GREENVILLE, N.C. - Two days after competing in their first intra-squad scrimmage of the spring, the East Carolina Pirates returned to work inside the Cliff Moore Complex and turned in a lively 110-minute practice in shorts, shoulder pads and helmets Monday afternoon.
Although third-year head coach Ruffin McNeill and his staff completed full game-tape evaluations earlier in the day, thoughts of the video content remained consistent with their initial observations Saturday at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.
"To be honest, I thought it wasn't bad for two weeks of work," McNeill said after reviewing the abbreviated 54-play contest. "I was pleased with the execution, especially for a first scrimmage, and saw many guys who did the fundamental things really well. I'm also encouraged about the progress I saw in our installment process.
Monday's session was ECU's ninth of the spring period, leaving just six more sessions remaining, including a second Saturday morning scrimmage later this week and the playing of the Purple-Gold Game April 14.
Although conducted in shells with the absence of hard contact, the Pirates' period-by-period schedule didn't deviate from McNeill's established norm this spring. East Carolina spent its final hour engaged in five segments that covered special teams, seven-on-seven skeleton drills and an 11-on-11 team segment.
"I know I keep saying this, but the competitive spirit of this team really impresses me," McNeill said. "The 'no complain, no excuse' mentality has defined them to this point and that has allowed us, collectively, to remain focused and get a lot of work done.
"One of the objectives every spring is to develop depth at all positions and, offensively, we've been able to do that on the line and running back positions especially. It's also been very competitive up front and in the secondary on defense, and when you have those battles every day, quality depth is usually the result."
NOTES: The Pirates took 33 snaps during the team-on-team session (17 passes, 16 rushes) ... While the ECU defense provided another dose of pressure with protective quick-whistle sacks by sophomore end Terry Biles and outside linebackers Montese Overton (redshirt freshman), Maurice Falls (sophomore) and Desi Brown (sophomore), the offensive unit responded with a pair of touchdowns and several big plays during the period ... Junior quarterback Rio Johnson hit junior outside receiver Reese Wiggins on a 35-yard scoring toss, while junior running back Michael Dobson reached the endzone from 10 yards out ... Johnson also completed a 23-yarder to sophomore inside receiver Justin Hardy and senior running back Reggie Bullock broke loose for an 18-yard ground gain ... Brown, who opened spring drills on the two-deep at strong safety, has experienced action at both outside linebacking positions in the last week.
EAST CAROLINA'S 2012 SPRING PRACTICE SCHEDULE
Next Workout: Wednesday, April 4 (3:30-5:50 p.m.)
Remaining Workouts: April 6, April 7 (scrimmage), April 9, April 11 and April 14 (Purple-Gold Game, 2:30 p.m.)