Ruffin McNeill Press Conference: Temple

GREENVILLE, N.C. — Fifth-year ECU coach Ruffin McNeill met with the local media Monday for his weekly news conference to discuss Saturday's game at Temple.

Here is the complete transcription from head coach Ruffin McNeill’s press conference Monday.

Opening Statement:

“It felt almost like a third bye week after not playing on Saturday, but it was good to have two days away from it. I got a chance to go spend time with my dad. I’m very proud of the win. Good teams and good players find a way to win and I thought we willed our way to victory last week. We knew we were facing a good team. Bob (Diaco) is a good coach and everyone in this league has a good coach. We know we have and will catch everyone’s best shot, but I was proud of how our team played and stayed tough throughout the game, especially in the fourth quarter. I was very proud of how we pulled it out. I think the victory is symbolic of how we’ve approached this season. A lot of teams would not have pulled out that game or held it together, especially after we gathered at halftime.

“We have another tough road game this week at Temple. We know they’ll be focused and we’ll be focused as well. The competition is going to get better each week in this conference. One of the things we knew getting into this was conference was the competition from top to bottom would be tough, so we expect that and look forward to the challenge.

“From our offensive point of view, I saw our kids doing some really good things fundamentally. We had 100 plays in the game and averaged six yards per snap, which is very good. In 12 of our last 13 games, we’ve scored at least 28 points. We had a big drive at the end of the game against one of the best defenses in the country and the league to really give us some cushion in the victory.

“Defensively, we did a great job of stopping the run at 2.6 yards per play. On third down they (UConn) were 25-percent, 3-of-12. We had 11 “Make-A-Difference” plays, and the biggest thing was giving up the long plays. We saw the film and addressed it. What I like about those guys is after the mistake, they played the next play, and that’s not as easy as it may seem.

“On special teams, we had a net punt of 41 yards, which is one of the best we’ve had this year after facing, for the second week in a row, one of the top return guys in the nation. South Florida had one of the top returners at 17 yards per return, and Connecticut had one of the best at 15. We did a good job with three of our four punts inside the 20, which is a goal for us, and we won the field-position battle.

“I was proud of the win and proud of our kids. Wins are hard in this business. I’ve coached probably about 460 games and I cherish each win. I told the kids not to think about defending winning because they don’t have to. They listen, but they’re just kids, too.”

On Playing The Next Play And What Was Said When A Player Like Josh Hawkins Came To The Sideline After Giving Up A Big Play:

“They understand it because it’s different. I’ve been on the sidelines a long time. This team wants you to correct them. They have what I call a “Coach Me, Coach” mentality. They really want you to coach them. When Josh came off the field, he knew he let the team down, and so did Detric (Allen), but not because he wasn’t going full speed. It was a technique thing. I’ll get after them a little bit, but during the game is not the time. My job is to coach and teach them up. I learned that from my dad. Even though he was harder on me than the rest of the players on the team and I never knew why, during the game, he was not that way. He would correct me. Rick (Smith) is a great teacher.”

On Warren Harvey’s Confidence This Season:

“I think Warren is very confident. I’m looking forward to Warren making some big kicks for us. I felt good about him the other night. I feel good about Warren and he feels good about himself, too.”

On Going For The First Down On Fourth Down Twice During The Second Offensive Possession:

“I’ll go for it. I’ll tell Lincoln (Riley) ahead of time that he has four plays. I’ve always felt that way. I’m not afraid to take a chance. It’s a calculated chance, but I feel good about them. I think we have a good percentage and I won’t shy away from going for them. We don’t make that call on Saturday or Thursday. We make it Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday (at practice). I thought it was big for us though.”

On Zeek Bigger and Brandon Williams Playing A Lot Of Snaps:

“They’ve been great and taken a lot of reps. The are both great special teams guys, too, but Kirk (Doll) understands we have to take care of them as much as we can. They take a lot of reps and they’re involved in a lot of plays. Brandon was outstanding in that game. He’s been steady all year. Zeek, Montese and Mo (Maurice Falls), too. It all starts up front. The defensive line has played well, too. That’s the beauty of having guys play dual positions. Terry (Williams) is the only one on the line that we’ll keep at nose guard, but everyone else can move around and play (defensive) end.”

On Temple:

“Matt (Rhule) has them playing well. He understands the game from the ground up and building from the ground up. Offensively, P.J. Walker is a dual-threat quarterback. He can run it and throw it. They’re going to play with three wideouts. They’re big up front – UConn-type big. We’re big too though. Jahad Thomas is a very good running back and good young player for them. We’ll have to control the run. P.J. is an absolute dual threat and we’ll have to game plan around that. Defensively, they return six starters. They play a lot of guys, but they only allow 19 points per game. They have a lot of guys who stand out. They’ll be very active. We face another returner this week on special teams that we’ll have to be concerned with.”

On Maybe Pushing Players During Practice The Week After Some Thought ECU Didn’t Play As Well:

“I thought in the first half we didn’t, but when I analyze the game, I looked at it as us playing against one of the best defenses in the nation and it was tied, 21-21, in the fourth quarter and we end up winning by 10. We push them all the time. There are always things we can get better at. We’re going to get everyone’s best shot, but we’re still focused on execution and the fundamental part of the game. Making sure the team is at the forefront and only worrying about your teammates and the man next to you, drowning out the noise, because the positive and negative can affect it, is very important to them. We’re always trying to raise the bar and our expectations are higher than anyone else’s. They push themselves as much as we push them.”

On The National Rankings:

“A couple weeks ago, we didn’t even play and moved up two spots. That’s why I don’t focus on them. I’m not the smartest guy in the world, but I am informed. We didn’t play a game and moved up. We don’t coach for rankings. I’ve never coached that way and I’m not going to start now. What we coach is playing our best on every play and embracing our roles to make the team better. That’s what we can control.”

On Having Over 100 Yards In Penalties The Last Two Weeks And If It Has Been Addressed:

“No coaches want penalties. We’ll address them and keep working on them. We have every day drills we call E.D.D. It shouldn’t be a long laundry list. It should be three or four basic things your group needs, and I have that. We’ve coached that same way and the same style and technique. If it wasn’t, I would have corrected them because that’s my job.”

On The First College Football Playoff Poll Being Released Tuesday:

“When you start adding games to a collegiate athlete’s year, we have to be careful. I remember at the Division I-AA (FCS) level, we could have 14 or 15 games. We would have to cut back on the season to expand this thing. I think it’s a start. I’m looking forward to that part of the season and seeing what happens. I tend to watch things first and then make a decision. When it comes to us, it’s uncontrollable so everyone knows I’m not going to worry about it.”

On Temple’s Three Punt Returns For Touchdowns And Three Blocked Punts:

“We have to do a great job with protection and on coverage. We work on the punt team every day because it’s a center snap exchange. Anything with a center snap exchange, we work every day.”

On Playing In An NFL Stadium For The Second Time:

“I just want to go coach some ball. It’s good for the players. It’s always about them for me.”

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

OUT – WR Trevon Brown (left knee), DE Demage Bailey (right knee),

LONG-TERM: WR DaQuan Barnes (back), ILB Desi Brown (left lower leg), OLB Kirk Donaldson (right knee), TE Darren Dowdell (left leg), OL Christian Matau (left knee), ILB Devaris Brunson (right knee),

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

OFFENSE:

Outside Wide Reciever (X): Cam Worthy (Reserves: Jimmy Williams)

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

Left Tackle: Ike Harris (Reserves: Stewart Hinson)

Left Guard: Quincy McKinney (Reserves: Will Foxx)

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

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

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: K’Hadree Hooker)

Nose Tackle: Terry Williams (Reserves: Demetri McGill)

Defensive End: Chrishon Rose (Reserves: Fred Presley OR 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 and Colton Oliver)

Punt returner: Justin Hardy (Reserves: Trevon Brown)

Kickoff returner: Trevon Brown (Reserves: Breon Allen OR Quay Johnson)


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