in football is a funny thing. Every team experiences variability
in performance level on any given Saturday, regardless of
opponent. What really matters is if a team on its worst day can
still be talented enough to pull out a win against an inferior opponent
playing at their best.
The obvious truth about the Pirates is they can lose to any opponent on
the schedule on any given Saturday. Case in point-Marshall. ECU
doesn't possess the overwhelming talent to expect to 'out athlete'
anybody and beat any team when we are out-of-sync in offensive game
I am as upset as the next person with the loss to Marshall, the lack of
execution on offense and porous defense, but it's not as shocking a
loss as is being portrayed.
We CLEARLY- depend on things happening in a ball game- which occur with
a high degree of variability. Turnovers must happen. Also, we
must score and take advantage of turnovers. And our field goal kicker
can NOT be a liability.
The Pirates are deficient on defense so we try to bang out points on
offense and keep everything in front of us defensively, giving up a ton
of yardage and forcing teams to take a million snaps to get to pay dirt
With each increased snap comes the increased opportunity to create
turnovers. Inversely we have done a great job protecting the
football which has resulted in one of the best turnover margins in the
nation. This philosophy has held true throughout the season, but when
we don't score in waves, and when teams don't turn the ball over, we
have a narrow margin of opportunity.
Thank goodness we have shown the ability to score in multiples but we
will always struggle until we mature fundamentally as a football team
and experience some continuity. All the smoke and mirrors can't
hide the fact we have no depth at offensive line and not enough on
defense. A mature program has seasoned lineman full of 5th-year
seniors in the front rotation with the occasionally upstart
underclassmen too talented to keep out of the lineup.
It normally takes a new coach staff 5-7 years to create continuity up
front in a program. I like the talent Skip and company have been
stockpiling and if we can keep him in-place for enough time to get the
pipeline going up front, I feel good about not having to depend on
winning 46-35 every week. Then we reach the status of playing 'ugly'
and on our worse day still beating marginal teams by scores like 17-7
(see: Virginia Tech). That is my goal.
In regards to Marshall, they executed a risky game plan against us and
it worked. We could play them again next Saturday and most likely beat
them and score 45 points. Why? Next time QB Bernard Morris is
doing a risky scramble, we fall on one or two of their fumbles, or they
throw interceptions when pressured to get back into the game, and our
kicker actually makes 30 yard kicks. The variables fall our way next
time as they did against UTEP, UNC, Houston, etc.
"Depending on the undependable." That sums up ECU football
2007. It's a "risk-reward" endeavor. But when the breaks
don't come the Pirates way, they struggle to find ways to win.
Here's to a few more years of continuity for the ECU program and less
heart medication needed for the Pirate faithful in the future.
Until then, love'em, hate'em, and hold on to your hat.... ECU
football is never a dull ride.