Ruffin McNeill Press Conference: NCCU

GREENVILLE, N.C. — Fifth-year ECU coach Ruffin McNeill met the media Monday and provided an updated injury report and depth chart.

Here is the complete transcription from head coach Ruffin McNeill’s press conference Monday, courtesy of ECU Atheltics:

Opening Statement:

“Fall camp has gone very well and it has been very competitive. I like the way that we have approached and attacked camp. I think the continuity between our staffs, including administration, has helped make this a smooth transition. We’ve gone best versus best for 80 percent of camp and exposed our team to the opposition that we will face this year. We always have done that, and it’s not just for North Carolina Central.

“Now we dive into game week, and last night, you could feel the intensity change. I think we’ve done good job these last two days of letting the guys get their legs back under them. Also, we got a needed actual game-situation practice on Saturday morning. It was a very intense period of practice, but it was needed from all three sides of the ball to sideline discipline, which will change for us in the American Conference. For our players who have not been a part of that, it was a rude awakening for them. The sideline discipline of where you sit on the bench, meet for special teams, where Jake Moore, our athletic trainer, is and our equipment staff.”

On N.C. Central:

“As for North Carolina Central, I’ve known Jerry Mack for a long time. I guess I’m one of the older coaches around now, but Jerry was a really good player and has moved his way up the ladder. His last position was Offensive Coordinator at South Alabama, so his team, offensively, will mirror ours a little bit as far as spreading the field with some running game involvement.

“One of their top players is Adrian Wilkins. He’s a slot receiver and returner with speed and quickness and they get the ball to him. He’s also a part of both their kickoff and punt return units. Also, up front are Clevonne Davis and Christopher Pressley, who are two big linemen that have really good feet. Andre Clarke is a big back, who has some power as well and they use the tight end like we do with Nathan Scruggs. So those are the key guys on offense that we have to be aware of. Their quarterbacks, Quinn Billerman and Malcolm Bell, have different strengths: one is mobile and the other isn’t quite as mobile, but runs the offense and understands it.

“Defensively, Granville Eastman came from Austin Peay and was there for 10 years. They’ll be in an even-man front, but I think we’ll see some odd and a lot of movement in blitzes and changes in coverage. Their two top players on the back end are Ryan Smith, a junior cornerback, and C.J. Moore, a senior safety. Up front, Ty Brown and Felix Small are both edge and up the field type players.

“On special teams, Adrian Wilkins was 13.9 in punt returns and 30-plus on kickoff returns with five touchdowns last year. They were No. 1 in the country as far as kickoff returns, so we’ll have to be aware on special teams.”

On Surprises During Camp:

“A lot of people compare this (our offense) to the (Texas Tech) Red Raiders’ offense, but it’s nothing like that. The biggest thing for a young player is the speed of the game and the tempo. Davon Grayson and Bryce Williams did a good job last year. Anthony Scott, the freshman running back from Virginia Beach, has done a good job. We always knew he could run and catch it, but he’s also picking up the protections so that’s good to see. On the offensive line, I’ve been really pleased with how Brandon Smith and Larry Williams stepped up.”

On Seeing Anything Different In The Players’ Eyes Heading Into Game Week:

“I did. Yesterday, we had lifting and normal training, but then we had a team meeting at 3 p.m., followed by a lettermen’s cookout at four. Then we came back for a team meeting and got into the meat of it. It became intense then, but even before then because the older guys sensed the urgency in the coaches and their command influence. I thought practice was very fast and I was pleased with the way they approached it.”

On Lamar Ivey Becoming A Starter As A Senior:

“Consistency is always the word you look for, and Lamar has always been that guy from playing cornerback, nickel corner or at safety. He’s very smart and understands what Coach (Rick) Smith wants on the back end. The biggest thing with Lamar is he understands the concept, and once you get that down, those guys tend to take off. Lamar has matured and grown, and we play people based on who does the best with discipline off the field, in the classroom and all of it ties in for us. He has done all of those things and he’ll be graduating in a little bit. I’m looking forward to Lamar having a great week and a great year.”

On The Advantage Of Starting The Season At Home:

“I talked to Nick Floyd about getting at least 10 home games. Someone is playing seven or eight, but I don’t know how you get that deal. I love playing in Dowdy-Ficklen. We can’t wait to show our fan base to the country. That’s one thing the new conference will bring – exposure. I’m looking forward to the country seeing what we call ‘Second to None.’ There is no other environment like Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.”

On American Conference Commissioner Aresco Referring To Shane Carden As A Heisman Trophy Candidate:

“Mike Aresco is a great leader. He has raised the bar for the American Conference and has not taken a step back. Because I’ve been blessed to be around a lot of different programs, I’ve never thought about players being anything less than a power, our fans being less than a power set of fans, our university being less than a power university or our staff being less than a power. I appreciate the comment by Mike, and Shane is one of the leaders that keeps us focused on the commitment to our team and our mission. Shane will not go outside of that. We’re worried about winning by one and getting out of there, and so is Shane. Some teams have guys who are getting that kind of attention and it can cause rifts. At the same time, how many programs are being asked about a Heisman Trophy candidate? I’m proud to know our university is being mentioned in that discussion, as well as for other awards. We are very thankful and humbled, but it will not reflect one iota on our game preparation, and that starts with me on down.”

On The Importance Of Having Local Players On The Team That Have Had Success:

“I’ve been told that the team kind of reflects the type of teams that Coach (Pat) Dye had. They were skin-legged boys from eastern North Carolina that could run really fast and then the ‘Wild Dogs’. What it means is they have families and they have names in this area. Those guys have represented us well. We have a fast football team and we have some Virginia, Florida and South Carolina kids, too.”

On What Marquez Grayson Has Done To Earn Depth Chart Inclusion:

“Marquez has done a good job, not just as a runner, but catching and blocking as well. At the same time, you will see a few names listed on there so where he is listed on the depth chart is all-good. But we are going to play guys and let them run around and do some things. I’m pleased with Marquez’s maturity right now.”

On The Goals For The Football Program This Year:

“We’ve tried to make sure we advance each year. That’s big for me. My staff not satisfied with being mediocre and we want to make sure we keep recruiting the right Pirates. The Pirates that believe in making East Carolina better and understanding what’s required off the field and in the classroom. When you get guys that are committed to that, you can raise the expectations and they won’t flinch like Marquez Grayson. We want to continue to recruit players that fit that mold and always try to tweak and get better, but never veering away from the team concept and the vision. If we stay in tune with that, we can accomplish anything we want to and I’m looking forward to attacking it with that group.”

On The Bond Between Isaiah Jones And Davon Grayson:

“When you ask about the experiences of a player at East Carolina, I can directly go there with them because I’ve been through the same thing. It’s a place where everybody is somebody, it makes the ordinary extraordinary and it develops the ties and bonds that will last for 40-50 years. My roommate, Charlie Evans, and I met on our recruiting visit in 1976 and we’ve talked every day like we’re brothers. Davon and Isaiah are doing the same. They came in with the same maturity level. They both weren’t heavily recruited. One was from Virginia Beach and the other from Texas, so when they got here, they had that same fight and desire. They compete with things like their grade point averages and Coach Connors’ Iron Man Challenge. Isaiah stayed an extra day after Davon won the challenge, and promptly left with the title. They’re serious about it.”

--------- Injury Report (for entire spring session) ---------

QUESTIONABLE: OLB Jeton Beavers (right shoulder)

OUT – NT Terry Williams (left knee), WR DaQuan Barnes (back), ILB Desi Brown (left lower leg), OLB Kirk Donaldson, TE Darren Dowdell (left leg), OL Christian Matau (left knee).

---------- Depth Chart --------------

OFFENSE:

Outside Wide Reciever (X): Cam Worthy (Reserves: Brandon Bishop)

Inside Wide Receiver (H): Isaiah Jones (Reserves: Cedric Thompson)

Left Tackle: Ike Harris (Reserves: Stewart Hinson)

Center: Taylor Hudson (Reserves: C.J. Struyk)

Right Guard: Tre Robertson (Reserves: J.T Boyd)

Right Tackle: Dontae Levingston (Reserves: Brandon Smith)

Quarterback: Shane Carden (Reserves: Kurt Benkert)

Running Back: Breon Allen (Reserves: Chris Hairston, Marquez Grayson)

Inside Wide Receiver: Justin Hardy (Reserves: Bryce Williams)

Outside Wide Receiver: Davon Grayson (Reserves: Jimmy Williams)

DEFENSE:

Defensive End: Johnathan White (Reserves: Terry Biles)

Nose Tackle: Chrishon Rose (Reserves: Demetri McGill)

Defensive End: Fred Presley (Reserves: K’Hadree Hooker)

Outside (SAM) Linebacker: Montese Overton (Reserves: Dayon Pratt, Pat Green)

Inside (MIKE) Linebacker: Zeek Bigger (Reserves: Cameron White)

Inside (BUCK) Linebacker: Brandon Williams (Reserves: Devaris Brunson)

Outside (WILL) Linebacker: Maurice Falls (Reserves: Joe Allely, Jake Geary)

Field Cornerback: Josh Hawkins (Reserves: DaShaun Amos, Rocco Scarfone)

Strong Safety: Lamar Ivey (Reserves: Terrell Richardson)

Free Safety: Domonique Lennon (Reserves: Travon Simmons)

Boundary Cornerback: Detric Allen (Reserves: Dashawn Benton)


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