East Carolina Preview

This contest features two teams in opposite directions. The Hurricanes had the thrilling 38-33 victory over #18 Florida last week coming back from a deficit of 23 points in the second half to win the game. On the contrast, East Carolina lost their second game by a large margin losing 48-7 to West Virginia.

East Carolina Pirates (0-2) vs. #2 Miami Hurricanes (2-0)
Orange Bowl – Miami, Florida
September 13 – 7:00 PM Eastern on ESPN 2

Believe it or not, East Carolina has won the last two meetings in the series. The last game was during the 1999 season with East Carolina winning 27-23 in Raleigh, North Carolina. East Carolina also won in 1996 with a convincing 31-6 win.

East Carolina Pirates - Notes and Quotes

It is an understatement to say that East Carolina has struggled this season. There are not too many positives for a team who has lost their first two games by a combined score of 88-10. The biggest statistical difference in these games was the rushing yards. ECU has rushed for just 159 yards on 68 carries (2.3 yards per carry) in the first two games. Their rush defense was not much better, giving up 361 yards in both games.

One of the few bright spots for East Carolina is senior wide receiver Terrance Copper. Copper is leading the nation in receptions with 23 and is clearly the go-to guy on the offense. To put his 23 catches in perspective, only three Miami players had over 23 catches throughout the entire season. It is too early in the season to use the words "on pace" but it does give a good indication of how many catches Copper has. Based on ECU's 12-game schedule, Copper is on pace for 138 catches. The NCAA single-season reception record is 142 set by former Houston wide-out Manny Hazard in 1989. Without a doubt, a lot of things have to go right for Copper to eclipse that mark.

"I think he'll get a lot of attention," said head coach John Robinson. "He's the leading receiver in the country. Eleven catches in one game, 12 in the next, but we spread the ball around a little bit more. Terrance is a great competitor. He wants the football. He does the things that it takes to get open to get the football. So as long as he's doing that, I don't see any reason for us to not throw him the football. I'm sure Miami will challenge him, I don't know if they'll double him, but if they do, we'll have to go to someone else. I think Terrance will continue throughout this year to catch a lot of balls."

Head coach John Robinson is in his first season as a head coach after a 21-year coaching career including 19 years as a defensive coordinator. Last season, Robinson was the defensive coordinator at Florida and the pass defense ranked seventh in the nation. Robinson has kept a positive attitude throughout these tough losses.

"When you look at the situation we're in and trying to find where you start, where you draw the positives from, and determining where we need to go, it's obvious that we're not happy to be where we are. We've got to become a better football team in many ways. But we did improve Saturday night. It was a short turnaround, but a lot of credit goes to our coaches and players. They went out and we had a good week of practice and got better. That's how we have to judge the situation now, in getting better. We can focus our efforts on how hard the situation is and the hole we're in, or we can focus on getting it done and finding a way. That's where our coaches and players are at now. The focus is on getting us going in the right direction. I think we made a step that way Saturday (against West Virginia). We are going to be better. We're playing one of the best teams in the country on Saturday night. When you look across the board at the depth chart offensively, defensively, and kicking returns, they are the most talented team in the country. But there is not a man on our staff, there's not a man in our program that is not looking forward to going down there and taking on this challenge."

Robinson is very impressed with the Miami coaching staff. "Obviously like everyone else, I've got great respect for them. Larry Coker to me is somebody I looked up to. Here's a long-time assistant that got his break and is doing a tremendous job. I know a lot of their coaches; I've coached with a couple of them."

Miami Hurricanes - Notes and Quotes

The enjoyed the win last week against Florida in dramatic fashion, but they insist there will not be any sort of let-down this week. It is all back to business as the season is just getting started.

Head coach Larry Coker was extremely pleased with this week's practices.

"We got better today," said Coker after Tuesday's practice. "I think we are a better football team than we were a week ago. I was impressed with both sides of the ball and the kicking game."

"Overall this week, I think we got functionally better. The younger guys are playing with more confidence and know what to do. We are learning more about ourselves as a team."

The biggest step that anyone took last week in the Florida game, was by Brock Berlin. Berlin led the comeback charge by making some good throws and believing in himself. There is no doubt that this team will be come back and win any ball game. The offense has confidence in Berlin and more importantly, Berlin has confidence in himself.

All of the wide receivers enjoyed successful performances last week and another wide receiver hopes to join in on the fun. Senior wide receiver Jason Geathers has not played this season due to a hamstring injury, but will play on Saturday. Geathers practiced all week and is ready to get back on the field. "I expect him to be a leader and a playmaker for us," said Coker. "He had a great summer. I hope he is not rusty and we expect him to play well this Saturday."

The offensive line will once again count on young guys to step up. Rashad Butler started last week at right tackle filling in for the injured Carlos Joseph. The coaching staff was happy with Butler's performance and it will be a game that Butler will never forget. He remembers the call on a crucial third-down late in the game, "I thought ‘oh, man, they are calling it to my side.' But when Frank got in that end zone, I didn't know what was going through my mind. I was so tired and so happy. I heard the crowd react, and I was like, 'Oh my God.'"

This week Alex Pou is expected to start for the hobbled Vernon Carey. Pou has been impressive throughout fall practices and has showed a lot of promise as a young offensive lineman. Pou is a redshirt freshman from Coral Gables High School, the same school that produced teammates Frank Gore and Jonathan Vilma.

The fullback position is always hampered with injuries. Starting fullback Quadtrine Hill suffered a separated shoulder during the Florida game and will not play this week. Jon Beason also has a shoulder injury and is listed as doubtful for the game against ECU. That leaves the fullback duties to the veterans of the bunch, Kyle Cobia and Talib Humphrey. Cobia has had problems with headaches this fall, but is a solid blocker. Humphrey will be playing in his first game of the year after missing the first two with an Achilles strain. Neither Cobia nor Humphrey is as good at catching the ball out of the backfield as Hill or Beason.

Miami Hurricane Projected Starters

QB Brock Berlin Junior
RB Frank Gore Sophomore
TE Kellen Winslow Junior
TE Kevin Everett Junior
WR Kevin Beard Senior
WR Ryan Moore Freshman
LT Eric Winston Sophomore
LG Alex Pou Sophomore
C Joel Rodriguez Junior
RG Chris Myers Junior
RT Carlos Joseph Senior

LE Baraka Atkins Freshman
LT Orien Harris Sophomore
RT Vince Wilfork Junior
RE Javon Nanton Sophomore
WLB D.J. Williams Senior
MLB Jonathan Vilma Senior
SLB Darrell McClover Senior
CB Antrel Rolle Junior
CB Kelly Jennings Sophomore
FS Sean Taylor Junior
SS Maurice Sikes Senior

Hurricane Injury Status

OG Vernon Carey ankle Questionable
FB Jon Beason shoulder Doubtful
SS Greg Threat hamstring Doubtful
WR Devin Hester ankle Out
FB Quadtrine Hill shoulder Out
OG Joe McGrath leg Out

Glenn Sharpe, Talib Humphrey and Jason Geathers will be making their 2003 debuts on Saturday after missing the first two games with injuries.

Team Leaders

Miami

Passing – Brock Berlin (543 yards 59% 4 TD 3 Int)
Rushing – Frank Gore (245 yards 5.4 avg 2 TD)
Receiving – Kevin Beard (7 rec 164 yards 1 TD) Ryan Moore (7 rec 96 yards 2 TD)
Defense – Sean Taylor (19 tackles 1 Int) D.J. Williams (14 tackles)

East Carolina

Passing – Desmond Robinson (264 yards 76% 0 TD 2 Int)
Rushing – Marvin Townes (89 yards 3.4 avg)
Receiving – Terrance Copper (23 rec 246 yards) Josh Coffman (4 rec 29 yards)
Defense – Chris Moore (42 tackles) Mickey McCoy (19 tackles)

Two Key Match-ups To Watch

When East Carolina has the ball…
WR Terrance Copper vs. CB Antrel Rolle

Copper has been a bright spot for the Pirates and will face one of the best cover cornerbacks in the country. Both players are nearly the same size with Copper at 6-0 210-pounds and Rolle at 6-1 200-pounds. An interesting statistic in this match-up is that Copper has 23 catches but zero touchdowns; where as Rolle has picked off one pass and returned it for a touchdown. Doesn't seem fair, does it?

When Miami has the ball…
RB Frank Gore vs. MLB Chris Moore

Gore has enjoyed his early-season success rushing for over 100 yards in both games. What separates Gore from other quality running backs is his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. When the ball is goes to the running backs out of the backfield, the likely tacklers are the linebackers. Enter Chris Moore. Mr. Moore has been all over the field this season racking up an astonishing 42 tackles in just two games. If Moore rushes the quarterback, Gore will need to be ready to pick up the blitz and block.

Coach Larry Coker's Final Word

In response to being a heavy favorite, "I don't think East Carolina is just going to mail it in. They are going to come in and make us play."

Player Quote of the Week

Left tackle Eric Winston on the progression of the offensive line, "I think we are progressing and that's what it is all about."

Christopher Stock is a Staff Columnist for CanesTime and can be contacted by emailing him at stock@grassy.com

Canes Time Top Stories