Coaches Corner: Lincoln Riley

Michael Prunka discussed East Carolina's 63-14 win over UAB and upcoming contest against North Carolina State with offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley after Sunday night's practice.

Q: What are your thoughts on how the seniors drove the offense on Saturday?

A: They played well. I was excited about them. I was excited that Reese [Wiggins] stepped up really well. He was a big spark not only for the offense, but for the whole team. He played well and made a bunch of big plays. Obviously, [Vintavious] Cooper played really well. The two guards, Will [Simmons] and Jordan [Davis]. I thought our offensive line had a dominating performance both in pass pro and in the run game.

It was good. They stepped up. A lot of guys had some great senior moments that, when this whole thing's over, they'll be able to look back on and really appreciate.

Q: With all the guys that have been catching the ball this season, who do you see, besides Justin Hardy, stepping up and making the biggest impact in the final stretch?

A: Lots of them. Isaiah [Jones], the previous few games, has been catching a lot of balls. I think Cam Worthy is a guy for us who has gotten better and better. He seems to make two or three big plays every game. He made a couple of really nice plays [Saturday]. Obviously Reese [Wiggins]—It was nice to get some production out of the "x" position. That was a huge boost for us.

Those guys have been playing well at practice. They really made a lot of plays for us. I think we're just going to have more and more confidence in that group going forward.

Bryce [Williams] has been a nice weapon for us. He made some plays, especially down in the red zone. There's also Lance [Ray] and DaQuan [Barnes]. There's a mix of guys right now who are catching the ball and making plays. I say the more guys we can get the ball, the better we'll be.

Q: What did UAB's defense give you that allowed the run game to take off?

A: They didn't really give it to us. I think they were trying to make it a little bit of a throwing game. We just kind of established ourselves and forced the issue. Our guys were running well. Tay and Breon [Allen] both did really well. I thought Chris [Hairston] did some really good things when he got in there.

Three backs were in and, like I said, the offensive line was really in sync. We were physical and were picking up some of the stuff they were doing. It really started up front. Like I said, they were dominating.

Q: Any plans to keep using that two back set against NC State or throughout the rest of the season? A: Maybe. They're going to both play. No question.

Q: What about NC State's rush defense? What have you seen from them so far?

A: Well, they gave up the rush to Boston College, but Boston College runs the ball every snap. They've been pretty decent the whole year. A few teams have run it well on them and they've had some success, but they've held a lot of teams down, too.

From watching them today and a little bit before, they've got some very good players up front. I think their defensive line, from what I've seen, is the strength of their defense, which, if you were able to pick, that's what you'd pick. That's where it all starts—the offensive line and defensive line.

They've got some players there. Their two inside guys are good. Their ends are good. Obviously, some decent size and some physicality and some explosion out of those guys. They're going to test our guys up front, no question. Us getting our run game going will certainly be key and we'll just keep forcing the issue like we have all year.

Q: Onto State's secondary, what needs to happen for Shane Carden and the passing game to be successful?

A: Nothing special against these guys or anyone else. We've got to go out there and execute and do our job. Whatever they give us, we've got to be able to attack it and make plays when the opportunities are there. It's no question that State has a lot of good athletes. The windows and margins of error are going to be small. We're going to have to be on point. They force you to do that.

They're a very well-coached defense. A lot of their defensive coaches on the staff have great track records. They're going to be well-coached and they've certainly got some athletes. We're going to keep the focus on us and know that if we play well, we'll have a chance to make some good things happen.

Q: What do you think about how Jonathon Weymann did with the time he saw?

A: He did good! I wish we could have gotten him a few more steps. It was close there the drive before. We thought about putting him in there at the end, but they started blitzing us a little bit. It was good. Any time you can get in there at quarterback and get your feet wet. We just had him hand it off a few times, but that was a good experience for him to get in there and get it done.

He's been doing a nice job for us in practice—both in running the scout team and then in the scrimmages and the few reps he does get with us offensively. He's been a nice surprise.


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