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From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
By Brian Bailey

Bowl-bound Pirates hobbling

By Brian Bailey
All rights reserved.


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East Carolina will be one of the six Conference USA teams to head to a bowl this postseason. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that healthy bodies are at a premium. This Pirate football team will literally limp into the finale against Tulane on Saturday.

The defense is especially hurting. Pirate coach Skip Holtz had hoped that the bye week would heal some of the aches and pains. It did.

However, some of the more serious injuries will just take more time to get better.

“There are a number of players right now that look like they’ll miss this game,” said Holtz at his weekly press conference on Monday. “Quentin Cotton and Jeremy Chambliss, two linebackers that have really played well for us, both hurt their ankles in the Marshall game. Nick Johnson, Daniel Muhwezi, Marcus Hands, Brandon Setzer… the list goes on and on. And this isn’t the game that you want to lose your front seven for.”

Tulane is led by Heisman Trophy candidate Matt Forte. Forte leads the NCAA in rushing yards with 2,007 and in yards per game with 182.45. He is on pace to finish the year with the highest yards-per-game average since LaDanian Tomlinson of Texas Christian in 2000.

“They certainly give him the ball,” said Holtz. “He’s had 336 carriers. He’s big, he’s durable and he’s strong. He’s led this team to two straight wins. His offensive line has gotten much better throughout the season. He’s a senior, but I would guess that the rest of this team wants to finish strong as a springboard for next year.”

This will be a much different “game week” for ECU, with the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday. Holtz said he kept the team together his first season, but with so many players from North Carolina, he decided to give the team the holiday off last year. He’ll do the same thing this year.

“So many of our guys want to go home for Thanksgiving,” said Holtz. “And many of them (will) take another guy or two, players that might have too far to travel for the one day. I think they enjoyed that last year and several players had expressed to me the desire to do the same thing again this year.”

The Pirates will go through their hard work on Tuesday and Wednesday. They’ll then take Thursday off, and reassemble for an early workout the next morning.

“We’ll get together early on Friday and go through what we would normally do on Thursday,” explained Holtz. “Then we’ll get them set to play a very good Tulane team on Saturday.”

Thanksgiving and football are one of my favorite combinations. The high school teams know that if they’re still practicing on Thanksgiving, then it’s been a pretty good year.

In the college ranks, Thanksgiving weekend gives us the season finales, including some of the great rivalries around the nation. At ECU, it gives us one final game to jockey for bowl position.

The pros feature a midweek treat: a Thanksgiving feast and NFL football on the tube. What could be better then that?!

Every family has a different tradition. Our family always ate Thanksgiving dinner opposite the Cowboys game. After all, priorities are priorities.

Every one of us has so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. Personally, I have a great job working with and covering so many great people. I’m thankful for my children — my daughter is a junior at East Carolina and my son is a junior in high school with definite plans to attend ECU.

Coach Holtz summed up what he was thankful for this way.

“I don’t think we have enough time to list all of my blessings,” he smiled and said. “It starts with family. I’m so blessed to have the wife that I have and my children. I’m blessed to be the head football coach at East Carolina.

"It’s just great that we have the chance to take one day and reflect on all that we have to be grateful for.”

Here’s hoping yours is a great Thanksgiving holiday and we’ll see you at Dowdy-Ficklen for the Pirates season finale against Tulane.


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04/21/2008 07:02:35 PM


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