McNeill PC Quotes: Navy

GREENVILLE, N.C. – Sixth-year East Carolina University Head Football Coach Ruffin McNeill addressed members of the media on Monday prior Saturday's road contest at Navy. The following are selected comment via ECU Media Relations:

Opening Statement:

“To reiterate what I said after the game on Saturday, I thought our guys showed a lot of fight. We had talked about going into a hostile, opposing environment (and) playing a talented team, and that’s what we got. I like the way we played. We faced adversity and overcame it. One of the things that we talked about was the 90-percent, 10-percent deal. Ten percent is what happens to you and 90 percent is how you react. We had an opportunity at the end to change the outcome of the game. We gave ourselves a chance to do that on all three sides of the ball.

“Any time you play a team like Florida on the road, there is very little margin or room for any errors, and despite mistakes we had in the game, I felt good about what we could get from the game. We need it. This coming week, we’ll need it. I’m comfortable with how our football team handled it.

“Offensively, I thought we threw the ball well downfield. We knew we had to challenge not just this team (Florida), but a lot of teams we play down the road and I thought we did that. Our receivers and skill (position players) made a lot of competitive plays against Florida. We knew they would be very talented. We fought to the end and gave ourselves a chance. We need to improve our pass protection. We know that.

“The defense, I think, ran to the ball well again. I thought we did a really good job of consecutive and consistent execution. Our run-gap fits were so much better than the week before. That’s what we asked them to do: be disciplined in doing their jobs. I thought they handled adversity well, even within downs. They had a good series and then came back with another good series. I was proud of the defense being able to do that. We had some turnovers we probably could have capitalized (on) more. We got two and when you count five three-and-outs, for us, they count as turnovers, but I thought we left some out on the field and the kids did, too. We can’t let the quarterback out of the pocket and we knew that going into the game. We knew they were mobile.

“On special teams, Caleb (Pratt) did a good job for us. He had three touchbacks, which really helped us get good field position. Quay Johnson is coming on with a lot of improvement from last year just returning the football and giving us positive yardage there. I thought our punt coverage team did a really good job. I think we held them to two yards per return, which is something I was concerned about going into the game. We have to get our return team to get us more yardage to give us better field position on offense.

“I’m really proud of the kids – a very resilient bunch. They were hurt and the 24-hour rule was in effect through my meeting with them. We have to get ready for a Navy team who had a bye week. We’re going into another tough environment, a road game. They’re an offense that you have to prepare for. They’re well coached. Kenny’s (Ken Niumatalolo) done a great job building his program there. They’re very disciplined. He has always had one fullback, but he has a plethora of fullbacks now. All of them have great size and help establish their offense. We will have to have a great week of preparation. We’re looking forward to the next challenge. It’s a conference game. We’re happy to have Navy in the conference. I think they bring a lot of pride and tradition into the American Conference. We’ve faced each other before so we know what we have to do this week, and that’s prepare for a very physical week and a very physical ball game.”

On The Value of Preparing For An Opponent Like Navy In Advance Of This Coming Week of Practice:

“You try to touch on every opponent, but with Navy, it’s nothing like the live action you’ll see on Saturday. Our GA’s (graduate assistants) have done a really good job, yesterday and last night, simulating the offense as close to possible with our scout or “victory” team. With Keenan (Reynolds) at quarterback, he understands the offense. The fullback position is key in this offense and they’ve got two-to-three guys they play there that really cause you to make sure you have your respect on the inside game. Then of course, you have to account for Keenan because he can throw the football, too. In preparing for them, everyone on defense must have great eye discipline. We can’t have any eye violations. Go play, go react.”

On How Gap Responsibility is Determined When Preparing For Navy’s Offense:

“You always have to account and know what blocks will take you to your responsibilities. Sometimes, you have to change up against an experienced staff that runs it for a living like they do because they watch you. They see what you’re doing and they have an answer for it. You have to make sure you take care of all three options, and really, it’s four options when you include Keenan (Reynolds). With Keenan, you have to account for play-action off of it. You have to be excellent on defense. You have to have to some changeups on all the areas, such as who has dive, who has the quarterback and who has the pitch.”

On How Long It Takes To Adjust To Playing An Offense Like Navy’s:

“Throughout the game. Every game I’m holding my breath. That’s what’s draining. The guys have done a good job with retention from fall camp. Tuesday and Wednesday will be big days for us. Thursday we have to make sure we’re assignment sound, but keep them fresh because it’s going to be another physical game on the road. I think the kids will be ready to handle it.”

On Blake Kemp’s Attitude At Practice Last Night:

“Blake is a team guy, a leader. It bothers Blake, but he’s got a lot of pride about it, a lot of moxie. He and James (Summers) both had great attitudes on Saturday and they were great teammates. Blake is one of those guys who carries a team-first thought process. I think he’ll be ready to get back to it. All of us were. We dove into practice full speed and had a good one,”

On If He’ll Use Two Quarterbacks Again This Week:

“We’ll keep progressing James (Summers) and Blake (Kemp). I like the way those two worked together.”

On What He Sees In Navy’s Defense:

“They’re disciplined all around. It reminds me of my time (as a player) and your defense becomes as disciplined as the offense. Brendon Clements, their defensive back, he’s a really good player. An up-front guy, at defensive end, Will Anthony has a lot of change of direction, a quick-twitch type of guy.”

On How Important It Will Be To Establish The Running Game:

“We try to do that each week. I think it’s imperative that both sides of the ball have great first-down plays and then be ready to have second-down conversions. They do a good job getting into third-and-short and third-and mediums. Third-and-short for us is between one and three yards, third and medium is between four and six, so they do a good job of staying in that range. We need to do a good job with first-down control.”

On The Importance Of Getting Off To A Fast Start In Conference Play:

“The non-conference schedule tests you and gets you ready for our conference schedule. This conference is really good top-to-bottom, coaching-wise. Every school competes each week. They’re all big games to me.”

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