Down But Not Out
by Josh Spence

After losing to Wake Forest last Saturday, hopes of an undefeated season went by the wayside.  Actually, let’s be honest.  Nobody believed this team would go undefeated.  The fact is, that after three wins in two years, and the implementation of a new coaching staff, most Pirate fans would be thrilled if the team went .500 on the year.  The season is long and grueling, there will be good times and there will be bad - that’s college football.  However, even though their comeback fell short against Wake forest, the fight shown by the Pirates in the second half speaks volumes of what is to come.

The 2004 Pirates were blown out of the water on several occasions last year.  East Carolina had four of their eleven opponents reach the 50 point mark, while the pirates scored a season high 38 against Army, and reached 35 on only one other occasion.  When the Pirates gave up big points last year, it usually started in the first half and only got worse in the second.  This is evidence of a team that did not make proper half time adjustments, and conceded ball games before the end. 
Not the case (at least to this point) under the Skip Holtz regime.  Against Wake Forest the Pirates got down big early.  A struggling Pirate offense and a blocked punt quickly spelled a 14-0 lead for Wake in the first quarter.  Trailing 31-13 after the first half, it looked like the Pirates would be limping back home to Greenville.  Instead, the team stepped up to the challenge in the second half, scoring 14 points in the third quarter to cut the lead to 7. 

Although they fell short, it was a valiant second half effort from the Pirates.  Adjustments were made at halftime, and the Pirates only allowed 13 points in the second half.  There is something to be said for a team that fights back like that.  Invaluable is the mentality that your team can fight back, no matter what the score.

There were several other positives to come from this ballgame.  East Carolina had 0 turnovers.  The Pirates only accomplished that feat once last year, in the win over Army.  In fact ECU averaged almost 2.5 turnovers per games last year. ECU also performed quite well against the pass again. The Pirates held Ben Mauk to 10-17 passing for only 69 yards, and although the Pirates have played a couple a “run-first” teams, they now sit as the top ranked passing defense in the country.  How about the job by Robert Lee?  The JUCO transfer kicked one of  the longest field goals in ECU history when he made a 51-yarder against Wake Forest.

Bottom line, this team has heart and they showed that coming back against the Demon Deacons.  There are some areas for improvement, but overall we are dealing with a more complete product than what has been on the field the past couple of years.  Pirate fans can once again be proud to call each other Pirates.

Josh Spence