Head coach Ruffin McNeill
Q: What are your expectations for this year's team?
A: "For football, the expectation has always been high. I think having a leadership core and a team chemistry, I think they will be able to handle that … It's not a weight, it is a vision and a goal and appreciative, but we know it only counts at the end of the year, not right now.
Q: What is the state of the defense under Rick Smith?
A: "Rick coming back met the criteria that I was looking for in the position – understanding secondary play, having been a defensive coordinator at high level, a great recruiter, and understood East Carolina tradition … From day one, Rick has established his personality in the defense. He's had great success here, and he demands success along with the staff … He's already done a great job and that group is going to do a great job for us."
A: "I thought that was a great fundamental play. He did a good job getting below pad level. Jadeveon is a great player, he understands how to play football … I thought it was a good hit, clean hit, big time in the game and I'd like to have a bunch of those this year myself."
Q: Could you comment on the recent discussions about "Division 4" and the idea of the "Big 5" power conferences playing under their own rules?
A: "I think it will be discussed. When I was coaching in Texas, the conference realignement and conference changes have been batted around and talked about. At universities, it's always been (about) the who's, the who have's and the who have not's … I just love coaching ball and being around the kids. So as long as I can do that, I'm happy where that is."
Q: How many players are not with the team that you expect to join before the season starts?
A: "Maybe two or three, but it'll get more definite in a little bit. I'll make sure I let you know."
Offensive Coordinator Lincoln Riley
Q: How comfortable are you with your quarterback Shane Carden now that he enters his first full season as a starter?
A: "I don't know if I'm any more comfortable. I guess if I had to pick that would be the way you'd want to have it … We'd try to really push this mentality to our offense as a whole, ‘it will not just happen because we have some people back.' That's great, it's a nice starting point, but it's only a starting point. For Shane individually, it's the same thing."
Q: Are the players aware of the expectations or do they try to block those things out?
A: "They're aware. You can't keep their heads in the sand all the time with social media and the internet and the way news travels. I think you have to a good job as a coaching staff to keep them focused on what's important and that's us getting better."
Q: How do you see the "X" outside receiver position shaking out during fall camp?
A: "It's going to be really interesting. You can probably start with (Reese) Wiggins there. Reese is obviously the most experienced. Last year was a tough year for Reese … I think John Worthy is going to really figure in prominently. He's kind of an unknown name that is a great walk-on … Davon Grayson's looked very good early. We knew he was pretty good when we signed him and he's looking like he can challenge to be a kid that we pull a redshirt off of."
Defensive coordinator Rick Smith:
Q: What was the message that you wanted to send to your defense when you came back earlier this year?
A: "I've always just been myself. The one thing I can't stand is a guy that won't work. I won't accept that. If you won't work, you won't be here.
Q: Who are the leaders of the defense?
A: The team leaders on our defense is (Damon) Magazu, Kyle Tudor Jeremy Grove, Terrell Stanley, could be Lee Pegues. He just needs to speak more. Derrell Johnson leads in a different way, he's not as vocal as he could be.
Quarterback Shane Carden
Q: How much of a comfort is it having a guy like Justin Hardy to throw to?
A: It's awesome … we've built a great relationship from quarterback and receiver and it's always nice when you have a receiver like that who can go up there and make plays for you."
Q: What are your goals for this season?
A: The goal is the same as last season: it's to win this conference. I expect us to do that. We've got a team that's able to do that goal … The main thing, not trying to do too much on offense.
Running back Vintavious Cooper
Q: How does it feel to be back and talking about football after your suspension in the spring?
A: "I'm excited to be back. I'm definitely ecstatic and happy to be back and try to get better and improve from last year."
Q: Did you ever address the team and apologize for your actions and the distraction it may have caused?
A: "Of course, I felt I was obligated to … You don't want to hold a negative outlook for the team. You want to positive and you want to be one of the leaders, and I definitely grew to be one, and I lost their trust. I had to build it back and I'm still working on it."
Q: After rushing for 1,000-plus yards, despite not even playing early in the season, what are the individual goals you are setting for yourself this year?
A: "I can't say what my individual stat for myself is, but I definitely hold myself to a good standard this year. I look to definitely better myself from last year. I never want to get complacent and never want to get satisfied with what happened last year."