Give us your thoughts on head coach Ruffin McNeill and what he brings to the program. What are some of the similarities between he and Skip Holtz?
I didn't really know much about Ruffin McNeill until he served as the interim head coach of Texas Tech during the bowl game last year. I was impressed especially when I found out that he was a defensive back at ECU back in the day and was forwarded this picture from a friend.
I think that Ruffin brings an old school football mentality that he learned from Pat Dye when he played for the Pirates under Dye. He also brought an entire fleet of coaches from Texas Tech and the Air Raid offense which is quickly earning its place in the heart of Pirate fans.
It was tough. We had already been through coaching hell during the last few years of the Logan era and the entire Thompson era. Pirate Nation was skeptical about our coaching situation and it was going to take a lot from a new coach to earn our trust but Skip was able to do it.
We were all disappointed that Skip left and there was definitely a split of Pirate Nation between those that held it against him and those that realize we are still a stepping stone program to a BCS school. I think we were all worried that we wouldn't be able to get someone who could lead the Pirates as well as he did plus the fact that he was going to be taking a large part of our coaching staff with him.
Are you surprised at how the offense has performed in these first two games? All reports in spring and fall practice was that there was a lot of struggles with timing issues in the offense.
I didn't really know what to expect from our offense partly because we have a large number of new players and partly because of our new offensive playbook. I didn't enjoy reading the reports about all the issues that we were having but I was also reading comments from the players via Twitter about how things were starting to come together during practice and they were able to mesh so that was a nice reassurance.
What are the keys to stopping the Air Raid offense?
What a lot of people don't realize is that one of the most integral parts of the Air Raid offense is actually the run. There aren't a lot of running plays in the arsenal but, if used right, they can be destructive when the defense isn't expecting it especially with someone who is as big and agile as Dominique Davis is.
If the defensive line can get in the backfield quick enough, it will not only disrupt the running game but it will also put a lot of pressure on the QB forcing him to scramble and/or throw the ball before the receivers can get open opening up the door for turnover opportunities.
But you already knew that...
What should we expect out of ECU's defense? How are they adjusting to their new coordinator?
I don't think anyone knows what to expect out of the Pirate defense on Saturday. We lost a lot of big hitters and key components from last year and haven't looked particularly good so far this season with 76 points being scored on us in the first two games. I have heard that we have been playing musical chairs with some linebackers on the defensive line but hopefully we can find someone with a little size to play up there for the rest of the season. If not, Ryan Williams might be having a field day.