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ECU football pushed it at practice this week hoping for increased intensity, offensive power, and less penalties for homecoming

Tulane at ECU Saturday 3:30 PM
Published: Oct. 1, 2021 at 5:25 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - It’s homecoming weekend for ECU football. It’s also their conference opener. It feels like ECU is coming off a loss last week but they did win their 2nd straight game. They expect to play better on Saturday against Tulane. A win this week would mean the first three game win streak for the Pirates since 2014. They strung together 5 wins in a row that season. To do it they need to start fast.

“They have got to mentally prepare themselves to play the game the way we want them to play it. Fast, physical, high intensity, high energy,” says ECU head football coach Mike Houston, “There’s things that you do out on that field that don’t just come naturally as a human being. Mentally you got to get yourself ready to go out there and play the game that way.”

“We practiced very hard this week. It’s been upgraded from what it usually is and it’s usually really intense,” says ECU offensive coordinator Donnie Kirkpatrick, “Just putting that on their mind that we got to start faster.”

“If you’re going down the highway and you let your foot off the gas what happens and they’re like well you’re coasting and you’re losing speed. I said it’s the same thing in football,” says ECU defensive coordinator Blake Harrell, “Whether it’s the first play, first series, first quarter, third quarter, fourth quarter we got to keep her foot on the gas for an entire 4 quarters.”

The Pirates say improved play from their line will dictate play on Saturday.

“Be able to control the line of scrimmage and run the football. Throw the football too. We want to be very balanced,” says Houston, “It is going to come down to who can control the front. Who can control the line of scrimmage.”

“The o-line, there’s five of us but really were one unit. We all have to be on the same page, we all have to take the right steps. Go to the right person,” says ECU offensive lineman Fernando Frye, “If we’re not on the same page it’s going to look like a train wreck, but when we are on the same page it can be a train wreck the other way.”

The train wreck for the Pirates has been unnecessary penalties. They’ve taken 24 penalties for 304 yards over 4 games. The stuff after the whistle really bothers coach Houston.

“That’s addressed in practice and after practice,” Houston says, “that stuff doesn’t fly around here.”

The defense focused on getting off the field this week. They were out there a lot last Saturday, even though time of possession has been close, the hurry up offenses they have faced make it deceiving.

“We played about 100 snaps. It was 100 on record and about 107 on the tape. I’ve been on games, two games might’ve played 100 snaps and that was a triple option offense,” says Harrell, “Get them in third and five, or third and six, we just couldn’t get them off the field and we need to. They executed and we didn’t. We gotta sharpen those things up.”

The Pirates and Green Wave kick off at 3:30 PM on Saturday. The game is being streamed on ESPN+. We will have highlights and reaction for you on WITN in the late show.

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