Caulton Tudor

What to watch: ECU, TOB and NC stars in Georgia

Posted August 30, 2013

Selected items of interest as the long opening week continues through Monday’s ACC game between Florida State and Pittsburgh:

Can Rick Smith upgrade the Pirates’ defense?

When South Florida gave Skip Holtz the boot at the end of 2012, ECU’s Ruffin McNeill moved quickly to bring veteran defensive aide Rick Smith back to Greenville.

Smith, 64, was on the Holtz Pirate staffs that won two Conference USA titles and groomed some of the best secondaries in the country.

Now Smith is charge of the entire Pirate defense, which had hemorrhaged points and yardage under Brian Mitchell’s direction for the past three seasons.

In Saturday’s 7 p.m. opener in Greenville against Old Dominion, Smith’s defenders will face an offense that averaged 45 points and 394 yards per game during at 11-2 stand at the FCS level.

The TOB’s return to UVA

After a 6-year stint as head coach at N.C. State, Tom O’Brien will back on the Scott Stadium sidelines (or in the pressbox) when Virginia opens against Brigham Young on Saturday (3:30 p.m., ESPNU).

O’Brien technically is Mike London’s associate head coach and directly in change of tight ends. But throughout the preseason and off-season, O’Brien spent a lot of time helping with the entire offensive line. That was his primary duty during 15 years on George Welsh’s UVa staffs in the 1980s and ‘90s.

It’ll be interesting see how much impact O’Brien has had on a ground game that averaged only 3.6 yards per carry last season.

Big stage for Marshall and Gurley

The best game of the entire opening weekend very likely will be No. 5 Georgia at No. 8 Clemson on Saturday (8 p.m., ABC).

The Bulldogs feature two of the best running backs in the nation – both sophomores and both products of North Carolina high schools.

Millbrook High’s Keith Marshall (5-11, 219) rushed for 759 yards and eight touchdowns as a freshman last season. Tarboro High’s Todd Gurley (6-1, 230) was even more spectacular as a rookie with 1,385 yards and 17 TDs.

Although they are close friends, the two have asked Bulldog fans and the media to stop referring to them collectively as “Gurshall.” Marshall told reporters in preseason interviews that he didn’t like the term from the start. "That's not my name,” he said.

Too bad he didn’t pick an in-state college during recruiting. That way, there would have been no identity problem whatsoever.

7 Comments

This blogpost is closed for comments.

Newest First
View all
  • Pirate01 Aug 30, 12:00 p.m.

    Rick Smith is a great coach and even better man. He will have the ECU's defense where it needs to be.

  • baldchip Aug 30, 12:03 p.m.

    2 backs at Georgia that should not have gotten away from NC.

    Ga vs Clemson should be a great game. GO ACC-GO CLEMSON!!

  • kmorcomeback2 Aug 30, 12:34 p.m.

    Gurley is the man!!!!

  • 78FJ40 Aug 30, 2:07 p.m.

    Boy, what a great article. Probably hit about 5% of your viewing audience that really cares much about any of those things on opening weekend.

  • lec02572 Aug 30, 2:17 p.m.

    Tried to tell the staff at NCSU about Gurley and Marshall years ago. Neither probably wanted to go to in state schools probably anyway. Some thought Gurley came from Tarboro a 2A school at the time, so they didn't give him the credit he deserved. I guess neither were good enough for the ACC, but somehow they were able to fit into the SEC fairly easily. One or both could be on the SEC teams this year. Both probably have NFL futures ahead of them, but the ACC didn't recruit them hard enough. Well, they missed out on numerous receivers at Wakefiled and a quarter back also, who will be playing in that little SEC conference and starting for the OBC. But then again if you could start in the ACC or the SEC, which would you chose?

  • jdpridg Aug 30, 2:40 p.m.

    Boy, what a great article. Probably hit about 5% of your viewing audience that really cares... View More

    — Posted by 78FJ40

    I was actually very interested in the ECU portion, but lost interest after being distracted by the amazing editing. Must be a high paying position at WRAL.

  • Deacons Aug 30, 6:26 p.m.

    Tried to tell the staff at NCSU about Gurley and Marshall years ago. Neither probably wanted to... View More

    — Posted by lec02572

    I agree, why would any player that is good enough to start in the SEC go to the ACC??? Clemson and FSU are good and Va. Tech has been good, but last year disappointed. Other than that, as far as being considered good on a national scale, that is it for the ACC, excluding the "new" teams just added to the league.

  • PGA: RBC Heritage

    Today at 3:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • PGA: Zurich Classic of New Orleans

    Saturday at 3:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • MiLB: Bulls at Norfolk

    Today at 1:05 pm on 620am

  • NBA: Bobcats at Miami

    Today at 3:30 pm on 99.9 The Fan

  • MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Boston Red Sox

    Tonight at 7:05 on 99.9 The Fan

  • MiLB: Bulls at Charlotte

    Tomorrow at 7:00 pm on 620am

Scoreboard
Local
Final
NOR 1
DUR 2
 
1:05pm Today
NOR
DUR
 
3:30pm Today
MIA
CHA
Final
WAS 3
STL 4
Final
CLE 0
TOR 5
Final
DET 5
ANA 2
Final
BOS 4
BAL 2
Final
KAN 5
MIN 4
Final
CHC 8
CIN 4
Final
OAK 4
HOU 3
Final
PIT 7
MIL 8
Final
NYM 5
ATL 7
Final
TAM 16
NYY 1
Final
MIA 7
SEA 0
Final
TEX 6
CWS 3
Final
LOS 8
ARI 6
Final
COL 3
PHI 1
Final
SDP 3
SFG 1
1:05pm Today
CLE
TOR
 
1:08pm Today
DET
ANA
 
1:10pm Today
NYM
ATL
 
1:10pm Today
MIA
SEA
 
1:35pm Today
PIT
MIL
 
1:35pm Today
WAS
STL
 
1:40pm Today
TAM
NYY
 
2:10pm Today
KAN
MIN
 
2:20pm Today
CHC
CIN
 
3:05pm Today
TEX
CWS
 
4:05pm Today
OAK
HOU
 
4:10pm Today
LOS
ARI
 
4:10pm Today
COL
PHI
 
4:10pm Today
SDP
SFG
 
7:05pm Tonight
BOS
BAL
 
Final
TOR 87
BRK 94
Final
LAC 105
GSW 109
Final
IND 93
ATL 101
Final
OKC 100
MEM 86
1:00pm Today
SAN
DAL
3:30pm Today
MIA
CHA
7:00pm Tonight
CHI
WAS
9:30pm Tonight
HOU
POR
Final
STL 4
CHI 3
Final
PIT 3
CLB 4
Final
COL 4
MIN 2
12:00pm Today
NYR
PHI
3:00pm Today
BOS
DET
7:00pm Tonight
MON
TAM
10:00pm Tonight
SJS
LOS
Final
NOR 1
DUR 2
 
1:05pm Today
NOR
DUR