Media Day: Offense Quotables

GREENVILLE, N.C. — Inside ECU Sports caught up with Lincoln Riley, Shane Carden, Justin Hardy and Donnie Kirkpatrick during ECU's annual media day Tuesday.

Offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley

On both Breon Allen and Chris Hairston being named first-team running back: “I wouldn’t just limit it to those two right now. That would be hard to say. We’ve got a lot of ability there. We’ve got six guys that we’ll want to look at. Probably not all six of those guys are potential starters this year, realistically, but they certainly lead the crew coming in. It’s going to be one heck of a battle. There’s more explosion and more depth at that position than we’ve ever had. We’ve got experience, we’ve got three or four guys who can really get out there and run. And if they get into the second level, there’s a pretty good chance that they’re gone, which is something that we haven’t had here a ton. I think (running backs coach) Kirk (Doll) has done a great job with that group. He coaches those guys the way that running backs are supposed to be coached. I think that has shown in our production at that position and that group as a whole has a chance to be a whole lot better.”

On the state of the offensive line: “I love the group. I think we are very, very athletic. We’re more athletic there than we’ve been in any of the previous four years far and away. We’ve got four guys — with (Taylor) Hudson, C.J. (Struyk), (Tre) Robertson and (Ike) Harris — that have played a lot of ball for us, played against good competition in big-time atmospheres and played very well. I really like (Quincy) McKinney and Dontae Levingston. They are no question the two best JUCO linemen we’ve signed, I can already tell you that. I think they have major potential. I really like Stewart Hinson. He’s one of those guys that has hung in there and knows the system and is playing very well for us right now. And then some of the young talent, the Brandon Smiths, the Larry Williams, the J.T. Boyds, the Will Foxx’s. Those kinds of guys are all right there and have really been developed. It’s going to be a great battle.”

Senior quarterback Shane Carden

On what he took away from American Athletic Conference media days last week: “I was very impressed by everything (AAC Commissioner Mike) Aresco said. I was happy I was able to see his opening statements and listen to what he had to say (in disagreement) about our conference not being in the ‘Power Five.’ I love what he said, I love where this conference is heading, I love the teams that are in this conference — getting back to playing UCF, Houston and SMU — and the competition that is there. This is a real big conference. It was a great time up there, I had a great time meeting some of those players and talking about what they went through last year and things like that.”

On being about 1,800 yards shy of David Garrard’s school passing record: “I didn’t know the exact number. I know there have been a lot of good quarterbacks come through here. Like you said, a guy like David Garrard that is somebody I looked up to before I even got to ECU or really knew anything about ECU. It’s just crazy to think about, but I’m in the business of winning games. If I don’t win games, all those yards, all those touchdowns they don’t mean anything. When I look back, I want to see wins.”

Senior receiver Justin Hardy

On his commitment to the weight room this summer: “It was probably my best summer since I’ve been here. It’s the first season where I am healthy going in and I knew I had to get better, so I hit that weight room hard. I got big, got strong, I got fast and that was really my main focus going into the season.”

On drowning out the outside noise: “In the summer, I was (busy). But now is a time I can really just focus on football. I don’t really have to worry about any of the outside noise — award finalists, stats, all that — because I’m with the guys and we’re just playing football and it’s a team game. So that’s what we really look forward to doing. Coming on as a walk-on, having that chip on my shoulder of not being recruited coming out of high school, that is still something that I use to play with. That’s how I like to think about.”

On being in range of many FBS receiving records this season: “It would be great, but I really wasn’t thinking about it until after the season. That’s when I really take the time to think about everything. My main goals are doing anything I can for the team, winning a conference championship, take storm of the AAC and going to a great bowl game.”

Inside receivers coach Donnie Kirkpatrick

On the three marquee members of the 2014 recruiting class, Anthony Scott, Quincy McKinney and Dontae Levingston: “I think those three are probably three of the more marquee-type guys. Here’s a true statement: they are better than I thought they were. I thought they were going to be pretty good, but they are better than I thought they were going to be.”

On how to raise expectations for Hardy: This is a good thing about Hardy: Hardy wants to be coached. That’s fun when you got a guy that still wants to be coached. When they do get really good, they can have a tendency to think ‘I don’t need y’all anymore, I’ve got this done.’ They don’t want to go meetings. They don’t want pay attention during the film sessions, so you have to find something. For him, it’s very easy. He’s disappointed if I don’t give him something everyday. He’s had some great numbers, he’s got a chance to be all-time (bests) in a lot of different categories. We’re talking about more touchdowns and more yards. There’s two ways to get more yards: either be a better runner after you catch it … and the other one is being more of a deep threat. I think he’s a definite first-round pick, but he could move into the earlier picks in the first round if he can become more of a deep threat. He has that ability because he plays the deep ball really, really well and runs great routes. So we’ve really challenged him to be a home run hitter.”

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