Pirates cannot be the Hump that the Green Wave gets Over this weekend

The Superdome - I call it what its momma calls it - has not been a place that the Pirates have flourished...we need to walk out of there, not sneak out with a win.

The Superdome – I call it what its momma calls it – has not been a place that the Pirates have flourished…we need to walk out of there, not sneak out with a win.

I am worried about this one…more than the nail-biter over in Murfreesboro last week. Not sure if it is because I had to travel all week this week and am mentally shot or if it is simply because this Tulane team is such a dichotomy for our players. On the one hand, our program has thoroughly dominated the Tulane program in the 12 contests we have had with them to-date. On the other hand, the Green Wave has been slowly reeling our program in over the years. They could have won the last two games at the dome, both in 2008 and 2012. We managed a blowout win over them at home in 2011, but on the road without fans (as my friend Kev Monroe articulated nicely today over at Bonesville) our team has struggled and last season, a good portion of the Tulane defense forced Shane Carden into one of his poorer games, where he was intercepted twice. Of course, while Shane was still getting used to the starter’s role, we were fortunate that Vintavious Cooper, Reggie Bullock and Carden himself were able to move the ball on the ground effectively.

What we need to understand about the present situation at ECU is that – particularly this season – we are pretty much tantamount to each of our C-USA opponent’s biggest game. Maybe not their Super Bowl, but close and that we are leaving for the AAC, there is an additional layer of reasons why each CUSA opponent is going to be sky high to play us. MTSU played their best game of the season – particularly defensively – against us and we struggled to put them away. Here, you have a very confident Tulane defense that played us well a year ago, looking to prove themselves. I fear we come up short if we don’t put them down early.

Our offense is much better than last year and their defense is much better than last year, so even if it is a push there, it seems that our Defense holds our fate again this week. The Pirates defense is quietly proving to be an equal member in the success of this team and right now, we need them to really rise up and put a hurt on the Tulane offense. We need pressure this week in big quantities so that the Defense can engineer some turnovers (maybe even a score) and give our offense a shorter field than we normally require. I worry about our receiver depth and experience. With Webster out and Zico Pasut injured, some of the guys who have shown flashes of greatness now need to be consistently good because Shane needs to be able to dial them up now, more often (guys like Isaiah Jones and Bryce Williams)…maybe we see DaQuan Barnes and Cam Worthy getting more looks.

On offense, we really need efficiency like in the UNC game, where we are executing the routine plays over and over again and we need Coop and Hairston to really battle for yards on each touch. They don’t have to run wild, we can take 3 yards and a cloud of whatever that surface produce. Most of all, our offensive line has to come out on the first drive – like in fairness, they have all season – and PUNCH TULANE in the mouth…hard. Otherwise, this Tulane defense is going to get sky high and could make life tough for our offense.

We can’t have special teams shortfalls either…no missed field goals, no blown kick coverages, no lapses on kick returns – stay in the end zone when you should, catch the punt when you should.

Yes, not real confident this week – for whatever reason. I am confident we can and should win, I just worry that we have not yet shown that we can play at a consistently high level despite our opponent. We still seem to rise and fall to the level of who we are playing. And, for Tulane,  a win over us validates their program’s growth…we are the proverbial HUMP that they need to get over to become a higher level program. Can’t do that…not in the midst of a season that is laid out to be a special one.

Which leads me to the biggest point. Can our kids take on the role of elite (or at least king of the CUSA hill) team? Can we go into that vacant dome and simply execute? Can our kids be agnostic to the opponent and their reputation as a program? This is a BIG test for our kids football culture. If they win it by 1 or 100, it will continue to validate that our kids play with grit, have heart, all that and more. But, if we go there and EXECUTE and run this team out, it will demonstrate that our kids are starting to allow their talent to lead the way and their mindset to be under control which will go a long way in allowing the program to separate itself from the status quo of CUSA and tendency to play up or down to our competition. The difference between our program, IMO, right now and the dominant teams is that we still don’t dictate the game to our opponents enough…we typically are willing to follow the other team’s lead.

We have always operated on that “want power” that former Coach Ed Emory drove into the program. I agree that it is some powerful stuff. But really, now, we need to start asserting the will of our program on opponents. And if we cannot do that in CUSA against programs like Tulane, MTSU, FAU, FIU, and that ilk – no disrespect intended – then we are a lot further away from where I know many of us see us and a lot closer to the program that at times is the brunt of jokes from teams that sit in the power conferences.

Food for thought.

I need some of you to push some Pirate mojo my way…got to feel better by tomorrow so I can send positive vibes our team’s way.

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24 Comments

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24 responses to “Pirates cannot be the Hump that the Green Wave gets Over this weekend

  1. Chesapeake Pirate

    Well, I am always respectful of each opponent….”afraid” if you will. But I also always believe we will win, and I expect to beat Tulane. An unquantifiable impact at MTSU was the transition from our UNC high to that next game. Our players are human and they simply were not at the same level of focus and intensity. Kevin’s observations are valid, and the empty Dome may have an impact. However, I think the combination of the MTSU experience, the discipline of two more suspensions, and the loss of the glue that is Zico will create that level of focus and intensity needed to beat the Green Wave. Until tomorrow at 3:30, let’s leave it to the Beach Boys: “I’m picking up good vibrations…”!

  2. No Quarter

    I agree with you this is probably the most dangerous team we will play until Marshall. We haven’t had much success in the Superdome. I think we win but it will be a grind it out game sorta like the MTSU game. The one thing I like about our team, though, is that all phases of our team is good. I have seen it in our other games when one phase struggles, the other two seem to step up. In the MTSU game, Lance had that great return when the O was struggling a little. Or the VT game when the D stepped up all game long. Or the ODU game, when the O put on a show. That is what I am hanging my hat on to give me confidence that the Pirates will win Sat. and we come back to Gville 5-1. Hope this helps you out with your purple MOJO Juice. LOL

  3. JollyRoger

    Well, Vegas has us a bigger favorite than last week, if that means anything. I think the guys come out strong, defense plays well and we win 35-24

    • Hi Jolly R…great to have a drop by from you.

      I am feeling better now…I know our boys are the better team, just want them to play like it.

      I would take a respectable 11 point win on the road.

      Cheers!

  4. ToTheHilt

    RC, I have similar thoughts as you do on this game, but on the whole, I am a little more confident than I was last week. I think (and hope) the team was better able to concentrate this week than last week. I know that personally, I was on a UNC high all week about that game and I really struggled trying to get excited about MTSU. I think the fact that it has been another week will make a difference and it will be easier to focus. Plus, this is a familar opponent, in a familar stadium and a long-standing conference member. I’m thinking the juniors and seniors will do a better job of getting themselves and their teammates focused on Tulane.

    I do agree with you that it will be huge for our o-line to come ready to play. If they do, and we do reasonably well at ball security, then I think we take this game. I believe this will be a two score game, so somewhere from 10 to 14 points. If we get on a roll it could be a three score game.

    • Hey there TTH…love hearing from you brother.

      I would be thrilled with a 10 to 14 point win…that to me would be thorough enough.

      Your point on ball security cannot be stressed enough. Their offense needs short field and their defense is good enough to deliver it…we do not need to be helping them.

      Best to you,

      Ron

  5. Ralph Wright

    Yes it is a hump game for them but it is a hump season for us. I think this is the year everyone will point to as the season Ruff put his stamp on the program and spring boarded us into the AAC where we will prove we have turned the corner from being a tough out every few years to being a consistently talented and top 25 program. Ruff has raised the bar. Instead of injuries and suspensions sending us into a tailspin we actually seem to have even better talent stepping up. That’s the place I’ve been waiting for us to get to. I can’t wait to see if we are really who I think we are this Saturday.

    • I am so disappointed in this team, Ralph. Kids fought hard, but there is just something about our program…just cannot finish the ones we should…even though we didn’t really deserve to be in this one.

      Sigh…Go Pirates!

  6. Ed Keller

    I worry about every game. While I think we were a bit rusty last week, it’s important to remember we gained 511 yards against a defense that is comparable to Tulane. We have to protect the ball and stop the run. If we do so, we should be fine (I hope).

  7. DC Pirate 28

    I know where you are coming from Ron as I have been on the road for most of the season. Last week Tulane had a tough time scoring points with 14 of them coming from their defense and special teams. I think we did all we could to keep MTSU in the game last week despite totally dominating them in the 2nd half. If we play a complete game and dont shoot ourselves in the foot with turnovers and penalities I think we win this game. After playing our best against UNC the letdown should have come last week. While I think Tulane is getting better I fully expect us to win this contest.

    • Hi DCP…well we had our chances.

      No excuse for a 100 yard INT return. We didn’t deserve to win the game but I still feel for the kids…had a chance for a special season. Still could be a very good season, but special died in the Superdome.

      • Ed Keller

        Disappointed…can’t really blame Harvey but…man! My son and I will be at the USM game. Hope to get back on track.

      • Hi Ed…glad to know you will be at the USM game…we have a chance – still – to have a great season.

        Cheers!

      • DC Pirate 28

        Usually I never like to predict wins so perhaps this is the football gods getting back at me but this will be a real tough one to swallow because I thought we had a great chance to run the table. First our O line play is not good giving up 6 sacks not to mention our inability to score with a 1st and goal from the one, the 3, and the 7. On the other side of the ball you have a QB who has played a total of one game and we sit back and keep everything in front of us. When you do that you do not generate turnovers and give the kid a chance to gain some confidence which he did. Someone will have to explain to me why our offense refuses to run plays that strech the field and go up the field rather than run side to side making it much easier to defend what we do. Plenty more to say

      • I worried this would happen. That defense is good – oh how I wish we had a couple of corners like their’s. But, the fact that we could roll down the field on them at times and then inexplicably not punch in from the 3 and 7 is truly unbelievable. At the 3 particularly…get your a## under center and push your way in.

        You know…everyone has their bad days and the play-calling certainly should be scrutinized.

        Hopefully the kids will get back up and start to roll again.

        Best regards.

  8. David Green

    ECU lost in 3 overtimes. I love ECU im bout to attend a junior college and play and hope Ruff recongize me so I can come home and play in front of family. But losing wen you are the upperdog how can anyone respect you, anyone as the bigger schools and nfl scouts. Justin Hardy plays amazing against smaller schools but wen it comes to top Dbs like Va Tech he wasnt to be found. Shane

    • Hi David…

      I feel your pain…keep lovin’ ECU, though!

      Good luck at JUCO.

      Go Pirates!

      • rc

        the last few paragraphs you wrote were spot on. i lay this on the coaching staff-kept trying to run too many times instead of mixing the calls and spreading the field-they gave this one away.b. coaching!

      • Hi RC…thanks for checking in.

        I am at a loss in regards to play calling in the red zone particularly. Tough loss to swallow for the program.

        As I said in a previous comment, special season, IMO, has been downgraded to a good season if the kids and coaches can recommit and get it right.

        Cheers.

  9. Ed Keller

    Real concerned about loss of Grayson and his ability to stretch the field; not for this week but for the longer run. What are your thoughts about our dwindling receiver corps?

    • sorry so late on this one…part of a post I will post at some point today.

      in short…i am concerned about that position as well and it is really frustrating for the team that four of them have been lost for academics and violations of team rules.

      hope burns eternal though and I am excited about this weekend!

      go pirates go!

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