Monday's Notes 10/1/01

In the minds of East Carolina fans at least, events leading up to this week's long awaited confrontation with UNC have gone terribly awry. Instead of an anticipated 4-0 record and national ranking the Pirates will arrive in Chapel Hill as decided underdogs.

Before the season began most Pirate fans seemed confidant, almost smug, about their team's chances of a long awaited victory over the Tar Heels. And, certainly based on the fact that ECU's returned 17 of 22 starters from an 8-4 team of last year who could blame them. Especially considering the fact that the UNC program was in disarray and would be only a few games into a coaching change.

Now, following an opening day loss to Wake Forest (19-21) and to Syracuse (30-44), ECU's two wins, over Tulane (51-24) and William & Mary (38-23) respectively seem lost in all the disappointment emanating from Pirate fans. To them, the resulting 2-2 record seems like a losing one and is prompting many to abandon the ship before it sets sail to Chapel Hill.

By contrast, the Heels will confidently swagger into Saturday's home game despite a losing record of 2-3. Following an inauspicious 0-3 start the Heels shellacked then 4th ranked Florida State 41-9 followed by a 17-9 win over NC State in Raleigh this past Saturday. Their three losses, against 4th ranked Oklahoma, 5th ranked Texas, and surprising 25th ranked Maryland certainly aren't anything to be ashamed of. Collectively, that group has yet to lose a game.

Even in defeat, ECU's team is showing signs of emerging from a seeming emotional malaise. Down 20-3 at one point Saturday, the pirates fought back and took the lead on two separate occasions. Pirate coach Steve Logan definitely thinks his team is coming together and described the setback in the Carrier Dome as a "Tough game, tough game. But I'm really proud of our players."

On the surface, it would appear that UNC is primed to lay a hurtin' on the Pirates, but if the history of the ECU-UNC series is any indication, an old sports cliche' applies - in games like this you can throw out the record books.

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