‘Canes continue on
The East Carolina Pirates own the Miami Hurricanes like no other team in college football.
They are the only team that has beaten Miami in their last two contests in the past twenty-five years. In 1996, ECU came into the Orange Bowl and handed the ‘Canes a 31-6 defeat and then three years later, they scored 24 unanswered points to comeback from a 20 point deficit and stun the ninth-ranked Hurricanes.
So don’t think that just because the Hurricanes are ranked number two in the nation and the Pirates got blown out by a combined score of 88-10 in their first two games that the ‘Canes will take ECU lightly.
“We’ve played them twice since I’ve been here and we haven’t beaten them yet,” Head Coach Larry Coker said. “I think that’s pretty self explanatory how we feel about East Carolina.”
The Pirates have an entirely new coaching staff with ex-Florida defensive coordinator John Thompson at the helm, and despite their early struggles, Coker knows they will not fade effortlessly into the night.
“They’ve had a tough start with a new staff,” Coker said. “But they’ll get the ship corrected.”
The ‘Canes know that they too have some correcting to do if they want to cut down on the bevy of yellow flags that flew around the field last Saturday. In just two games, the team has racked up 26 penalties for 198 yards. Against Florida they had four unsportsmanlike conduct calls mixed in with 12 other penalties that cost them 134 yards and almost cost them the game.
“We addressed it pretty hard,” Coker said. “The perception is that we’re undisciplined and we’re not very smart. That’s the furthest thing from the truth. We really stress discipline and we have intelligent kids but now we’ve got to act that way and we have to play that way.”
After wide receiver Ryan Moore caught a touchdown pass to bring the ‘Canes within two points of the Gators, he bowed to the crowd and the refs called him for a 15-yard excessive celebration penalty, which caused the ‘Canes to go for one point instead of two. If the ‘Canes had failed to score again, Moore’s penalty could have ended up as the difference.
“It was a mistake,” Moore said. “I didn’t think that it was going to be that severe, that they were going to call a [penalty], or I wouldn’t have even did it.”
Senior Kevin Beard, who had the biggest game of his career with seven catches for 164 yards and one touchdown, understands how the younger players can let their emotions get out of hand.
“It was just a matter of getting caught up in the excitement. Devin Hester and Ryan Moore are young receivers and they were excited to be in the game,” Beard said. “The coaches let them know how they felt about it and it won’t happen again.”
Hester, who took his helmet off on the field after taking Saturday’s opening kickoff 97-yards for a touchdown, also injured his ankle on the first kickoff of the second half. He now has a cast up to his knee, which means he will probably not play this weekend.
Although the ‘Canes lost Hester and fullback Quad Hill (separated shoulder), they should get a couple of their previously injured players back.
Wide receiver Jason Geathers and cornerback Glenn Sharpe, who have yet to see action this season due to leg injuries, both look ready to make their 2003 debuts against ECU.
Offensive tackle Carlos Joseph, who missed the UF game with a swollen tendon in his foot, practiced on Tuesday and his return would help bolster an offensive line that got hit hard by injuries.
One good thing that stemmed from Joseph’s injury was the play of his replacement Rashad Butler.
“I’m very, very proud of what Rashad did [last game] and I am not surprised,” Coker said. “He did an outstanding job. We gave up one sack the entire day and it wasn’t Rashad that gave up the sack. He’s ready for playing time.”
Whether Joseph or Butler starts against the Pirates, it probably won’t change the outcome of the game, but then again, no one thought Rutgers would have an inkling of a chance last year and they took a 17-14 lead into the fourth quarter. Not to mention that the Pirates dominated the ‘Canes in the ’90’s. At least they have that going for them as they head into this weekend’s game.
Nate Johnson can be reached at NPJ44@aol.com