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From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, March 22, 2010

By Brian Bailey

Retooled Ruff ready to rework defense


Replay Monday night's Brian Bailey Show featuring his ANNUAL SECOND CHANCE WITH THE SWEET 16 CONTEST. Eastern North Carolina's longest running sports radio call-in show airs each Monday night at 7 p.m. on Pirate Radio 1250 and 930.
Replay Show
Pirate Radio Home Page

Cherubini's "Way- Too-Early" Previews

Who will step up to restore D's rep?

What will offense do for an encore?

Spring camp ahoy!



Retooled Ruff ready to rework defense
College Baseball Polls
BVL Audio: Coach Ruff Spring Press Conference
Who will step up to restore D's rep?
Box Score: East Carolina 6, Rutgers 0
Box Score: East Carolina 6, Rutgers 3
Box Score: East Carolina 3, Rutgers 2 (11 innings)
Note from the Editor
What will offense do for an encore?
Box Score: East Carolina 8, Buffalo 3
Box Score: East Carolina 4, Elon 3 (10 innings)
Dolphins sink Pirates in OT
Spring camp ahoy!

By Brian Bailey
All rights reserved.

Second-year East Carolina football coach Ruffin McNeill just looks like he feels better.

Don’t get me wrong. Coach McNeill usually always greets the media with a joke and a smile, even after a loss from the week before.

This time, though, something was different. The coach is moving around better. He’s lost a bunch of weight after his surgery, though he didn’t say exactly how much. He has told me in the past that he wouldn’t get on the scales, but that he would follow his advisor’s plan.

The plan is working. McNeill will get through spring football and then have his hip replacement surgery.

"It's one day at a time and making sure I follow the doctors' orders,” McNeill told the media at his news conference to preview the spring season (Select Press Conference Audio Clip...). “I work hard and do what they tell me to do. I feel better. My diet is very limited and strict.

"I'm so stubborn and hard headed that I'll stay by it. It will not be a flash in the pan for me. I'm very serious about the change. I won't waver. It has been an adjustment and challenge. It's probably been one of the most challenging things of my life. At the same time, I knew it was something I needed to do.”

Much of Monday’s presser dealt with the changes for the defense. East Carolina had one of the worst defensive performances on record last year, and McNeill knows that he has to find a fix. It won’t be a quick fix, or a “microwave” solution as the coach calls it.

The first order of business this spring is to install a new defense. The Pirates will change from the 4-3 to a 3-4. That change began with day one of spring drills.

“We'll be able to get the base and thought processes in during the spring,” explained McNeill. “The new guys who join in the fall will be able to come in and hit the ground running. I'm looking forward to the introduction this spring and for the new guys to come in later.”

While some on the outside might think that this will be a huge transition, McNeill thinks otherwise.

"It's not as big of a deal as you might think," he said. "We have film that we'll take during the spring and watch throughout the summer. We also have our defensive book ready to go. We already mapped out a lot of adjustments as we've been preparing to make this switch for two or three months. We're ready for the spring and the new players to arrive."

On the flipside, the Pirates welcome quarterback Dominique Davis back to the huddle for one more season. Even though the offense lost some punch with graduations, the fact that Davis returns to lead the group is a huge plus.

Add in the fact that Davis didn’t really start last season until August, and the comfort level for McNeill and his signal caller only grows.

"The quarterback situation is one we feel very good about with the five guys we have,” said McNeill. “Dominique Davis I feel has established himself as one of the best in the country and league. He has done a great job in the offseason working. I've talked to (strength and conditioning) Coach (Jeff) Connors and he says Dominique has been a guy who has really stepped up. Coach Connors has to back Dominique off, which is what you want from your quarterback.”

The depth at quarterback is also better, and McNeill says that’s one of the things he looks forward to watching this spring.

"Just like last year, Brad Wornick and Rio Johnson will join Dominique, as well as Shane Carden and Cody Keith, who are both on campus. It'll be fun to watch. That position I feel very good about," he said.

Spring football is about fundamentals. It’s the last chance the coaches really get to work with the players until camp opens in August. The spring practices lead up to the spring game, which is always a special occasion at East Carolina as a part of “The Great Pirate Purple-Gold Pigskin Pig-out Party.”

McNeill knows that everyone wants to get a taste of football with their bar-b-cue. He also knows that the spring game is one of the precious few chances the teams gets to work together with the coaches.

“We'll look at our depth and if we can divide up and go Purple-Gold then we will,” McNeill said. “I want to get a work day. It's a spring game but, at the same time in my mind, it's the 15th day of work. It'll be a game atmosphere of offense versus defense. Special teams will be limited with what we do. It'll be a full-fledged field deal. We don't know if we'll divide teams up yet due to depth."

Footballs flying in the springtime. It takes us one step closer to August and the start of camp and the 2011 football season.


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Brian Bailey Archives

03/22/2011 03:48 AM


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