At one point in
time, the second half of the ECU football schedule was supposed to be
the cakewalk. Seriously, after the brutal five games to open the
season, it would have to be easier, right? What we learned is
that cruise control can keep you on track and rolling along smoothly,
but if you fall asleep at the wheel, you WILL crash.
The Pirate Nation saw an ugly wreck two weekends ago against a one-win
team, Marshall. Sorry to beleaguer the point, but it bears
So, after we fatten ourselves up on Thanksgiving and try to get ready
for football once again, I have a HUGE fear. When we last played,
Tulane was also a crumby team with just two wins and should be a sure
win, if that exists anymore. Now Tulane has won two straight,
have four wins on the season and they have the best running back in the
That's right, I said Tulane has the best running back in the
country. Matt Forte stomped out 194 yards rushing and FIVE
touchdowns in a win Saturday against Rice. And it was on the
road, granted it was at Rice and there may be more people at your
Thanksgiving table Thursday than in Rice Stadium, but still.
Forte's latest huge game makes him the first running back to surpass
the 2,000 yard mark since Cal's J.J. Arrington did it in 2004.
And it was the second time this season, he has scored five touchdowns
in one game, tying his own Conference USA record. He has rushed
over 100 yards three times, over 200 yards three times and over 300
yards twice. Yes, twice. Reader's Digest version - The kid is
Am I saying Tulane has become LSU or Kansas? No. But, the
Green Wave will be no cake walk this weekend at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium
Here's the good news-bad news scenario. During the Skip Holtz
era, when ECU faces one of the top rushers in the league or country,
our defense has pretty much shut them down. Look at Steve
Slayton, Kevin Smith and Damien Fletcher for a couple recent
examples. That's the good news. The bad news is that our
defense has been somewhat Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde this year.
The bye week should help us get as healthy as we have been since
August, and our defensive downfalls have really come in the passing
game. Tulane has actually thrown 14 less passes as a team than
Matt Forte has had carries.
This is the second major turning point in this season. The first
was the Houston football game. If we come back from Houston with a 1-4
record, then this season could have gone to the dumper in a
hurry. Instead we come home 2-3 and win four of the next five
As for this weekend, there is a huge difference to ending this season
7-5, as opposed to 6-6. Seven wins guarantees a winning season
with a chance to win eight games for the first time since 2000.
If not, the door opens to another pizza bowl visit and a possible
To me, it is simple. The ECU coaching staff needs to rally the
troops and be ready to secure the "Forte" on Saturday.