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Pirate Notebook No. 478
Monday, October 24, 2011

Denny O'Brien

Young line starting to gel

Harris BCS Poll

For the sixth year in a row, columnist Denny O'Brien is a member of the voting panel for the Harris Interactive College Football Poll commissioned by the Bowl Championship Series. O'Brien was nominated to the panel by Conference USA. His weekly ballot will be published in this space each Monday throughout the season.

The Harris Poll is a component of the BCS Standings. O'Brien's ballot below was filed in conjunction with this week's Harris BCS Poll.

Denny O'Brien's Harris Poll Ballot

[Ballot filed 10.23.11]

(Conference USA teams and ECU opponents highlighted in yellow.)

  1. LSU
  3.Oklahoma State
  4. Stanford
  5. Clemson
  6. Boise State
  7. Oregon
  8. Arkansas
  9. Michigan State
10. Wisconsin
11. Nebraska
12. Oklahoma
13. Houston
14. Kansas State
15. Michigan
16. South Carolina
17. Virginia Tech
18. Texas A&M
19. Arizona State
20. Penn State
21. Texas Tech
22. Southern Miss
23. Georgia
24. Baylor
25. Cincinnati

This Week's BCS Standings

This Week's Harris, AP, Coaches Polls


C-USA Standings

East Division







West Division







Scoreboard & Schedule



Young line starting to gel
BCS Standings
Harris/AP/Coaches Polls
ECU needs to take another step forward
Ruff girds Pirates for triple option
Realignment game gets new dynamic

By Denny O'Brien
All Rights Reserved.

Much of the credit for East Carolina’s victory over Navy has been attributed to the right arm of quarterback Dominique Davis. And deservedly so.

All Davis did in the Pirates’ 38-35 win was engineer his fifth comeback victory at ECU, and he did so in record-breaking fashion. The ECU quarterback completed his first 26 passes — an NCAA record for consecutive completions in a game — which combined with his string down the stretch of the Pirates’ win over Memphis last week gave him 36 in a row.

That latter stat is also a new NCAA record for consecutive completions by a QB over multiple games.

But as good as Davis was Saturday, he didn’t beat the Midshipmen alone. He was aided by a sure-handed receiving corps that found openings in the Navy secondary, along with sufficient protection to locate them.

Though there were a couple of protection breakdowns, the Pirates’ offensive front might have registered its best performance to date.

“I thought that offensive line in front of Dominique, and I think he would say this, did a great job,” Pirates coach Ruffin McNeill said. “On the run game, getting a 100-plus yards and then allowing Dominique to throw for 300-plus in the passing game, I thought all kudos go to that group.

“I was proud of those guys.”

East Carolina finished the night with 89 offensive plays and 504 total yards. The Pirates charted 372 of those through the air and added 132 on the ground.

McNeill said those numbers were close to where the Pirates need to be offensively, and that the improved play from the offensive line has been critical to ECU’s recent offensive resurgence.

“They are the key to this offense,” McNeill said. “I think they are working together as a great unit. Josh Clark and Jordan Davis have jumped into new positions at center and guard.”

“I’m very proud of that group. We’ve got so many injuries right now. Hugh (Parker) goes in on that last drive and does a pretty good job when he’s in there.”

In some ways, the Pirates’ game-punctuating drive was reminiscent of their final possession in regulation in the 2010 Liberty Bowl against Arkansas, only this time they delivered. ECU saddled its offensive front and carried it nine times for 38 yards, with running back Reggie Bullock providing the finishing touches on his three-yard touchdown plunge.

Bullock finished the day with 104 yards, marking the second time this season he has eclipsed the century mark. He, like Davis, owes much of his success Saturday to the improved play of the Pirates’ offensive line.

Given its youth, look for this bunch to continue improving.

Statement win

East Carolina defensive coordinator Brian Mitchell didn’t need to pin news clippings from last year’s 76-35 loss to Navy on the locker room walls. The ECU defense didn’t need a visible reminder as motivation to redeem last year’s performance.

Pirates linebacker Cliff Perryman said special emphasis already was being given to Navy after last season’s debacle.

“It means everything to us to get back on a winning streak and redeem ourselves from last year’s disturbing loss,” Perryman said. “They put up 76 points on us (last year).

“The locker room is ecstatic. We are full of energy, we’re extremely excited, and we can’t wait to get on the field next Saturday.”

Perryman finished the evening with a career high seven tackles — all solo stops — and registered a sack and two tackles for losses.

While Perryman admitted that his own personal effort provided satisfaction, the most gratifying number was the final margin on the scoreboard.

“It was a definitely a make or break game for us,” Perryman said. “We were desperate for wins. Our first three or four games, we played some of the toughest teams in the nation. We really didn’t get a chance to get a game (early) where we could get our confidence back.

"This right here gets us on the right track.”

And back in position to contend for another bowl berth.

Battlefield mentality

Preparation for the triple option is just as much mental as it is physical. Dealing with the scheme's element of deception requires an extra degree of mental sharpness while simultaneously being alert to the reality that Navy blockers are gunning for your legs on every play.

It’s a style of play a defense doesn’t see every week. Nor does it want to.

“It’s a war out there, every play,” Pirates linebacker Jeremy Grove said. “The main thing is everybody has to do their job every play. The one time you slip up, they are going to break it.

"I think we did a good job at that. We just had to play nasty tonight.”

Grove, who missed last week’s win at Memphis with a shoulder injury, was one of many Pirates who played with a renewed purpose Saturday. That much was evident from the opening kick.

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10/24/2011 02:10 AM

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