"I joke with Jeremy (Grove) a bunch of times. I tell him the reason you're getting all these tackles is because we're occupying five guys and you just got free, untouched." said Yellock to the team's leading tackler.
The unit in the trenches shouldn't go unnoticed in 2013.
ECU returns five upper classman and a pair of starters along the defensive line, including junior Terry Williams. Williams, a 6-foot-1, 327 pound nose-tackle, collected 46 tackles last season despite being suspended for the first two games.
To put that in perspective, that's 11 more tackles than fellow nose tackle Michael Brooks, who is currently in Seattle trying to make the Seahawks' roster.
Not too far behind Williams was senior Lee Pegues, who made large strides by notching a respectable 36 tackles. Throughout last season, Pegues had to showcase his versatility and may be due for a breakout season this fall.
"(Pegues) has been called to play nose guard and defensive end. He knows how to play all three positions," said Yellock. "He is a guy I'm looking forward to see make that next step."
Yellock is currently entering the fourth season of his second stint at ECU, after serving on both John Thompson and Skip Holtz's staffs (2004-2006). This season will also be the second time Yellock has worked with defensive coordinator Rick Smith, who was hired earlier this year to replace Brian Mitchell.
Even though it's been nearly eight years, Yellock says Smith hasn't changed much.
"Coach Smith is the exact same Coach Smith I have grown accustomed to like and love. He knows what he wants … I knew from the get-go he would be a great addition to the staff."
Before becoming a part of the Pirates coaching staff, Yellock played four years on nationally competitive teams at ECU (1997-2000) under Steve Logan. After graduating, Yellock began his career on the sidelines at J.H. Rose High School in Greenville and at the age of 25, he returned to ECU in 2003.
"Coach Logan has been a mentor towards me in the coaching process," said Yellock. "The one thing I took from Logan was getting to know your players….not just the coaching aspect of it, but how to deal with players (and) how to relate to them."
Since the 90's, ECU hasn't played on that level on a consistent basis, but similar to current head coach Ruffin McNeill, Yellock has an added incentive to make sure the Pirates succeed given he's an alumni .
"It's a passion to me because when I was player, we beat West Virginia, Miami, N.C. State. We've beaten those teams before so it's not one of those deals where it's a big surprise," said Yellock "It's a good a thing…to have that confidence that you can beat those teams."
With Williams and Pegues likely occupying two of the three starting jobs along the line, the other defensive end spot could play host to one of the most intriguing position battles in fall camp.
When ECU switched to the 3-4, the decision was made to change senior Justin Dixon from a linebacker into a lineman. The sample size was short for Dixon at his new position – he suffered a devastating knee injury Sep. 10 at South Carolina.
Meanwhile, in his absence, Terrell Stanley filled the void nicely as a freshman and compiled 32 tackles. It appears Dixon and Stanley are on the inside track for the starting job, but don't be surprised if Johnathon White and Matt Milner are included in the conversation.