Coaches Corner: Rick Smith

After East Carolina's 24-17 victory over Middle Tennessee State, Inside ECU Sports caught up with defensive coordinator Rick Smith following Sunday night's practice.

Q: Logan Kilgore threw for 245 yards on Saturday. What are your thoughts on how the secondary played?

A: Played good. We didn't give up deep balls. We gave up two over 25, which we don't like: 26-yarder and another 26-yarder. Basically, they played good. Our linebacker gave up one. They're playing better. Again, Adonis Armstrong played almost perfect football. [Damon] Magazu played lights out: 15 solo tackles, four assists, no mistakes. It was a very fortunate game—as good as I've ever had a safety play.

The strong safety position…Chip [Thompson] did not play well. He missed four tackles, which were critical plays. We could have been off the field on third down. Three of them were third down misses. The first drive, he missed two tackles. One was for no gain and, if he made it, we would have been off the field. He missed another one on the same drive. We would have been off the field. He's got to play better or Michael Dobson will be playing that position.

The two boundary corners played better. Josh Hawkins came in and really played a good ball game. I had one pass interference call, which was a legitimate call. But, he had five tackles, a tackle for a loss and two pass breakups. He really played well. Detric Allen played better than I thought he did. After watching the tape, I should have played him more. Those to boundary corners played winning football. I was pleased with them. I thought they got better last week.

Q: Big defensive stops after turnovers have been one of the most consistent things about this season. How important has that been?

A: We have five goals we feel like we have to meet every week in order to win the conference championship and go to the Liberty Bowl. We call it "road to the Liberty Bowl." What do we got to do? One of those five things is anytime our offense turns it over, don't be upset. Run out there, excited, with enthusiasm, understanding that now the defense has the chance to turn the momentum around. We had to take the field the other afternoon 32 yards away from our goal line. And we held them to a field goal. This year, our offense has turned the ball over seven times and we have yet to give up a touchdown.

Q: What have you seen on tape from Tulane so far?

A: I think the quarterback is throwing the ball well. [Ryan Grant] is a very good receiver. Like everybody we play, they can throw the football well. They've got two good running backs. They're very similar to Middle Tennessee on what they do. They run all those formations. We'll see every formation you can draw up. We hope we don't mess up those formations. We don't have MAs.

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