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24 East Carolina The Pirates will pull out all the stops in a bid for their first Conference USA title

During the seemingly endless sprint sets that players ran
starting at 3 p.m., five days a week, all summer long, some
Pirates would glance toward the window of an air-conditioned
office overlooking the practice field to see if the man
responsible for their misery was peering through the curtains. He
was. "I'd check the temperature, which was usually hovering
around 95 degrees," says coach Steve Logan, a Weather Channel
fanatic. "I want these guys in condition to win on the last play
of every game."

With 15 starters back from a team that defeated Texas Tech 40-27
in the Bowl, it's easy to understand
Logan's motivation. The Pirates are equipped to win their first
Conference USA title and finish in the Top 25 for the first time
since 1995. To do so, they'll need to break a bad habit. "We
take some teams too lightly," says senior quarterback David
Garrard, alluding to defeats to conference foes
Alabama-Birmingham and Memphis, both of whom finished behind
East Carolina in the standings.

More often than not, though, the Pirates are overlooked. They
have upset several high-profile opponents, including handing
Miami its worst home loss in 12 years, in 1996. Last season the
Pirates tripped Syracuse 34-17. "That's the essence of East
Carolina," says the Oklahoma-bred Logan, who credits growing up
watching the Sooners and his veneration of Bill Walsh for the
Pirates' effective mix of option football, trick plays and
drop-back passing. "We can't break through that glass ceiling by
being conservative."

Fake punts, reverses and on-side kicks will be featured among
East Carolina's menu of plays this season. So will Take Off, a
play in which Garrard throws deep to one of four or five
receivers sprinting downfield. Logan has a knack for showcasing
the talent of his quarterbacks, and Garrard, a 6'3", 235-pound
Daunte Culpepper look-alike whose arm generated half the team's
scores last season, is no exception.

Sharing the marquee with Garrard will be senior middle
linebacker Pernell Griffin, who had a team-high 87 tackles in
2000 despite missing three games with a torn MCL in his left
knee. Now healthy, Griffin will reinforce a defense that last
season was sometimes soft against the run. The secondary has all
four starters back, but the defensive line lost two veteran

Showing some recruiting muscle, Logan beat out in-state rivals
for Paul Troth, the top-rated quarterback in North Carolina.
Whether Troth eventually matches Garrard's output remains to be
seen. "He's a pup," says Logan, "but he'll get stronger and

As long as Logan is the man behind the curtain, so will East


COLOR PHOTO: TIMOTHY D. EASLEY/AP Whether looking for a receiver on a Take Off pass route or taking off himself, Garrard is dangerous.


2000 record: 8-4 (5-2, T2 in Conf. USA)
Final ranking: Not ranked


Games Steve Logan has coached at East Carolina, making him the
team's longest-tenured coach.

An opposing team's coach sizes up the Pirates

"You had better bring your A game against this team. Its
multiple-set offense creates problems because the players are
constantly shifting. It forces you to prepare for lots of
things.... David Garrard is the key. He's a big kid, and he can
throw the ball as far as anybody.... The Pirates will miss Keith
Stokes but have a nice running back in Leonard Henry.... The
defensive line can pressure you without blitzing and does a good
job disguising its coverage, but it can be hurt by a strong
running game."

Strength: 81st of 117

8 at Tulane
15 at Syracuse
Oct. 6 at North Carolina
13 at Army
30 at TCU
Nov. 10 at Cincinnati