Next up, Cincinnati

You gotta' figure it will happen sooner or later – that East Carolina's football team will put together two halves of great performance.

This season's squad has at times played like the top 25 team it was billed as in preseason, but only in fits and spurts. Sometimes this ECU team looks dominating as was the case in the first half in TCU contest – rolling up a dominating statistical advantage enroute to a 27-3 halftime lead, only to find themselves narrowly escaping Fort Worth with a 37-30 win.

Despite the Pirates' sputtering ways they still are in a great position, sitting 4-0 in Conference USA play heading into this Saturday's game against conference foe Cincinnati (5-3, 4-1). The game will be televised nationally on ESPN 2 with a 3:36 PM kickoff. Cincinnati still has its own title hopes with a 4-1 conference mark. The Bearcats' only CUSA loss was a 28-13 setback to Louisville.

Historically speaking, ECU has dominated the series with the Bearcats, with 11 wins against only two defeats. The two teams did not play each other last year. ECU coach Steve Logan is not concerned with history when he looks at this match-up. Logan realizes the game's importance in this year's conference race and is convinced his players do too. In his Monday press conference Logan stated in his normal blunt fashion, "Anybody that overlooks Cincinnati on this team is too stupid to play for me." Logan went on to say, "Each game from now on literally can be the last game of the season. That`s the way I look at it. Cincinnati feels that way about our game, I would think."

In the past, Cincinnati has fielded the typical Midwest style team - loaded with big down linemen. This year Bearcats are more like the Pirates, smallish but fast. Logan commented on that Monday, "Offensively, we`re going to take on a defense that, for the first time, is not as big as they`ve usually been. They`ve traded some of that in for some speed. Normally when we`d play a Cincinnati team, we`d try to outrun them, but that`s not going to be the case this year. We`re going to have to be very attentive on offense and concise in what we do because they`re very fast."

Of special concern to ECU's defense will be Bearcat quarterback Gino Guidugli. Thus far this season, the 6-4, 205 freshman has passed for 1300 total yards (106 completions on 156 attempts and 9 touchdown tosses). Steve Logan is high on the young man's abilities and thinks that the Pirates' secondary will be tested Saturday. Logan Says Of Guidugli, "I think before it`s all said and done, this youngster`s going to be the next real-deal guy to come out of this league. He`s a mobile guy that can throw and it`s going to be a real test to see if we can slow him down. He plays much more mature that you`d think a true freshman could do."


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