Opportunity Knocks this Weekend

ECU Knock Out or ECU Knocked Out? A lot to be learned come Saturday in Mississippi.

Expectations were very high for this ECU team coming into the season. With a defense that appeared primed to step up, a receiving corps that is without question very good and deep, and an offensive line with experience.

What say you?

Through two games, however, the Pirates look anything but on the rise. Instead, the defense looks confused, the receivers look frustrated, and the effective offensive line is scratching its collective head saying, “WTF?”

After a closer-than-the-score looks win over Appalachian State and a thorough butt-kicking from No. 9 South Carolina, what the 2012 Pirates are, is a mystery to those who follow the program.

And, whispers are starting, as people try to figure out how we can be regressing in year three. Is it coaching? Is it talent? Is it really just about a quarterback? How did a defensive front seven that looked so promising down the stretch a year ago return so much talent and look so bad? Where is that chip? Where is that swagger? Where is a pulse?

There are a lot of questions to be answered and the Pirates couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity than the one they have this weekend to show the Pirate Nation who believes so much in this team that they are worth the effort the fans put in.

In Southern Miss, they get to go on the road to face a quality opponent in the biggest CUSA game of the year for this team with a chance to put it together and collectively shout: “We are here and we are not going away!”

The last thing this team needed was a game against a walkover at this point. We need a game that has meaning…that is a challenge to their pride…that will tell all of us – including the players themselves – are we a football team or not?

There is no talent differential to complain about, no offense or defense so decisively better than ours, no fanbase that is going to be the 12th man and no coaching staff on the other sideline with greater credentials than our own. Nope, just two similarly talented teams.

If our Pirates put it together this weekend and pull the upset and do so in a solid, fundamentally sound way…then the season really will reset itself, giving us all something to cheer about and our team a realistic chance to achieve some of its goals.

If they go to Hattiesburg, turn the ball over 4-5 times, give up another 400+ yards and get dusted, then I wouldn’t count on things getting any better over the next 9 weeks. IMO, this weekend is THAT BIG. And if this team has any content to its character and if this coaching staff is the one that is going to be here forever, shepherding us to the promised land, then it has to happen this weekend. It just does. Because if it doesn’t then it only serves as further evidence that we have fallen further behind, that we cannot correct obvious errors, that we are incapable of a Plan B or an adjustment to changing in-game environments, that our guys when faced with having to whip the guy in front of them, come up on the wrong side each time.

This one is about what is between the ears and in the chest of every player on the team and every coach on the staff.

Opportunity is knocking Pirates…

Hoping that our boys answer the call.

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14 Comments

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14 responses to “Opportunity Knocks this Weekend

  1. Sean

    Having had more time to look at the USC game IMHO three things went wrong, 1. Their QB came in and played out of his head and our DB corp was simply not good enough to handle what he was doing. 2. OUR QB was not ready to deal with the pressure of the front 7 nor did he have the skill set to go through his progressions. 3. Our D did not make the needed adjustments
    to take care of the underneath routes as we continued to play the run not the pass.
    If these three areas can be fixed we will be very competitive this year. If not we are in for a long season. This game really is a test, but to me its more a test of whether we are able to identify our team weakness and make improvement. Time will tell.

    • Welcome back Sean…thanks for commenting.

      I definitely agree this is a test game for this team. I think you definitely hit on the ills of the SC game. I, too, am hoping this weekend provides a spark via correction of issues and EXECUTION on the field.

      Go Pirates, Go!

  2. When it gets back to SC game folks want to place blame on our corners. While they had a chance to make a play on the ball and didnt where were our safeties? Most of the completions were deep down the middle of the field, one of our CBs let his guy go thinking there would be help over the top but none was to be found. In addition if you cant generate a consistent pass rush how long are these guys supposed to stay with their man. Its much tougher to throw when you have big guys in your face. We did have a few sacks on a QB with little to no experience but how many extra guys did we have to committ to come up with those?

    On offense our QB needs to complete 65% of their passes to make this work. I think Carden has the ability to extend plays and can take off if nothing is there. While I think you can take a weapon away or two we have plenty of more to go around if we have the time to find them.

    Historically USM has had their way with us but I 100% agree this game at this time is exactly what this team needs. Its what they used to call gut check time. The players and coaches have a chance to get away and decide what kind of program they want to be and be accountable to each other.

    To be honest I do see some good signs. The penalities are way down and Ruff has been teaching the players to own up to their responsibilities for an entire 60 minuets. Southern Miss has a new coach and a new QB so I dont think they are as good as the hype. I think this is the week we put it all together and come up with a huge W.

    • Thanks for dropping back in DCP 28…

      I am excited to see what our kids do tomorrow…really am. I hope this is the reset button for this season.

      I have to go back and see how the safeties factored in SC game. I knew that to start the game we had them cheating up anticipating a heavy dose of Lattimore and what seemed more stressful on the defense in the passing game was the lack of coverage in the areas where you would expect to see our linebackers (flats, screens, between the second and third levels.

      I think our corners have hurt us so far. Some of it not their fault as they don’t seem to be placed in a position to succeed (maybe because they do not possess the skills to play on top of the receiver), but whether safety help or linebacker help is there or not, our corners have to contest the ball and have to be responsible for their guys once they are locked up and I haven’t seen it yet. Definitely agree that our pass rush has been vacant…hopefully getting Terry Williams back to tie up a few guys will allow our LBs a clean path now.

      Also eager to see how Carden does in a such a big game with it all on him right now.

      I hope your feeling on this gut check comes to fruition as I believe if the coaches fixed some of the system issues, we have enough talent to battle for CUSA.

      Cheers!

  3. rc

    Pharma…the answer to who will win in college games is always a constant…the coach. you can try to explain the reason for this or that…but the simple and only answer is the coach…when i say coach…it is because the hc is responsible for hiring all the staff…look, it does not matter what school name you put on the program…Alabama;LSU; Florida; S.C.; ECU, it is all about who the coach is. if it is not this way, why are the same schools big winners some of the time and other times not? look who the coaches are and there is your answer. just because you want to coach, that does not make you a good coach. sometimes this is a tough pill to swallow because you really like the guy that is in charge but the wins and losses are not in his favor. this is a tough time for the ad because he is the one who chose the hc.well,this is my take on winning or losing in football at any level or in any sport really. how long we delay the inevitable will cost the program…on the other side…if we would run the table the rest of this year and look good doing it…this would be reason to see what next year would look like……………..thanks again for your time and info!

    • Hi RC…good to have more commentary…and yep…it hall tracks to the HC. Sadly, I agree that it SHOULD take winning 9 this year and doing it well – to make for a dramatic change in opinion, but I am pretty sure that Ruff will get 5 years regardless.

      So, since that is likely, I am in the camp puling for a table run in fine fashion.

      Thanks for the inputs RC…always welcome here.

  4. Ralph Wright

    Yeah. I think this game was the one I had circled all summer. This is where we find out who we are going to be this year. The coaching staff have all been saying they love the mind set and heart of this team. That gives me a since of expectation for this weekend because if there ever was a game for ECU where the intangibles were going to be the key this is that game.

  5. rc

    Pharma…in reply to your statement about Ruff having 5 yrs. regardless of his success…if that is the case,… Holland should be fired. ECU is bigger than 1 or 2 individuals… right now is a critical time for the football program based on all the conference alignments…i hope you are wrong on this….thanks

    • Hey rc…that is just a guess by me given the tone I hear in my conversations. I would hope that we are on a meritocracy at ECU.

      I agree that time is ticking for the have nots and we can ill afford missteps over the next couple of years.

      Go Pirates, go!

  6. Ed Keller

    If we win this game, I don’t see much in our way towards a C-USA championship (not Houston in any event). If we lose big, I agree with you, we are in for a long season.

    • Hey…great to hear from you Ed.

      I hear you. In that case, let’s just get the win and move forward. Don’t want another long season…

      Hope you are well Sir.

      • Ed Keller

        Great win. Looks like we may have found a running back~Cooper’s numbers compared to the others leave little doubt.

      • Totally agree. Would still like to see Furr some more but i also like Cooper’s hands out of the backfield. Looks like a player.

        Carden also looks like a player…playmaker that is. Excited to see how he plays against UNC. Little time for celebration.

        BIG, BIG win today. Would like to have seen more completions, but Carden got better as the game went on.

        Defense looked good, though it seemed that USM was ripping off a lot of good runs on us. Can’t complain about the pressure though. Having Terry Williams back was NOTICEABLE…can only imagine would it would be like if we get Michael Brooks back as well.

        Go Pirates, GO!

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