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From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, December 11, 2012

By Brian Bailey

Brian Bailey

Program hungry for postseason win

By Brian Bailey
All rights reserved.

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East Carolina got back to the basics with the start of bowl practice last week.

It’s always such a different feel in the postseason. The start of practice in August in the sweltering heat versus the chill in the air that accompanies bowl practice is an amazing contrast.

This week’s temperatures were above average for sure, but it’s still a big change from the start of the year.

Some of the bowl sites through the years have also had a chill. Memphis and Washington, DC, in late December are certainly not what you think about when you think of great weather bowl sites.

Hawaii, of course, was the big exception for the Pirates. That 2007 clash with Boise State was also the last time this football program won a bowl game.

ECU certainly needs a bowl win. Getting to the postseason is nice. Winning the game is the goal that head coach Ruffin McNeill laid out with his first postseason meeting with the team last week.

Quarterback Shane Carden agrees that this team really wants to add one more victory to cap off this year's effort and set the stage for 2013.

“It means a lot to all of us to get that ninth win of the season,” said Carden. “We had a lot of non-conference games that we feel we could have played better in. Next year we’d certainly like to win those games. I think a ninth win would be a great start.”

The team has yet to really focus on its opponent in this R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl. The Ragin’ Cajuns of Louisiana-Lafayette continue as five-point favorites in the game according to oddsmakers. The Pirates will start thinking about the Cajuns this week.

“We’ll install the game plan, portion by portion, piece by piece, starting next week," said coach McNeill after one of the practices last week. “We still have two weeks before we play. We won’t give the full dose right away. We hope to have everything in before we get to New Orleans.”

East Carolina’s players know they’ll be facing a hostile crowd in New Orleans. That isn’t usually the case in a bowl game, but this will essentially be a home game for UL-Lafayette.

The last time the Pirates faced a bowl assignment like this one was just a couple of years ago at the 2010 Liberty Bowl against Arkansas. East Carolina faced a wall of red in that game at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium.

I will never forget the entire place chanting ‘Woo Pig Sooie’ just before the Hogs were introduced. It certainly felt like a road game. The Pirates outplayed a talented Arkansas team but lost the game 20-17 in overtime after ECU missed several field goals down the stretch.

Carden looks forward to battling the crowd at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

“We know they’ll have more fans there, especially with it almost being a home game for them,” said Carden. “We know we have our fans too. I think going there earlier this year will be an advantage, knowing just how the stadium feels for a game.”

The Pirates overcame Conference USA foe Tulane in the dome on Nov. 17.

Senior wide receiver Andrew Bodenheimer agrees that the team's previous outing in the facility will be a positive factor this time out.

“It will definitely help us,” said Body. “Not many college teams get a chance to play in a dome. You have to get used to it. We should be ready to go for the game after just playing there.”

The Pirates leave for New Orleans a week from today.

They’ll get a taste of the Cajun culture, and then set sights on whipping the Ragin’ Cajuns at the end of the week.

I’m certainly looking forward to this assignment...


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12/11/2012 03:52 AM


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