East Carolina is the second largest university in North Carolina and has also been the fastest growing campus in the UNC system for six straight years. The growth of the Pirate Nation would not be where it is today without Terry Holland.
Holland has served the Pirates since 2004; his enthusiasm and drive have been in part responsible for restoring the great tradition of Pirate Football with bowl appearances in six of the last seven seasons. When his successor is named, Holland's new role will allow him to assist the new AD in whatever ways necessary. I asked a couple of players their reaction to Holland resigning.
"Since I've been here he's always been around the facility, at our games, and been a great supporter for what we do. He was a great voice for us and wasn't a behind the scenes kind of guy, it's sad to see but things happen."
"I'm sure he has his reasons whether it be personal or not, but either way we wish the best of luck to him."
"Hes done a lot for this program and is a great guy. We were glad to have him, I don't know what his future plans are but we wish him luck."
Carden shows confidence in the team's preparation
Last week, the impression I got from practice was that the Pirates were spending a lot of time focusing on how to improve themselves as a team. As the bowl game continues to get closer the team should start broadening their horizons in order to prepare properly. I asked quarterback Shane Carden what this week has been like.
"This week we are jumping more into Louisiana-Lafayette," Carden responded. "It's felt more like a normal game week; this routine will help get us ready for next week which is the actual game week."
These interviews were conducted on 12/12/12; the last time in eighty two years that we will see a repeating date. On a related note, the Mayan calendar ends on December 21st, 2012 which some people believe means the end of the world. Personally I believe we'll be fine and this is all speculation; but I asked Carden to weigh in on the subject.
"It's pretty crazy stuff, I hope it doesn't end and we're all still here; I look forward to heading down to the Superdome and playing this game."
Magazu is prepared
Defensive back Damon Magazu has been a playmaker on the defensive side of the ball all year long; he also led the team in total tackles with 72. Magazu performs best when the lights shine the brightest, something he proved to Pirate fans in that overtime win against NC State two years ago, when he had the game-winning interception in overtime.
I asked Magazu to describe the Ragin' Cajuns wide receivers; he responded, "They are a good group of receivers. Number nine is a great athlete who can get open in space and their quarterback is a dual threat guy who can spread the ball around well."
After giving up fifty-nine points in their season finale against Marshall, the Pirate defense has something to prove in this bowl game. I asked Magazu what they have been working on to try and prevent that from happening again.
"Last week we just focused on ourselves," Magazu said. "This week we're starting to put our game plan in; coaches have been emphasizing breaking on the ball and causing turnovers, we want to cause a lot of turnovers in this game."
Bodenheimer shows the receivers are poised
Senior wide-out Andrew Bodenheimer finished the season with a bang to say the least; catching the game winning touchdown against Tulane and the potential game winning touchdown against Marshall. Bodenheimer embodies consistency and leadership for the Pirate's receiving core; I asked him what they have been working on to prepare.
He responded, "We've been working on the little things and just trying to get better; we watched some film, they're an aggressive team so we have to concentrate on blocking well and the screen game."
As previously stated, these interviews were conducted on 12/12/12 the last repeating date for 82 years. In the spirit of "last times" I asked Bodenheimer to talk about his last time wearing a Pirate jersey.
"It's crazy to think of it like that," Bodenheimer said. "I'm just cherishing these last few days and not taking them for granted; I'm doing everything I can to prepare for this game and to help my team prepare."
Derrell Johnson knows the clock is ticking
: Linebacker Derrell Johnson is a potential next level player for the Pirates; meaning he could have a future in the National Football League. Johnson's success this season has been an integral part in the Pirates ability to stop the run. I asked Johnson to describe Louisiana-Lafayette's running attack.
He responded, "Their running backs are physical and shifty, similar to a lot of the guys we face here in conference USA; their offensive line is extremely physical and come off the ball well so we'll have to be ready."
The Pirates have less than ten days until they face the Ragin' Cajuns; something that Derrell is extremely aware of. I asked Johnson what the morale at practice has been like with the game approaching so rapidly; he responded, "There is more of a sense of urgency this week," Johnson said. "Time is running down so we are trying to make sure we aren't making the same mistakes we did last week and are trying to perfect our calls out there."
Terry Holland stepping down as the Pirates athletic director is sad news; considering how much success this program has had with him at its helm. With that being said, Holland's new role should help keep East Carolina heading in the right direction when a successor is chosen. From what I have gained the team has found ways to stay focused on the task at hand, despite the news about Holland. The Pirates leave for New Orleans early .next week; Inside ECU Sports will be keeping fans updated as the bowl game gets closer.