Originally created 11/09/99

East Carolina looks to rebound from unexpected loss



GREENVILLE -- The last time they played in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, the East Carolina Pirates were dismantling Tulane with 649 yards of offense.

After two games on the road, ECU's task is to rebound from its lowest point of the season -- a 36-17 loss to the University of Alabama at Birmingham on Saturday in which they only gained nine rushing yards. The Pirates' try for redemption will come at home against a Cincinnati team with a similar offensive scheme to Tulane's.

"Losing is always going to hurt, but I think the character of our team is not to lose two games in a row," said junior nose guard Mbayo Ahmadu. "We have to play our best football at the end of the season."

The Cincinnati contest will be followed by ECU's most anticipated game of the season, rival N.C. State's first visit to Greenville.

ECU head coach Steve Logan said that his players aren't likely to look past the Bearcats.

Cincinnati is 3-6 overall and 0-4 in Conference USA, but four of those losses have been decided by eight points or less. The Bearcats handed No. 9 Wisconsin one of its two losses on September 18, when they edged out the Badgers 17-12.

"The Wisconsin game that they won was certainly no fluke. They won that game straight up," Logan said. "And they had Ohio State beat for all practical purposes and let that thing get away from them."

Because Cincinnati tends to bring in several junior college players each year, the Bearcats team of the previous year rarely resembles the current version, Logan said.

Cincinatti also has several new assistant coaches this year.

On defense, Cincinnati is running a new 4-3 scheme with plenty of zone blitzes, and the offense is a wide, quick air attack.

"They re-invent themselves each year," he said. "You turn the film on last year, and they're going to run the football, period, and this year you turn the film on and, what you saw in the Tulane game is exactly what you're going to see from Cincinnati this year. They run four or five wideouts almost exclusively. Shotgun snap, throw the ball very quickly."

Bearcat quarterback Deontey Kenner is a mobile player with six rushing touchdowns this season.

For the Pirates, the most pressing challenge is injecting life into an offense that failed to score any points in the second half of the UAB defeat. Quarterback David Garrard was operating under intense pressure all afternoon.

"We've got to re-establish ourselves up front," Logan said. "The question is, 'How do you that?' Well, that's what we get paid for, so we've got to try to solve that issue and make sure we get out and run the football better than we've done."

Despite the loss, 7-2 ECU remained in the Top 25, holding the No. 24 spot.