TAKE ON PIRATE SPORTS
Tuesday, August 7, 2012
Positions at stake
as players learn T.B.A.
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I’ve always thought it is odd that “Media Day” for college football
programs is always held so close to the start of practice. It would be
better served if the day came later in camp, because many more questions
about lineups could be better answered.
It’s still a great chance to learn about the ‘new’ team, but a good camp
will decide at a number of positions who gets to start come September.
I’ve often written over the years that East Carolina is a better team
and a better program when it has a chip on its shoulder. I believe this
team has a huge chip this year, and it starts on offense.
“We’re pissed,” said Pirate offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley during
media day. “As a coaching staff and as an offense we’re pissed and ready
to put last year behind us. We didn’t have near the numbers that we
want, and we certainly turned the ball over way too much. So I would
certainly say we have a chip.”
Riley has one big decision to make early on at quarterback. He says that
decision doesn’t really worry him all that much.
“I would be concerned if I didn’t think we had anyone in camp that could
lead this offense,” he explained. “I think we can win with all four of
these quarterbacks, though.”
The plan is to play all four — Shane Carden, Rio Johnson, Brad Wornick
and Cody Keith — in the first scrimmage and then select two from that
group to battle for the top spot.
I’d say Carden and Johnson will be the two to move up before the second
"There is competition there and we like that group,” said third year
head coach Ruffin McNeill in his state of the program address. “All four
of those guys did a great job in the off-season of leading. They've all
been exposed to what we want offensively. Lincoln has devised the reps
and has a plan to evaluate each guy, each day during the practice
sessions in different group drills. The guy that makes the best
decisions, that moves the ball and our football team — that will be the
guy that we choose."
ECU had a relatively clean first practice on Friday. Saturday morning’s
second workout was a little sloppy late, and Coach McNeill had to get on
some of the players. Most of that was just from the heat and humidity.
The Pirates are practicing early this summer for the most part, but they
are still getting their fair share of the ‘dog days.’
McNeill has stressed to his team not to confuse activity with
achievement. He says sometimes players think they have done something by
just being at practice. McNeill told the group that every team is
practicing, that his Pirates need to work hard to achieve something
during that practice.
He also preached on T.B.A. Trust, belief and accountability are the
building blocks for his program.
"We started back in the spring with a thought process of what we wanted
as a football program,” said McNeill. “We want to continue to develop
depth and competition at all positions. We want to have a tough
mentality, the intangibles of no entitlement with a lot of team work,
which I have seen a lot of. We talked about the initials T.B.A. and we
want to keep developing those things."
Saturday’s first scrimmage is an important one for many of the players
fighting for positions. McNeill and the coaching staff have to form this
roster, and then begin working on
the 2012 schedule, starting with
Associate head coach John Wiley spent 19 years with Appalachian State,
winning a trio of FCS national championships. He knows firsthand what
kind of attitude the Mountaineers will bring to Greenville.
“They’ll be telling their players just what we used to tell them, that
we’re planning on winning the football game," said Wiley. "They’ll have
them fired up, telling them that the ‘big boys’ didn’t recruit them
because they didn’t think they were good enough, etc. We played at least
one of these games every year, and the players loved them. We have to be
ready for a big fight when they come here on September 1st.”
That opening game is so close, but so far away. There is plenty of work
to get done in the Pirate camp leading up to that opener.
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