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Skip Holtz and the East Carolina Pirates

Invade West Virginia and Look to Send a Message

9/12/09

In a wide open Big East conference the once dominant West Virginia Mountaineers are among many schools that have chance to take the cake and the BCS Bowl bid that comes with it. Expectations are very high in Morgantown. They will play their second game of the year against the East Carolina Pirates, a team that also has big hopes for this year. The Pirates whipped the Mountaineers by a score of 24-3 in 2008 after downing Virginia Tech in their first game. West Virginia will be thirsty for revenge in this game.

It took a bundle of FGs to get it done, but West Virginia beat Liberty in their opener 33-20. New starting QB Jarrett Brown looked solid completing 19 of 26 passes for 243 yards and no touchdowns. Brown is replacing superstar Pat White, who broke 25 records at West Virginia. Brown has started a couple of games in his career, and he led the Mountaineers to a win over Rutgers in 2007 that denied the Scarlet Knights the BCS bid from the Big East. Noel Devine was superb at RB picking up 112 yards and 1 TD on 17 carries. His longest run was for 24 yards.

While Morgantown has always been proud of the offensive lines at West Virginia, there is cause for concern this year. They have to deal with the loss of two-time All American Ryan Stanchek along with a few others up front. Protection will be even more important with Brown taking over the offense.

Brown isnít nearly as mobile as White was, but he is a better passer. Brown can throw the ball deep all day long, but that wonít matter if the line canít protect him. They will also be counted on to make holes for RB Noel Devine. The junior back picked up 1,289 yards for an average of 6.3 yards per carry last year. He should improve on that mark this year.

The Pirates registered a narrow victory over Appalachian State in their first game by a score of 29-24. Appalachian State was able to put up 17 points in the fourth quarter. If the defense has that kind of collapse against Noel Devine and the Mountaineers it will be lights out. 8 starters are returning on each side of the ball for a team that finished 9-5 last year.

Patrick Pinkney returns to man the helm at QB. He was a bit rusty against Appalachian State, giving up 2 INTs while throwing just a single TD pass. Senior RB Dominique Lindsay had 105 yards on 15 carries and 1 TD. He has been relatively unheralded and would be a pleasant surprise if he is able to keep his production up. He is just one of several reliable runners for the Pirates.

Cutting down on penalties will be key for the Pirates. They were penalized 9 times for 109 yards against Appalachian State. They canít afford to give that kind of advantage to West Virginia. Patrick Pinkney will have to shake off the rust and play better. He canít afford to throw 2 INTs against this team. Defense will be integral for the East Carolina Pirates. They need to shut down Noel Devine and blitz the weak West Virginia offensive line. Playing on the road shouldnít be a problem for the Pirates. They were 4-3 when traveling last year, and won the C-USA Championship Game while on the road.

We love the job Skip Holtz has done at East Carolina. Each year he has been at the helm, the team has won more games than the year before. That is a direct reflection on him. We though last year would be the break out year as they started out with wins over WVA, Va Tech and Tulane but then they dropped the next 3. They rebounded nicely though, going 9-4 on the year but losing to Kentucky in the Liberty Bowl.

East Carolina is a well coached team that returns almost everyone from a year ago. The team is further along than West Virginia with Skip Holtz entering his 5th year while West Virginia enters year number two of the Bill Stewart era. East Carolina had been a punching bag for West Virginia up until last year, when they were dominated by the Pirates, failing to score an offensive TD. If East Carolina is here to stay, they need to prove it by sending a message to the West Virginia's of the world. They are the same team as a year ago, and have the talent to go in and won this one straight up or keep it close at the very least. We'll take +6.5 or better with that should be the better team in East Carolina.

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