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Pirate Notebook No. 328
Monday, November 26, 2007

By Denny O'Brien

Revised QB formula yields dividends

By Denny O'Brien
All Rights Reserved.


For the second year in a row, 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.

The 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 each Monday morning.

Here is this week's ballot as submitted by O'Brien on Sunday to Harris Interactive:

 1. West Virginia
 2. Missouri
 3. Georgia
 4. LSU
 5. Kansas
 6. Ohio State
 7. Southern Cal
 8. Oklahoma
 9. Florida
10. Tennessee
11. Hawaii
12. Virginia Tech
13. Illinois
14. Boston College
15. Wisconsin
16. Clemson
17. Arizona State
18. Texas
19. Boise State
20. Virginia
21. Brigham Young
22. South Florida
23. Texas Tech
24. Central Florida
25. Arkansas

Complete BCS Standings

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BVL: BCS Standings
Denny O'Brien's BCS Harris Poll Ballot
O'Brien: Revised QB formula yields dividends
BVL: Bulls scuttle Bucs
Gold: 'Tis the season
Batten: Joshua Clark: football born and bred

Skip Holtz spent some time during the off week ironing out a more systematic approach to East Carolina’s quarterback rotation.

Saturday against Tulane, quarterbacks Rob Kass and Patrick Pinkney rotated after every second series, a move that proved fruitful in the Pirates’ convincing 35-12 win.

The ECU offense that was stymied two weeks ago against Marshall performed with more rhythm against the Green Wave, finishing with 441 total yards.

Kass and Pinkney combined for more than half that through the air, completing 14-of-21 passes for 222 yards and three touchdowns.

“I thought Rob threw the ball very accurately, and I thought Patrick did a very nice job of running the team,” Holtz said. “They each got two series, and then we just kind of went back and forth. I think either quarterback could run the offense that we ran today. It wasn’t so much suited towards one or the other.

"When you get under the center and you’re handing the ball of to Chris Johnson and play-action passing a little bit, they’re both capable of doing that offense. We just turned and kind of rotated the two as we went through the day.”

It was a refreshing departure from previous games, when there seemed to be no rhyme or reason behind ECU’s sudden switch-a-roos.

Pinkney made a cameo appearance in the second half against Texas-El Paso, a move that produced a red zone turnover. Two weeks ago at Marshall, Kass played the game’s opening series against the Thundering Herd, only to return for ECU’s final possession.

ECU’s revised quarterback rotation eliminated any sudden surprises.

“Whether it was me or Patrick going in there, we knew we wanted to execute as an offense,” Kass said. “To know prior that I would have the first two series and then Patrick would go in there, it was comforting almost.

“As much as I want to go and be in there 100 percent of the time, I learn from sitting back and watching from the sidelines. And I think Patrick does, too. We try to help each other in every situation.”

Kass also has done plenty to help himself since the loss to Marshall. After completing only 3-of-7 passes for 42 yards against the Herd, the strong-armed QB used the extra week to develop more touch on his passes.

“The past week and a half, two weeks with the bye week, I really concentrated on throwing with more touch,” Kass said. “Not trying to be that rocket-arm guy, but to always throw a catchable ball.

“If it’s a hard ball, there are certain situations where that is required. There are other opportunities when you put touch on the ball, it gives the receiver a better opportunity to adjust and make the play. This past two weeks, we really tried to focus on that.”

The results definitely showed during ECU’s first scoring drive.

Kass displayed excellent touch on passes to Davon Drew and Steven Rogers for 14 yards and 39 yards, respectively. He punctuated that with a six-yard loft to running back Dominique Lindsay for the Pirates’ first score.

On ECU’s next possession, Pinkney took the reigns and promptly drove the Pirates for their second touchdown. Most of that 65 yards occurred courtesy of running back Chris Johnson, but ECU hardly missed a beat with the quarterback switch.

Physical challenge

After the Pirates’ disappointing performance against Marshall, Holtz wanted a more physical, aggressive effort against Tulane.

That ECU was tasked with stopping tailback Matt Forte and the Green Wave’s tough run defense only provided extra motivation. The Pirates responded to their coach’s challenge by out-rushing Tulane 219-108.

“Everybody is always talking about how good their running back is, and how great of a defense they have, and rightly so,” senior offensive tackle Josh Coffman said. “Their defense statistically is one of the best in the conference. They are a good defense. Obviously, they’re running back is a very good player as well.

“They challenged us to be the highlight of the show today. I think we answered the call and did a very good job overall as an O-line and an offense.”

No distractions

After losing control of its own destiny two weeks ago, East Carolina needed a win by UTEP over Central Florida to get back into the league championship mix. With the Miners and Knights kicking off at 2 PM Saturday, there must have been some temptation for scoreboard watching.

But Kass said ECU's full attention was on beating Tulane.

“We try and focus on the task at hand, which was Tulane today,” Kass said after the victory over Tulane. “Now that the game is over, we can root one way or the other.

“Obviously we want UCF to lose, because we want the opportunity to play for the conference championship. But you know what? We were focused fully on Tulane today.”

That certainly seemed the case. The Pirates responded Saturday with one of their most complete performances of the season, especially on defense.

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11/26/2007 01:30:20 AM

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