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East Carolina at Texas Christian
Tuesday, October 30, 2001
Amon G. Carter Stadium (44,008), 8:00 PM EDT
Television: ESPN2
Weather Fx: Mostly clear, temps around 60

Pirates and Tigers at a Glance

The last time ECU and TCU squared off was in the 1999 Mobile Alabama Bowl, a game which was dominated by the underdog Horned Frogs, 28-14.

This time, the two tee it up for the first time in Conference USA play, and both have aspirations of a league title. TCU has already suffered a league loss, and can ill-afford another if it hopes to stand tall as C-USA's best at season's end.

The Horned Frogs are a hard team to figure out. They gave Nebraska as tough a test as the Cornhuskers have faced all season, yet fell ungracefully to I-AA Northwestern State at home and again at C-USA cellar dweller Tulane.

The Pirates are playing like a team on a mission, yet a Tuesday night ESPN2 tilt away from home presents, perhaps, their toughest conference challenge to date.

TCU Facts and Notes

Record: 4-3, 2-1 (C-USA). TCU has looked very good at times, not so good at others..

Head Coach: Gary Patterson. 4-4 (1st year).

Venue: Amon G. Carter Stadium (44,008).

Last Game: Beat Army, 38-20, on October 20. Backup QB Sean Stilley sparked the Frogs en route to earning C-USA player of the week honors.

The Series: TCU leads, 1-0. The only meeting between the two was the '99 Mobile Bowl.

Last Meeting: 1999. TCU returned a fourth quarter interception for a touchdown to nail the coffin shut on the Pirates, 28-14.

Last Bowl Game: 2000 Mobile Alabama Bowl. Lost to Southern Miss, 28-21.

Well-deserved Promotion: Prior to becoming the head coach at TCU, Gary Patterson served as the school's defensive coordinator since 1998. Dennis Franchione, now head coach at Alabama, brought Patterson with him to Fort Worth from New Mexico. Since arriving at TCU, the Horned Frogs have ranked among the nation's best defensively.

Football Claim to Fame: TCU's most famous recent claim to fame would no doubt have to be running back LaDainian Tomlinson. "LT" burst on the scene in '99, which catapulted him to the Doak Walker award last season, which is given annually to the nation's best running back. Tomlinson was the fifth player taken in last April's NFL draft, and is the feature back for upstart San Diego.

The Breakdown

Quotes of Note: "Our football players are zeroed in on Conference USA. I can assure you of that. They have been since last spring. It has been a hot topic more so than any other time since we've been in the conference. This is new waters for us, and new waters for our university. We need to keep pursuing it at the rate we are, because it is anybody's ballgame right now."  — East Carolina head coach Steve Logan on conference play.

"I remember in 1986 and 1987 when I was at Mississippi State and we began to kickoff at 11:30 in the morning [because of television], there were many people who said the end of the world was coming soon and that was the end of college football as we knew it. You hear this every time something new happens. I can remember when Thursday night games came out, and now Thursday night games are okay. Tuesday night will be okay after a couple of years — it'll just become a routine deal. Academically it's not good. We're going to miss a half-day of class Monday. We're going to get excused absences all day Tuesday and all day Wednesday, because we're not going to get back until 3:30 in the morning and I'm not going to even attempt to get them up and get them in class on Wednesday. I'm going to let them sleep. So it's going to be a half-week of shock for academics." — Logan on playing Tuesday nights.

"Revenge is a very poor motivator. It's better to take that kind of emotion and turn it inward, and talk about re-establishing your self-respect and playing the game the way you know you can play. Of the kids that played in that game two years ago, not many of them are left. I try to convince our team every week that the team we're playing can beat us. I think that's a better way to look at things." — Logan on the revenge factor.

"They are a very good football team. They've lost a couple of close games. Defensively, they're one of the better teams in our conference. Numbers-wise, they're only giving up about 310 yards a game, which anytime you're below 350, you're very, very good." — Logan on the TCU defense.

TCU Players to Watch: QB Casey Printers (665 yards passing), QB Sean Stilley (484 yards passing), WR Adrian Madise (313 yards receiving), RB Corey Connally (432 yards rushing), SS Marvin Godbolt (5 sacks), LB LaMarcus McDonald (11 tackles for loss).

Striking Stats: The Horned Frogs have intercepted only three passes all year, while throwing eight.


When the Pirates have the ball:

Though East Carolina is one of the nation's best at rushing the football, don't be surprised if the Pirates come out throwing in this one. TCU ranks 19th nationally against the run, and has shown that it is susceptible against the pass, as the 48-22 loss to Tulane will attest.

David Garrard is as hot a quarterback as there is in the league, not throwing an interception since the second quarter at North Carolina. The Horned Frogs have intercepted just three passes this season, and have yielded ten touchdowns through the air.

But the Pirates are unlikely to abandon the run, and will spread the field to open running lanes for Leonard Henry, who currently ranks as the nation's sixth leading rusher. Look for offensive coordinator Doug Martin to pick and prod the TCU defense all night, much like the Pirates did to Memphis in their last outing.

Advantage: East Carolina.

When the Horned Frogs have the ball:

TCU has struggled all season long offensively, and currently ranks 97th overall in that category. The absence of all-everything running back LaDainian Tomlinson has shown glaringly.

If Casey Printers gets the call at quarterback, the Pirates will have extra cause for concern. The junior quarterback is equally adept at running as he is at throwing. If Sean Stilley is under center, the Pirates can expect a more traditional attack, as the latter feels more comfortable when operating out of the pocket.

The Frogs could present a good measuring stick for the Pirate defense, which rebounded nicely with an excellent performance against Memphis. If East Carolina can stop a TCU offense that has weapons and an added element of mystery, it could very well be on its way.

Advantage: Even

Special Teams:

Both the Pirates and the Horned Frogs have been dynamite on special teams. TCU's Nick Browne has connected on nine of 11 attempts, including a perfect four of four over 40 yards. The Pirates' Kevin Miller has hit 11 of 14 attempts, but has struggled from long range.

Both have consistent punters and able return specialists. The team that can break through with a big play here could prove victorious.

Advantage: Even


Gary Patterson is in his first full season as TCU's head coach, making Steve Logan look like a seasoned veteran. Give the nod here to experience.

Advantage: East Carolina


Though Logan is preaching against it, revenge is certain to be on the Pirates' minds tonight, which could prove negative unless they are able to channel that emotion.

Logistically, travelling for a Tuesday night game could be mentally taxing on the Pirates, and playing the day before All Hallows Eve has an eerie feel to it.

Advantage: TCU

What East Carolina must do to win:

  • Aggressive D. The Pirates were a swarming bunch against Memphis. A similar effort against TCU could easily keep the Pirates perfect in league play.
  • Limit Turnovers. The Pirates were done in by their own hands in two non-conference road losses to Syracuse and North Carolina.
  • Pick up blitzes. The last time these two met, the TCU defense blitzed all night long, as Garrard's numbers will attest.
  • Crack TCU Run D. TCU has been especially stingy against the run. The Pirates will have to mount a solid ground attack if they are to win.
  • Avoid Special Teams Faux Pas. Marvin Townes has struggled mentally on special teams of late. TCU will gladly accept any gifts the Pirates have to offer.

What TCU must do to win:

  • Avoid turnovers. Two of TCU's losses can be directly attributed to turnovers.
  • 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 TCU will be.
  • Limit big plays. Memphis did a good job of limiting the Pirates to just one explosion play. Though the Tigers still lost, the Horned Frogs chances increase greatly if the Pirates are forced to execute long time-consuming drives.
  • Go Vertical. Memphis found that going horizontal on a fast Pirate defense wasn't the answer. TCU would be better served by going vertical.
  • Strike early. If TCU can get an early lead, it could take away the Pirates' mental edge.

Prediction: The Pirates are more talented and have plenty of weapons from which to choose. Still, something tells me this one will be a dog fight, and the Pirates will be lucky to escape with a victory. But the Pirates are focused on one thing, the C-USA title, and TCU is the next step toward achieving that goal. Take the Pirates in a close one, 27-23.

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02/23/2007 02:05:43 AM

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