McNeill's Weekly Press Conference

UABSPORTS.COM Fourth-Year Head Coach Ruffin McNeill
Fourth-Year Head Coach Ruffin McNeill

Oct. 28, 2013

Coach McNeill Press Conference

GREENVILLE, N.C. - Fourth-year East Carolina Head Coach Ruffin McNeill addressed members of the media Monday prior to this week's game against FIU. The following are selected comments:

Opening Statement:
"It's good to get back to game week. It was good to get reps for some of the young guys last week, which I think is very vital. The things we've been emphasizing the last four weeks are making routine plays. The last two weeks have been about finishing each down, play, quarter, half and game.

"A part of the process that I think is most important at this time of the year is execution. Activity is also important for us. We will always be searching for quality more than quantity this time of the year. We're not looking for a ton of reps, but rather making sure they're quality reps.

"To accomplish our goals for the season is going to depend on us playing great complementary football on all three sides of the ball. If we can put together a series of plays, where we are all three working as one, I think that will be key. That's where we are with our team. We're looking forward to the challenge and getting back on the road. This will be a five-week regular season schedule."

On FIU Coach Ron Turner:
"He's been on all levels from the NFL to the Big Ten. He's implementing his personality into FIU with a pro-style offense, four down linemen and a multiple defense with even-type fronts, which have a lot of movement, stunting and blitzing up front. He's trying to convert FIU from more of a quarterback-running, zone-read type offense to what he wants as far as the pro-style. He has open sets, but he has more closed sets than we've seen this year with dual tight ends, two (running) backs, wings and trying to out-leverage you and gain advantages by personnel and formations."

On The Injury To Second-String QB Cody Keith:
"It's been nagging him a little bit all year and we've been limiting his throws."

On The Opportunity To Become Bowl Eligible With A Win This Weekend:
"It's very important for us to be bowl eligible. We've missed it one time since I've been here, but I haven't missed it many times during my coaching years, personally, but more it's more important for the team and the university. That is one of our goals."

On The Importance Of Playing In Florida On The Recruiting Trail:
"We're hitting that area extremely hard now. Going into Florida and to be able to guarantee our future Pirates that we'll be going back into their home state is big for us."

On The Difficulty Of Keeping The Team Focused Despite Being Favored To Win:
"If you can get the team to grasp their vision, goals, what we've decided on as a group, and if they're all in, then they don't lose sight of that. As long as we keep our eye on that, then they know the importance of having a great day of practice on Tuesday in order to have success on Saturday."

On Freshman Quarterback Kurt Benkert:
"He's smart, has a really good arm and understands the offense because he played in a similar offense in high school. He went against our defense every day in practice and not only did he not back down, but he challenged them. He's been here since January, so he's been through offseason and it's not like he came during the summer."

On Sophomore Offensive Tackle Tre Robertson Filling In:
"Tre has been exposed to our offense and has a good understanding of what we want, offensively. He is excited about his opportunity and I think he will do a really good job. You can't replace Adam (Elsawi) and what he brings to the table leadership-wise and experience-wise, but I expect Tre to play every well on Saturday."

On How To "Drown Out The Noise" And Avoid Distractions During Game Week:
"I keep harping on that. I think what happens, and whether it's a negative or a positive, you tend to look at that. If they believe in me and trust me, like I think they do, they'll only be concerned with what I tell them. I'll tell them when they do well, I'll tell them when they need to work on something, and I'll tell them I love them in between, because I have no hidden agenda but to make sure they're successful here. It's hard but I keep preaching it because it's important that we grasp it. I think the noise can get them off base about what goals they have. It's a never-ending battle but I emphasize it daily."