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From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
By Brian Bailey

ECU in 'survive and advance' mode

By Brian Bailey
All rights reserved.


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BVL: Skip Holtz Weekly Press Conference
Bailey: ECU in 'survive and advance' mode
Picture: Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium Sky
BVL: BCS Standings
Denny O'Brien's BCS Harris Poll Ballot
O'Brien: Johnson, OL proving critics wrong
Game Center: ECU 56, Memphis 40
Box Score/Statistics
Audio: Skip Holtz post-game
Audio: Talk 1070 post-game call-in show
O'Brien: Prolific C.J. offsetting Bucs' shaky 'D'
Monroe: Kevin's Keys to the Game
C-USA Standings, Scores, Schedule
ECU Schedule, Scores, Attendance, Links

East Carolina stayed right on track to host the Conference USA championship game with Saturday’s 56-40 win over Memphis.

Offensively, the win over the Tigers was a cakewalk.

Defensively, the win was a good one, but provided even more questions about a secondary that has had its share of growing pains this season.

Pirate Coach Skip Holtz has called his secondary an “ugly baby.” He always followed that up by saying, “but it’s our baby.”

That baby needs a spanking.

Actually, I thought the secondary played well until the Pirates built that big lead. Then it was a matter of not giving up the big play.

Still, Memphis ripped East Carolina in the second half. Those 56 points seemed to be just enough to keep the Tigers at bay.

“We played 90 plays (on defense) in the game against Memphis,” Holtz explained. “I was really proud that we only gave up 139 yards in 75 of those plays. That’s less then two yards per play. But we gave up 350 yards on the other 15 plays. That’s the main thing that we have to correct.

"We have to understand that we can’t play first, second and third down well, and then give it all away doing our own thing.”

Chris Johnson ran past the Tigers like they were standing still most of the day. This Pirate offense is putting numbers on the board in record fashion.

Johnson should do well in the NFL combines and may be a sleeper come draft day. His head coach couldn’t be prouder of the job that Johnson is doing.

“Chris is a leader on this football team.” Holtz said. “He comes to work everyday. Seniors sometimes have agendas and sometimes practice so they don’t get hurt. You don’t get that with Chris Johnson. I really couldn’t be any prouder of his work ethic, his attitude and his performance on game day.”

Next up is a Marshall team that is just 1-8 on the season. Holtz points out that North Carolina State was just 1-5 when it came to Greenville.

The Thundering Herd, despite struggling this year, has proven to be almost unbeatable at home through the years.

“I reminded our team about North Carolina State’s record,” said Holtz. “This (Marshall team) is a much better football team then 1-8 would indicate. They’ve been in games with good teams. We have to realize that if we don’t show up to play, then we’ll be the ones coming home with a loss.”

The Pirates need a win at Marshall and then a victory over Tulane at home to nail down the host slot for the Conference USA title game.

It’s survive and advance for the Pirates. Holtz calls it a single elimination tournament. Round three is this week in Huntington, West Virginia.

More on the Dowdy-Ficklen sky

It’s been a long time since I’ve gotten as much e-mail about a column as I did about the comments regarding the sky that framed Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium during the UAB game. It seems like everyone saw the sky and took a picture.

Several readers sent in pictures. I’ve included one of those at the bottom of this article to show what that very special sky looked like.

Someone joked that my buddies and I were going to watch Oprah together. I thought that was pretty funny!

Enjoy the picture, lets get the Pirates a win on Saturday, enjoy the off-week, eat some turkey and then beat Tulane on Nov. 24 to clinch the host slot in the C-USA title game. Is that too much to ask!?


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04/21/2008 07:03:49 PM


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