Long Game Ends Long Season

It's finally over. A season that was predicted to go down as a great one for East Carolina football turned into a long, drawn out, torturous affair for Pirate fans. Last nights 4 1/2 hour 64-61 double overtime loss to Marshall in the GMAC Bowl was a fitting microcosm ECU's gridiron year.

Before I start, let me first say that I don't think East Carolina deserved to be in a bowl period. However, like so many others I held out hope that the turf at Ladd-Peebles Stadium would be the place of redemption for this bunch of underachievers. It was not to be.

Once more the Pirates blew a commanding lead to lose. I thought even ECU couldn't let a 30-point halftime lead evaporate – I was wrong. For the sixth time this year ECU could not finish the deal. The resulting 6-6 mark says it all, this team was mediocre at best.

When you look at the East Carolina team's talent on an individual basis it is indeed tough to figure out how they played so average. Big-time performers like David Garrard, Leonard Henry, Pernell Griffin and Kevin Miller headed up a cast of players destined for greatness before the season began. And, individually that greatness was fulfilled. Henry finished the regular season with 1,432 yards, sixth in the nation. For his part, Griffin set a Conference USA record for most career tackles and along with Henry garnered All-American honors. Garrard, whose performance this season may not have been as steller as years past was still steady. And, finally Miller was consistently accurate in field goal attempts. So, why then did this team underperform?

Many folks lay the blame for the Pirates' woes squarely at the feet of the Pirates' defense, more specifically the Pirates' defensive secondary. That unit was ranked 101st nationally (out of 117 teams total) and gave up an average of 261 passing yards per game. Marshall quarterback Byron Leftwich lit this group up to a tune of 576 yards and 4 touchdowns on 41 of 70 attempts.

In a season full of shortcomings, it's only natural that fans look for a scapegoat. This teams' problems cannot be so easily defined and it is certain that there is much for Steve Logan and his staff to work on in the spring.


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