Practice Update: Defensive Travesty

In the spirit of Halloween the defenses' performance against Navy could be described as a flat out nightmare. After preparing for this triple option since summer the Pirate defense came out and gave up over 500 yards on the ground. Inside ECU Sports had a chance to ask some key defensive players about how they plan on moving forward to face Houston this coming Saturday.

Grove assures this loss doesn't define the Pirates

Getting beaten like the Pirates did against Navy could kill a defense's confidence and could have risks of bleeding into the next game. However, Jeremy Grove believes this loss is a one-time deal and the defense is forgetting about it.

"We're on a twenty-four hour rule," Grove said. "We came in Sunday ready to work and figure out what our mistakes were; our confidence isn't down if anything it just motivated us."

The Pirates showed that they can't defend a triple option offense. Luckily they will not see that style of offense this weekend, but they will have to deal with Houston's top ten ranked passing attack. Grove had this to say about the defense's transition for the game this weekend, "It's a lot different, but we feel like we have the idea of what they do being that our offense runs some of the same schemes and we go against them so much."

"Houston has a balanced team with a lot of great athletes and coaches so we have to be ready for a tough game," Grove also said.

While Houston is a heavy passing team they can still run the ball with the best of them and Grove is aware of that. "We still have to be ready for the run, they have three great running backs," Grove said. "We need to force the pass and be 100 percent on our coverages to be successful."

Halloween is a huge deal at East Carolina and being that it was Halloween when I conducted these interviews I had a chance to ask Grove what his plans were for the night. Grove responded, "I have a paper to finish up, so after that we'll see where the night goes".

Magazu leads the field in tackles

Last week I asked Damon Magazu whether this game against Navy would be personal for him being that he was on the team the last time the Midshipmen put a beating on the Pirates. Magazu said it definitely was and even though they got beaten badly he played hard and led the team in tackles. I asked Magazu how the team will respond from this loss.

"We're on the 24 hour rule, forgetting about Navy and looking forward to Houston," Magazu said. "We're all focused on Houston this week and on tightening up the screws to our defense; we had a good practice today and look to carry it over to the game."

Houston has a top ten ranked passing offense and the Pirates got torched by them last year through the air. This year it is a different cast for the Cougars, as they lost their starting quarterback from last year Case Keenum who went on to the NFL. Even with the loss of Keenum it looks as though their offense hasn't missed a step, I asked Magazu to describe to me their receiving core.

"They have a lot of fast athletic receivers who run a lot of good routes," Magazu said. "They have good timing with the quarterback so we have to be ready to get out there and disrupt their offensive schemes."

Brooks in charge of holding down the middle

Senior nose tackle Michael Brooks is no stranger to being in the trenches against conference opponent Houston. Brooks is a leader on the Pirate defensive line and has earned that role with solid play and resilience, coming back from a knee injury which cut short his promising sophomore season two years ago.

I asked Brooks to describe his job anchoring the defensive line for the pirates he had this to say, "When I'm at nose I'm responsible for my single gap, I have to be able to face double teams and sometimes even triple teams, but my job is to play hard and clog up the middle to stop the run."

The morale of a team is a key component to getting big wins in big games. The Pirates took a bad beating last week and it would only seem natural for them to lose some confidence continuing on with the season. I asked brooks how the overall morale of the team has been at practice this week.

"This week in practice we have been going over a lot of fundamentals and techniques out here," Brooks said. "We've been emphasizing on the little things in practice because we believe those are going to get this win, and it's a huge game for us."

When I asked Brooks what his plans were for Halloween he said, "I'm just going in the house for the night, we got practice tomorrow and it's a little bit cold for me." It appears that Brooks is focused on the task at hand, which is a good sign for his teammates and coaches.

Final Thoughts

After allowing a season high fifty-six points last week against Navy, the Pirates have to respond against Houston in order to keep their conference championship hopes alive. With the Halloween holiday being in the middle of the week it is important that the team stay focused on the task at hand and come out fast. The Houston Cougars will show up ready to capitalize on a defense that got trounced last week. The choice is up to the Pirates, they need to show whether they have it in them to move past this loss and move towards another conference win or let it defeat them twice along with their season. Seatbelts mandatory for this high scoring affair between two high flying teams; kickoff from Dowdy- Ficklen is at 12 p.m. Saturday.

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