Pirates Kick Off 2013 With First Practice

GREENVILLE, N.C. – Fourth-year East Carolina Head Football Coach Ruffin McNeill opened the 2013 campaign Friday with a morning walk-through before guiding the Pirates through their first official workout of the season on Hight Field inside the Cliff Moore Practice Complex.

ECU will follow Friday's practice, conducted in shorts and helmets, with single sessions through Tuesday, before turning in the first of three scheduled two-a-day periods next Wednesday.

“It was a normal first day with excitement and I liked the way guys attacked today with our visions and goals,” McNeill said. “The offensive line unit looked really good, even though we were in shorts and helmets. Typically, the skill guys are slow to start, but they came out and performed at a high level fighting through the first practice.

“Defensively, I like the way that group picked right up from the spring with Coach (Rick) Smith’s philosophy and schemes. I was encouraged with what I saw and we just have to keep building momentum with every rep each day.”

The Pirates are scheduled to progress to shoulder pads for the first time Sunday before following with full gear Tuesday per NCAA rules. ECU will close camp on Monday, Aug. 19 - a day prior to the first day of classes on campus - before wrapping up its overall preseason practice schedule Aug. 29, two days before the Pirates host Old Dominion at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

Similar to the past two seasons, East Carolina officially kicked off the new season with 6:30 a.m. conditioning test conducted by Assistant Athletics Director for Strength and Conditioning Jeff Connors.

“We got started early today with conditioning and we attacked that well. Coach Connors has worked very hard all summer getting our guys ready to go and it set the tempo of the afternoon session.”

After Saturday morning's practice, the Pirates will conduct their annual media day activities inside the Murphy Center. McNeill will provide his annual season-opening address that will outline the latest roster additions and deletions, personnel status and possible position changes.

McNeill announced that DE Matt Milner has elected to forego his final season of eligibility … Milner, a two-time Capital One Academic All-America selection who earned a bachelor of science degree in applied physics last spring, was also battling a nagging hip injury which required recent surgery … The Raleigh Cardinal Gibbons product started 22 of 37 career games and was credited with 94 tackles – 12.5 resulting in lost yardage – four sacks, three fumble recoveries, seven quarterback pressures and three batted passes … With the exception of Friday's opening workout, McNeill has again chosen to go to an exclusive morning schedule for all single-practice days throughout this year's camp - beginning at 8:45 and finishing at 11:30.

Scheme: Spread
Starters Returning/Lost: 8/3
Lettermen Returning/Lost: 19/7
2012 Rushing Offense: 135.4 (90/9)
2012 Passing Offense: 273.2 (36/5)
2012 Total Offense: 408.5 (56/6)
2012 Scoring Offense: 31.5 (47/6)
() National/Conference USA rank

Scheme: Multiple
Starters Returning/Lost: 8/3
Lettermen Returning/Lost: 26/9
2012 Rushing Defense: 155.0 (53/4)
2012 Passing Defense: 275.7 (107/10)
2012 Total Defense: 430.7 (87/8)
2012 Scoring Defense: 31.6 (88/7)
() National/Conference USA rank

Starters Returning/Lost: 5/1
Lettermen Returning/Lost: 5/1
2012 Field Goals/Game Average: 1/15 (53/6)
2012 Net Punting Average: 36.9 (55/6)
2012 Kickoff Return Average: 19.8 (89/10
2012 Punt Return Average: 8.5 (64/7)
() National/Conference USA rank