TAKE ON PIRATE SPORTS
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You learn much more about
a football team in adversity than you do in success. First-year East
Carolina coach Ruffin McNeill got heavy doses of both in Blacksburg on
Saturday in that 49-27 Pirate loss to Virginia Tech.
“We did,” said Coach
McNeill after his team’s Sunday night workout back in Greenville. “It
was a tale of really two halves. We had a really sharp first half.
Second half some things happened, a play here or a play there that could
have turned the tide. My hat goes off to Virginia Tech. That’s a team
that had their backs against the wall.”
The Hokies trailed 27-21
in the third quarter. That’s when Blacksburg turned into “Blitzburg”
against East Carolina. In what seemed like a dizzying instant, Virginia
Tech hit the Pirates with enough big plays to turn a close game into a
blowout. When the dust settled, Virginia Tech had perhaps saved its
The Pirates returned home
on Saturday. By Sunday the team had the task of putting the loss behind
“We have a 24-hour rule,
so that game is in the box and we go on to the next one,” said Coach
That first practice after
the loss was a short but crisp workout under the lights on Sunday night.
“The kids were very
resilient tonight,” said McNeill after the workout. “We had a really
sharp practice tonight. The defense worked mostly all fundamentals. The
offense touched on some things from the Virginia Tech game and then
added some things for our upcoming game next week. I thought it was very
sharp. Our special teams were very attentive. The guys did a good job of
With three games in the
books, the Pirates now get an off week to get ready for another road
game against a BCS conference member. After the off Saturday, East
Carolina will travel to Chapel Hill to take on the Tar Heels.
The Pirates took Monday
off. The squad will work on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday before
taking off Friday and Saturday. Those midweek practices will have one
“My big message to the
staff this week is fundamentals," said Coach McNeill. "I want less
scheme work and much more work on the fundamentals. I want big time work
on the fundamentals, both on an individual and team basis.”
One game certainly doesn’t
make a season. How this squad handles this one game and the way it
played out will have an impact the rest of the way.
“There are a lot of games
left," said McNeill. "We plan on playing for a long time. The kids
believe that and so do I. It was a setback and we learned from it. Each
game is a growing experience. I’m proud of our coaches. I’m proud of our
kids. We’ll bounce back.”
It was a winning September
for the Pirates.
October brings on a whole
new set of challenges. There are a couple of rivalry games and a trio of
key games in Conference USA.
The season is really just
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09/21/2010 03:18 AM