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From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, September 8, 2008

By Brian Bailey

The good, the bad and the ugly

By Brian Bailey
All rights reserved.


Replay Monday night's Brian Bailey Show with guest Kevin Miller. 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


Bailey: The good, the bad and the ugly

BVL Audio: Skip Holtz Weekly Press Luncheon
O'Brien: September sun nearly melted Pirates
BVL: Updated C-USA Scoreboard
BVL: AP & Coaches Polls
Myatt: Apps loaded with offensive punch
Gold: Introducing: The Hype Theory

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way — in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

Charles Dickens
"A Tale of Two Cities"

I certainly didn’t read enough books in high school or college, but one that I enjoyed the most was “A Tale of Two Cities.”

That opening to that book kept coming back to me in the second half of Saturday’s East Carolina win over Appalachian State. The Pirates were so good in the first quarter, but really struggled in the second half against what I thought was an inferior opponent.

How does a team dominate the line of scrimmage like East Carolina did in the first half, only to lose that edge in the second half?

I think Appalachian State’s coaches made some great adjustments and I think many of the Pirates chalked up a victory a tad early. I think things came so easy in the first half that many of the players had moved on to another group of Mountaineers, ECU’s week two opponent from Morgantown.

All things considered, Coach Skip Holtz seemed pleased that his squad won the game, but all parties concerned also realize there is plenty of work ahead.

"I told the staff I thought the best thing that could ... happen to us would be a one-point win because we'd have everybody's attention and focus,” said Holtz. “With all the people we have coming back, I thought that was a great lesson for us to learn. We're not going to win just because we have a lot of experience back. We have nine starters back, but the opponent is not going to run out of the stadium.”

Lessons often come with losses. That was not the case on Saturday, and that should be a huge positive as the Pirates kick off this football season.

"We keep saying that nothing is given to us and you have to earn everything,” Holtz continued. “At this point, we've earned one win. I'm proud of this team and what they did. I'm proud of the fact that they didn't panic or flinch. They kept playing football and leadership stood up. Van Eskridge was vocal. That was the first time I've really seen him take a positive active role. I think there were a lot of positive things that came out of Saturday."

Much of the postgame concern centered on the cramping that hobbled several of the Pirates in the opener, especially C.J. Wilson. I asked Coach Holtz if that was a major concern if it stays hot in September.

"It wasn't overly hot,” said Holtz. "C.J. Wilson and Van Eskridge have never cramped a day in their lives. We go out and practice hard for two-and-a-half hours in a lot more heat than we played in on Saturday and have not had any problems with it. Right now I'm not overly concerned with it.”

Holtz has, however, been proactive on the matter.

"If it's something that continues to show up, obviously we'll have to take more of a look into it. We are taking some precautionary measures, though. I met with Mike Hanley (Assistant AD for Medical Services/Head Athletic Trainer) and talked about some of the different things we can do whether it's electrolytes or something else. I think it was a lot of individual separate cases Saturday. It's not a concern right now."

Back in Time Thursday

East Carolina alums have told me for a long time that there is nothing like the pride one has in the football team from their school.
I finally got a taste of that this past weekend.

This past Thursday I took the day off. I journeyed back to my alma mater and walked around on campus at Old Dominion University.

ODU was set to play the school’s first football game in six decades that Saturday. I took a look at the new stadium on campus, and I could sense a bit of school pride for the first time. I have been in Greenville for almost 25 years and this was my first trip back to the ODU campus.

Foreman Field was primarily used for field hockey when I was in school. Now, Foreman Field is a part of S.B. Ballard Stadium after a $24.8 million facelift.

The Monarchs are playing as an Independent this year and will join the CAA in the future and play in the NCAA’s Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division IAA). One of the Monarch’s assistant coaches is former ECU Pirate defensive lineman Dealton Cotton. Cotton coaches ODU’s defensive line.

ODU beat Chowan 36-21 in the school’s first football game in 60 years.

My primary reason for my trip home last Thursday was to watch the team of one of my best friend’s play. Tim Sitterson started his second year as the head coach at Hickory High School in Chesapeake this past Thursday. Tim and I played high school football together at Indian River High School.

I didn’t get the chance to see Tim coach during his first year because of my commitments to Touchdown Friday at WNCT-TV 9 on Friday nights.

This year Hickory opened on Thursday, giving me a chance to see his team.
It was a great game. Hickory came from 12 points down to lead 15-12 in the final seconds. The Hawks made a tackle on the three-yard line to preserve the win.

There’s nothing like surprising an old friend with a big hug after a victory!

Congrats to the Hawks and the Monarchs!

Pirates are underdogs

East Carolina is a 6½-point underdog against West Virginia this week in Morgantown.

West Virginia had its own struggle against a Football Championship Subdivision opponent in week one, slipping by the Liberty Flames 33-20.

The Mountaineers fan base certainly isn’t sold on Bill Stewart. That same base remembers the beat-down that East Carolina put on West Virginia in Greenville last year.

Likewise, Skip Holtz remembers his last trip to Morgantown.

"I remember we scored right at the end to get points on the board, that's what I remember,” said Holtz. “We went up there and they played a great game. Pat White was about 19-20 throwing the ball. They were really impressive that day. Their running game was on and we struggled.

"We're taking a much more experienced team up there than we did two years ago. I do think the crowd will be a factor, especially after last year's result. I think their crowd will be loud. Crowd noise is going to be something we're going to have to talk about this week at practice."

As for the Pirates, that second half against Appalachian State should serve as a great wake-up call for Skip Holtz and his squad.
I think you’ll see a great effort for the entire 60 minutes this time out.


E-mail Brian Bailey.

Brian Bailey Archives

09/08/2009 03:00 AM


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