carolina….

We probably won’t have Michael Buffer in Orlando to introduce the Knights and the Pirates for this game, but it is that important as far as the 2010 season is concerned.

The winner essentially gains a two-game advantage in the East Division race. East Carolina has already beaten Southern Miss, so a victory by the Pirates really gives them a leg up in the East Division.

Southern Miss seems to get lots of ink, but it’s been East Carolina or Central Florida that has won the East Division in Conference USA in four of the five years since the league went to divisions. The Pirates and Knights have won the last three C-USA titles as well.

East Carolina has ten Floridians on its roster, but only Dominique Davis hails from central Florida. Davis is from Lakeland, and may need some extra tickets for the matchup.

“We have to stay focused,” said Davis after Saturday’s win. “We can’t listen to the noise (praise). We’ll find out a lot about the character of this team over the next couple of weeks.”

“He’s probably doing some negotiating with his teammates right now for tickets this weekend, said Coach Ruffin McNeill. “He’s saying, ‘I’ll give you my Navy tickets for your UCF tickets.’ I’m sure his teammates will help him out. They have a way of doing that. You can share tickets within the team and I’m sure those guys will help him. He’ll have plenty.”

As we continue our look at the “tale of the tape” there is an obvious stark contrast. This should be a matchup of a great offense in East Carolina and a most stingy defense for UCF.

The Pirates are throwing the football at an average of over 300 yards per game. UCF is giving up just over half of that.

Coach McNeill put it best at his Monday news conference when he told everyone that the Pirates pass “for a living and not for a hobby.”

McNeill’s main concern about the Knights' defense is that they are able to get pressure on the quarterback with their front four. That leaves seven to cover the pass. Most of that coverage is usually in a zone look for UCF.

McNeill, though, says most teams try to show something different at his offense.

“UCF has a lot of confidence in what they do,” said McNeill. “They have experienced defensive players and systems. They believe in their system and it is sound. They do a good job blending coverages and front stunts. For our offense, we have to make sure we establish the running game first of all, like we did the other day. But also, we have to do what we do.”

What the Pirates do is pick up yardage in chunks and score lots of points. While on paper the big matchup features the Pirate offense and the UCF defense, that East Carolina “D” has certainly stepped up of late. The Pirates threw a shutout in the second half of the Marshall game.

“The sky is the limit,” said linebacker Dustin Lineback. “We’ve got guys like Damon Magazu, who just continues to step up as a true freshman. I tell him not to be scared. (Laughing) He’s so humble and works so hard."

Magazu became a household name after his overtime interception against N.C. State.

"And we’ve got guys like Jacobi Jenkins stepping up," added Lineback. "When these guys get in they are getting in and making plays. That’s making a difference.”

Championships usually come down to big games in November. I guess it is close enough, because this showdown is essentially for the East Division title in Conference USA.

Ruffin McNeill’s club has grown up a ton over the last month.

“We know we’re going into an environment where they’ll be waiting for us," said McNeill. "We’re looking forward to going down there. It’ll be a great challenge for us, but also a great opportunity. We know it’s a conference game and rival. It’s another Eastern Division opponent. We have to be ready to go. I respect Central Florida and know that Coach (George) O’Leary and his staff will have those guys ready to go. I’m looking forward to the game and to continue our team’s development.”

That maturation process will be tested again down in Orlando.


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Brian Bailey Archives

10/26/2010 02:04 AM


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