GREENVILLE, N.C. - East Carolina opened its fourth and final full week of spring workouts under the guidance of second-year head coach Ruffin McNeill and staff with a productive two-hour session Monday afternoon on Hight Field inside the Cliff Moore Complex.
The Pirates returned to action in shorts, shoulder pads and helmets after conducting their second intra-squad scrimmage of the spring Saturday morning. After turning in its 12th practice, ECU has just three more dates scheduled - including Saturday's Purple-Gold Game - before closing camp after a light follow-up workout next Monday.
"Our motto over the last two weeks is to finish strong, and with only three days left, we're not in a position to do anything different," McNeill said. "All of us are looking forward to the spring game because it's the first chance we have this year to play in front of the Pirate Nation, but at the same time, it's also valuable because of the amount of official game reps we get."
McNeill remained pleased after reviewing the scrimmage tape Sunday and Monday, citing effort, fundamentals and execution primarily on the defensive side of the ball as positive reflections. Despite facing sizeable depth concerns because of spring-ending injuries or departures involving at least five projected starters within the front seven before or at some point during drills, McNeill feels coordinator Brian Mitchell's unit has made considerable progress, even with the installation of a 3-4 package.
"I was really impressed with our execution and the way we ran to the ball Saturday," McNeill explained. "The fundamental aspect has improved on a week-by-week basis and that's something I'm perhaps most proud of. Everyone has worked hard with the same goals and it is evident on tape, which doesn't lie."
After Wednesday's shorts-only practice, East Carolina's coaching staff will select roster positions for the Purple-Gold Game, which is scheduled for a 2:30 p.m. kickoff at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.
Tickets, which are priced at $5.00 for the contest or $10.00 with the addition of a plate of barbecue from the Pigskin Pig-Out Party, can be purchased online at www.ECUPirates.com or by calling (252) 328-2300 locally or (800) DIAL-ECU outside the Greenville area.
NOTES: Similar to the last pre-spring game practice a year ago, McNeill indicated half of Wednesday's session would take place at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium ... Although the workout was conducted in shells, the Pirates returned to a team-on-team segment Monday after consecutive practices employing scout squads during the 30-minute exercise.
EAST CAROLINA'S 2011 SPRING PRACTICE SCHEDULE
Next Workout: Wednesday, April 13 (3:25-5:45 p.m.)
Remaining Workouts: April 16 (Purple-Gold Game, 2:30 p.m.) and April 18