Holtz happy with his ugly baby

Published 12:04 pm Tuesday, November 25, 2008

By By STEVE FRANKLIN, Sports Writer
GREENVILLE — It’s been a bumpy road, but the Pirates are right where they want to be.
On Saturday, East Carolina overcame five turnovers to defeat UAB 17-13 and capture Conference USA’s East Division for the first time in program history. Now, the Pirates will travel to Houston, Tulsa or Rice for the Fourth Annual Conference USA Championship game on Dec. 6.
The Pirates are seeking their first conference championship since 1973.
Winning a Conference USA title has been something Holtz has strived to do since stepping onto ECU’s campus as head coach four years ago. And after a couple of seasons of near misses, the Pirates will finally get that opportunity.
The Pirates haven’t scored more than 20 points in a game since Oct. 18 when they beat Memphis, 30-10. But Holtz isn’t concerned about that. All he’s concerned about is getting a victory.
"Would I love to turn and take the ball and methodically drive down the field offensively and score a lot of points? Would I love to hand it to a running back, make two people miss and have a big play for a touchdown? Would I love to throw the ball over the top, protect the quarterback and have a 60-yard scoring strike? I would,” Holtz said. "I would love to have a defense where we could blitz, play man coverage, get after it, create a lot of turnovers, make things happen and score points on defense. I would love to create an exciting, up-tempo, wide-open style of football. I would love to have a field goal kicker who could put the ball through the uprights every time we line-up and kicked it. But realistically that's not where we are right now as a football team."
Holtz knows it hasn’t been pretty, but he also knows his team has a 4-1 record in the last five games.
Holtz’s team will hit the road as the underdog in the C-USA Championship game, but it’s just another challenge in a season filled with obstacles.
"Once you get into that game, winner takes all. We've put ourselves in that game and we can get excited about that challenge and being able to take two steps this year. Or we can just beat our chest and be satisfied with where we are. We'd like to continue to climb this ladder and have that hungry mindset, which is part of our humble and hungry battle cry."