ECU Football: Tulane Game Week Coverage

Published: Nov. 3, 2020 at 5:49 PM EST
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - Get ready for ECU football’s sixth game of the season against Tulane at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 7 (12 ET on ESPN+) with WITN Sports coverage throughout the week.

Kickoff: 12 p.m. ET at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium in Greenville



Tulane Head Coach Willie Fritz:

Tulane Junior RB Amare Jones:

Tulane Sophomore LB Nick Anderson:


ECU Head Coach Mike Houston:

Opening Statement

"We are a little bit farther along this week by the time we get to the press conference than we usually are with today being Election Day. The student-athletes took the day off and the coaches came in an hour later so that we could do our civic duties.

"We had a very energetic practice yesterday coming off of a solid Sunday practice. I thought the kids practiced very well – a lot of energy, enthusiasm and physicality that made it a really good Tuesday practice on a Monday. It puts us a touch ahead of schedule as we get to Wednesday because we have all day today to look at yesterday’s practice as well as our breakdowns and situations regarding Tulane. Fortunately, we played Friday night, so it gave us a little time to catch up and recover from the flight before beginning preparation for Tulane on Sunday.

“Excited about the matchup this weekend. I know Coach Fritz very well and have a lot of respect for him. He and I have similar paths to our positions. He and I have met along the way when I was at The Citadel. I know the traits of his teams and the way he runs his program. He believes in a lot of the same things I do. His team is going to be a hard-nosed tough bunch. They are going to play with physicality and discipline. They are very good on special teams – just a great ball team. He’s done a very good job there so it will be an exciting matchup for us this Saturday. Our kids are going to be excited to go. They’re ready to get back out on the field after last Friday night and continue the solid improvement they’ve shown the last month.”

On The Team’s Response To The Tulsa Game

"I think they responded as good as I could ask them to. Are they pissed off about it? Yes, we all are. It is what it is. There isn’t anything you can do about it. You’re mad about it. It’s not right. It should have been a different outcome. They earned the right to win Friday night. That is what I preach – you earn the right to win the game and they did that. Despite the circumstances, they continued to fight and respond. They never hung their heads and had a shot on the last play of the game.

“I continue to be impressed with the guys we have on the field and encouraged with the way they respond. We had a good practice Sunday and a fantastic practice yesterday afternoon. I don’t have to say anything to them. They have embraced the way we do things. You’re going to show up every day to compete and work. The results are what the fans are seeing on the field on gameday, but I get the pleasure of seeing it every single day. If you want to get on that field and represent East Carolina University, you know the path. You have to compete, perform and align yourself with your teammates. They’ve responded really well early in the week and that’s why I have confidence going into the weekend. They believe in their preparation and they know they are playing very well right now.”

On The Team’s Psyche In The Building

“I wish I could change it, but we can’t go back. I’m sure the officials wish they could go back. Life is not fair. That’s it. It’s how you respond to adversity. That’s why I talked to them Saturday on Zoom chats. I wanted to connect with them. I was hurting for them because I see how much they are putting into this every day. We talked on Sunday that you can’t let one loss beat you twice. You have to move on from it and get ready for Tulane because that is a very, very good football team. We have to play our best this Saturday to have a shot. You acknowledge what happened because you can’t ignore it. The American Conference made its statement acknowledging what happened. Now we have to put it behind us and move on.”

On Further Explanation From The Conference Regarding Officials

“I’ve had significant dialogue with the conference. I’ll just leave it at that.”

On Jake Verity’s Blocked Kick At Tulsa

“The one a few games back against Navy – the trajectory was a little low. I am not going to sit here and be super critical of Jake because we are fortunate to have a great placekicker. I am saying what he knows and what we talk about. It’s a tough deal when they are overloading you at the guard position, but we have to do a better job at protection. Jake is a talented enough kicker that he critiques himself. He and Jonn (Young) work great together and there are certain things they can do to get the ball up a little quicker. He knows how to make adjustments when it’s a close-range kick. When you have a guy with the abilities Jake has, it’s refreshing because holds himself to a high standard. He wants to be perfect, so he’s going to do anything he can to improve our opportunities and chances there.”

On The Team’s Confidence Heading Into The Tulane Game

“The players have seen drastic improvement in their play week in and week out. You can directly attribute that to improved performance and preparation in practice. Offensively, the last couple walkthroughs we had on Friday, and Thursday and Friday of last week, had no mistakes. These are hour-long walkthroughs so that tells you the players are dialed in and focused. That results in playing on a high level on the field. There has been a determination in the players since fall camp started and it’s showed in the improvements they’ve made from week to week. They have tremendous belief in the preparation because they are seeing themselves play better and better.”

On An Improved Tulane Team

"You look at them defensively. It’s a veteran group that plays very well together. I mentioned their traits before. They are a physical bunch. They are going to play hard, play with discipline and compete. Those same traits are there on special teams. They have a dynamic returner.

“Offensively, they have a strong running game and I think the one thing that has developed as the season has gone on is the quarterback competition. Michael Pratt has won that competition. He has grown as a starter and is playing better and better each week – especially against Temple. He can beat you with his legs. He’s an above average runner with good size. He throws the deep ball very well and has improved as a passer each week. They are very good at the skill positions. They lost one of their running backs early in the year, but they still have three very good ones. It’s just a solid team.”

On Playing Well At Night

“I think we played pretty well against Navy also. It’s more related to the last month. You saw us at the beginning of the year with no spring practice trying to implement a new defense and a new scheme with a new staff. You saw some struggles but, as the season has gone on – especially in the last month – we’ve been better every single week. Those two games happened to be at night, but I’ve been very pleased with the preparation. They’ve handled night kickoffs well. As you know, sometimes it can be a struggle. I’m just looking forward to our 12 noon kickoff this Saturday.”

On What It Will Take To Be Successful Against Tulane

"You better continue to play well together and do what good football teams do. We have to continue to strive to be the most disciplined team on the field. We have to continue to play with tremendous energy which you are seeing every game and in practice. We have to continue to do a great job with ball security and force turnovers and give ourselves extra possessions. We have to execute at a very high level with minimal busts and make our opponents work to defend us. They will be very good on special teams.

“All of this sounds cliché, but you are about to play a team that does all those things. A very good football team. You see teams that have great players, and certainly Tulane has great players, but they play very, very well together. You’re going to see two teams go at it this Saturday that have all those traits so it should be a great ballgame.”

On The Recent Solid Play Of The Safeties

"You look at Warren (Saba). That’s a guy that switched positions in the offseason and has worked extremely hard to develop himself. He is playing as good as he has played since I’ve been here. I could not be prouder of him on multiple levels. I’m very proud of him as a player on the field because of his attitude, work ethic and determination. Those are the success stories that you enjoy in coaching. Nothing was given to him. He had to work his butt off to earn playing time by the way he practiced. He did that from day one of fall camp. It wasn’t easy. There are times when he would be second or third a certain week. He’s worked his way up and has backed it up by the way he plays on gameday.

"It’s the same with Sean (Dourseau). He came in as a backup and worked his way onto the field. He has also backed it up with his play. That’s the culture I want and that’s the culture we have created that will be here. How does Elijah Morris go from a walk-on to a starting nose guard? He shows up every day, works, practices hard and competes. He shows up every day and earns the respect of his teammates and coaches. You can list Nolan Johnson, Myles Berry, Fernando Frye – any of those guys that maybe didn’t play as much last year but all of a sudden are now significant starters. They’ve earned it with their performance in practice.

On Tank Robinson

“With regards to Tank, I appreciate everything he has done for the program since he has been here. He made a decision to move on and I wish him nothing but the best.”

On Tyler Snead’s Value To The Offense

"All those things I was just talking about – that’s Tyler Snead. Early in yesterday’s practice, it’s a pat and go period where the receivers and quarterbacks get loose and work on routes. We talk a lot about practice habits. We had a freshman receiver catch the ball and kind of turn and trot up the field. I am coaching him telling him we want to catch it, sharp burst, accelerate out of the catch and get north right now. As I’m talking to him, Tyler is the next guy up. I told the freshman that if you want to know what positive practice habits are, you watch 22 every single snap. Tyler is a competitor. He’s out there going against our defense in pass skel or one on ones trying to win every single rep. It doesn’t matter if it’s a perimeter drill where the receivers are blocking for the bubble screens or stuff like that. If he’s blocking, he’s going to try to flatback you – even at his size. He will tell you about it quietly under his breath after he does it, which kind of gets under the skins of our defensive kids sometimes.

“He competes every single day in every single thing he does. He thinks he is the best player on the field and plays with a chip on his shoulder. Because of that, you see him go out this past Friday night and have the game he had. That’s no surprise to any of us.”

On Calls Made During Tulsa’s Final Drive

“I did discuss those calls with the league office. They gave me an explanation. I’ve answered all that I’ve needed to.”

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