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UNC-CH 24, ECU 21
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East Carolina vs. North Carolina
Saturday, October 6, 2001
Kenan Stadium (60,000), 3:35 PM EDT
Television: WITN-TV and ESPN-Plus
Weather Fx: Chance of rain through mid-afternoon, then clearing.

Pirates and Heels at a Glance

It has been two decades since East Carolina and North Carolina last met on the football field. Though the two schools have faced each other just eight times, this was and still is a bitter rivalry.

The Tar Heels boast a stingy defense, and like to bully foes around with their dominating front four, led by Julius Peppers. The Pirates will try to out-finesse the bigger Heels, using a quick-strike mentality, fueled by quarterback David Garrard and running back Leonard Henry.

A record crowd is expected at Kenan Stadium, which should provide an electrifying atmosphere.

North Carolina Facts and Notes

Record: 2-3. The Heels have won two straight and have played the toughest schedule in the country according to the Sagarin Ratings.

Head Coach: John Bunting, 2-3 (first year).

Venue: Nestled between the pines, Kenan Stadium (60,000) is arguable the most serene setting in college football.

Last Week: Beat N.C. State, 17-9. The Heels followed their 41-9 schocker over Florida State with a win in Raleigh.

The Series: Carolina leads, 6-1-1. The Pirates lone win came during the Pat Dye era, a 38-17 win in 1975. The two have never met in Greenville.

Last Meeting: 1981. Former ECU head coach Ed Emory is still apologizing for this one, a 56-0 rout.

Last Bowl Game: 1998 Las Vegas Bowl. Defeated San Diego State, 20-13.

Familiar Faces: Current Carolina assistant coaches Jeff Connors, James Webster and Dave Huxtable will look different to ECU fans on Saturday. Instead of sporting those familiar purple golf shirts, the three former ECU assistants will be all decked out in their Carolina blue on Saturday. Former ECU linebacker Jeff Kerr is also on the UNC staff as a graduate assistant in the strength program.

Running Back U.: Southern Cal and North Carolina have battled over the title of Running Back U. for some time. The Trojans have the marquee names with OJ Simpson and Marcus Allen. The Tar Heels, however, have had a running back rush for 1,000 or more yards 24 times, tops in college football.

Football Claim to Fame: Running back Charlie "Choo Choo" Justice got his nickname because of his running style, which greatly resembled that of a train -- he kept chuggin' along. Justice was one of the more sought after players entering college, and led the Tar Heels to three major bowls between 1946-49. Justice was a folk hero during his era, prompting Benny Goodman and Johnny Long to record the hit song, "All the Way Choo Choo."

The Breakdown

Quotes of Note: "I don't know why, but I like playing on the road — always have. I think that we've done a decent job here of preparing our kids to play on the road. I think East Carolina probably was born on the road, to be honest with you. Going on the road is something that, I think, this particular school had better become decent at it, or you would never, ever win a game. Going on the road is something that is not a negative in my mind for us, and I don't think it ever has been." -- East Carolina head coach Steve Logan on playing on the road.

"I imagine, with the old culture of East Carolina, there are people that would give anything to win this game. Quite honestly, we need to win our Conference USA football games, first and foremost. We've got to win our conference games; that's what we're all about and it is for every school. I'm sure Coach Bunting is looking at that Maryland loss and it's just killing him. I'd be sitting here hanging from a rope if we had lost to Tulane. In our initial meeting in August, when we took our one and only look at the composite schedule, I circled Tulane and told our football team if we were 1-4 at the end of this section and we'd beaten Tulane, we could still deal with it. We don't want to be 1-4. We try our best to win every game, as does every coach, but believe me, our interest is heightened in regards to our conference football games." -- Logan on the importance of the Carolina game.

"Torey Morris is one of our better receivers, and one of our main weapons. But myself, Aaron Harris, Arnie Powell, Derrick Collier, Terrance Copper, Richard Alston and Richard Hourigan have got to step up. Whenever you get your number called, you've got to be ready to step up." -- Receiver Marcus White on Torey Morris, who is expected to miss several games with an injury.

"The young guys that have had to step up have stepped up for the most part. It hasn't really surprised me because I knew those guys had the ability to do it, they just had to get the chance. With the injury to Chris Nelson early, a lot of young guys had to step in. They've done the job so far — we've got to see if we can keep it going." -- Offensive lineman Aaron Walker on the O-line's play.

North Carolina Players to Watch: QB Darian Durant (539 yds, 6 TD), QB Ronald Curry (5 INT), RB Andre Williams (200 yds), WR Kory Bailey (3 TD), WR Sam Aiken (19 catches, 245 yds), DE Julius Peppers (4 sacks, 2 INT), DT Ryan Sims (3 sacks).

Striking Stats: DE Julius Peppers has recorded the Heels' only interceptions this year -- two.


When the Pirates have the ball: Look for a similar gameplan to the one the Pirates took to Syracuse last week. Expect ECU to come out conservative, giving Leonard Henry plenty of work in the early going. Offensive coordinator Doug Martin will most likely mix in some option, too.

As the game progresses, look for the Pirates to open things up, using their quick passing game to combat a powerful Carolina pass rush. If things start opening up, Garrard will begin taking shots downfield off play-action.

The Carolina defense, with its dominating front four, will likely be the toughest defense the Pirates will face this season. In retrospect, the Pirates present the most diverse package offensively that the Tar Heels will face.

Slight Advantage: East Carolina.

When the Heels have the ball: The Heels will keep to their two-quarterback system, alternating Curry and Durant every two drives. Both QBs are mobile, but have been interception-prone in the past. However, since incorporating the system, the Heels have won two straight.

The Heels run a traditional style of offense -- two backs, two receivers, tight end. The Heels like to balance things out on offense, though the passing game seems to be more effective when Durant is in the game.

The Heels have struggled at times on the offensive line, but the unit is starting to gel. Carolina should be good enough to put some points on the board against a struggling Pirate D.

Slight Advantage: North Carolina

Special Teams: Both the Pirates and the Heels boast game-breakers in the return game. ECU's Marvin Townes, along with UNC's Bosley Allen and Michael Waddell are a threat any time they touch the ball.

Both Kevin Miller and Jeff Reed are accurate kickers, while the Pirates probably have the better punter in Jarad Preston.

This looks like a stalemate, and if one of the two can create on special teams, that could provide the difference on Saturday.

Advantage: Even

Coaching: John Bunting has been a head football coach for less than a year, while Logan is a seasoned veteran. But you have to hand it to Bunting, whose schedule has been a baptism by fire.

Both schools have solid staffs, though ECU has the chemistry edge. Doug Martin, Steve Shankweiler, Terry Tilghman, et al. have been together for a long time. Give the nod to the more cohesive unit here.

Advantage: East Carolina

Intangibles: East Carolina fans have waited 20 years for this one, but they won't be the ones strapping on the gear. The players have plenty of incentive though, as most of the talking has been done by the boys wearing blue.

The Pirates haven't lost two in a row since 1998, which has become a benchmark for Logan. Offensive lineman Aaron Walker echoed that sentiment on Monday, stating he would be reminding his teammates all week long.

The weather geeks are calling for rain, which historically has been a good sign for the purple and gold.

Advantage: East Carolina

What East Carolina must do to win:

  • Give Garrard time. Julius Peppers and Joey Evans are the most dangerous bookends the Pirates will face all season. Ryan Sims also has the ability to push the pocket in the middle. If Garrad doesn't have time, he could be prone to turnovers.
  • Catch the ball. The Pirates had a case of the drops against Syracuse, which proved costly. With the loss of the sure-handed Torey Morris, somebody will need to step up for the Pirates.
  • Ride the L-train. Leonard Henry is averaging over nine-yards per carry and ranks fifth nationally in rushing. Just imagine if the Pirates got him the ball 20-25 times per game.
  • Keep Curry/Durant in the pocket. ECU had trouble when Syracuse quarterback Troy Nunes rolled out. Curry and Durant are far better runners, and aren't overly accurate from the pocket.
  • Win turnover battle. When the Pirates lose the turnover battle, they generally don't find the winner's circle.

What North Carolina must do to win:

  • Win field position battle. If the Heels can pin the Pirates deep in their own territory, Garrard and co. could be in danger. In retrospect, if the Heels can give Durant and Curry short fields with which to work, the Heels will find better production from their two QBs.
  • Stop the run. The Heels have been effective agains the run, save for the Maryland game. The Pirates are among the nation's best in rushing, and are hard to beat when they get their quota of ground yards.
  • Get to Garrard. If Garrard has time to find third and fourth recievers, he should be able to pick the Heels apart.
  • Avoid Turnovers. The Heels have been careless with the ball thus far, which proved costly in losses to Oklahoma, Maryland, and Texas.
  • Create on special teams. If Allen or Waddell can break one in the return game, Uncle 'Mo' will belong to the Heels.

Prediction: It all boils down to ECU's offense versus UNC's defense. The game will be one in the trenches, and if the Syracuse game is any indication, the Pirates are poised to perform. No way I'm picking the Heels in this one — Pirates win it, 23-14.

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02/23/2007 02:05:41 AM

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