Monday, October 26, 2015

ECU Head Football Coach Ruffin McNeill Discusses Upcoming UConn Game

GREENVILLE, N.C. – Sixth-year East Carolina University Head Football Coach Ruffin McNeill addressed members of the media on Monday prior Friday's road game at Connecticut. The following are selected comments:

Opening Statement:
“Long weekend – it was needed, by coaches and by players. It was good to get away from it for a little bit, take your mind off things, but it’s good to get back around the players yesterday. Players are resilient. They took this one hard, just like I knew they would. We have to get ready right now for Connecticut. They are on the clock, and Bobby’s doing a good job there. This league, and I’ve talked about it before, is top-to-bottom, you better have your big man clothes on.

“Temple had a good football team. We had opportunities, we also, just like I mentioned, have to play all four sides of the football. We have to not stop ourselves, beat ourselves, which we’ve addressed not just from this week. So we’ll still keep addressing it, but you give credit when it’s due. Temple is a good football team. Matt has got a good football team. We didn’t make the plays we had to make, and we’ll learn from it, and got to get ready for Connecticut.

“The schedule and the conference schedule, it’s been good. If you look at the four teams we’ve played, that we’ve fell short to, I think they’ve lost to Michigan, UCLA, Notre Dame, and LSU. So that type of competition will harden you, as coaches and players. We’ll look to get ready and have another short week for UConn.
“Three things we talk about as preparation, and that started last night. Making sure we’re continuing that preparation. And it’s very important to make sure of that, and to hone-down on those things even harder than we’ve done. I don’t know if that’s even possible, because we’ve emphasized that a bunch, but not to hurt ourselves, stop ourselves. Again, it will always be dedication to the team concept.  Making sure everybody embraces their role. Making sure everyone continues to keep their eyes forward. If you’re looking forward, that’s where you’re going. If you’re looking backwards, that’s where you’re going. I told them last night; we’ve got to get our gearshift in drive. We’re going that way. There’s no reverse, we’re not looking back. Looking forward, and you’ve got to.”

On Connecticut:
“Connecticut has got a good football team. I know on paper you might say that, but don’t go just on paper. The quarterback, I watched him play against BYU before we played them, and he’s doing a Bobby wants, which is managing the game. Bryant (Shirreffs) is a smart player. He’s 6’2”, 220 (lbs.), has some size, and has some designed runs for him as well. Throws the ball and completes 60-plus percent of his passes. (Connecticut) has a shifty-low running back, powerful running back in Arkeel Newsome, really carries himself well. (We’re going to) have to do a good job of wrapping him up and getting guys around him. Alec Bloom is a tight end that stood out on film, watching him this morning and yesterday; big size; 6’6”, 260 (lbs.), athletic, can block, great blocker.

“They do a lot of different formations that we have to be aware of, and adjust to defensively. This defense was the first defense that, in our first year in the conference, you recognize the size standpoint, the length standpoint. And especially on the backend, they had a first round draft choice last year. This year they have a safety, Obi Melifonwu (6’3”, 210 lbs.), covers the ground, rangy, good player, and you add him as another corner that’s coming back, still good size, that 6’1”, 200 lbs. size. The linebackers are very active. Bobby is a defensive guy, and it translates on his special teams. His coverage teams, the punt coverage and kickoff coverage teams are two of the best in the country, especially in the conference. This is what we talked about this week, making sure all sides of the ball, all three sides of the ball, offense, defense, special teams execute, ready to play the next play. Be ready to go into a competitive environment. Make sure we’re ready to attack anything that happens to us there.”

On What McNeill Liked And Disliked About Offense Against Temple:
“Execution; making a routine play. We talk about it each week, y’all have heard it for six years: routine plays, execution.”

On Correcting Punt Blocks:
“We have to make sure we concentrate on the details. The rules are – we were told not to jump over the shield. So we’re to start using that, but at the same time, we have to make sure we are designed to kick the ball in (certain) direction or angle. They did a good job of that, and at the same time, we didn’t have ourselves either.”

On Penalties:
“I thought we beat ourselves up. Yeah, we were hyped up before the game, but I thought we did things ourselves. Defense was doing a great job. I told Commissioner (Mike) Aresco to tell Terry and his guys, I told them before the game, it was a great job of balancing out, telling me what we’re doing. We keep a record every game; I have my manager record everything we do. But I thought we hurt ourselves, yeah I liked the hype, but doing some things that we needed to do and we’ll address that. It was disappointing. And the kids can watch that on film, and they were disappointed when they saw that.”

On Corey Seargent’s Status:
“Coming along good. He got little reps last night. Hope to see how he does tonight. Marquez Grayson ran well; hope to see him keep improving. Travon Simmons, hope he’ll be fine. Some other guys we’ve got to wait on, see how they progress with protocol from my trainers.”

On Dontae Levingston Status:
“He’s out getting treatment, you see him, but he won’t be ready for this week.”

On Christian Matau’s Short Term/Long Term Status:
“Long term; out for the season.”

On Friday Night Football Games:
“I just like coaching the games. It’s hard for the recruits to get up here doing the weekday games, but it gives you program exposure, it gives you a chance to watch you on television, and see your program and see your brand. I’m not sure for Bobby, what days they play on, but for Friday’s, I know a lot of the high school teams play on Friday’s and it’ll be tough. What it does for exposure for our university and program and our league, I coach on whatever day they tell me to coach on.”

On What Leaders Of The Team Will They Look To After Temple Loss:
“Well it’s a quite team, quite leaders. Zeek (Bigger) is one we called on, Terrell Stanley is one we called on. Offensively, Isaiah Jones. Bryce Williams is a quite leader, he doesn’t say much, Bryce is quite and so is Chris Hairston and J.T. Boyd”.

On The Preparation Of A Long Season With a Late Bye Weekend:
“The biggest thing we did differently is present the year to them. You liked to have – I would like to have (a bye) about the fourth game, just to regroup. And then I’m good with that one. But we’re not the only team in the country that has 10 or 11-plus, a lot of guys have double-digit games in a row. But conditioning, Coach Connors has been an expert on that. That part has been a problem. The physicality of our schedule, I mentioned the teams that we’ve played, you can see it. I know we’ve done some physical work to the opposing teams too, but you can see – you have to be smarter right now with your guys because of the physicality of our schedule. You have to be ready to go on Saturday, but you have to be smart. We want to get our work done, but it’s not about the toughness part of the drill right now. It’s about making sure we get everybody lined up because they’re not worried about our guys bringing the wood and hitting. We’ve got to make sure their bodies are ready to go. It’s going to be another physical game this week.

“We always present the schedule to them, but in particularly we didn’t do anything special. We’ve prepared them for this stretch. Last game was on a Thursday, this game is on a Friday. Here’s how we’re going to practice. The difference in this week we’ll get an extra day of work in,  Wednesday. Last week we had to back it up even tighter. But it’s a little bit different, almost on a semi-normal schedule.”