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CUSA East Division: Can Pirates take charge tonight?

I know it is early in the season, but really – on paper at least – tonight’s game at Central Florida, truly could be for all the beans in the East division of CUSA. Set aside ECU’s penchant for blowing at least one game a season that we have no business blowing and you can see if the Pirates get by UCF, the schedule screams, “Ticket to the title game.”

But this will be a tall task for our boys. Not because UCF is all that special, but more because our kids don’t seem to have that gumption that past teams had. This is a chance for the roster to prove that premise wrong because everything about this game is, IMO, going to come down to what good ol Ed Emory used to call want power.

Sure, UCF holds the edge in just about every measurable that is kept – see my good friend Greg Vacek’s crunched numbers here at Bonesville – but they, too, are a team whose mental and intestinal fortitude have done them in in the past.

I wish it were a home game, but if you have to go on the road for a big game, UCF is one you would pick where the stadium is seldom full and environ smacks of sterile. This game realy at the end of the day comes down to two teams that are closely matched in talent with two similar psyches playing for what should be the inside track on the title.

If ever we wanted to call on the chip, it is this game. Here is a team that has not paid its dues and has done very little in competition to earn any kind of promotion in the college ranks leap frogging us to a bigger conference (read term bigger loosely here). Hence, they are now some how a bigger fish for us to play – the big favorite in this game. Plus it is on National TV…all are ingredients that past Pirate teams would meld into a massive chip for the world to see. Does this bunch have that? I am not sold that we do…not yet, but tonight would be a great time to unleash it if it is there.

UCF is going to bring a balanced attack that has no fear of our defense as they have played two big name teams already. They are going to bring a defense that got after the QB in every game they have played to date and forces turnovers. This will be a test. But, we have also faced big-time defenses already and will no be seeing anything like USC’s defense here. The question is, are we actually getting better. If yes, I like our chances. But the players have to step it up…play with urgency…play with WANT POWER.

Shane Carden’s watering in is officially over. He must now lead this team in a big fashion if he is to underscore that he is the man. The offensive line has no more mulligans. They have played together too long and have been in the program too long to not stand up and show whether they are the team that lined up against UTEP or the one that lined up against UNC.

The receivers no longer get the touting of talent despite the drops. They are experienced, but until they all catch like Justin Hardy, I am putting a moratorium on praise for their talents.

The defensive front has gotten stronger each game in terms of pressure…but you are only as good as your last effort…go prove that you can do it with the game on the line.

The linebackers…looking good against the run and shabby against the pass. We’ll see if they are capable with it all on the line. Secondary produced 3 INTs last week…was that luck? Gonna need those tonight.

Finally…the coaches. Will this be the game that Ruff and crew show that they have an answer for any contingency?

GAME 6…we are at the midway point. If we are not locked in tonight, will we ever be? I know, every game is the biggest one, but this one, on paper is HUGE. I hope the kids see it that way and are well prepared.

Go Pirates, Go!

13 comments on “CUSA East Division: Can Pirates take charge tonight?

  1. Chesapeake Pirate

    No doubt this is a big game and those in the know thought so little of us that the opening line was 14 in favor of Central Florida. You offer a solid assessment of our challenge. I believe we are up to the challenge and have a great chance to win. My only criticism is your reference to “ECU’s penchant for blowing at least one game a season that we have no business blowing” as if that is something unique to our Pirates. The fabric of our program was shaped over the last 30 years by us beating so called “bigger” teams that most thought we had no business beating. Did we only win because those other teams “blew it”? Even traditional Top 25 teams normally are “upset” at least once a year. It’s hard for any team to be at their best all 12 games, and ECU is no more immune to the upset bug than anyone else.

    • Thanks for stopping in Chesapeake…and point well stated and taken.

      All depends on the POV, you are right. Hopefully, we rise up and others on our schedule do not. I think that this team is doing one thing very important – improving game to game (agnostic of the competition level). That is a sign that we could very well end up in a place that doesn’t quite look possible at the moment.

      So…tonight is the biggest step. It is a two-fer, if you will, in our goals: Huge for CUSA championship aspirations and secondly, winning season and bowl implications already come into play.

      Here’s hoping our boys “rise” to the challenge tonight.


  2. One of the most upsetting things I have seen in sports in the past 5 years was UCFs AD Keith Tribble come out and declare how UCF was ready to take the next step in the world of College Athletics. Mr Tribble would sing UCFs praises to anyone who had a microphone. I found this funny as the Knights own a 2-9 record against us and their so called large enrollment of 54,000 students can only draw 35,000 to see the Knights play in a stadium that looked as if it was made from recycled beer and soda cans. UCF has won a total of one bowl game and you can count their signature wins on three fingers. Mr Tribble had no trouble breaking the rules and turned out being the fall guy for all of the cheating that took place but in the end one would have to declare mission accomplished.

    The Knights and their barren resume will be moving on to bigger and better things while we sit here pretending ODU and Charlotte are the answers to our future. While you can say its not in his DNA I have issues the way TH allowed us to get passed over. All of the donations, facility upgrades, sell out crowds, great atmosphere, mean nothing if you remain one of the have nots. UCF will end up with a better roster of Bowls, greater exposure, and a TV deal that will pay roughly 10 times more than what we will be making. I have always considered Virginia Tech to be our sister program when it came to getting to the big time. You can easily make the case that we and the Hokies were the same program in the late 80’s and early 90’s with the additional revenues Tech has been given from the Big East and ACC we no longer belong on the same field with them. Imagine what UCF will look like 5 years from now. How great are we going to feel taking a backseat to Memphis and Temple.

    Our biggest issue is that we are too nice and will accept our fate. Mr Tribble was willing to roll around in the mud and do whatever it would take to move UCF out of their situation and it worked. With UCF being ineligible for this years championship who knows what kind of effort they will bring each and every week. What I dont understand is how they can sign plenty of transfers from AQ programs to fill in holes on their roster. I would love nothing more than to administer another beat down as their going away present.

    • Hey DCP 28…I can feel the frustration and we all share it.
      I have long been a TH fan, but do sometimes wonder if he has reserved some of his big bucket of capital for some reason. I don’t want our program to ever get in the mud to advance (and yes, we are seeing again in Chapel Hill how cheaters do win in the NCAA world)…I would rather stay where we are.

      That said, I think even TH is up against a bigger animal. We were never even considered for the BE. Period. He tried hard.

      Now, call me a conspiracy theorist, but looking at how far reaching the Carolina cartel is (swofford chief among them) and how the UNC ilk stood by silently and even helped Virginia Tech’s cause in that expansion that raided the old BE, I would not be surprised at all if all along the road to trying to get to another conference, there hasnt been the unc network pulling strings at all levels, legislature, BOT, Television, and backroom calls and meetings to prevent ECU any shot at advancing. In the current scandal at UNC, we see that there is no distance they will not go to advance their missions. I know…sounds out there, but I believe it fully.

      UCF has friends in high places and the almighty dollar rules that day. Competitiveness is far down the chart in today’s world. Not just sports. We live in a culture where it doesn’t matter how you get the bling, but only that you have it. This is why criminals rub elbows with society’s elites, why no talent socialites are in movies, etc., etc., etc.

      We need to beat the team in front of us whether it is UNCC or South Carolina and if we do, we will prevail.

      Sorry for the rant DC…and thanks for saying what we all feel.

      Go Pirates, Go!

  3. Blackbeard's Ghost

    Ahh…short and sweet and saying it all RC! I agree with you that tonight will decide the east champ already mainly because of the confidence factor. And whichever team comes out victorious tonight will have the bullseye on their chest. Can this ECU team win? Absolutely! History is on our side. Through the years of playing UCF, ECU has been very opportunistic of UCF turnovers. We must continue that trend. Confidence will be a huge starting factor. Our Bucs have to come out with attitude from the starting bell. Simply put, we need to play like we have something to prove. Hence the “Chip” we all talk about. We haven’t really seen it in this teams play so far this season Ron. Tonight will speak volumes about what this team is made of.

    Great stuff as always sir! Go Pirates!!!

  4. Ralph Wright

    Exactly! Thats what I was talking about last post. I really hope after that last game that this team feels like they are playing FOR something. They represent something bigger than themselves.
    As for Terry Holland we are so lucky for the connections that brought him here. If not for those connections we wouldn’t have sniffed that level of AD and would have been doomed to another Hamerick type hire. Plenty of schools out there are very jealous of our good fortune on that score.

    • Hey Ralph…looking forward as you are to seeing what this team is made of. A win tonight will certainly help them lock in on an identity.

      On TH…I just hope we have a great AD of the future also being groomed. Terry is a class guy.

      Go Pirates, Go!

  5. Mike in Durham

    Good post RC…Keys to victory for EC, just two (IMO of course)
    1) decent O-line play (give SC time to throw the ball, open a few holes) &
    2) have another WR show up besides Hardy

    It’s just that simple; our D will show up, they’ve been solid in most games; SC is getting better, believe Ray &/or Soloman will have a break out day, STs will be solid too….GOL has a vanilla offense, we know power sets are coming, just need to contain (not stop) them….Ruff has spoken about ‘Road Warriors’…the road starts here, tonight!

    If I am GOL, I focus on stopping Cooper & Hardy, make our QB & other WRs beat them..{but then again, if I’m GOL, I’d be pissed}…hopefully our coaches have a game plan for this…other opponents will be trying the same thing….it WAS good to hear Ruff talk today about trying to go vertical, something we had some success w/ versus UTEP…we do that okay & we win….

    Regarding UCF’s program, I’ll be brief….
    1. Wrongful death
    2. Ken Caldwell, Brandon Bender (over),…Keith Dibble
    3. Erector set partially filled with gatornoleknights
    4. 2-9 (aka lost 5 of last 6)

    • MiD…in your brevity there at the end, I almost fell over in my seat. Well played. Might add one more on UCF…#5 Cheap shot artists…(1993 season would have been different if not for that late hit on Crandell).

      I am with your analysis on the game and on what GOL will likely do. Time for others to show what they got!


  6. Just a quick follow up I have friends whos family members are ADs at AQ programs here on the east coast. I have tried to pump them for answers as to our situation to no avail for fear of legal issues down the road. The theme they both seem to have is that it is the responsibility of the AD to get the program to the next level. I too like TH and dont advocate cheating but I would love an honest explaination why we remain on the outside looking in. We are all big boys here all I want is the truth.

    While I would love nothing more than a serious beat down of UCF are they not ineligible for post season play or a shot at the conference championship? We could do a great deal in advancing our cause by winning a conference championship in what appears to be a really weak year for CUSA.

    • DCP…I agree on the CUSA title…it is there for our taking…we just have to grab it.

      Honestly, we should be able to go 10 wins this season (be this year’s USM) given the stature of CUSA…very weak this year. Frankly, if we win tonight, I would be disappointed if we do not run the subsequent table (Navy included). Wouldn’t that be something.

      On Terry…if he has any reasons to share, I agree he should. I worry that there are other forces at play along with our being one of 5 (oops, now 6) Division I teams in the state.

      Cheers DCP 28 and let’s rock the good karma for tonight.

    • DCP…I agree on the CUSA title…it is there for our taking…we just have to grab it.

      Honestly, we should be able to go 10 wins this season (be this year’s USM) given the stature of CUSA…very weak this year. Frankly, if we win tonight, I would be disappointed if we do not run the subsequent table (Navy included). Wouldn’t that be something.

      On Terry…if he has any reasons to share, I agree he should. I worry that there are other forces at play along with our being one of 5 (oops, now 6) Division I teams in the state.

      Cheers DCP 28 and let’s rock the good karma for tonight.

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