Pretty wild week in college football, and I'm excited to be on the winning side of things. A lot of great games to watch, and to be able to have Saturday to do that was nice for our coaching staff and players.
Going back to week one, I thought offensively we were very efficient. I thought our perimeter guys blocked really well on the perimeter. We were able to throw and catch the ball very effectively and do some things after the catch and showed good balance.
We had eight explosive plays on offense, and defensively we only had three and none of those were touchdowns.
We have to improve on week one. The areas we feel like we fell short, how we started the game and the half on defense, outside of those two drives they didn't do a whole lot.
Our kickoff coverage, we let one get out. We can't do that, and that was a unit in the top 10 in the country last year and needs to be still. They've got work to do.
We expect to see a lot more pressure than we saw last week and to be able to handle ECU's pressure... still a young offensive line playing together, this will be a good test for them, obviously being on the road and handling crowd noise.
I thought the guys showed up yesterday and we had a really good practice last night. We had a couple of days of recovery and what we normally do on Tuesday we were able to do last night.
ECU was very impressive in their win over Western Carolina. Over 688 yards, quarterback Phillip Nelson played really well with 400 yards passing and five touchdowns and didn't do a whole lot that wasn't good in the game.
He has good weapons. Offensively, the receiver, No. 7 Jones, is one of the best receivers we'll play. He had over 1,000 yards and 98 catches last year... he was fantastic two nights ago when they played. Nelson gave him the ball.
Their tailback, No. 3, Anthony Scott is a really good player. Not just as a runner but was their second-leading receiver in the game as well.
They are versatile with what they do.
They use James Summers in and out of the backfield as well. So you've got two different types of looks you can get and the tempo that goes with it.
The transfer from UNC on the offensive line has helped them... they've talked a lot about their worries there in the offseason but it looks like they've shored that up with how they played the other night.
They lost quite a few guys in their front seven on defense, but they are very active still. Their nose tackle, No. 56 McGill, makes a lot of plays for them. The linebackers rotated in the game, and Jordan Williams had a good game for them the other night.
They are long on the edges and athletic... very skilled secondary. You can tell they are long and can run.
It's going to be a great game and we're looking forward to playing in it.
Being as close as we are to their school... I know they are excited about the game and that's why we play it.
We're excited to go down there and have the opportunity to get our second win.
What is your sense of the dynamic between the two schools?
I don't know if there is build up, but there's a lot of ECU alum in the Raleigh area. You see them quite a bit. I have several in my neighborhood even.
They take a lot of pride in their university, which is what you expect them to do. I know football is important, and they are going to have a great crowd, I expect no less.
I know our fans will travel and support us in their stadium as well.
Anytime you have a situation... I was in that situation at Northern where there's a lot of really, really good players on their team, like there was [at Northern], and a lot of those kids feel like they could have been somewhere else. They are there and take pride in that and have a chip on their shoulder.
For us, our chip on our shoulder has to be about proving who we are and showing our best product and making a name for our self. This is just another opportunity to do that.
You'll play teams with bigger names than East Carolina... do you get the sense of the value of this game for your season?
I'm not going to hang my season on any game, but to be 2-0 coming out of this would be outstanding for our team.
To go on the road and win in a loud environment against an in-state team would mean a lot to our season, but it's not going to define it, one way or another.
There's no doubt you would like to be 2-0 after two weeks of play.
Matt Dayes said a couple of years ago he didn't know much about ECU. Is that something you'll talk about with your team?
We played them here three years ago.
Our team has a lot of respect for what they've accomplished as a program.
In year one we were not where we are now in year four. Matt was a freshman, now he's a senior. There's a lot of guys on our team now who were like that... have learned some things the easy way and learned some things the hard way.
That was a game where they were a very good football team with a lot of experienced players and we were a very young football team. I think we've learned a lot... part of playing on the road and staying focused is something that we were able to do here last year, and hopefully we can continue that trend.
Regardless of where you play, how you play, execute, and focus has a lot to do with the dynamics of the crowd, the stadium, and the noise. We have to block out things we don't control.
Do you worry about the noise?
I don't worry about it, but it's something we prepare for.
We were in the indoor last night offensively it was deafening in there. It's not going to be any louder than it was last night. You couldn't talk to anybody and it was all hand signals... doing everything you can like we have in the past so it's not an issue on the road.
It's something you have to do everyday so the guys ready for it.
Do guys get more fired up for an atmosphere like that?
I think every college athlete wants to play in a loud environment. I think that's why they love what they do. You want to be on a platform where you're playing in a big game where it means a lot... have an opportunity to do something special together.
They've had a lot of success recently against ACC schools... how did you prepare for them?
They have... Virginia Tech, UNC, us... they've done well in the last six years. They had a great receiver and quarterback then too.
We had to study a lot of different things, film-wise. It's a new staff. We were looking at what they did at Louisiana Tech because that's where their offensive coordinator came from. Looking at Duke because Scottie called plays at Duke. Then looking at ECU's offense so you can see their personnel.
Defensively, looking at ECU's defense so you can see their personnel and then looking at Vanderbilt's defense because that's where the coordinator came from.
Just making sure you're looking at as many things as you can.
There will be a lot of things that happen; they didn't show all their cards obviously in that game. We have to be ready for plays off of plays and things that could come up that we're prepared for on either side of the ball and special teams.
Jaylen Samuels said we saw about 30% of the offense on Thursday night.
You'll never go into a game without enough bullets in the gun, and you'll use them when you need to.
In the second half we didn't throw the ball around a whole bunch and our pass game is probably what he's referring to. The run game is the run game... we'll formate it different ways to try and use people's rules against them when we can.
We didn't have to throw the ball a lot in the second half... that part of our offense, I guess you'll say there is still a lot to it.
Looks like ECU's running game is good. How good does the defensive line have to be this week?
The front seven is always big when it comes to stopping the run and that's something we take a lot of pride in.
They have designed quarterback runs where they try to out-number you... their tailback is a talented player, he really is. That's what you expect to see when you play ECU. They have really good skill. It's no different now when you turn on the film.
You see receivers making plays, the running back is really quick, and Nelson is taking advantage of his opportunity. He's been through a lot as a player and you can see he's serious about having a good senior year.
You said there ECU fans neighborhood. Do you look away when you pass their house?
No, it's just part of the deal. They are good people. I think they cheer for State every game but one, I'm sure... look forward to the camaraderie, back-and-forth... hopefully I get bragging rights this time around.
What is the rhyme or reason to your kicking situation?
They both kicked, that's what I said was going to happen. They still will. Connor does some really good things kicking field goals... I don't want him to only kick a field goal in a game. Making an extra point gives him a chance to have a rhythm.
Kyle, I want to continue to develop and have him ready to go.
I don't kick but I do golf. I think about it as if they are going to bring you in for one shot it would be different if I had two or three before that probably. I'm trying to make sure I keep those guys where I need to and let them be in a rhythm.
They are both good kickers and need to continue to get better.
Your thoughts on the defensive secondary...
Overall, I wouldn't say they were great, but I would say they were good. We let them catch some balls in front of us, and that's okay if we come up and tackle them and we did that on all of them but one. The out-cut we missed a tackle and it ended up being a 30-yard game.
On the post-corner that they threw on Mike, he had post-help and we have to get better and use our help on that route.
Overall, I thought the guys were where they were supposed to be. We missed one tackle at safety and one tackle at corner. Our goal is never to miss tackles in the backend. Those are big plays. I think the thing that stood out in the secondary, their pursuit was tremendous in the game. Guys overlapped well... when there was a miss another guy was there to put them down.
What grade would you give the offensive tempo?
We didn't go super-fast in the game. In the first half we did a couple of times, and once we were up three scores we slowed it down and had some backups in the second half and didn't want to screw those guys up.
We were probably middle of the road with how fast we can go, with the exception of two drives.
I think we showed we can do that when we need to.
Our defense only played 47 plays so there's going to be games where it's not like that. Nine weeks after our bye, to be able to control the clock and play ball control in the second half can be good for our team.