East Carolina coach Ruffin McNeill and the Pirates hit the practice field during their bye week and will return to action next Saturday when the play the Tar Heels at 12:30 p.m. in Chapel Hill. (ECU Photo/Rob Goldberg)
East Carolina coach Ruffin McNeill and the Pirates hit the practice field during their bye week and will return to action next Saturday when the play the Tar Heels at 12:30 p.m. in Chapel Hill. (ECU Photo/Rob Goldberg)

Archived Story

Pirates take a timeout

Published 9:33pm Wednesday, September 18, 2013

GREENVILLE — The Pirates couldn’t ask for a better time to take a timeout. After losing a physical 15-10 contest to Virginia Tech on Saturday, East Carolina will get a chance to regroup during its bye week before it plays its second straight ACC opponent next Saturday on the road against in-state rival North Carolina at 12:30 p.m.
“I like the bye weeks. I think they are necessary in college football, and of course the NFL,” McNeill said. “We ask a lot of our kids as coaches and this bye week came at a great time.”
With a showdown looming with the Tar Heels (1-1), the extra time allows the Pirates players to nurse some aches and pains and affords the coaches the luxury of watching more game film.
“(The bye) gives us time to watch film at a slow pace,” McNeill said. “We don’t have to rush. I can watch even more film and it gives our kids a chance to heal up some nicks.
“We get a chance to catch up and see what’s been effective for us and go back and see what we can do better or do a little differently.”
East Carolina (2-1) has already introduced pieces of the UNC game plan and will run through its standard practice routine for the week, with the lone exception being that the players will have a rare fall weekend off.
“We will give them off Friday and Saturday this week,” McNeill said. “We will give them a chance to get away.”
While the players can enjoy a little free time, the coaches will be hot on the never-ending recruiting trail.
“We will get to do a little recruiting this week,” McNeill said. “This is a valuable week for us recruiting. Some of the guys are leaving tonight and most of the guys will be out on Thursday and Friday.”
The Pirates rolled past Old Dominion 52-38 in their season opener and crushed Florida Atlantic University 31-13 in Week 2 before they lost their dogfight with the Hokies. Despite the setback, McNeill said he likes where his team stands.
“I feel like we’re in a good spot,” McNeill said. “There are always some things that we can work on, but I feel like there are a lot of strengths that we’ve found.”
With that being said, there is always room for tinkering, and what better time to do it than now.
“Scheme-wise, we may look to expand it,” McNeill said. “Maybe try some guys at some different positions or rotate a little bit more; do some experimentation with some personnel. Then, we’ll give the young guys some extra work.”
McNeill said one of the pleasant surprises so far this season is how the players have kept their cool during their heated battles.
“Team chemistry has always been there, but one of the surprising things about our team is the poise they keep when something tough happens or when something good happens,” McNeill said.

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