Practice Update: Offense Explodes

After their blowout win Saturday against Conference opponent Memphis; the Pirates set their sights forward to UAB, in what will be another important conference game. Inside ECU Sports had a chance to interview Offensive Coordinator Lincoln Riley along with the key players responsible for the offensive explosion this past Saturday.

Offensive Coordinator Lincoln Riley

-On utilizing "The Justins" (Justin Hardy & Justin Jones): "They are both pretty dynamic, we try to get receivers here who aren't one dimensional and both those guys are multi-dimensional. We feel like we have a good mismatch with those guys, teams can't zero in on them just being in the slot or outside so it's been fun. These players force teams to make a decision on whether to double team and leave other things open, or take their chances in playing them one-on-one."

-The running game staying consistent this week: "We were okay, we got off to another good start getting the first two scores of the game; but the rest of the half we were pretty average. We had too many negative plays; we didn't hang on to the ball very well, and there are plenty of things we could have done better. It was good to score a lot of points as an offense, but when you go back and look at it we left a lot on the table."

-Expectations from UAB: "It should be a lot like last week, they have a new staff just like Memphis had and a new defensive coordinator. They have some talented guys coming back along with a bunch of new faces. This team has had a very demanding non-conference schedule like us and kept it tight with some good teams. Defensively, they like to mix things up upfront with a good mix of zone and man coverage as well so we will have to do a good job of identifying those things and attacking them this weekend."

Shane Carden

-Monster game, big win. Thoughts: "It was a big win, homecoming weekend with lots of fans and people who played here so it was great to come out and play well for them so they could come out and have something to be proud of. This win helps assure to them that the program is still doing well and it helped assure to us that if we make our routine plays we can put up points and run this offense.

-Thoughts on the "Cardy" connection (Carden to Hardy): "He's done well, obviously the statistics are what they are and he's a good receiver. We feel good about our squad as a whole, everyone is playing really well and we're pumped for this second half of the season.

-UAB's defense: "They run some good man defense and like to mix things up on the defensive line. I know they are going to put up a fight and be physical with us, while also being able to play good coverage. That being said, we have been practicing hard and we feel as though we're ready to go down there and get the win."

Justin Jones

-3 TDs this week, thoughts: "I thought the game went really well, blocking wise I would like to see myself play a little better but as far as catching the ball I think I did real good as well as getting in the end zone. I was excited, but those were routine plays we practice all the time so it was nothing out of the ordinary for me.

-Advantages to having you and Hardy on the field simultaneously: "It can prove to be a fit for most teams. They want to double cover me, and they want to double cover him but are unable to so one of us are likely to get open, or get one-on-one coverage. We just both have to be ready to go up and make a play when our number is called.

-Expectations from UAB: "The past two years against them it has gone down to the last drive, which is something we don't need to take lightly going into this game. We have been getting it going here at practice and we know we can't fall asleep on these guys come Saturday because they will fight back.

Justin Hardy

-Big game 2 TDs, thoughts: "I think the game went well, we started off fast which is something we constantly talk about in practice; that's what we want to do every game. Coming into this game we had a good feeling about our offense and we just came out clicking when it mattered."

-Staying consistent as a Wide Receiver: "It starts with my mentality coming into each game. At the start of the season we talked about being a Conference Championship team, getting to a bowl game, and getting back to the winning tradition. So I take that mentality, and try to come out at my best every time that we play."

-What to expect from UAB: "They're going to come out playing hard like they do every year and we know that. It's tough to play down there at times so we will need to stay focused as a unit to make our plays. I look forward to getting down there, playing hard and ultimately leaving with a win."

Final Thoughts

The Pirates put on a show this past weekend at home with their high powered offense. Carden had a monster game with five touchdowns beating his career total of 4 coming into the game; his performance earned him Conference USA's Offensive Player of the Week. Justin Jones caught three touchdowns from Carden, while Justin Hardy caught two. If this offensive group can stay pungent this weekend against UAB they should be able to come out of there with a win. Be ready for a high flying game with plenty of scoring this weekend at UAB.

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