Coaches Corner: Rick Smith

Michael Prunka talked to defensive coordinator Rick Smith after Sunday night's practice about the bye week and East Carolina's upcoming game versus Florida International.

Q: How was practice?

A: It was very good. Their legs were great. They were off all day. We had a light practice Thursday, no weights. They were off Friday and Saturday, so they've been off for two whole days. [Monday] they go back to the weight room, so their legs probably won't be as good Tuesday. But that's good, they're in great shape.

Q: How'd you spend the bye week?

A: Basically just stayed around the house. Spent some time with the grandkids and the wife. I watched a lot of football! I watched the Middle Tennessee game Thursday night. I really enjoyed watching the South Carolina game against Missouri. I watched part of the Alabama game and part of the Ohio State game. You know, flipping channels.

Q: With all of FIU's new faces, does it make it any harder to scout the team?

A: They are very young. They play hard. The kids that aren't freshmen, you know there's a whole new staff and a whole new system on offense and defense. But right now, they're just so young.

They do some things problems as far as making calls. They're in one back out there with three tight ends, which is what we call 13 personnel. And they do 12 personnel. But even though they got one back and two tight ends, they'll line up in two back formation.

They line up in every formation imaginable in 13 personnel or 12 personnel. Usually you're in third down and long and you're thinking one back and four wide receivers. They'll run two tight ends out there, but they may line up in a tight end formation or they may line up in two backs in the backfield. You don't really know. Personnel package this week tells us nothing.

Q: FIU isn't the toughest game on the schedule. Tulsa coming up is always a big matchup, so what are the keys to making sure you don't overlook FIU?

A: I tell them that you can't underestimate your opponent. I told them tonight that's easy for me to say, but if you do, the chances of winning are slimmer. The only way you can win a championship is to play one play at a time on game day. One game at a time, one play at a time. The only way you can do that is to the best of your abilities is to prepare.

I'll talk to them about uncommon people winning championships. Common people don't. It takes an uncommon person to prepare mentally. It's going to take some mental preparation. We're going to go down there and play in front of no body. There won't be anybody in the stands. They're used to playing in front of 50 thousand here.

There's some things you have to prepare them for. I was shocked at the way we came out and played against Southern Miss. I was really about the mental preparation there. But we gave up that run on the first drive and stopped them and they missed the field goal. After that we dominated them. Hopefully, we'll go out against FIU and play the first play like our life depended on it.

Q: FIU's running game isn't impressive. They're only averaging 75 yards a game. Do you plan to increase pressure on the quarterback and rush the pass to try and shut down their offense?

A: We're just going to do our basic stuff. We've added a couple of things for our third down defense. But on the run downs, we're going to do what we do and we do enough to where they won't know what we're doing on each play.

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