five games in the 2006 season the outsider might view the early season
as a repeat of last year for the East Carolina football team. ECU
is 2-3, 2-1 at home and 0-2 on the road, just like last year. For
the most part the Pirates have played close games in each of their
first five, including a good showing against nationally ranked West
Virginia, just like last year. So what’s different this
year? It’s overall team consistency, and a dedicated effort to
defending against the run which has led to the Pirates winning two of
their last three in convincing fashion.
And make no mistake, the attitude, confidence and inner-perception of
this team and its chances are nothing like last year. The Pirates
are beyond confident. Heck, defensive end Marcus Hands said after
the West Virginia game, “there’s no reason we shouldn’t go 9-3.”
So just how big was the UVA win? If the Pirates are to go and
finish the rest of the year strong, one could point to this game as the
one where ECU really got it turned in the right direction.
However, if the rest of the season isn’t that positive, this game would
be considered a good win, but against a struggling Virginia team in the
midst of a rebuilding season.
Only time will determine how this victory goes down in history, but
just how long do you have to go back to find a win of this
caliber? I think automatically we can throw out 2003-2005.
From there you look back to a 4 win season in ’02, only the TCU win
jumps out. How about 2001? Wins at Cincinnati and TCU were
big, but ECU limped to the finish line, losing its last 3 on the way to
a 6-6 season. Really I think you have to go all the way back to
ECU’s last bowl win in 2000 to find a win comparable the UVA
game. It may have been the Gallery Furniture.com bowl, but who
wouldn’t have taken another one of those in the last four years.
Consider this simple statistic: ECU is 2-0 when the Pirates rush
for more than 100 yards. It seems like a no-brainer, but ECU has
had trouble getting to that 100 yard mark. They did however seem to hit
on something against Virginia. Whether it was the changes on the
offensive line, the combination of the Brandons (Fractious, Simmons) in
the backfield, or the play-calling, ECU got it done on the ground and
that helped the Pirates dominate time of possession by more than 17
minutes. It’s no secret that ECU will have to find a way to keep
it going for the rest of the year to be successful.
Although the Pirates have two more games left on this rare 5-game
home-stand, the key now for this program will be winning on the
road. The Pirates are 2-6 on the road since Skip Holtz took over
and will need to do better than that this season. If they want to
play in a bowl game that is. Four of the Pirates final
seven games are on the road, and ECU needs four victories over the
final seven to become bowl eligible. It’s a tall order, but one
the Pirates will need to fill, that is if they don’t want this season
to end up just like last year.