ARTICLE OF THE DAY
Plenty to Play For
by Josh Spence
For the Pirate football
team, the loss to Tulsa dashed hopes, dreams, and goals set forth by
this team at the beginning of the season. The loss ended their chances
to finish 2005 with a winning record and also erased any hope of going
to a bowl game this season. It was especially painful because of
the way it happened. Slow starts had been plaguing the Pirates
all year, and in the first quarter against Tulsa it was more of the
same. ECU had done a good job all year of finding a way to get
back in the ball game in the second half, but this time their comeback
came early. The Pirates rallied from a 10-0 first quarter
deficit, to take a 13-10 lead into halftime. Unfortunately for
East Carolina, the second half was more like the first quarter.
Like it or not, 2005 was to be a rebuilding year for this team.
It was the Pirate seniors who didn’t want to hear it. Guys like
Chris Moore, Guy Whimper, and Gary Freeman, who had been through
so-called rebuilding years with this team, don’t want to hear about how
bright the future is. Unfortunately it takes more than a year to
turn a 2-9 football team into a winning program. Even this week
Skip Holtz said: “We knew that this was not going to be a turn key
operation where you come in and sprinkle a little “whiffle dust” and
all of the sudden you’re going to win all of your games.
Unfortunately Coach Holtz was right.
The fact is that East Carolina is a much improved football team from
the past two seasons. You have seen it. I have seen it and the
truth is in the numbers. The Pirates are better in every major
statistical category. Through nine games ECU is averaging 26 more
yards rushing per game, 43 more yards passing. Defensively ECU
has allowed 52 less yards through the air per game, and 11 fewer on the
ground. As a whole the Pirates are gaining 69 more yards per game
and allowing 63 fewer yards per game, scoring more and allowing less.
With that in mind, there is something to be said for learning how to
win. Unlike the last two seasons, the 2005 Pirates have had a
chance to win in the fourth quarter of nearly every ball game.
The most dramatic example is the WVU contest. The 2004 Pirates
lost 56-23 in Morgantown, but the 2005 team played much
better. WVU racked up 478 yards rushing in the 2004
rout, but ECU held them to only 127 in 2005, losing a close one
20-15 to the team now ranked 13th I the nation. The team has
played well enough to win nearly every game this year, but just can’t
figure out how to close it out in the end.
The difference in this season comes down to one or two key plays in
each ball game. A couple of breaks go the other way, and all of
the sudden ECU is plus .500 and playing in their first bowl game since
2001. However, don’t give up on this team yet. With two
games left in the season a 4-4 mark in Conference USA is still
attainable. In fact ECU could tie for second place in the East if
the ball bounces their way. For the seniors on this team careers
may be ending, but make no mistake, this team still has a lot to play