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From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
By Brian Bailey

One that got away

By Brian Bailey
All rights reserved.


Tune in on the radio or catch the Internet live stream of The Brian Bailey Show with WNCT-TV 9 Sports Director Brian Bailey, each Monday night from 7-8 p.m. ... Select Live Stream...


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Audio: Skip Holtz Monday press conference
Bailey: One that got away
BVL: O'Brien serves repeat stint on BCS voting panel
O'Brien: Early power slate has its downside

Hopefully, this one won’t be the one that really bites East Carolina at the end of this 2007 season.


East Carolina certainly had Southern Miss on the ropes this past Saturday night after a 21-point blitz in the third quarter.

Good teams, though, withstand the best the opposition has to offer and then go about the business of winning.

That’s the magic of Southern Miss against East Carolina. The Golden Eagles always believe they’ll win the game against ECU. Someway, somehow, the Golden Eagles always seem to get the job done.

The teams have now played 17 times in Greenville. Southern Miss now has 15 wins in the series on the Pirates' home field.

It’s truly hard to believe.

I’m certainly not one to buck new traditions. However, the two plays to end the third quarter at the last two ECU home games, just before the "No Quarter" flag was raised, were huge plays for the opposition.

Against North Carolina, the Tar Heels' Brandon Tate went 58 yards with a punt return for a touchdown to tie that game at 31-31. Ben Hartman would save the day by finally hitting a field goal after missing three.

Then in the Southern Miss game, the Golden Eagles faced a key third and 15 from their own 25-yard line. Again, just before the No Quarter flag was to go up, Damion Fletcher burned the Bucs on a 48-yard run off of a screen pass. That one play pretty much took the wind out of the Pirate ship’s sails.

One new tradition, two big plays for the opposition. Maybe it’s just a coincidence. So far, though, the new flag ritual has at the very least featured some ill-timed success for the opposition.

That’s all ECU defensive coordinator Greg Hudson could think about as he walked off the field. He just walked by, shaking his head, and muttering, “third and 15…. third and 15…”

Fletcher’s run certainly caught the attention of Pirate coach Skip Holtz.
Holtz thinks his own running backs should be making similar plays.

“It was a big play and that’s probably an understatement,” said a dejected Holtz in the post-game news conference.

“[Fletcher] did a great job. He caught it, a couple of guys over ran it, and missed a couple of tackles, and then he stuck it up inside. Fletcher is a tremendous back. He did a heck of a job running the ball. He runs hard, he runs physical, and he breaks tackles.

"I was really impressed with him; I think we can take some lessons on how he runs.”

Holtz knows that his offense can only be as good as his running game makes it. With that stated, the coach may give some of his young backs a shot at some playing time.

“I did not think our running game was very good and I don’t think our running backs are making a lot happen," Holtz said. "I don’t think we are creating a lot of holes for them, but when we do, we are not making a lot of things happen on our own.”

Next up is West Virginia, and the Mountaineers will be big favorites for sure. The early line out of Las Vegas named the Pirates as a 27-point underdog.

With that said, the Pirate coach announced at Monday’s weekly news conference that changes could be coming in the Pirate lineup. The two obvious spots are at kicker and in the secondary.

“I don’t think we’re asking too much to be better then 2-6 in field goals after three games, especially from where the kicks came from,” said Holtz. “We’ll certainly look at the kicking spot for sure this week.”

“I also think some guys have to step up in the secondary, and be accountable,” Holtz added.

Holtz seemed a little distracted at Monday’s media gathering. You can see the frustration in the coach. This is his best team in his three years, but all he has to show for it is a 1-2 record and a big mountain to climb this week in Morgantown.

Holtz says he knows his team is working hard. The effort is there. Holtz says it’s the little things that are getting the Pirates beat.

“We’re three plays away from being undefeated,” Holtz said. “But you have to take care of the little things in order to find success.”

It’s the start of a tough, two-game road swing this week. The Pirates play at No. 5 West Virginia and then travel to Conference USA foe Houston.

“We’re a better team, but this is a tougher schedule,” Holtz said. “We just have to keep working.”

Holtz has had success against the Mountaineers, playing them tough in both encounters during his first two years.

“They just have such tremendous speed,” Holtz said. “They spread you out so you really have to tackle well in space.”

Every week it seems like the same song. This will be the Pirates' toughest test to date.

Holtz will have to pull out a great game plan and the Pirates will have to execute to perfection this week.

ECU has frustrated the Mountaineers before under Holtz and defensive coordinator Greg Hudson.

It will take a great effort, but upsets happen every Saturday.


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04/21/2008 07:05:23 PM


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