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From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, September 22, 2008

By Brian Bailey

Defending the title starts now

By Brian Bailey
All rights reserved.


Replay Monday night's Brian Bailey Show with guest Donnie Kirkpatrick. 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: Defending the title starts now
BVL Audio: Skip Holtz Monday press luncheon
O'Brien: Big play missing from ECU arsenal
BVL: This Week's Polls

Batten: Geary & Geary sold on East Carolina

Myatt: Davis, Holtz take the high road

The preliminaries certainly didn’t go the way this East Carolina football program would have liked.

East Carolina opens Conference USA play this week by hosting Central Florida.

Believe it or not, this may be a more important game for the Knights then it is for the Pirates. UCF already has a loss to Southern Miss in league play.

An 0-2 start in the East Division would just about eliminate the Knights from battling for that spot in the Conference USA title game.

As for the Pirates, this is an East Carolina team that desperately wants to get off the snide and get on with the business of defending its league championship.

This experienced, talented football team has found life on the road a bit difficult.

East Carolina showed some signs of life on offense against North Carolina on Saturday, with a couple of long, second half drives. But the problems scoring in the second half continued for Pirate coach Skip Holtz and his squad.

“I know when you look at the score sheet it only says three points, but we had a 14-play drive and a 15-play drive,” said Holtz. “We took the ball down the field, made first downs and converted third downs. We were able to stay on the field a little bit more, which I was encouraged by. Not getting the big chunks of yards and not getting into the end zone is something we have to continue to work on.”

The mindset of playing league games continues to be a challenge for Holtz and his coaching staff. There was a buzz about last week’s matchup with North Carolina. This week’s buzz is more of the manufactured kind.

It’s just the nature of the beast of this conference. Conference USA has little history, few rivalries, and schools spread across America. Perhaps it should be the “sea to shining sea” league.

Everyone at East Carolina knows the league has its shortcomings. Holtz likes to talk about the “ugly baby.” It may be ugly, but it’s home. The challenge is to get the fan base excited about league games. It is probably an easier sale to the players.

"We're into conference play now. I think our players are excited about it,” Holtz added. “I hate where we are right now at 1-2, as do the players. But as I said, there's something we can do about it and something we can do to change it. A lot of that is going to be the preparation for this week.”

Bad call didn't help

A blown call late in the 4th quarter was the icing on the cake of what was a frustrating afternoon for East Carolina in Chapel Hill.

No, the officials didn’t beat East Carolina on Saturday. North Carolina was the better team and the score reflected that fact at game’s end.

I bring this up because somebody on the officiating crew should have come to referee Ron Cherry’s aid. Cherry only saw the end of the play, when C.J. Wilson crashed into North Carolina quarterback T.J. Yates and was called for a late hit.

Cherry missed the fact that a Tar Heel offensive lineman hit Wilson in the back and drove Wilson into Yates.

A no-call would have made it 3rd and 12. If the Tar Heels had been flagged for the late hit, it would have been third and a bunch. There could have been two calls against North Carolina on the play, the block in the back and the late hit.

“What the official told me on the field is all he saw was our player hit the quarterback,” said Holtz. “That was all he saw, so he made the call. My feeling was that there were a lot of officials on the field, so somebody had to see what happened to make C.J. go into the quarterback.”

Holtz says all coaches send in films of calls to the league office.

“Hopefully our officials can turn and take some of the mistakes that they make by the films that we send in and we can improve on those things and make sure we don’t have these mistakes in the future," he said.

Cherry is best know for his line after calling a personal foul in a game, when he told the crowd the player was, “giving him the business.” NFL official Ben Dreith first made the call famous years ago in a Bills-Jets game.

I think Cherry is a fine official, but his crew let him down on that call. North Carolina iced the game two plays later with its final touchdown.


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09/22/2009 01:39 AM


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