ECU's Holtz looks to follow one upset with another Print
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Monday, 01 September 2008 10:20
NCAAF Headline News

 GREENVILLE, N.C. (AP) -There wasn't much time for Skip Holtz to enjoy his signature victory at East Carolina. Not when the Pirates had to figure out a way to follow it up.
Congratulations, East Carolina. By upsetting 17th-ranked Virginia Tech, the Pirates took an impressive first step toward busting into the BCS. Now for the harsh reality: They've got to do it again this week against No. 8 West Virginia, or else they can pretty much forget about reaching one of those big bowls.
``Where we go from here is a lot more important than what happened in the (Virginia Tech) game itself,'' Holtz said Monday. ``If we go out and lose the rest of the games all season, then everybody's going to say, 'It's just a fluke. They got lucky.' So I think the challenge that we have ahead of us is to make sure that we can draw the line between the public image of what just happened Saturday, and the internal image of what just happened Saturday - which was: We got one win.''
But what a validating victory it was for East Carolina, which has perennially pined for respect behind the state's four Atlantic Coast Conference schools, using that chip-on-the-shoulder attitude to fuel its turnaround from the Conference USA cellar back to a postseason regular.
The Pirates (1-0) beat Frank Beamer at his own game, returning a blocked punt 27 yards for the decisive touchdown with fewer than 2 minutes left in the 27-22 victory. East Carolina's first regular-season win over a ranked team since 2002 - and its first against a team that highly ranked in nearly a decade - made them the talk of college football for a while and sent the players into a temporary state of disbelief.
``It's big for us, but it's even bigger for our community'' in eastern North Carolina, linebacker Nick Johnson said immediately afterward. ``It's just exciting (and) it really hasn't hit me yet that we pulled out that victory.''
While outfoxing Beamer was tough, Holtz now faces perhaps an even more difficult job: Bringing his Pirates back to earth amid the burgeoning BCS buzz.
what you have to do, with all the media activity around you and all the attention that you may be getting.''
Last year's Pirates learned that lesson the hard way, and coincidentally, the Mountaineers were the ones doing the teaching.
East Carolina was coming off a last-second victory over instate rival North Carolina when its delusions of grandeur were dismissed by West Virginia with almost clinical efficiency in a 48-7 rout that was its worst beating under Holtz.
``They kind of put us in our place in a hurry,'' Holtz said. ``Our players understand how good they are. It's not like we can grow on a lot of confidence that we've lined up and beaten them before. ... What's really going to be the key going into this is that we understand how good they are, and the monumental effort it's going to take in order for us.''
So, what's it going to take for the Pirates to pull another upset? Obviously, job No. 1 is to somehow slow Pat White and Noel Devine.
The Pirates seemed to have figured out the secret during White's first two seasons in 2005 and '06, when they became the only team in that span to twice hold West Virginia to fewer than 200 yards rushing. But things got out of hand last year when the Mountaineers (1-0) rolled up nearly 600 yards of total offense, 397 on the ground.
And with White's career-best five-touchdown passes last week against Villanova, suddenly there's more to worry about than West Virginia's ground game.
``You've got to keep them off balance,'' Holtz said. ``I don't think you can let (White) get into a routine of, 'This is what they're doing to attack us.' You have to be very multiple (because) if your game plan is to stop them throwing, he'll beat you running. If your game plan is to stop them from running, he's showing that he can beat you throwing the ball.''
 

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