View from the East
Thursday, November 27, 2014

By Al Myatt

Al Myatt

Ruffin and stuffin'

American Football Scoreboard

UCF at USF, 12 pm (ESPN2)
Houston at SMU, 12 pm (CBSSN)
ECU at Tulsa, 8:30 pm (ESPNU)
Cincinnati at Temple, 12 pm (ESPNN)
UConn at Memphis, 4 pm (ESPNN)
LAST WEEK'S SCORES >>> ..... | Houston 38, Tulsa 28 (ESPN3) ..... UCF 53, SMU 7 (ESPNN) ..... ECU 34,  Tulane 6 (ESPN3) ..... Memphis 31, USF 20 (ESPNN) ..... Cincinnati 41, UConn 0 (CBSSN) ..... | .....


Ruffin and stuffin'

Al MyattEast Carolina's football team observed Thanksgiving on Wednesday and will fly to Tulsa today for an American Athletic Conference game with the Golden Hurricane at 8:30 p.m. Eastern time on Friday. The contest may be seen on ESPNU. ... More from Al Myatt...


Hawaii edges East Carolina

ESTERO, FL — East Carolina overcame an 11-point second half deficit to lead Hawaii with 8:18 left in the fifth-place game in the Gulf Coast Showcase on Wednesday before the Rainbow Warriors responded with a 14-3 run en route to a 75-73 win over the Pirates. ... More...


Tyson helps ECU hold off Fresno

ESTERO, FL — Freshman guard B.J. Tyson scored East Carolina's last eight points, including all six of his free throw attempts down the stretch, as the Pirates held off Fresno State for a 58-52 win in the Gulf Coast Showcase on Tuesday afternoon. ... More...



Justin Hardy: A player for the ages

What a thrill it was to be on the sideline on Saturday when Justin Hardy set the all-time NCAA FBS record for career receptions. The former West Craven standout needed just four catches to break the all-time mark. ... More from Brian Bailey...

Audio: The Brian Bailey Show
The Brian Bailey Show airs on Pirate Radio 1250 on Mondays at 6:30 p.m. Brian's guest this week was ECU director of high school relations Harold Robinson: Replay show...


Audio: Coach Ruff Weekly Presser

ECU coach Ruffin McNeill spoke with the media at his weekly press conference on Monday as the Pirates prepare to visit Tulsa for a Friday night matchup (courtesy of Pirate Radio 1250): Select clip...



Green Bay tops ECU

ESTERO, FL — Short-handed East Carolina opened play in the Gulf Coast Showcase at high noon on Monday and was dealt a 66-49 setback by Green Bay. The Pirates were without versatile senior wing man Paris Roberts-Campbell due to a knee ailment and post player Marshall Guilmette because of a hip flexor injury. ... More...



Inside Game Day | Photos... | Post-game Audio...

AAC SCOREBOARD >>> ..... | Houston 38, Tulsa 28 (ESPN3) ..... UCF 53, SMU 7 (ESPNN) ..... ECU 34,  Tulane 6 (ESPN3) ..... Memphis 31, USF 20 (ESPNN) ..... Cincinnati 41, UConn 0 (CBSSN) ..... | .....

'Deuce' becomes No. 1

GREENVILLE — "Deuce" is how East Carolina football coach Ruffin McNeill refers to senior inside wide receiver Justin Hardy. It's because Hardy wears uniform No. 2. "Deuce" became No. 1 on Saturday, moving ahead of former Oklahoma receiver Ryan Broyles for the most career catches in Football Bowl Subdivision history. ... More from Al Myatt...

HISTORY IN THE MAKING: A mammoth banner was unfurled from the Murphy Center soon after senior wide receiver Justin Hardy made his 350th career catch during East Carolina's 34-6 victory over Tulane on Saturday at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. The play pushed Hardy past the previous NCAA FBS career receptions record set by Oklahoma's Ryan Broyles in 2011. Hardy hauled in nine passes for 104 yards against the Green Wave and finished the day with 355 career receptions. [W.A. Myatt photo. ©]

View W.A. Myatt's complete photo gallery...

Audio: Ruff & Hardy Post-game

ECU coach Ruffin McNeill and senior receiver Justin Hardy spoke with the press after the Pirates' win over Tulane on Saturday (recorded by W.A. Myatt): Select audio clip...

By Al Myatt
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View ECU's Football Schedule


East Carolina's football team observed Thanksgiving on Wednesday and will fly to Tulsa today for an American Athletic Conference game with the Golden Hurricane at 8:30 p.m. Eastern time on Friday. The contest may be seen on ESPNU.

The Pirates (7-3, 4-2 AAC) had a script rehearsal Wednesday in a short week following a 34-6 league win at home over Tulane on Saturday. The ECU coaching staff had made plans for a pair of six-day game weeks early on.

The Pirates conclude the regular season at home on Thursday, Dec. 4, at 7:30 p.m. against Central Florida on ESPN.

"We went over the defense, offense and special teams script," said ECU coach Ruffin McNeill of Wednesday's practice session.

After the workout, the Pirates headed for Harvey Hall of the Murphy Center for their Thanksgiving meal that was planned by Dale Steele, director of football administration.

"A really nice Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings," McNeill said.

The place settings included china. There was turkey, dressing and the whole nine yards to consume. The non-traveling team members got to go home after the meal.

McNeill said the Pirates would get into their regular game week routine following the plane flight out of Greenville.

The team used to fly from Kinston but this is the second season the Pitt-Greenville Airport has accommodated the ECU program.

McNeill appreciates the convenience and hospitality of the local airport.

Thankful for family

McNeill is thankful for his family, which includes his immediate kin and everyone who is a part of the football program at ECU.

That includes wife Erlene, daughters Renata and Olivia, granddaughter Isabella, dad Ruffin Sr. and brother Reggie.

"My Pirate family, my sons on the team," McNeill continued. "The coaches that I work with, they're my brothers. I'm thankful for that and I'm thankful for Pirate Nation and being here at East Carolina.

"I'm thankful that we're able to live in a country that we have men and women that fight for us every day that we don't even know about. We know about the broadcasted theaters of battle but there's battles going on that we don't know about ... I'm thankful to be able to do what I'm doing. I'm thankful for all of that."

Practice focus

Quality reps have been emphasized during the reduced practice schedule this week.

"This is the 18th week, counting fall camp," McNeill said. "We looked at the schedule during the summer. It's been 14 weeks of the season since the Central game. That's a lot of practices. ... We've geared our practices to suit that. For the first time in my college career, we have not had a day where a kid has loafed in practice. That's amazing, isn't it? Not one day have I had to jump 'em for not giving great effort.

"We've played a very physical schedule. This week we've shortened practices and monitored our reps. We get our work done but we do it in a more compacted amount of time."

Earlier in the season the Pirates may have practiced over two hours at a time.

"Right now, you can't do that because you want them fresh," McNeill said. "We spend more time in the meeting and classroom part. On the field, it's snappy. It's really good because we can't have any do-overs, repeats of plays. That puts more focus on getting it right the first time.

"Monday was heavy day, install (game plan) day, but even that — we cut minutes off that.

"The next week will be even quicker so we have to be even smarter with our reps — get them ready to go. We have to put our different game scheme in but we have to be smart with the repetitions on the field now."

Ruff, the movie buff

Part of the routine is the team's trip to the movies the night before a game.

McNeill said the Pirates watched the new Hunger Games release before playing the Green Wave.

"The newer and more exciting ones are coming out next week," McNeill said. "The following week and the bowl game, there are some great ones coming out. Hunger Games was great last week. This may be a funny one this week. The best one on the block is a comical one."

McNeill's administrative assistant Ann Hoggard confirmed that the selection was Dumb and Dumber 2 with Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels.

"I'll let them laugh a little bit," said the ECU coach.

Living on Tulsa time

The chuckles tonight will give way to game day and final preparations on Friday.

"Offensively, up tempo," McNeill said of the Golden Hurricane (2-9, 2-5 AAC). "The quarterback, Dane Evans, is a redshirt sophomore. The game has been slowing down for him."

Tulsa has some interesting ties to ECU football history.

Former ECU coach Ed Emory felt a run-in with former athletic director Ken Karr at Tulsa in 1984 ultimately led to his dismissal at the end of the season.

Another former Pirates coach, Steve Logan, is a Tulsa graduate and later served on the coaching staff at his alma mater.

Logan was offensive coordinator when Tulsa defeated the Pirates in Emory's last season by a 31-20 score on Oct. 13, 1984. That was the first game between ECU and Tulsa. The Pirates lead the series, 6-5.

ECU won its first Conference USA championship at Tulsa under Skip Holtz in 2008, picking off five passes in a 27-24 victory. Current Pirates defensive coordinator and secondary coach Rick Smith was in charge of the defensive backs at that time.

This will be the first AAC meeting between the two programs in their first year in the new league.

"We catch everybody's best shot," McNeill said. "The teams are bigger in this league. I talked to Curtis (Johnson, Tulane coach) last week. We're the new inductees — Tulane, Tulsa and us. It's challenging but it's fun. We love it. ... Just winning is the focus and I love the passion that we have."

Love from Aresco

AAC commissioner Mike Aresco was proactive in his support of record-setting ECU receiver Justin Hardy when he was omitted from the list of semifinalists for the Fred Biletnikoff Award prior to the Tulane game.

Hardy became the Football Bowl Subdivision career leader last week and has 355 receptions as a Pirate.

“The American Athletic Conference congratulates Justin Hardy on setting the all-time FBS career receptions record," Aresco said in a statement this week. "He has had a remarkable career, which has led to this very significant milestone. Justin epitomizes what is best in college sports. He is an outstanding student and teammate who has already graduated with a bachelor’s degree and is pursuing a second undergraduate degree in industrial technology. He is a great ambassador for East Carolina University and the American Athletic Conference, and we are all extremely proud of him.”

Brown continues to mend

Returner/receiver Trevon Brown continues to recover from a knee injury and McNeill said he may possibly be back for the bowl game.

"They are my sons," McNeill said. "I watch them in pregame. If they're not doing the things naturally, I don't want to put them out there because it's putting them at more risk. I double and triple check my mind and I go with my instincts. I love football but I love the kids more.

"Trevon wants to get back. We'll see how his rehab goes the next couple of weeks."

Rest emphasized

With three games in 13 days, rest for the players is important. There were no classes Wednesday.

"We ordered them to get rest," McNeill said. "Coach C (strength and conditioning coach Jeff Connors) talked to them about the benefit of getting rest and hydrating."

McNeill will meet with the team before chapel at 10:30 this morning. Special teams meet at 11:10 a.m. The flight will take off around noon.

"It's a two hour, 40 minute flight with the head wind," McNeill said. They radioed that in to us yesterday. We'll get there around 3:40 (p.m.) our time, maybe 2:30 their time. We'll gain an hour. We'll get to our hotel and bunker down."

There will be offensive and defensive meetings this afternoon, dinner and a movie tonight.

"We meet after we come back from the movie," McNeill said. "Offense and defense and then I'm the last one they talk to at night. .. . We'll sleep in a little bit (Friday). Once they're awake, we'll go breakfast, special teams, offense, defense. Then a break and we'll go pregame. I'll meet with them again before we get on the bus to head to the stadium."

It may be a six-day game week, but the Pirates have been preparing for it since early August.

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11/27/2014 03:59 AM