Practice Update: Defense Dominant

The Pirate defense showed up big this past weekend shutting Memphis out for three and a half quarters. They look to have the same kind of success this weekend on the road at UAB; Inside ECU Sports caught up with Defense Coordinator Brian Mitchell and some key players on the defensive side of the ball to ask them about their success and what to expect this coming weekend at UAB.

Defensive Coordinator Mitchell

-On the defense's success against Memphis: "It started at practice, Tuesday and Wednesday our guys did a great job of hustling to the ball and learning the game plan. In the game they played with specific intent, executed the game plan properly and really got after them. Our guys were able to win the battle upfront and force the quarterback into making some bad throws; the secondary was able to break on the ball well too which ultimately lead to our success as a defense.

-With a Conference Championship in mind, how big is this game against UAB?: "It's the biggest game of the year, it's the game at hand right now and they're next on the schedule. We need to put ourselves in position to get to that Conference Championship game, but we know it's going to be one game a week. We need to go in there and make sure we have a sense of urgency, be assignment sound and have exactness in all that we do.

-What to expect from UAB: "A lot of throwing. Their skill is probably as good as anyone else's in this conference; their running backs can run it downhill and get out in the passing game. Their quarterback is young but he is throwing for more than 300 yards a game. We know their forte is throwing so we need to make sure we can affect him; not only with different coverages but also with getting pressure from our D-line."

Jeremy Grove

-On how they almost shutout Memphis: "We wanted to stop the run; we feel like if we are able to do that we can beat anybody. We eliminated the deep ball; I think they only had one deep pass on us so we really didn't give up any huge plays. As a unit we weren't happy with that touchdown, we wanted to shut them out but I feel like we played pretty well overall."

-Importance of this game against UAB: "This is huge; we think we can win out the rest of the season but we're focusing on one game at a time, we need to go down there and get this one. They are a very good team; their record doesn't reflect that because of the competition they have played this year. We know they're going to be ready for us so we're looking to come out fast."

Expectations of UAB's Offense: "Very fast, they're a team that can make a lot of plays because they are so athletic. They have three very talented running backs that have gotten the job done so far so we should have our hands full. As long as we come out fast and play our brand of football we should be able to get another important conference win.

Daniel Drake

-On how the defense dominated Memphis: "We just played old school football by just running to the ball. We executed our game plan and knew what to do come game time. Our couches really put a lot of emphasis on assignments throughout the week, so when it came to the game we knew what we were doing so we could play fast football.

-Sense of urgency this week?: "Absolutely, this is a huge game for us being that UAB is in the eastern part of Conference USA. They have a different atmosphere down there which they use to their advantage; last year UCF and Southern Miss both lost down there so we're not taking this road game lightly. Even with our loss to UCF this season we still feel like we control our future for the Conference Championship, each game we play is going to be huge from here on out."

-Describe the UAB offense: "They have some great athletes and we expect to see them spread the ball a lot like they did last year. They have a good passing game and three good running backs so they're an impressive team. We watched them against Ohio State and they played them all the way down to the wire so we know it's going to be a tough game.

Gabriel Woullard

-What the defense did right against Memphis: "We came into the week of practice working hard, flying around during the week and really got pumped for the game. The coaches showed us everything we needed to see before the game so that we could come out prepared. When kickoff rolled around we just resorted to everything we had learned in practice and everything came easy.

-Team morale this week for UAB: "Everybody on the team knows how big of a game this is for us. For the rest of the season we are going to be treating every game like a playoff game. We are on a one week schedule and have to win each game each week in order to get to where we want to be.

-On UAB's offense: "They are going to have a very heavy air attack, they like to pass the ball a lot. We are going to have to tighten up our coverages and get good breaks on the ball in order to slow them down. Their running game is also very good so we will have to fill the holes and swarm to the ball if we want to come out of there with a win Saturday.

Final Thoughts

The Pirate defense shut down Memphis in what was their best performance as a squad thus far this season. At practice I could feel the emotion and see how hard players from both sides of the ball have been preparing. If the defense comes out swarming to the ball they should be successful at UAB this Saturday. The Pirates will look to build off of the momentum from their win against Memphis in order to get another important Conference USA win; be prepared for a hard hitting fast-paced game.

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