Talking about practice

Published 7:50 pm Monday, August 22, 2011

GREENVILLE — Despite what your calendar says Aug. 22 was a Sunday, that is, at least for East Carolina head coach Ruffin McNeill and his football team.
With the Pirates Sept. 3 season opener against No. 12 South Carolina less than two weeks away McNeill is trying replicate game week as much as possible, beginning with his practice schedule.
“We’ve started the mock game week (schedule) and today is a Sunday so we took in Sunday gear and Sunday preparation,” McNeill said on Monday morning after practice. “(Tuesday) is the first day of classes, and in our minds it’s a Monday on a normal game week. The kids are off and have classes. We’re trying to duplicate and actual game week this week to get them acclimated to next week’s (schedule) and that’s important.”
McNeill said “game week” practices are more detailed than standard practices.
“It’s more specific for one, and more precise for two,” McNeill said. “It’s more game-specific thoughts. Sunday is the day after a game: we have lifting, study hall, conditioning and we have meetings. That’s what today (Monday) is.
“On a normal game week, Monday’s are an off day. You’re required NCAA-wise to give every team an off day and here our off day is Monday. Tuesday is Tuesday, a heavy day. Wednesday is a medium day, a shoulder pads day. Thursday’s are helmet and jersey rehearsal offensively, defensively and special teams. Friday’s are a travel day, or if it’s a home game it’s a mental day, a film day and Saturday’s the ballgame. “
This past Saturday East Carolina completed its final scrimmage of fall camp and after watching the game film McNeill gave it two thumbs up.
“The last two scrimmages I’ve been eye-balling them, and from the eyeball point I thought we did some really good things,” McNeill said. “When I was watching film I saw fundamental improvement, I always talk about that and look for that first. I saw very good schematic execution offensively and defensively. … I saw the defense do some things down and distance-wise. They were able to turn the ball over defensively on fourth downs and makes some tackles for losses.”
As the Pirates creep towards their showdown with the No. 12 Gamecocks McNeill said the focus is squarely on ECU.
“We just keep doing what we do and worrying about East Carolina, that’s been the focus,” McNeill said. “Our opponents are faceless. We know we have some good teams on our schedule; we can’t control that. The main thing is to keep our focus on East Carolina and if we do that we’ll be fine.”

McNeill also announced Monday that junior transfer defensive end John Lattimore will miss the entire 2011 season because of a right lower leg injury suffered during practice last Friday. He will have two years of eligibility remaining when he is expected to be cleared to return next spring or summer. In addition, sophomore inside receiver Justin Jones will be out indefinitely after injuring his left knee during Saturday’s scrimmage at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. (ECU)