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ECU Football: Temple Game Week Coverage

Published: Nov. 17, 2020 at 3:12 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 19, 2020 at 1:41 PM EST
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - Get ready for ECU football’s eighth and final road game of the season against Temple at Lincoln Financial Field on Saturday, Nov. 21 (12 ET on ESPN+) with WITN Sports coverage throughout the week.

Who: ECU (1-6, 1-5 AAC) vs. Temple (1-5, 1-5 AAC)

Kickoff: 12 p.m. ET at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pa.

TV: ESPN+

TUESDAY

ECU Head Coach Mike Houston Zoom Press Conference: https://youtu.be/IHIhO4zEcJ0

Opening Statement

“Excited for the start of another big week. We’ve got a big ballgame this Saturday in Philadelphia against a very solid Temple football team. I know they’ve had ups and downs this year. Really impressed with the play of the guys they have returning – especially those we faced last year. They’ve had some adjustments at the quarterback position and some new faces in the running back room. We’re expecting a big test this weekend. The big focus for us is continuing to improve and develop throughout the year. That’s a daily thing.”

On Things To Correct Heading Into The Temple Game

“I think throughout the season we have continued to improve in many areas. I continue to be pleased with the play of our offensive line and the run game as well as the defensive front and inside linebacker group. We need to be better at taking care of the football than we were last week. That hurt us. We have to continue to improve at the skill positions on both sides of the football and push to win the special teams phase. That will be a critical part of the game this Saturday.”

On Moving Players Around At Safety

"This time of the year on both sides of the ball, as well as special teams, you’ll have some bumps and bruises. You have your normal challenges each and every year with having some guys in and out of the lineup. You have the added factor of COVID protocols and guys missing some time with that. It fits in with what 2020 has been. You’ve had to be fluid throughout the year. You’ll have guys playing in different spots but it’s still the same scheme. We do have some solid guys at other positions to help us out in spots we are short.

“It’s been great to have Juan (Powell) back the last couple of weeks. I don’t think he is quite 100 percent, but he’s doing a great job of taking care of his body and being there every snap mentally. He’s maximizing the snaps he’s getting.”

On This Week’s Preparations For Temple

“The big thing was, especially getting back at 5 a.m. Saturday morning, was making sure everyone got a little bit of rest. We did watch the game Saturday night then came back in the office early Sunday morning to break it down. It was an advantage for our players to have rest days Saturday and Monday. We got a light practice in on Sunday so we should have our legs back under us for practice today. The biggest concern for me at this point in the season is making sure we are fresh and ready to go at the beginning of each week.”

On Temple’s Defensive Front

“It’s a concern this year because they have a lot of the same guys. They had one guy leave, but (Daniel) Archibong is an enormous kid and was good for them last year. It was disappointing to see him back on film. Great player. I expect to see him play on Sundays in the very near future. No. 9 who was 88 last year - I don’t want to butcher his name – is a great player against this year. No. 17 is having another great year. They have the grad transfer, No. 12, from Wake Forest. They are a formidable front four. There isn’t a weakness there. We have to do a great job of being fundamental, whether in the run game or pass game, in everything we are doing. We are going to have to execute at a high level. We are going to have to do some different things scheme wise to combat those guys and give ourselves better opportunities.”

On Battling COVID Issues From Week To Week

“We are all battling stuff this year. We’re all battling COVID issues and injuries – things of that nature at this point in the season. A few games back against Tulane, you could tell Temple had a depleted group. The last couple of games out they’ve had their guys. I’m sure he is more sensitive of it than I am because he’s thinking about depth guys and special teams guys. I just look up and see those players he has at the skill positions, at the lineman, the defense, how the running backs play. It’s a very talented group we are watching on film from last week’s game and the week before. None of us have had our full rosters for a single game this year. We’ve all had multiple players out each week. That’s part of 2020. We are all frustrated but at least we are getting to play. We are intent on playing the game Saturday in Philadelphia.”

On Preparing For Temple’s Freshman Quarterback Matt Duncan

"We recruited his brother when I was at JMU so I’m familiar with the family. I know the high school very well. We have his film from high school. We’ll take a look at that as well as every snap he’s taken this year. He was certainly a talented player coming out of high school. He runs well. Lefty, strong arm and very accurate. I thought he showed some athleticism in the latter part of the game against UCF with some of the runs he had. I know they were probably trying to be a little conservative with play calling. With a week under their belt, I’m sure they’ll have a package for him that he can run at a high level. We had that experience earlier this year when started a true freshman against Navy so I can relate with what they are going through right now. He’s got such a strong surrounding cast and it’s going be a challenge for us. We will have to do a great job Saturday. They will have him ready to play at a high level.

“He’s a little shorter than Holton (Ahlers) but runs well. He throws the ball with a lot of zip. I’m certainly more familiar with Holton because I see him every day, but you’re talking about a dual threat guy that’s a good athlete who can throw the football.”

On The Team’s Pulse Heading Into The Final Few Games

"Very positive attitudes. It’s a credit to the culture that the players have helped us create inside the locker room. Regarding me saying they were looking at me sideways, everybody saw the last drive of the Tulsa game. We all know what happened. That’s supposed to be the reward for doing things right. Coming away with a huge win against a Top 25 team. We had that taken away from us. It’s far in the past and we can’t do anything about it now. We’ve faced two challenging opponents the last two weeks. We did some good things last Friday night against Cincinnati but, at the end of the day, we made too many mistakes and they took advantage of them.

"When you’re in the middle of what we are, you move on to the next game and focus on doing things right today. You get up today. You eat a good breakfast. You have guys taking care of academics with final exams. We’re taking care of our bodies in the training room. We’re about to have a team meeting then go out and practice at a high level. Execute. Be coachable. Compete to be the best. Get treatment post practice. Watch film. Get a good solid dinner. Get a good night’s sleep. The focus every single day is that championship lifestyle because doing things right consistently over a period of time will help the team continue to develop tremendously. You’re talking about a very young team that has a tremendously high ceiling so you focus every single day on being the best you can be. That process over time is what creates that solid football team like the one we just played last Friday night and like the one Temple has had year in and year out.

“I thought we competed very well Friday night. I thought we played hard. We were playing with physicality. We made mistakes. We got beat but the kids continue to compete at a high level and have a positive attitude. As soon as we finish this call, I’m going to walk into our meeting space. Our very large meeting space that really isn’t our team room anymore because of COVID-19 in the year 2020. The job they have done handling everything this year is very impressive to me. Is it easy? No. It’s the hand we have been dealt. Our players continue to work hard and have positive attitudes every day.”

On What A Win Over Temple Would Mean

“Both us and Temple are sitting here having been through so much adversity. You keep competing every single day. Both clubs are going to compete at a very high level Saturday. One of us will come out with a big win. It will be something to celebrate in that locker room. It will put a big boost of energy back into those players on that roster – whichever one of us comes away with it.”

WEDNESDAY

ECU defensive coordinator Blake Harrell and offensive coordinator Donnie Kirkpatrick Zoom Press Conferences: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=luC8gz3FxXk&list=PLrq4Z5fnt6x5rIo5TwhYRTMQaQ0vQ-d5j&index=2

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