Coaches Corner: Lincoln Riley

After East Carolina's triple overtime loss to Tulane, Inside ECU Sports caught up with offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley as the team prepares to host Southern Miss.

Q: With the 24 hour rule in effect, what did you see from your team tonight?

A: They're resilient. We've got guys that have been there, just like at the end of the game. Even though we didn't play our best offensively, we were able to do some things to give the team a chance to win. They're resilient there. They're resilient after the game. They got back today and we had great meetings. Practice was really good, really spirited. They'll be ready to play.

Q: It seemed like missed chances in the red zone were a big theme of the game. What were some of the things you saw on tape that caused the inefficiencies?

A: We just didn't execute when we got down there. We didn't get down there much in the first half. The first drive and the last drive… We just didn't play very well in the first draft. We were a little more concerned with what Tulane was doing defensively than just executing our stuff. That starts with me. I need to do a better job with that because we're a lot better when we focus on us. We got some things ironed out at halftime, made some good adjustments. The kids got back and we got a lot of opportunities in the second half and scored a lot of points. We moved the ball very well in the second half. We got down there and got a little bit away from what we do down there. That's five yards a play. Five yards a play is great in the red zone and don't take negative yardage plays. I thought the negative yardage plays we took down there really set us back and put us in some long yardage situations. That kind of got our back against the wall a little bit. We've been a great red zone team ever since we got here four years ago and we need to get back on track.

Q: What are some of the things you do to repair the red zone performance?

A: What we're doing works. That's pretty proven. We just have to do it better. We've got to coach better. We've got to play better. We've got to execute better when we get down there. There were just so many breakdowns that… We have a busted route, one that's going to walk in, and we get sacked. When you get a team that's aggressive, and Tulane had a kind of feast or famine mentality with us defensively. When you bust a few of those things, they give them opportunities to make big plays. Conversely, we had several times where we executed and we got big plays on them because of their aggressiveness. Give them credit. They played better than we did down there. We got to get going down there early. We finished the game good down there, but we've got to get going faster.

Q: Two of your last three trips to the red zone were touchdowns. Do you think it's something that can carry over as at least a building block?

A: We just got back to being us. We weren't calling different plays, we weren't doing anything different scheme-wise. We just got back to being us. We had the three touchdowns in a row at the end of regulation and we had the two touchdowns in overtime. Then we got down there around the four, they threw a flag and we were moving it pretty good there, too. The biggest thing is our mentality. We've got to continue to focus on us. Our guys are confident in the red zone. Our coaches are confident in the red zone. We know we can score. We'll get back to being us more often.

Q: What kinds of adjustments do you think can be made to see more trips to the red zone in the first half?

A: We've had a few good ones in the first half. We had quite a few against Carolina. We've been very good in the first few games. We scored on the first possession of every game this year. I think you just get in there and get a feel for guys and make some adjustments. We've got some new, young players at some key positions that are really learning and getting better as we go. I don't know if the halves have really been a difference. This game in particular…our guys, and this is on me, were a little too focused on what they were doing. You can't do that. That's a defense's goal, oftentimes, is to get you to thinking about them and not about what you do. Like I said, we were able to get that changed in the second half and we played much better.

Q: What are your thoughts on Shane Carden and Justin Hardy having career performances despite the loss?

A: The goal is to win. They both played their guts out for us. A lot of people did. Both had plays they'd like to have back, but both played really well and had championship efforts, which we had from a lot of players. Even though we didn't play our best, that's why we still had a chance to win the game on the road right there at the end. We had plenty of opportunities on all three sides of the ball. You have to finish them off and we have to win games when we're not at our best. We certainly weren't at our best offensively, but we still gave ourselves a chance to win. I think that's a credit to the kind of kids we have here.

Q: What are you looking for when Southern Miss visits on Saturday?

A: Just win. I doesn't even matter who it is to us right now. Last time we faced adversity, coming off a loss to Virginia Tech, the team responded pretty well and we're very motivated to come out and coach and play better. It's been a long road trip… Three game road trip against three good football teams. It's going to be great to get back home and play in front of our fans. Our kids and out coaches… Everybody's really looking forward to that. We are very motivated to come out and play well.

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