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East Carolina vs. Memphis
Saturday, October 20, 2001
Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium (43,000), 3:30 PM EDT
Television: ESPN Gameplan
Weather Fx: Mostly sunny and mild, variable winds up to 10mph

Pirates and Tigers at a Glance

East Carolina entertains Memphis on Homecoming weekend in Greenville. Unlike most homecoming opponents, the Tigers present a real threat to the Pirates.

The Pirates are likely to have revenge on their minds after last year's loss to the Tigers cost them a share of the C-USA title. If ECU has serious thoughts about a holiday trip to Memphis, it had better take care of Memphis on Saturday.

The Pirate defense will get a stern test from the new-look Tiger spread attack. Defensively, East Carolina can expect the same zone-blitzing schemes Memphis has used over past few years.

Memphis Facts and Notes

Record: 4-2, 2-1 (C-USA). The new-look Tigers have aspirations of a conference title.

Head Coach: Tommy West. 4-2 at Memphis (1st year), 39-37 overall (7th year).

Venue: Liberty Bowl Memorial (62,380).

Last Week: Beat Houston, 52-33. RB Dante Brown ran for a school record four touchdowns to push Memphis to 2-1 in C-USA.

The Series: East Carolina leads, 7-3. The Pirates and Tigers have met annually since the series began in 1990.

Last Meeting: 2000. Memphis jumped out to an early 17-0 lead, and held off a late fourth-quarter Pirate rally, 17-10.

Last Bowl Game: 1971 Pasadena Bowl. Beat San Jose State, 28-9.

Similar Situations: ECU defensive coordinator Tim Rose and Memphis head coach Tommy West have both been placed in similar situations while directing the Tiger defense. Following the '94 season, Memphis head coach Chuck Stobart was dismissed, with the job being offered to Rose, who declined the offer. Following Rip Scherer's dismissal last year, the job was offered to West, who, of course, accepted.

Mr. Notorious: At 6-foot-4, 335-pounds, Memphis defensive tackle Albert Means is destined for an NFL career. Means, a 1999 Parade All-American in high school, was so highly touted that his high school coaches have been charged with trying to sell their prized prospect. Means ended up at Alabama, where he spent one year before transferring to Memphis.

Football Claim to Fame: Memphis, which started playing football in 1912, has produced four undefeated teams . The most recent Tiger team didn't reach total perfection, though, tying once in a 9-0-1 campaign.

The Breakdown

Quotes of Note: "What's atypical is, suddenly, Memphis is really a threat offensively. We used to go into a Memphis game and say, well if we can find a way to get 17 or 21 points, we're going to be in good shape. That's not the case now. We're going to have to score. They have indicated that they are going to score; they've scored on just about everybody they've played. We've got to make sure and show up on offense and we've got to make sure our defense at least makes them snap the ball and see if we can't get a turnover or make them make mistakes." -- East Carolina head coach Steve Logan on the Pirates' need to score on Saturday.

"We've stayed relatively healthy this year. We've had a bang and a bruise here and there. I'm hoping to get [starting safety] Kelly Hardy back in the lineup this week; that will certainly help things. We struggled early with several issues and we've been solving them one at a time. We're stopping the run nicely now. We have not given up long pass plays as a rule, though there`s been one or two. The next piece of the puzzle is for us to be a little more efficient in the intermediate passing game. If we can get that done, I think we can step forward. Maybe that'll happen this week. -- Logan on the state of the ECU defense.

"Leonard's had an extraordinary number of explosion plays this year, and that`s where that nine-yards-a-carry number comes from. There's a lot of interest in Leonard right now and it's deserved. But I would also point out that it`s a community effort that`s taking place. Explosion plays from a running back position require a lot of good downfield blocking. This is one area where our wide receivers have been consistent. It's not sexy to talk about downfield blocking; fans don't want to talk about that and you certainly don't see highlights of it. But this is one area of consistency that`s been there with our wide receivers all year long." -- Logan on Leonard Henry and downfield blocking.

The punter and the kicker have been competitive this year. On kickoff, Kevin [Miller] has done a good job putting height under the ball and directing the ball and giving our coverage unit time to get down and cover it. The other hidden part of special teams is the return game. Coming into the season, I didn't know how well we would replace Keith Stokes. I was thinking that Terrance Copper would be the punt return man. When Marvin [Townes] showed up with the skills on the kickoff return, it became apparent that we needed to see if he could catch a punt." -- Logan on the kicking game.

Army Players to Watch: QB Travis Anglin (373 yards passing), QB Danny Wimprine (421 yards passing), RB Dante Brown (101.5 ypg), WR Bunkie Perkins (21 catches), DB Glenn Sumter (3 int), OLB Greg Harper (9 tackles for loss)

Striking Stats: Memphis is plus-nine in the turnover department. Tiger quarterbacks have thrown just one interception this year.


When the Pirates have the ball:

The Pirates were unsuccessful on the ground in last season's tilt with the Tigers, but have had success against every opponent this year, save for Wake Forest. Look for the Pirates to continue to ride Leonard Henry, who is averaging a nation's best 9.2 yards per carry.

The Tigers have given up plenty of yards through the air, and rank an uncharacteristic 85th in pass defense. David Garrard should be able to find openings in the Pirate secondary, but it will be up to the receiving corps to put together its second consecutive solid game. Arnie Powell at tight end now gives Garrard an additional option in the passing game.

Don't look for Doug Martin to put together a special game plan for this one, as the Pirates will continue trying to do what they have all season, which is to achieve balance on offense. A good dose of run and play-action will be plenty for Memphis to think about.

Advantage: East Carolina.

When the Tigers have the ball:

Tommy West may have found the system that best suit the athletes at Memphis. The Tigers run a true spread attack, much like Clemson and Northwestern. Thus far, the new offense has produced points by the bushel, accentuated by the Tigers' 52 last week against Houston.

The Pirate defense can expect to see formations much like it did against Wake Forest, though Memphis poses a bigger passing threat than did the Deacs. The Tigers like to line quarterbacks Travis Anglin and Danny Wimprine up in shotgun formation, where the two have been effective both passing and running.

The spread attack is based on misdirection and deception, which the Pirates had much trouble with against Wake. Memphis should find success through the air with its intermediate passing game.

Advantage: Memphis

Special Teams:

Memphis kicker Ryan White has been one of the more consistent kickers in C-USA history, and has connected on five of seven attempts thus far. ECU's Kevin Miller has been just as accurate, hitting on seven of ten tries, and has not missed an extra point.

Jarad Preston gives the Pirates the advantage in the punting game, and ECU's kick coverage has been solid all year. Return specialist Marvin Townes poses a serious threat, and the Pirates rank third nationally in kickoff returns.

Advantage: East Carolina


Tommy West directed Clemson to four bowls during his brief tenure, and is poised to take Memphis to one this year. Logan, Rose, and Martin get the experience nod, though, and also have a great chemistry together.

Advantage: East Carolina


With each game, the pressure mounts on ECU, which is trying to notch its first-ever C-USA championship. There will be added pressure to perform well on homecoming.

The Pirates feel like they owe the Tigers, who won last year's tilt. That extra emotion, as the Pirates discovered in last season's loss to UAB, can have a negative effect.

Advantage: Memphis

What East Carolina must do to win:

  • Make the reads. The Pirate DBs need to make the right reads, especially when Anglin and Wimprine roll out.
  • Precision in passing game. Memphis has yielded plenty of yards through the air, but has intercepted ten passes thus far. If Garrard is on the money, and the receivers are making the catch, the Pirates should have success.
  • Pressure, but don't overpursue. The Pirates haven't gotten adequate pressure on opposing quarterbacks since a victory over William and Mary. When they have, mobile QBs have found ways to escape the heat.
  • Continue ground success. The Pirates need to continue to flex their muscle on the ground. A repeat performance like the one last year's against the Tigers will most certainly result in a loss.
  • Create turnovers. The Pirates haven't exactly created turnovers by the bushel in recent weeks. With a bend-don't-break mentality on D, the Bucs best be opportunistic against the Memphis spread attack.

What Memphis must do to win:

  • Win field position battle. Giving Garrard long fields with which to work could go a long way toward limiting the Pirates' quick-strike ability.
  • Chew the clock. Though time of possession isn't a great concern to Logan, the more the Pirate offense stays on the sideline, the better off Memphis will be.
  • Limit big plays. If the Tigers allow the Pirates to get their usual quota of big plays, it will be a long day at the office.
  • Mix it up. If Memphis can achieve balance on offense, the Pirates will be playing the guessing game all afternoon long.
  • Strike early. Memphis needs to score early to take the raucous Dowdy-Ficklen crowd out of the game.

Prediction: This has the makings for an exciting, high-scoring, nip-and-tuck C-USA battle. Both teams are likely to put up points. The Pirate offense is more seasoned for a shootout, and should have enough to win a close one, 31-27.

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02/23/2007 02:05:43 AM

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