GREENVILLE, N.C. – East Carolina Head Football Coach Ruffin McNeill officially opened his first season leading the Pirates by conducting the team’s initial workout of the 2010 campaign Friday afternoon at the Cliff Moore Practice Complex.
ECU will follow Friday's practice, which was conducted in shorts and helmets, with single workouts through Tuesday, August 10, before turning in the first of four scheduled two-a-day periods Wednesday, Aug. 11.
“It was a very anticipated day for all of us as a staff and the football team, too,” McNeill said. “It was exciting for me to finally get around the players a little bit and watch them work.”
The Pirates are slated to put on shoulder pads for the first time Sunday before following with full gear Tuesday per NCAA rules. ECU’s preseason practice schedule closes Sept. 5 when the Pirates host Conference USA rival Tulsa at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium in an ESPN2 nationally-televised contest, which begins at 2:00 p.m.
The opening day’s emphasis for the defense was speed and running every play or drill as fast as possible. Getting off the line, making a break on the ball or practicing blitz coverage, were all scripted to be done as quickly and accurately as possible.
“We go into each day with some things I want to make sure we accomplish and today was tempo and execution,” McNeill added. “I was also very intent on seeing how much from the spring was carried over to right now. I thought today was not a bad starting point for us.”
On the offensive side of the ball, the focus in new offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley’s spread attack was on getting up field. Up to six quarterbacks were throwing passes, from short to deep, on the route tree with Shane Carden, Dominique Davis, Zackary Illing, Rio Johnson, Josh Jordan and Brad Wornick getting repetitions.
“Development of leaders is the biggest thing we have to have during camp,” McNeill said. “Improving depth is the second thing we have to create. The third thing is making sure that on a daily basis we’re working on our personality and our brand.”
Prior to a Saturday afternoon workout, the Pirates will conduct their annual media day activities inside the Murphy Center where McNeill will provide his annual season-opening address that will outline the latest roster additions and deletions, personnel status and possible position changes.
Dougherty Joins Staff
McNeill announced Friday that Ryan Dougherty, who punted for the Pirates from 2003-06, has joined the staff as an administrative assistant. Dougherty holds ECU’s highest single-game punting average with his 55.7 yards per boot against Virginia Oct. 7, 2006. He also owns the fourth (44.5 ypp/2003) and seventh (43.6 ypp/2006) single-season highest punting averages in Pirate program history. Dougherty’s career average of 42.7 yards per punt is the fourth-best mark on the ECU career ledger.