How Good Are The Pirates?
by Brian North

Pirate Nation is ecstatic with ECU's 24-21 win over Duke, and well they should be. Skip Holtz's debut was marked by a much improved defense that forced four turnovers, a big play receiver who posted the most impressive numbers by a wideout in 7 years, and a quarterback who looked comfortable despite the fact that he had less than a month to learn his third offense in three years. It certainly was cause for celebration after the last two years that produced only three wins.

But before everyone starts making bowl game reservations, we have to wait and see how good the Pirates are, and how good or bad Duke is. Former coach Steve Logan used to tell me that the first game of the year can be fools gold, because you have nothing to compare it to. Will Duke go 0-11, or will they be a good team in a BCS conference? Will TCU go undefeated now that they beat Oklahoma, or did they catch lightening in a bottle? Will Miami have a losing season because they dropped their season opener to Florida State, or will it be like 1983 when they lost their first game and went on to win the national championship?

A lot of these answers won't be clear until at least a couple of weeks into the season. But I do use the example of 2001 when the Panthers won their first game of the year in Minnesota, and then lost 15 in a row. That's why Skip Holtz's assessment that how the Pirates respond to the Duke game is more important than the outcome. That's because the season is more than one game.

So celebrate the Pirates first season opening win in five years, and savor it right up until the September 17th kickoff at Wake Forest. But keep in mind there are 10 more games to go that will decide if the season is a success.

Brian North