ECU Coach Quotes

GREENVILLE, N.C. -- East Carolina University head football coach John Thompson addressed the local and regional media at his weekly press luncheon on Tuesday. Following are selected quotes and comments:

Opening Comments:
"This is a huge game for a lot of reasons. Obviously this means a lot to the Pirate Nation, the Pirate family, this community, and Greenville. To get North Carolina to come into this stadium for the first time is incredible. It's important that we provide a good show, play well, and win. I understand that. It's important that we continue to show progress on the scoreboard and in the win column. I was proud of our team last week, especially in our running game and our offensive line. We've got a great challenge this week to practice well and to get our offense on the right track."

On the possibility that Carolina doesn't consider this a big or important game:
"I don't really know how they view this game. Every game is an important one. But this is an in-state rival, so it's important for recruiting, for our pride, for so many reasons. Some people have come to me and said, "just win this game", but it's more than that. It's important we do out best. This football team needs something good to happen. We need to create some breaks and make some things happen. I believe we'll explode when that does happen. We're right on the verge. We've stuck together, the players believe in themselves, and we just need to make it happen."

On who is starting at quarterback:
"There has not been a decision on who is starting yet, and we're not putting any kind of deadline as to when we'll make our decision. Right now Desmond Robinson is getting the reps with the first team. Tuesday is a big practice for us; it's the workday, so we will just see how things go. The guys need this opportunity to perform in practice. "

On your reaction to all the fans lined up at the student ticket window this morning:
"That was a lot of fun. There were probably 500-700 students out there early this morning and to have those students behind us is great. It lets you know this game is something different."

On the rivalry with Carolina:
"It's been emphasized through all the Pirate Clubs and everywhere you go. This is a big game that means an awful lot to so many people. But I don't think it means more to anyone than our players. Our players deserve to have something good happen to them. And that's who I'm pulling for, our players."

On Carolina's coach John Bunting:
"I think John Bunting is a tough, hard-nosed coach who's doing a good job. Being in a similar position that I'm in now, he's just trying to get his team going on the right track."

On Terrance Copper and his response to the pressure:
"Every week people put more and more pressure on Terrance. They press and double him, but we keep finding him. Terrance competes; he fights for the football. But we've got to find someone that will help take the pressure off Terrance. We need to get the field stretched, to get our passing game in sync and in rhythm to help all our offense. Terrance is still leading the country in pass receptions, so we'll keep throwing to him."

On Carolina's offense:
"The biggest concern with their offense is quarterback Darian Durant. He is a big time player and has such command of their football team; from a leadership standpoint and being active in everything. He not only throws, but runs, and gets them moving the football. His total offensive numbers are very good. I think he's in the top 10 in the country. And Carolina's offense starts with him. They've got some really good receivers especially Jarwarski Pollock, who we will have to take care of as well."

On tight end position:
"We have got to get production out of our tight ends. It was a big blow when Josh Coffman went down with a knee injury; it hurt our team. Hopefully we'll get him back in a few weeks. Tutu Moye is back, but he is an undersized tight end. He's not a true tight end; he's more of a flex guy. With him being 200 pounds and having to block guys who weigh 280 pounds is not fair for us to ask him to do that, which has affected our offense."

On how to correct turnovers:
"The only thing I know to do is continue to emphasize how to win football games. The way to win is to not turn the ball over. We have every one of our skill players hold a football on the sidelines if they're not involved in the play. It's a continual reminder so everyone understands they are responsible for turnovers. A guard can be as responsible as a quarterback, and a receiver can be as responsible as a running back. Everybody is accountable. We have got to find a way to hold onto the football and not turn it over."

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