Rested Pirates back in action; Johnson leaves teamPublished 6:07pm Monday, November 12, 2012
GREENVILLE — The Pirates entered their bye week in the best possible fashion as they stormed Houston 48-28 their last time out thanks to impressive performances on both sides of the ball. It was an effort they hope will carry over to Saturday when they return to action on the road against Tulane (2-8, 2-4 Conference USA).
East Carolina (6-4, 5-1 Conference USA) posted 550 yards of total offense versus the Cougars – the second-highest total this season – while its defense turned in a prideful effort against high-powered Houston by limiting it to 28 rushing yards.
The bye week not only offered the players and coaches a break from their grinding in-season routine, but also allowed some banged up players much needed time to heal.
“The open date came at a very good time for us,” East Carolina coach Ruffin McNeill said. “We needed some time from a physical standpoint, and I think from a mental standpoint we were able to get away from preparing for a game for just a minute.
“It was an off week but it wasn’t a vacation … Treatment was a big emphasis and catching up in the classroom was big … We did expose them to Tulane, but it was a big fundamental week for us.”
The Pirates dip back into their schedule with only DE Justin Dixon (who is out for the year with knee injury) and NT Jonathan White (out with a knee injury) not available for Saturday’s game.
Running back Michael Dobson has been cleared to play after missing the Houston game with a concussion, as was Justin Hardy, who sustained “concussion-like symptoms” in the first half against the Cougars.
“He practiced last night; no shoulder pads, helmet only and he got some extended work,” McNeill said of Hardy, who leads the team in receptions (62), receiving yards (820) and touchdowns (9). “We will be smart with him and make sure we limit his reps.”
RIO PASSES ON PIRATES
After winning the hotly contested quarterback battle this summer, only to lose the job after two games, junior Rio Johnson has decided to leave the ECU football team.
“Rio Johnson has left the team and he left on good standing with us. I thought people should know that,” McNeill said. “We wish him the best and will help him anyway we can.”
“Of course he was disappointed not playing and he came to (offensive coordinator) Lincoln (Riley) and myself (to tell us about leaving the team). It was a good decision. There wasn’t any arguments or anger on his part or ours. He’s got a year left (of eligibility on the Div. I level) if he transfers and can play immediately if he goes down (below the Div. I level).”