McNeill PC Quotes: Temple

GREENVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA — ECU head coach Ruffin McNeill spoke with members of the media in preparation for the Thursday night game against Temple. Here's the press conference courtesy of ECU Media Relations

Opening Statement:

“Saturday was a great, great win! I said it after the game and I say it again now. I’ve been coaching a long time and, for me, it was one of the best wins I’ve had as a head coach, period, because you saw the kids, as a team, compete, fight and scrap with no panic. I think the first half of the season galvanized us. I saw that Saturday. Philip (Montgomery) is a ball coach. He’s been doing it from the ground up from high school, building up Stephenville into one of the most powerful schools in Texas and then you saw him go to Houston with Art (Briles) and Baylor and took those programs to another level. Bill Young and Brian Norwood – I coached with Brian at Texas Tech and Brian is a ball coach. I got a lot of the zone blitz thought process, coverage-wise, from Brian. They have a good program. It was a great team win and wins are hard.

“We always talk about playing the next play and we talk a lot about competitive plays this year. You saw it Saturday. On the first drive, I’ll give you an example of playing the next play. Tulsa was moving the ball. The defense stayed patient, worked and then the “pick” by Josh (Hawkins) was a great call by Rick (Smith), but great execution by Josh against Philip. This offense, with an experienced quarterback, you have to change coverage’s, but not just change it, execute it. Even though they moved the ball, the kids didn’t panic and then Josh did exactly what he had worked on. (It was) a good pick and then he turned back into a running back. Josh was a running back in high school and I love seeing him running with the football. He was trying to get to the end zone on each one and he got his first pick-six. When you go back and look, you can see how his running back skills came into play. I’m proud of Josh. He came to the sideline and said, ‘I’m tired, Coach.’ I said, ‘I know you’re tired but you have to get ready to get your tail back in there.’ So, that didn’t last long.

“I thought our offense did a really good job of managing the game. I told our wide receivers they had to make competitive plays and I thought they did that. I thought we did a really good job of that and playing together as a team.

“Defensively, we got off the field on third and fourth downs. Going into the game, we wanted to control the run and affect the quarterback. Dane (Evans) is an experienced quarterback. I really like that kid, too. Sacks are hard, but pressures and hurries count, for me, just as much. We knew we had to affect an experienced quarterback like Dane with coverage changes, blitzes and a blend of both. I thought we ran to the ball and tackled well, which you have to do against that team.

“I think on special teams, our coverage units did a good job of giving our defense great field position. Worth (Gregory) had five punts inside the 20 (yard line) and zero return yards on (those) punts. He had a long of 68 and it was one of his best days of punting. Our kickoff team, Caleb (Pratt) had three touchbacks. Our return team, we weren’t very happy about that. We know we can do better with that and it was a big emphasis last night (at practice). Davis Plowman came in and gave us three field goals.

“I think the games at Florida, at Navy and at BYU were tough tests, and how we handled those, I thought it came into play. Each team progresses differently. Each team grows differently. I love this team and I’m looking forward to preparation tonight. We’ll have to go at night and change it around a little bit to give our guys a little more time for strategy, so we’ll go at night from 6-9:50 (p.m.). Tomorrow will be normal and Wednesday will be normal.

On Temple’s Offense Improving The Last Few Weeks:

“P.J. (Walker) was coming along last year when he was just learning the position. He’s doing a good job distributing the ball. He’s very mobile. He reminds you of the (Greg) Ward kid from Houston. Matt (Rhule) has done a really good job with this football team. Matty’s a good ball coach and he has a great staff. I think Matty’s done a great job of preparing P.J. He’s got some weapons around him. It’s a big league. He’s got two receivers 6’3 and 6’3-plus. Robby Anderson is one of them and Ventell Bryant. Those guys go up and attack the ball well. At the running back position is Jahad Thomas. He’s a tough runner and very physical. Up front, they’re huge. They do a lot of formations so we’ll have to do a lot of adjusting with our defense, like making sure we’re aligned. Offensively, they’ve done a great job to complement their defense. Their defense is one of the best in the conference and one of the best in the country. Their special teams (unit) is one of the top three in the conference. They’re a well-rounded team and deservedly so in the Top 25. I’m proud of the conference with the three teams up there. It doesn’t surprise me, especially with Matt. I’m pretty close with all of the coaches, but Matt played at Penn State. He’s a good coach.”

On Temple Getting Better:

“Teams progress differently. It takes time to get your philosophy, players and staff in. The staff is the key and then recruiting the right players. When you get the players, (it’s about) putting them at the right positions where they can be most productive and that’s what you see happening with all programs. His staff has a great philosophy. Matt and I talk a lot during the head coaches deals and he has a staff that recruits well. They are in a definite ascending mode.”

On If ECU Controlling Its Destiny In The East Division With A Win Is Talked About:

“Not one second. Not one syllable. Not one word. The reason we need is because it’s the next game. That’s the motivation. Our thought process isn’t going to change. Our biggest focus is having a great practice tonight. We know we have a great opponent in Temple. They’re a great team. They’re not winning by luck. It’s execution. That’s an uncontrollable.”

On Shawn Furlow’s Role Steadily Increasing:

“Sometimes it takes a little bit longer, but for example, Isaiah (Jones) and Davon (Grayson) came in and right away you could tell. We knew Shawn had a talent. One day in practice, I saw him stop and do a 360 (spin) and take off running. You knew he had it, but he was not afraid of the competition. Shawn can give us a positive, effective play in space.”

On What Stands Out On Temple’s Defense:

“Execution. They execute very well. Phil Snow is doing a good job. Because of their experience, they can expand more. They do a really good job of being disciplined in their run-gap thought process. They blitz. They also have a front seven that might be the best in the league. The front four can apply pressure. They involve all seven in run stopping. I like watching them play.”

On The Biggest Challenge Preparing During A Short Week:

“Making sure your guys are fresh, but at the same time, it’s about quality, not quantity, which is our thought-process. I’m big on having clear minds. Cloudy minds have slow legs and clear minds have fast legs. We have a fast football team, so we want their minds clear so we can play fast.”

On Three American Conference Teams Entering The Top 25 Rankings This Week:

“I think well-done is better than well-said. It doesn’t surprise me. I don’t remember who I said it to, but I said, ‘Don’t be surprised if Memphis beats Ole Miss.’ The coaches and the teams are deserving and they’ve earned it. They all came up the same way.”

On If He Notices Teams Defending The Two-Quarterback System Differently:

“You have to. As a defensive coordinator, you have to prepare differently. I like the way both kids handle it. I like the way Dave Nichol is teaching those two kids. It’s really unique. There are a lot of ways to do it. We’ll use that to help with the next game plan strategy.”

On If This Year’s Game Against Temple Is A Revenge Game:

“They beat us last year. It wasn’t luck. They did a good job. I talk about getting better. Let’s play our best game our next game, but play our best game our last game of the year. Temple has a great team and proposes a great opportunity, but a challenge for us. I talk more about preparation. That’s how I’m built and that’s what I believe in.”

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