Pirates Fine-Tune During Open Date

GREENVILLE, N.C. — No. 23 ECU (3-1) is working to fine-tune itself during this week's open date. The first of three open dates for the Pirates this season.

The East Carolina football team completed its first practice at the Cliff Moore Practice Facility Tuesday since being ranked No. 23 in the AP poll earlier in the week. The Pirates have an open date this weekend and have yet to begin game planning for the next opponent, SMU, on Oct. 4.

Instead, ECU (3-1) is fine-tuning its own game after beating North Carolina 70-41 last Saturday. After dissecting the tape, coaches have found several items for improvement. Even for the offense, which rolled up 70 points and a school-record 789 yards.

“We were way behind the chains too much, we still had too many penalties,” said offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley, “We’ve got some young guys that are going to play a big role for us that are still limited in what they know right now and we’ve got to continue to advance them.”

Fifth-year coach Ruffin McNeill welcomed the accolades after practice Tuesday and said that he appreciated them, but also made it clear that the Pirates’ national ranking would not affect how he coaches or how his team prepares.

“We have a lot of season left,” said McNeill. “I’m happy for the acknowledgement, but at the same time, everything we do will be geared on how we improve on our team and how we improve on our ability to focus. We’ve done a pretty good job of that.”

McNeill’s mentality and vision has trickled down to the players, who have completely bought in to what he had sold. Specifically the veteran players and leader have even taken it upon themselves to further embed the message into the minds of the younger players.

“It’s the first quarter of the season. I think we’ve done some good things, we could have done some better things,” senior quarterback Shane Carden said. “It’s nice when you work for something and get nationally recognized, but at the same time, it’s just a number.

“Our goal this year wasn’t just to get ranked. We have some bigger goals in mind.”

The Pirates’ first of three open dates this season arrives at a good time for sophomore wide receiver Jimmy Williams, who took a low hit that caused him to limp off the field just before halftime of Saturday’s win. Moments later, a stretcher had arrived on the sideline to transport Williams to the hospital on what was believed to be a neck injury.

McNeill said he expected Williams “to be fine” after he rests this week and plans for him to start practicing again Sunday night. As for other injury concerns, McNeill said there was nothing new to report.

McNeill also confirmed that former Virginia Tech running back Chris Mangus has transferred to ECU and is already getting acclimated in school. Mangus, a six-foot, 182-pound sophomore from Raleigh, played in 12 games —making one start — for the Hokies as a freshman, but was moved from running back to receiver because of their crowded backfield.

In accordance to NCAA transfer rules, Mangus will have to sit out this season, but will eligible to start playing in 2015.

“He’s got to sit out. We’ll get him involved a little bit, but he’s still getting adjusted,” McNeill said. “We liked Chris out of high school and I’m glad he’s here.”

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