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ECU opens conference play

By By PETER WILLIAMS, Staff Writer
GREENVILLE — The way ECU head coach Skip Holtz views it, what happened last week doesn’t matter anymore. What happened last year doesn’t count and things that happened 50 years ago are nice to read about, but they aren’t significant come 6 p.m. today.
All that matters is how the current Pirates play against the Southern Mississippi.
There is plenty of history between ECU and the Golden Eagles. In terms of the sheer number of games, the series is the richest in the ECU record books.
Since 1951 the two teams have lined up 32 times and USM has prevailed in 24 of them. Of the eight times ECU has beaten the Golden Eagles, only two have happened in Greenville.
Last year ECU pulled out a 21-17 overtime win in Hattiesburg, but Holtz is quick to point out that was last year.
USM (1-1) opened the season at home with a 35-15 win over Division I-AA Tennessee-Martin, but lost last week’s game 39-19 against 24th ranked Tennessee.
USM head coach Jeff Bower knows how important Saturday’s matchup will be.
One player both coaches will be watching is USM’s sophomore runningback Damion Fletcher.
For the second game in a row, Fletcher developed cramps, which concerns Bower.
There could be a total of three Chris Johnson’s on the field today. The prominent USM version is a senior wide receiver who had 127 yards on eight catches against the Vols.
There is also a Chris J. Johnson, a sophomore defensive lineman.
The East Carolina Johnson is a senior running back ranks second on ECU’s all-purpose yardage list with 4,344 yards.
Bower also has respect for ECU’s starting quarterback, Patrick Pinkney.
In the end, Holtz knows today is just another tough game in a schedule that starts with five tough games.