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From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, August 31, 2010

By Brian Bailey


Dawn of a new era on all fronts

By Brian Bailey
All rights reserved.

Ruffin McNeill


Replay Monday night's Brian Bailey Show with guest LINCOLN RILEY. Eastern North Carolina's longest running sports radio call-in show airs each Monday night at 7 p.m. on Pirate Radio 1250 AM and 930 AM.
Replay Show
Pirate Radio Home Page


Bailey: Dawn of a new era on all fronts
O'Brien: Help wanted: QB with thick skin
Audio: Coach Ruff: Game Week Presser
Cherubini: One-on-One with the Pirates


Thank goodness it’s game week! Another long, hot summer is just about in the books and now we can all enjoy the East Carolina football season.

Just take a quick ride around the stadium. There is a hustle and bustle that you just don’t get anywhere else.

Everything is new this year. There’s a new coach in Ruffin McNeill. There’s a new coaching staff. There are 7,000 new seats. There is a new HD video scoreboard.

There is also a new style, a more relaxed story-telling style from the head coach.

Ruffin McNeill simply doesn’t meet a stranger. His first in-season news conference lasted about twice the time as those led by his predecessor, Skip Holtz.

“Coach Ruff” has a story for just about everything and he doesn’t mind spending the extra time talking about his excitement.

"We're finally to game week,” said McNeill. “It's finally here. There is great anticipation from the outside and there is even more within this building among the players and coaches. It's really neat.”

The big question at this first game week media gathering with Coach McNeill centered on the quarterback position.

The Pirate coaches had narrowed the candidates to a pair in junior Dominique Davis and sophomore Brad Wornick. McNeill says the Pirates can win with either quarterback in the huddle.

"In this offense and what we do, a strong arm is great,” said McNeill. “But, it's where to deliver the ball, when to deliver it and how to deliver it that is the most important. Both guys are doing a great job. I just have to get the team focused. There is nothing we're trying to hide. Those guys are battling each day.

"If you had a chance to watch the film, you would see one guy during seven-on-seven complete great throws and then in team-on-team, the other guy does the same thing. It has been back and forth. The competition is what I want.”

Offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley is the youngest coordinator in all of college football. He’ll call his first game as the Pirate’s offensive coordinator on his 27th birthday.

“All I want for that birthday is one present,” Riley said. “All I want is to celebrate a victory.”

Riley was my guest on the radio last night on Pirate Radio 1250 and 930. He is certainly wise beyond his years. He loves this offense and he thinks his Pirates are catching on.

“When we execute we are pretty good,” said Riley. “When we play well we can beat any team on our schedule. The problem is that if we don’t play well, then any team on our schedule can beat us.”

I honestly tried to get both Coach McNeill and Coach Riley to give me a hint about just who would start at quarterback against Tulsa. Both just smiled.

If you listen to what McNeill and Riley are saying I think they have a pretty good idea on who the starter will be. I think the guy is Dominique Davis, with his past experience at both Boston College and in junior college as his one big advantage. Both coaches like his leadership and athleticism, so I think Davis will get the nod.

The Golden Hurricane may come to town thinking it’s “Tulsa Time” for them to win one in this series.

The Pirates beat Tulsa in the 2008 Conference USA title game on the road and then went back to Oklahoma and beat the Golden Hurricane again in 2009.

Coach McNeill says he can’t do anything about any revenge motive for Tulsa.

“I can't speak for any past rivalry and history that might be,” said McNeill. "I can only focus on what we can control. That's going against a well-coached team. I know Todd (Graham, Tulsa coach) and the programs he has been around, so I know he will prepare the team well.”

Personally, I can’t wait to see the students filling up the new end zone seats in the “Boneyard.” I’m looking forward to hearing what the stadium sounds like in this first game.

Thankfully, the preliminaries are over. Game week finally turns to game day on Sunday. It should be an opener to remember!


E-mail Brian Bailey.

Brian Bailey Archives

08/31/2010 03:42 AM


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