ECU's Defense Responds With Solid Effort Against Houston
Nov. 3, 2012
By Bill Woodward
GREENVILLE, N.C. - East Carolina's defense came out on Saturday with a chip on its shoulder, determined to wipe away the sting of last week's battering at the hands of Navy.
The Midshipmen rolled up 512 yards on the ground, leading to a week of tough practices for the Pirates' defenders.
On Saturday, East Carolina made it tough on Houston. The first five times that the Cougars had the ball, they were forced to punt and finished with just 28 yards on the ground in a 48-28 loss to ECU.
"We came out today to prove a point that we are a great defense and a great team," ECU safety Damon Magazu said. "I think we did that today. We missed some assignments, but I think that is bound to happen when you are playing a passing offense. I think we sent a message today."
The message was heard loud and clear by ECU coach Ruffin McNeill.
"I was very proud of that group," McNeill said. "I thought last week beginning Sunday night, they dove right into Houston, third down specifically. That showed today (Houston was just 3-of-12 on third down conversions).
"Not many people would be able to [show that kind of resiliency]. They had a tough game last week, but today they bounced back. You face adversity in life. You can lay there and take it or you can set your shoulders and say, `Want some, get some.' I was proud of them for doing that."
East Carolina gave up some big plays to the Cougars, but they were resilient. One play in particular showed the attitude of the defenders in purple.
After Houston receiver Shane Ros caught a short pass and broke a couple of tackles, he was headed toward the goal line for what would have been a 56-yard TD in the second half. Jacobi Jenkins ran down Ros inside the 5-yard line. Ros tried to stretch out the ball and reach the goal line but fumbled into the end zone instead.
The touchdown became a touchback and East Carolina had the ball at the 20.
"Never give up, never quit," McNeill said. "It's the Pirate way. That didn't surprise me."
The Pirates also produced some points on defense, with Ty Holmes picking off a Cougar pass and taking it back 28 yards for the final ECU touchdown.
The nature of the loss to Navy was hard for ECU's defense to take. But the unit was determined to regroup, sophomore linebacker Jeremy Grove said.
"The game last week definitely motivated us," Grove said. "We went out there and started fast and got those stops, that was definitely a huge momentum builder.
"It felt good. It was basically like every game should be. Stop them three- and-out and give the offense a chance to score. That is what we did today."
The defense's fast start gave the offense the chance to start fast as well. The Pirates bolted to a 28-0 lead and went on to post their sixth victory of the season and become bowl eligible.
"The thing we had to do was just forget about last week and I think we did that," Magazu said. "Our front seven played phenomenal today. We had a couple of missed assignments and that is something that we need to look at film and correct. But overall, I think it was a good day for the defense."
A good day indeed.