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O'BRIEN'S HARRIS POLL BALLOT
For the second year in a row, Denny O'Brien is a member
for the Harris Interactive College Football Poll,
commissioned by the Bowl Championship Series. O'Brien
was nominated to the panel by Conference USA.
Harris Poll is a component of the BCS Standings, which
also take into account the USA Today Coaches Poll and an average of six
computer service rankings. The
updated BCS Standings,
as released weekly by the National Football Foundation,
are posted on Bonesville.net each Monday morning.
this week's ballot as submitted by
O'Brien on Sunday to Harris Interactive:
4. West Virginia
5. Ohio State
6. Arizona State
9. Southern Cal
14. Boise State
15. Virginia Tech
18. Boston College
23. Brigham Young
24. Texas Tech
25. Central Florida
Complete BCS Standings
It’s not easy finding a
label that succinctly defines a team whose 6-5 record is marked by an
even mix of improbable victories and perplexing losses.
But if such a term exists,
it has indelibly associated itself with East Carolina’s 2007 football
comes to mind, but its overuse makes it a mundane choice, both
unimaginative and much too commonplace for this 12-week emotional
medley. And though the Pirates’ record is dangerously close to the
football Mendoza line, there have been enough thrills to rescue ECU’s
year from a mediocre classification.
Like Ben Hartman’s
game-winning field goal over North Carolina that sent Dowdy-Ficklen
Stadium into a frenzy and Butch Davis back to Chapel Hill with a perfect
0-3 mark against ECU. It was the proper punctuation to quarterback
Patrick Pinkney’s performance, which statistically finds itself among
the best in ECU history.
And don’t forget those
Texas tummy twisters. Surviving two missed field goals in the final
minutes at Houston was one thing. But to drive 71 yards in 34 seconds to
tie the game and then eventually win it in overtime in El Paso?
Not that there hasn’t been
turbulence this season. Quite the contrary.
Just days before the
Pirates’ opening kick, 2007 made a screeching U-turn when quarterback
Rob Kass was cited for driving under the influence. It threw a titanium
monkey wrench into Coach Skip Holtz’s plans, which already included the
unveiling of an inexperienced quarterback against the nation’s most
What ensued was a portrait
of perhaps the best-prepared team we’ve witnessed at ECU in more than a
In one week, Holtz and his
staff crafted a three-headed quarterback, with each appendage offering
its own change of pace. The result was a gameplan that emphasized clock
consumption and a challenge that was answered by a determined Pirates
defense that kept the Virginia Tech faithful nervous and the score
It’s just too bad the 'D'
hasn’t answered that call on more occasions this fall, perhaps the most
vexing detail about this season.
After the strides ECU made
defensively last fall and the return of the front seven in its entirety,
much was expected from the Pirates defensively. The dominance and
purpose with which that group played in Blacksburg only raised that
expectation, and most felt that the shaky young secondary would quickly
grasp the concepts of ECU’s zone coverage schemes.
Considering the knowledge
and experience possessed by the Pirates veteran defensive staff, why
wouldn’t it? Because generally speaking, don’t players — especially
young ones — improve dramatically throughout the course of a season?
Those are good questions,
ones for which concise explanations don’t exist. But to laymen eyes, the
Pirates have hardly displayed noticeable defensive improvement on a
The names Trevor Vittatoe,
Daniel Evans, Martin Hankins, and Bernard Morris attest to that. All are
quarterbacks who scorched the Pirates over the past month, each of whom
easily accounted for more than 300 yards of offense.
Thankfully, the Pirates
had enough offense to counter two of those Heisman performances. On the
other two, ECU’s quarterback shuffle appeared mostly disheveled, with
the supporting cast responding with rhythmic imbalance.
That’s a puzzle for which
a solution won’t be defined until at least the spring. Ditto for the
Pirates’ defensive deficiencies, which at this stage are far too many
for any quick-fix to completely suture.
Even so, it’s not like
East Carolina remotely resembles the program that Holtz inherited in
2004. Far from it. Though the performance against Marshall resurrected
painful reminders, the current state of the program is light years ahead
of John Thompson’s miserable tenure.
But if East Carolina loses
to Tulane on Saturday — and that’s entirely possible — it will be
tempting for some to emphatically proclaim 2007 as a failure. Such
taxonomy would be completely short-sighted.
However, when you consider
the Pirates’ position two weeks ago, it would be both fair and accurate
to label a 6-6 finish a disappointment. That’s what East Carolina must
avoid on Saturday.