Monday, September 1, 2014

ECU Head Football Coach Ruffin McNeill Discusses Upcoming South Carolina Game

GREENVILLE, N.C. – Fifth-year East Carolina University Head Football Coach Ruffin McNeill addressed members of the media on Monday prior to this weekend’s South Carolina contest. The following are selected comments:

Opening Statement:

“I think the keys to our win were our dedication to the team and the focus on the vision. From that game, I saw that, and I was very pleased. Offensively, I thought our protection was very good for the first time the offensive line was really going at it. We felt like we had 10 guys out there. After watching the film, I thought our wide receivers played very, very fast and my coaches thought so, too. I thought we caught the ball well. The running back group, the F-position, aside from the turnover, was very productive. Each guy embraced their role and took advantage of it.

“Defensively, I thought we did a great job of playing fast and physical. That’s what we asked those guys to do. I was very pleased with our main goal as a defense, which was to control the run game. The 2.3 (yards) per rush by N.C. Central was essential and vital. The other thing that jumped out was the 3-point plus (yards) per play by our defense. I think we have to keep establishing depth up front. Some guys played for the first time and did some great things, so that was exciting to see.

“Our coverage team did a great job of controlling who I thought was one of the best returners (Adrian Wilkins) I’ve been around. We had a blocked punt. Our punt return average between Deuce (Justin Hardy) and Trevon (Brown) was 10.3. Worth (Gregory) did a good job in his first outing. Warren (Harvey) did a good job kicking off. A lot of times, he probably would’ve had more touchbacks, but they brought them out even though they were deep.

“I’m proud of my staff going into a game like that. It was our first game and they didn’t have any film on this particular unit. They made adjustments during the game, which was excellent. It was a good job by our staff.”

On Playing On A Saturday Night Against An SEC Opponent:

“What is key for us is our commitment to our team and making sure we continue to embrace those roles. Also, staying dedicated and committed to the focus and the vision, which is our day-to-day process. Today, Coach Connors had them lifting on their own and I’ve seen guys coming over to watch film on their own.”

On What Concerns Him After Watching Film On South Carolina:

“Coach Spurrier is one of the best coaches in this game. I’ve followed him since his Duke days, to his national championship run at Florida, to the (NFL) and until now. I know he’ll have his team ready to go. Of course we’ll watch the film, but it goes back to controlling what we can and that’s our preparation and how we plan.”

On The Value Of Having Seniors Like Shane Carden And Justin Hardy To Play In Difficult Environments:

“Because those guys have been around the program, understand our team thought and have been there, it helps to go in with a group of guys who know how to approach this week. We understand we’ll be playing against the ninth-ranked team in the country, but we understand, for us, that it’s about how we prepare and plan. It’s our continued commitment toward those two elements. It’s good to have some guys who have been through it and a staff that has been through some big-venue games.”

On The Running Back Situation And What He Saw Against N.C. Central:

“I thought that group was very productive. Chris, Breon, Anthony (Scott), Cory (Hunter) and Marquez Grayson – the entire group. I’m pleased with the production of that group and we have to continue that.”

On If Offensive Coordinator Lincoln Riley Scaled Back The Offense Against N.C. Central:

“We don’t hold back. I thought the plan we had going into that game was we took our best into it. I’ve never been one to hold back and that’s not our style. It’s not what we do, it’s how we do what we do. I think all three of my coordinators and myself just want to get better at doing what we do.”

On Who East Carolina Has To Stop In Saturday’s Game At South Carolina:

“Well, their entire team. They’re one of the top teams in the country and picked to win their division. They’ll always have a great offensive line. Shawn Elliot – their offensive line coach – I coached him at Appalachian State. I can tell Coach Spurrier believes in him because he’s promoted him. We know they’ll have their guys ready.”

On A Report That South Carolina RB Mike Davis May Not Play And His Thoughts On Their Running Backs:

“I know Mike is one of the finest running backs in the country, so I know coach has a stable of running backs just like we do. About Mike playing or not playing, I’ll leave that up to their medical people, but we’re just focused and making sure we control what we can control, and defensively, that’s playing 11-man football. I thought we did that pretty good in our first game. We have to make sure we do what our jobs entail and that’s how we’ll approach this week.”

On If The Result Of South Carolina’s First Game Surprised Him:

“Each game is different and wins are hard. That’s why we cherish each one. I do! On Saturday, that was a big game – try losing that thing. Coach Spurrier will have his team ready to play. I know Kevin (Sumlin) because we came in together. It was a contest between two fine coaches and programs.”

On If South Carolina Playing On Thursday Last Week Gives Them More Preparation For This Saturday:

“If we had, we would have taken advantage of those days. For the players and coaches planning, yeah, it does. They’ll have a few more days of rest than we did, but that’s OK.”

On South Carolina Quarterback Dylan Thompson:

“If you go back into Coach Spurrier’s history, he’s a quarterback that has been developed. When Dylan played against us last time, media and fans didn’t know, but we knew he had size, understands the offense, was mobile and throws the ball with accuracy. After being coached by one of the best, he’s gotten better each year. He’s a very, very good quarterback.”

On The Focus Of Defending South Carolina’s Wide Receivers:

“It’s making sure you do your job. As simple as it may sound, it’s very critical. When I talk about 11-man football, it’s 11-man football. Whether you’re defending the run or pass, it depends on everyone playing 11-man football. Doing your job, proper technique and no eye violations, but making sure they’re in the right place. It will take 11-man football to control their running game and pass game. That’s how we’ll approach it and that’s what we’re doing right now. It’s something we’ve preached since day one, and that’s everyone doing their jobs. As simple as it may sound, when the action gets going, it can get pretty tough, but our kids did a good job of that on Saturday and we’ll get better at it this week. The biggest improvement comes between week one and week two.”

If Any Of The Younger Players Stood Out Against N.C. Central:

“I liked the way that entire group played. We believe in playing them and not redshirting them if they can play, help, produce and embrace their roles. I was pleased with how they took preparation and coaching, and then I thought the coaches did a good job preparing them. During camp, you can see which young guys can handle that. Whether it’s the tempo of practice, coaching or the heat during practice. We push them to the limit to see if they can take it and they do.”

On Terry Williams Being Out For Saturday’s Game And When He’s Expected Back:

“I’ll be glad when Terry is back. We don’t play kids until they’re ready and when Jake Moore (athletic trainer) releases them to us. We want him to get back quick. He’s doing a great job with rehab. I saw him last night and he was teaching Damage Bailey and Demetri (McGill), and he didn’t know I was watching. That’s what I like about our older guys when I talk about our leadership core.”

On The Importance Of Getting Off To A Fast Start Against South Carolina:

“I think it’s more about us having a great week, and then whatever happens. What I would like is for us to stay poised and understand the game plan. What we talk about is playing the next play. Play that play, and then make history of that play. Do the best you can on that play.”