Coaches Corner: Rick Smith

Inside ECU Sports visited football practice to check in on how East Carolina is preparing for the approaching bowl game against Ohio University.

Q: Did you see anything Rice did a few weeks ago to stop Marshall's offense that we could have done?

A: Marshall dropped a lot of passes that they didn't drop against us. They should have probably had at least three touchdowns uncontested on dropped balls. No. 26, the tight end, dropped two. I think it was No. 81 that dropped one. Nobody was around him. If they make those catches, they've got 21 points they didn't get. Against us, they dropped nothing.

They played better than they are against us. I don't know if we could have beaten them if we were at our best. It would have been a great game. It would have been like last year's game. It probably would have went into overtime.

Q: Earlier in the season, Ohio played Marshall. Have you looked at that game?

A: We looked at that game before we played Marshall. Now, we didn't look at Ohio's offense. We were looking at their defense. We looked at that game [last Monday]. They're very multiple, formation wise. Most everything is one-back: three-by-one with the tight end flexed and then three-by-one with the tight end tight. It's similar to what our offense does. Their quarterback is a decent thrower. They've got two tall tight ends. If we do what we're supposed to do, we could win the game, but it won't be easy.

I have a lot of respect for coach [Jim] Solich. I remember when he was at Nebraska. He's been there and did a great job at that school. His kids will be ready to play. They've got nothing to lose and everything to gain. They'll come down there. They've proven they can beat a quality opponent that's not in their league. They beat Marshall and Marshall went, what, 9-3? They beat them, so if we're not ready to play or we take them lightly, they'll beat us.

Q: The Bobcats have a handful of pretty talented receivers. What are you looking for in the secondary during preparation?

A: We're just going to play our coverage package better. We've got enough to where we don't have to add anything. We just got to get better at it.

Q: How does having a lot of time between now and the bowl game help not only prepare for Ohio, but also rebound from Marshall?

A: You've got to be careful. If you get started on your opponent too early, they get stale. They get tired of it. So, [last week] we were trying to get better at our base defense: tacking and running to the ball. [Last week] was spring practice. It was spring practice until Sunday, then we put the game plan in and now we'll start on the game plan.

We just move it back from the day we play, which is the 23rd, we just go back seven days from there and [last Monday] was our Sunday. Right now, we're just going against each other. It's East Carolina versus East Carolina.

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