Ruffin McNeill News Conference: Virginia Tech

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.

Opening Statement:

“We went into Saturday knowing it was going to be a tough game and nothing less. I was proud of our team and coaches with how we prepared all week. I thought we handled any adjustment because of the weather fantastically. I thought we put ourselves in a position to win. Unfortunately, we were not able to capitalize on that.

“We have a 24-hour rule on our team that has been in place since I arrived, but on the bus coming back (from South Carolina) we had about four-and-a-half to five hours and I thought the guys would be sleeping to get away from it like I asked them to, but it wasn’t that way. The coaches had already begun diving into the film on the bus, evaluating the game we just played and diving into, dissecting and evaluating Virginia Tech. We had four buses of coaches and players who were texting me the entire time (including) seniors, Shane (Carden) and freshmen saying ‘Coach – can’t wait for this week.’ I normally don’t divulge inside deals with our team, but coming back on the bus, I think that mentality tells us where we are as a program and I was proud of them.

“We’ll get ready for Virginia Tech and we know we face another perennial power. Like I spoke of Coach (Steve) Spurrier, Coach (Frank) Beamer has, year-in and year-out, built a program that wins for seasons and not for a season. I’ve always admired what Coach Beamer does, and he and Coach Spurrier, two of the greatest in the game to a country boy like me, have always shown respect, spoke and taken time before the game. It’s meaningful conversation to me, so I feel the same about Coach Beamer. Not every person is like that, but we also know he has a high-caliber football team and we’ll have to have a great week of preparation.

“We’ve had one field goal blocked in the last three years, and that was Saturday. They did a good job with a scheme thing on us that I can’t address here, but we began correcting that last night. Our guys have always done a great job with that and we’ll get that fixed. After the game, I heard Shane (Carden) with the guys saying ‘Hey guys – it’s on me. We’ll get better this week. Whatever went wrong, we’ll fix it.’

“We’re disappointed we didn’t win, but I think that game will make us a stronger team. It was a game where we had to overcome obstacles and we didn’t flinch. Our offense moved the ball very efficiently at 6.8 yards per play. That’s an excellent stat. The offensive line did not give up a sack and paved the way for 132 yards rushing and a 6.3 average. We had 12 explosive plays.

“I thought the defense played fast and was very physical again. I thought we did a good job if something tough happened and held them to four field goals down in the red zone area. Our young guys were still able to get some reps against really quality competition.

“On special teams, I was proud of the team speed. We knew they had a fast team and we knew we had a very fast team. I thought Dayon Pratt, Lamar Ivey and Warren Harvey did a really outstanding job for us. Worth Gregory, in his second college game, kicked a 52-yarder (punt). I’m proud of him and how he’s progressing. We did a good job on coverage team.

“Virginia Tech and Coach (Beamer) have gone to a more spread offense this year. That’s going to be different for them, but they’ve got a quarterback that’s used to spread offenses. We know Michael Brewer from Lake Travis High School in Texas and that’s a perennial high-level Texas team. Shai McKenzie stands out for them at running back. Up front, David Wang, he’s got to be my age, but he’s still there and he’s really good and got a sixth year (of eligibility). On defense, Bud (Foster) and I have been friends for a long time since our Austin Peay days. He does a great job with his defense. He has six starters returning.”

On If He Had Seen The Same Reaction On The Team Bus In Years Past:

“Everybody sort of does their own deal. I got up because I stretch my hip sometimes. I ride the offensive bus, but it was the same on the defensive bus. I saw lights on from laptops and they were already finishing watching the game and watching Virginia Tech. It was 4:30 in the morning and I was texting them to get some sleep and they texted me back saying, ‘You get to sleep.’ Operation Move On was in effect pretty quickly.”

On If It’s Tougher To Do Back-to-Back Long Bus Rides As Opposed To Flying:

“This group is good about adjusting. Because there were 100 lightning strikes, we had to adjust practice the other day. We had to come back the next morning to get it in and the kids handled it great. They were here and on the field at eight o’clock (a.m.) and we had to get through it by 9:10 because of NCAA rules. They showered, we had breakfast for them and we got on the bus and went down. This week, we know we have another one, so we’ll head up Thursday night after practice because the game is at 12 Noon on Saturday and we’ll have an earlier start. We’ll have seven less hours to prepare than we had the last two weeks.”

On Averaging More Than Six Yards Per Rush:

“It starts up front with the offensive line. A lot of people were concerned, but we have a guy who has played that position and was good at it in Brandon (Jones), and he’s a really good teacher. He’s tough on them. He gashes them, but they love him. We had to replace a lot of guys. I ask them to play as five pennies to a nickel. The old guys said, ‘Hey Coach, your five nickels could be a quarter, too.’ The (running) backs have been doing a good job becoming blockers and we can become even better after watching film.”

On If He Likes Playing Several Running Backs Or If He Wants Just One Featured Back:

“I like playing as many guys as possible. At certain positions, you have to be careful. I’m not a proponent of a multiple quarterback system, but I think the more guys you play, the stronger you can make that position. My dad got me that way. When I coached basketball at high school, we had 10 guys and everybody played. Rotating kept them fresh, so by the end of the game, we were running fast breaks and full-court pressure. The other team was worn out. The game has changed to a basketball-type game for us so I believe in playing a lot of kids, especially when they earn the right to play. We believe in the competitive depth method because Coach (Jeff) Connors is able to develop them. With kids coming in with the maturity level to play, I play them. We’ll see even more young guys get more roles now within our commitment to the team. You’ll see guys like Cody Purdie, Dashawn Benton and other guys that have earned it on the practice field. I believe in keeping kids fresh.”

On If Officiating Had An Influence On The Outcome Of The South Carolina Game:

“No. They made more plays than we did. South Carolina did a great job.”

On If He’s Seen Anything From Previous Games Against Virginia Tech That Prevented ECU From Winning:

“Well, it always comes down to who makes the most plays. It’s simple. I think we’ve approached each game like we expected to win. We didn’t look at it like it was going to be an upset. We’ve had some tight contests and that’s a game where you have to make those plays. We go back to what we believe in and that’s continue to do our jobs and make routine plays at a high level.”

On The Matchup Between Justin Hardy And Kendall Fuller:

“I see it as 11-man football against 11-man football. Justin understands that, and I’m sure with what Bud is teaching, Kendall understands that, but one guy has never won a football game. We don’t approach a game like it’s this guy against that guy or this coach against that coach. It’s us against their team and their team against our team. I know we’re going to do what we do offensively and Shane is going to continue to distribute the football.”

On The Chess Match Between OC Lincoln Riley Against DC Bud Foster:

“That’s the beauty of being a play-caller. Lincoln and Bud both play to their strengths. We distribute the football and always make sure we have that balance of the running game with the passing game and getting the ball to those guys and making first downs and touchdowns.”

On The Penalty On Maurice Falls Against South Carolina:

“I asked for a comment and he just said, ‘He didn’t give the ball back to me fast enough.’ That’s what he told me. If there’s a pile up, we teach our guys to pick the ball up, grab the fumble and start pointing it in that direction. That’s not just East Carolina and Ruffin McNeill’s staff, but every staff in the country.”

On What Can Be Applied From Last Year’s Game To Saturday’s Game:

“During each game, there are always four or five moments and plays that you can go back to, but if you go full speed and don’t flinch, you won’t miss those five plays. Then it comes down to making routine plays and being able to play the next play. It’s a big-boy pads game.”

On The Children’s Book He’s Writing:

“Having a grand baby makes you like that. I love kids. Teachers don’t have a lot of money, but my mom and dad never neglected my brother and I with books growing up. Reading is one of the most essential skills a person can have. My mom always bought us books. My brother Reginald and I benefitted from that. It’s a chance to continue what my mom and dad taught me and that’s to give young kids a chance to read. Hopefully I’ll make it interesting and fun for them.”

If He Learns About The Character Of His Team After A Tough Loss:

“I like them after a win. The keys to all games for all coaches is evaluating what you did well and see what you need to work on. We knew going into Columbia, it was against a top competitor. They had 11 wins or so the last three years so we knew we would be playing in a hostile environment. We didn’t go in there looking for moral victories. We had opportunities. We don’t change the routine. If you believe in something, you believe in something. I believe in our routine and how we prepare. (On the bus) it was not surprising. I didn’t tell them to watch film. They did that on their own. I was proud of that. You learn from tough times. That’s where the justification of trust comes from. I’ve been on staffs where coaches demanded things. For me, the trust and verification of trust comes like that.”

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

QUESTIONABLE — NT Terry Wiliams (left knee)

OUT – WR DaQuan Barnes (back), ILB Devaris Brunson (right knee), ILB Desi Brown (left lower leg), OLB Kirk Donaldson (right knee)

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

OFFENSE:

Outside Wide Reciever (X): Cam Worthy (Reserves: Trevon Brown)

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

Left Tackle: Ike Harris (Reserves: Stewart Hinson)

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

Right Guard: Tre Robertson OR J.T Boyd

Right Tackle: Dontae Levingston (Reserves: Brandon Smith)

Quarterback: Shane Carden (Reserves: Kurt Benkert)

Running Back: Breon Allen OR Chris Hairston (Reserves: 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: Terry Biles)

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

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

Inside (BUCK) Linebacker: Brandon Williams (Reserves: Ray Tillman)

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)

SPECIALISTS:

Placekicker: Warren Harvey (Reserves: Davis Plowman)

Holder: Worth Gregory (Reserves: Isaiah Jones)

Punter: Worth Gregory (Reserves: Davis Plowman)

Snapper: Charlie Coggins (Reserves: Colton Oliver)

Punt returner: Justin Hardy (Reserves: Trevon Brown)

Kickoff returner: Breon Allen (Reserves: Isaiah Jones)


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