East Carolina officially completed preseason camp with a scrimmage at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium on Saturday. After focusing on improving within the program since early August, the Pirates will turn their attention to preparing for the season opener at No. 2 Michigan on Sat., Sept. 2 at noon (Peacock).
Here are some selected comments from coaches, coordinators and players from the gathering Saturday on the Club Level of TowneBank Tower.
MIKE HOUSTON, Fifth-year head coach on the mindset for an upset:
“The big thing with situations like that is that they can’t pay any attention to the outside world and what their opinion is. They’ve got to focus on themselves. We’ve got a solid ball club and we’ve got to go up there and be ready to play. I think, No. 2, they’ve got to be able to handle the stage. It’s going to be the largest stadium any of them have ever played in so you must be able to handle that. You have to settle down and go play ball. One of my favorite moments is from Gene Hackman and ‘Hoosiers’ when he gets to the Indiana state championship game, and he goes out and he has his guy measure the rims and measure the court to show it was the exact same size as their gymnasium back at Hickory High. We’ve got to go up there and understand that once we get on that field, same rules. They’ve got 11 and we’ve got 11. We’ve got to go play. We’ve got enough guys that have played in big games. We played the 13th ranked team in the country last year in the opener (N.C. State) and I think we were two-touchdown underdogs. We didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to any of that stuff. We have to make sure to take care of ourselves and be ready to play.”
Blake Harrell, Defensive coordinator on biggest concern in the opener
“They will grow throughout the season. They will be better week two than week one. Better in week three than week two. We’ve got to be careful with them because they haven’t seen that many snaps, some of them. We’ve got to make sure they stay positive about the direction they’re going.”
Donnie Kirkpatrick, Offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach on the pair of potential starting quarterbacks, Mason Garcia and Alex Flinn
“They have different abilities, but they both fit our system. Two quarterbacks, that’s not me, but we won a bowl game with two quarterbacks when Skip Holtz was here,” (2007 Hawaii Bowl, 41-38, vs. Boise State, Rob Kass and Patrick Pinkney, QBs).
Allen Mogridge, Offensive line coach on progressing as a unit:
“I really hope we’re not as good as we’re going to be in week one. I really hope that’s not the best version of ourselves. … You’ve got to be the best in each moment and everyone needs to understand that. Every one of these plays has a life of its own and the second that’s thing’s over — put it away — and then we’ll learn the thing we’ve got to learn from it.”
Mason Garcia, Sophomore quarterback on the value of attending Peyton Manning’s camp
“One thing I really got out of it was the question and answer sessions that they have. You ask questions about film and stuff. You see adjustments by the corners and safeties. It makes the game easier and helps you prepare. Being a leader and taking control of the huddle. Going out there with full confidence and being able to lead a football team is huge.”
Alex Flinn, Redshirt junior quarterback on a 62-yard scoring run in the Purple-Gold game in the spring
“I had a read on the backside of the run. I saw the (defender) take the running back so I pulled it. My receiver out there made a good block and I tried to run as fast as I could down the sideline.”
Shane Calhoun, Junior tight end on the offense
“We’re super excited for this season. We’re going to take another step forward this year. We’re going to see what we can put on tape this year and what we can do as an offense. We’ve lost some people to (the NFL), but I think we can take that next step forward and I can’t wait to get there.”
Jeremy Lewis, Senior outside linebacker:on potentially playing in front of the largest crowd in ECU history:
“I think it will be surreal. It’s an amazing feeling to be able to play in front of those guys. Like an NFL stadium. It’s going to be an amazing challenge for us to go out there and try to silence that crowd.”
Rahjai Harris, Junior running back on his return from knee surgery:
“I’m feeling great, Better than ever. I’ve just got to give it all to God, because I could’t do it without him. I’ve been through a ton, but I’m feeling back to myself.”