From the Booth
Thursday, September 19, 2002
By Jeff Charles
Voice of the Pirates
There are pros and cons to open date weeks. Coming off a win
over Tulane last week, I quite frankly would like to see the Pirates tee it
up this Saturday. There’s something to be said for building momentum, and in
a solid, no-turnover effort against the Green Wave, it would have been good
to get right back out there.
The advantages with no game Saturday include time for
injuries to heal and extra preparation for Army. Yes Army. Tuesday,
Wednesday and Thursday practices this week have been devoted to the Army
game plan. Next week the team will resume a normal practice week for the
West Virginia game.
The walking wounded include center Doug White with a knee
injury that may cause him to miss two games, safety Travis Heath with a
thigh contusion, defensive tackle Ja’Waren Blair with an ankle and receiver
Terrance Copper with an ankle.
Those guys can all use the extra time to heal and all should
be ready for the Mountaineers with the exception of White. Sophomore Hagen
Mason will step up and play with the first unit at center. The coaches feel
the 300-pounder from Tallahassee will do a good job until White gets back.
It’s a big Saturday for Conference USA this weekend. We
could call it “Statement Saturday.”
The question is can Southern Miss, Houston and Cincinnati
step up and make a statement against Alabama, Texas and Ohio State? Give the
Golden Eagles the best chance. USM, has beaten Alabama in the past and they
could do it again Saturday.
The Golden Eagles look to be the class of the conference
this year. They’re very solid in all phases of the game and new quarterback
Mickey D’Angelo is cut out of the same mold of recent USM quarterbacks like
Jeff Kelly and Lee Roberts. D’Angelo is a coach's son who is smart and
doesn’t make many mistakes. Jeff Bower’s system in Hattiesburg doesn’t
change. Put a strong defense on the field with a good kicking game and a low
risk offense and it usually spells success.
USM has been down a notch the last two years but they may be
back to their “heyday years.”
The Bearcats meanwhile would have to play over their heads
and get a lot of breaks to beat Ohio State. The game Saturday is at Paul
Brown Stadium, the home of the Bengals. It’s a sellout and the Buckeyes will
have more fans there than UC. Ohio State’s terrific freshman running back
Maurice Clarrett had his knee scoped this weekend and may not play. The
Bearcats have never beaten Ohio State on the gridiron. It shouldn’t happen
The last statement game? Sorry, Houston, it won’t be pretty
Elsewhere this week, Tulane at Memphis is a key conference
match up. It’s a must win for both teams in that Tulane has a conference
loss to the Pirates and Memphis has an “L” to Southern Mississippi. The
loser will be out of a championship bid. This one is a toss up but Memphis
is at home so give them a slight edge.
Louisville travels to Army with both teams in serious need
of a victory in the conference opener for both. These are two teams off to
disappointing starts. U of L is just 1-2 and Army is 0-2. The Cards are
having a hard time living up to all the hype. Did you know Louisville sold
34,000 season tickets this year? A home schedule with bitter rival Kentucky
and Florida State along with last year’s success has folks talking football
along with basketball in Kentucky’s largest city.
Army is off to a dismal start with a loss to IAA Holy Cross
and a shellacking at Rutgers last week. The Black Knights have Louisville,
Southern Miss and East Carolina back to back to back. Ouch!
The other two games this week find UAB at Louisiana
Lafayette in a very winnable game for the Blazers while TCU heads North to
Denton to play North Texas. Sit back and enjoy. Next week your favorite team
News ‘n notes from Pirate Land
Here are some interesting notes about members of the Pirate
Defensive Coordinator Tim Rose, while the head coach at
Miami of Ohio, coached the late Brian Pillman. Pillman was, of course,
known as “Flyin’ Brian” in his WCW days. Rose says he’s the toughest
football player he ever coached. Pillman died a tragic death a few years
ago. Rose also tells me Cincinnati Reds shortstop Barry Larkin was the
best high school free safety he’s ever seen.
Wide receivers coach Bob Leahy and Cliff Stoudt, who’s
worked with me on Pirate Sports Television Network telecasts, have one
thing in common. They backed up Terry Bradshaw in Pittsburgh. First Bob,
then Cliff. Leahy coached for two years with the Buffalo Bills and one
year for the Minnesota Vikings. He has served on staffs for Johnny Majors,
Jimmy Johnson, and Jackie Sherrill.
Running backs coach Jerry McManus has a famous brother.
Younger brother Danny had the great collegiate career and he’s now in the
CFL as the quarterback of the Hamilton Tigercats. He’s won a Grey Cup and
MVP Award up north.
Till next time, “Keep painting ‘em purple.”
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