ECU now facing one-game season
||The post-game slants
and audio bytes, as
penned and digitally
recorded by staff
GREENVILLE OK, now you can say it. East Carolina's season is officially
on life support, and the Pirates are showing no signs of consciousness.
With last night's 27-13 loss to a mediocre Houston club on national
television, East Carolina now rests at 0-5 overall, 0-2 in Conference USA.
Both the offense and defense rank among the nation's worst. The
expressions behind the facemasks are as sour as a gallon of three-week old
With more than half the season still to play, the Pirates are virtually
beyond reach from postseason competition. That has set the stage for what
has become a one-game season North Carolina's much-anticipated visit to
Greenville in 11 days.
Win, and perhaps the Pirates can awaken from the nightmare that has
produced seven-straight losses dating back to last year. Lose, and Pirate
Pride will become so deflated that an endless supply of helium likely would
fail to keep their pigskin hopes afloat.
"I know that it will be an emotional game," Pirates coach John Thompson
said of the Tar Heels' momentous first visit west of Raleigh. "But that's
something that we've got to build on. Football is an emotional sport.
"We need this game. We need every bit of the time that we have to get
ready for it."
Especially now that the Pirates are back to square one.
At a point in the season when quarterbacks are generally expected to hit
their stride, there now is indecision about the No. 1 guy. Up until last
night, Thompson was so emphatic about Desmond Robinson as the starter that
mere mention of the position automatically put the coach on the defensive.
But after nine interceptions, three lost fumbles and no touchdown passes
from Robinson, Thompson now appears open to other options.
"I think Paul (Troth) went in and did some good things," Thompson said.
"He deserves an opportunity to at least compete for that. Whether it's
wide-open, or Paul's the guy, we'll just have to go in and see.
"You don't make those decisions right now."
That decision will have to come soon, given the fragile nature of a
Though accurate in the short game, Robinson has struggled with downfield
reads. That has resulted in a steady stream of turnovers and a confidence
level that seems to deteriorate with every snap.
Troth also faired miserably against the Cougars, completing just 2-of-13
attempts against an average defense. In fairness, though, that was his first
significant action and it will take more game-speed repetitions to develop a
flow that, along with enough faith from the coach to not look over his
shoulder following a bad throw.
That's only one of many issues the Pirates are facing and it couldn't
have come at a worse time.
For decades, East Carolina has fought for respect in this state, with
football as its shining badge of pride. While the so-called Big Four was
creating a mystique on the hardwood, the Pirates found a niche on the
With an us-against-the-world attitude, ECU became a symbolic David,
fully-prepared to do battle with a Who's Who list of Goliaths.
Well, now the Pirates finally get the chance to confront their most
notorious behemoth, and in their own territory, too. Though Carolina is no
college football bully and likely to enter the game winless as well this
is one-shot-at-redemption matchup for ECU.
It's rich versus poor. Have versus have not. White collar versus blue
collar. A school and a region that worked tirelessly hand-in-hand for
everything it got against the kid with the silver spoon.
And it even took political arm-twisting not to mention an extension to
Highway 264 to bring the Tar Heels to Pirate Land.
In many ways, the season now rides on that showdown with Carolina. For
the coaches, players, and fans.
A victory in front of a
sellout crowd could inject new life
into an East Carolina program that suddenly is searching for a pulse.
A loss would be the emotional knockout blow from which it will be
difficult to recover.
Send an e-mail message to Denny O'Brien.
Click here to dig into Denny O'Brien's Bonesville
This page updated:
02/23/2007 01:52:11 AM.