ECU keeps focus on the Herd

Published 5:46 pm Monday, November 19, 2012

East Carolina running back Vintavious Cooper and the Pirates will play their regular season finale at home on Friday against Marshall. (ECU Photo/Rob Goldberg)

GREENVILLE — As Thanksgiving approaches East Carolina may want to send a turkey or two Tulsa’s way.
It’s thanks to the Golden Hurricane, who beat Central Florida 23-21 on Saturday, that East Carolina’s hopes of winning a Conference USA East Division title remain alive with one game to go in the regular season.
The Pirates (7-4, 6-1) held up their end of the bargain by topping Tulane 28-23 over the weekend, giving them the same league record as the Knights (8-3, 6-1). However, due to ECU’s 40-20 loss to UCF earlier in the year, the Pirates still need a little luck as they head down the home stretch.
In order for them to win the C-USA East crown, they must first beat Marshall on Friday and then hope that UAB (3-8, 2-5) can pull off a stunner in Orlando.
For now, East Carolina head coach Ruffin McNeill and his team won’t allow their focus to stray from the man in the mirror.
“We have to cancel out the noise,” McNeill said. “That’s what we talked to them about (Sunday) night. Focus on us.”
Last year at this time the Pirates headed to West Virginia needing a sixth win to secure a postseason appearance. It didn’t happen as Marshall pulled out a 34-27 overtime victory to snap ECU’s streak of bowl appearances at five.
This time around ECU has already clinched bowl eligibility and it is the Herd that heads to Greenville seeking its precious sixth win. However, McNeill said that his team is more inspired by trying to achieve its goals than payback.
“I think the motivation for us is to just make sure we play well this week. That’s what’s going to be on our minds,” McNeill said. “They know how (last year’s) game ended, but as far as tossing that out in front of them, I won’t do that.”

It was announced on Monday that after 60-plus years in the ACC, the University of Maryland will bolt for the Big 10 thanks to the lure of lucrative TV deals, with the Big East’s Rutgers reportedly right behind them.
The two defections have once again awakened East Carolina’s hopes of leaving Conference USA for a BCS conference.
On Monday, East Carolina athletic director Terry Holland took a few minutes to address the topic.
“From our standpoint, the main thing we have to do is control the things that we do control and stay focused on what our jobs are here,” Holland said. “But, at the same time we’re concerned about the opportunities available for our conference affiliation in the future and we will closely monitor everything that happens. This is the first shoe, but it’s not the last shoe to drop. Some other things will probably happen around this move.”

The Pirates added three players to the injury report on Monday as center Josh Clark, long snapper Charlie Coggins and strong safety Chip Thompson were all listed as questionable for Friday’s game with concussions.