First, going back to last week's game, there's a lot of positives. I thought our offensive line played well for the first time together, and quarterback Ryan Finley had a really good rhythm going, threw a very catchable ball, made quick decisions and got our guys lined up. Thought the receivers not just caught the ball well but blocked on the perimeter for each other. It was good to have Matt Dayes back out there. We were able to play a lot of guys defensively.
Outside of the first drive of the game, I thought guys played really well. They had 75 yards, I think, in the first drive, and after that 93 for the rest of the game. So two takeaways and stop the run, held them to 2.2 yards per carry. And I had a couple days there for recovery, playing on a Thursday and jump into the routine now of Saturday kickoffs and look forward to the match-up we have in Greenville this week against ECU.
Good afternoon, Coach. I know you spoke on Ryan Finley in your intro there, but just to go a little deeper in now being a few days out and just going back to the film and what you took away from him in a positive light and maybe some of those areas that you're focusing on this week?
Well, like I said, he manages things really well. He has a great grasp. Coach Drinkwitz, not just his system but how he thinks. He's a mature guy. He graduated from Boise in three years and had a above a 3.5 GPA doing, so he's very intelligent. You see that in his play. He distributed the ball to his playmakers. Also, when things broke down, he made a few things happen on his feet.
Things that he can work on. He broke the pocket a couple times and one time took a sack when he could have thrown it away. I know that's a teachable moment for him. He didn't have to throw the ball down the field a ton, and I know it's something we've worked hard on through camp and through this week in practice, so we'll see where that goes. Because obviously one of the things we want to have is an explosive passing game, and one of those is this past week.
As far as Matt Dayes, you mentioned him as well, looks like he hasn't missed a beat. Just what you took away from that as well.
He was excited to play football. I'll tell you that. He had a really good bounce to him. Probably showed a little bit, not of a rust, but conditioning. Just missing all the reps that he missed. I think that was one thing he came out of the game. He's had to run a lot this week to get his stamina because he doesn't want to come off the field. That's one of his goals.
I thought he did a nice job in protection as well. He caught the ball out of the back field. He's in as good of weight room shape as I've ever seen him. He's really strong right now, and now it's just getting those lungs right.
Obviously this game with ECU is big to the fans, a rivalry and all that type of stuff. But if you look at the rosters for both teams, there's a lot of players that were courted by both schools, had offers and interest and stuff like that. How big is this game for recruiting?
I'm not sure, and we're really not going head-to-head with them with anybody in this class. So I'm not sure what the outcome would be one way or the other. We've already pretty much filled the class for this season. I think just being at a program like ECU, when I was at Northern Illinois. I know the game means a lot when you're playing up a level. I think it means a ton.
I know their players are preparing like this is the biggest game on the schedule and I've been a part of that and we've shared those things with our players.
To us it's another opportunity, it's another chance to go out on the field and prove ourselves. All the work we put in in the summer and fall camp, regardless who we play, we've got to be playing better than we did the week before. That's what our focus is, not just them, but us.
What concerns stands out to you by that East Carolina offense when you look at them on film?
Everything always starts with the quarterback and he had a tremendous game last week. He had a good rhythm, threw the ball underneath and deep well. He can run. He's a senior that was trying to make his last year count. He didn't have much of a body of work for this season, so this one matters a lot and you can see that in his play.
I think ECU has always had really good skill, and that's no different. Isaiah Jones is a good receiver and maybe one of the best in the country. Goes up and gets the football, strong kid. And their tailback, No. 3 had a heck of a game last week. I know they've had some injuries on the O-line, and sounds like they're going to get healthier going into our game.
So everything from our standpoint, we've got to play really well up front and not allow him to have time to get in a rhythm.
How big is it with Scottie Montgomery being a first year coach or how do you expect to see things change? You've got one game film from him, is it similar to what they did before? Can you tell?
Yeah, it's the way they played last week you're not going to see everything in one game when you blow somebody out. So I think they're probably saying the same thing about our offense too. They know we've got a lot left that we didn't show and we know that they do.
So it just seems like every year Game 1 or two you're going to play somebody who has some new people on their staff that you've got to prepare for a lot of unknowns. We've been watching a lot of film on Duke and on Louisiana Tech and also on ECU because of their personnel.
And same thing defensively. Studying Vanderbilt's tape because that's where their D-coordinator came from, but also he retained their D-coordinator, so studying ECU's defense. You got to give the guys a lot of looks. You can't be too specific on what's going to happen because it may be different.
Is there anybody especially or any special concern going into this game?
No, you always talk about top players. You do that every game. You've got some guys and I've already mentioned them, they're really good, and we've got to know where they are and we've got to do a great job defending them from a defensive side of the ball. Offensively knowing where their playmakers are on their front, I think that's how you approach every game.
These are two schools that both have great home-field atmospheres. I'm just wondering how much difference does that make having to play them in Greenville in front of a pretty raucous crowd?
Sure. I think anyone that has a great home-field advantage, they're going to try to play to it. It's our job to control the noise. I've always felt like when you go on the road it's going to be as loud as you allow it to be. If you can play really well, it don't get as noisy. If you don't, then it does.
Telling us to control the controllables. We can't determine what their crowd does. We have to determine what we do, and we know the impact that can have if we do a good job.