A Look At East Carolina

Wildcats will look to win their seventh game of the season in the Liberty Bowl on January 2, 2009 and we start taking a look at the game.

In his fourth year at East Carolina head coach Skip Holtz has people excited again about Pirates football after a dry spell.

The son of legendary head coach Lou Holtz has revived a once proud program that had struggled to win three games in a 25-game span in a period of two-plus seasons prior to his arrival.

Known for teams that play ball hawking defense, the Pirates were the talk of college football early in the season as they knocked off Virginia Tech and West Virginia in their first two games.

After knocking off Tulane the team found the going tough as they loss to North Carolina State in overtime followed by two more losses to Houston and Virginia before getting back on the winning side taking six of their next seven games including the Conference USA Championship game against Tulsa.

While Holtz teams are known for their defense he's also found success on the offensive side of the ball.

Holtz was a one-year Monogram winner at Notre Dame playing special teams and flanker and wasted little time in following in his father's footsteps.

After his time at Notre Dame the young Holtz spent time at Florida State as a Graduate Assistant before becoming a full-time coach at Colorado State. After a one year stint he returned to Notre Dame where he coached wide receivers and became the team's offensive coordinator before becoming the head coach at Connecticut from 1994-1998.

After leaving Connecticut his father pulled him back in and placed him on his staff at South Carolina where he served from 1999-2004 before being hired to take over the East Carolina program.

In his first year Holtz looked to rebuild the Pirates program as the team went 5-6 but things were about to change as Holtz got the team to a 7-6 record and an 8-5 record along with back-to-back bowl games.

Heading into the bowl game Skip Holtz has placed himself in the Pirates record books posting the fifth highest overall win total (29) in the schools history.

In the past several weeks Skip Holtz had seen his name placed on several coaching jobs. But from the looks of things he's happy right where he's at.

Coordinators for the Pirates are Greg Hudson (Defensive) and Steve Shankweiler (Offense). Hudson is no stranger to Holtz as he's also a former Notre Dame linebacker and worked for Holtz as the offensive line coach at Connecticut. Shankweiler is in his third stint with East Carolina having also worked for former head coaches Art Baker, Bill Lewis and Steve Logan.

The Pirates average 23.8 points per game while giving up only 20.8 per contest. Looking at their 2008 stats you see they have been whistled for more penalties than their opponents (20 more) and keep teams right at 200 yards passing per game while only giving up an average of 138 yards rushing per game.

While they don't have a 1,000 yard rusher they do have three backs with 400 or more yards headed by Norman Whitley with 688 yards.

Quarterback Pat Pinkney hits on 62 percent of his passes and has gone 205-327-7 with 12 passing touchdowns for the season.

Much like their running game the Pirates have three receivers with over 300 yards receiving topped by Dwayne Harris with 654 yards on 58 catches.

On defense the Pirates have three players with over 80 tackles on the season. Pierre Bell (92) is joined by Van Eskridge (89) and Nick Johnson (89).

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