ARTICLE OF THE DAY

The Season
by Kevin Monroe
8/29/05

The ECU Pirates come into this season with a lot of uncertainty, a lot of hope, and plenty of expectations.  Not necessarily expectations of greatness, but expectations of improvement.  After back to back horrifying seasons (1-11 and 2-9), the Pirates appear to be heading in the right direction.  After acquiring a new AD, Chancellor, and coaching staff over the last year or so, the program has taken on a whatever-it-takes approach.  After looking at this year’s schedule I expect at worst 3 wins and at best 6.

This weekend’s opener vs. Duke will tell us a lot about this year’s team.  Already there have been several off the field distractions with James Pinkney’s eligibility, and Jamar Flournoy’s bout with the authorities.  Now its time to see if they can put those things behind them and go win football games. This season’s schedule seems to be perfect for a rebuilding team.  Duke also won just two games last year and had an offense that finished last in the nation in yards per game with just 266.  Head coach Ted Roof fired last year’s offensive coordinator, in hopes of putting up much better numbers this season.  This weekend’s game is a very winnable one, and the fact that it’s at home doesn’t hurt.

Games 2, 3, & 4 will be very tough, with games versus Wake Forest, West Virginia, and Southern Miss respectively.  The Pirates would do good to win one of those games, but I don’t feel optimistic about any of them.  If I had to put my money on one, I would choose a win over Wake.  The Deacons were 4-7 last year and a game in Winston Salem is really a neutral site, because the Pirates will have as many fans as the Deacs.  However, Wake is returning 9 starters on a pretty productive offense from 2004, and they were only outmatched once last year and that was versus Miami.

Looking at games 5-11, I think Rice, SMU, Central Florida, and Tulsa are all VERY winnable games especially if the Pirates can beat Rice and SMU back to back and gain some momentum.  Memphis, Marshall, and UAB will be tough opponents, but are not unbeatable.  Memphis is returning one of the nation’s top running backs in DeAngelo Williams and they will be a force in C-USA this season.  UAB finished 7-5 last year tied for second in the conference and they return 8 offensive starters and 7 on defense.  Marshall finished 6-6 overall and 6-2 in the MAC conference and always competitive.

This season could be very interesting for the Pirates, I look forward to being on the sidelines for the Pirate Sports Radio Network at every game and rooting the guys on, but I don’t have any huge expectations right now, and I don’t think you should either.  Let’s sit back and see if they improve from week to week, as long as they are competitive each week that is something to hang your hat on for now.  The foundation is there, now we just need to build from the ground up.

Kevin Monroe
kevin@downeastsports.com