ECU Fine Tunes For Temple
ECU finished practice in the mid-afternoon on Thursday after opting to get an early start on things heading into Friday travel and a Saturday collision with Temple at Lincoln Financial Field.
Second year ECU head coach Mike Houston came away optimistic after a solid practice under sunny skies and temps in the mid 50’s in Greenville.
“Very sharp Thursday practice. We had good energy. The kids were zipping around and I was really pleased with our execution today so it was good preparation for Saturday,” said Houston, “Obviously it’s a big ballgame for us, going on the road, challenging opponent. It’s going to be a another great test for our guys and I’m excited to get a chance to go out and compete again.”
It’s going to be another big opportunity for the Pirates to begin to forge ahead. A victory in Philly will move ECU up to ninth in the league with two teams underneath with another chance next week against a good SMU team to move up even further as the AAC slate comes to a close.
“I think every opportunity out is a challenge in this league. It’s murderer’s row. Every week you’re going to see a quality team and this is no different,” Houston stated, “Our older kids - they understand exactly what Temple is. They’ve played them multiple times. Our young guys have to trust our old guys and our coaching staff to know what we’re up against.”
“You look at their two-deep on both sides and you’re playing a veteran football team. You’re going to see a young quarterback but outside of the quarterback you’re going to see grad students and fourth and fifth year players and they are high quality players. They’ve got a great tradition there. They have had their bumps in the road this year but still a quality opponent that we’re seeing on the road so we’ve got to be ready to play at a high level and compete. We’re going to Philladelphia. Their tradition that they have there and the kind of teams they’ve had and kind of what they hang their hat on, we’ve got to be prepared to go up there. It’s going to be a backyard brawl.”
In a conference like the American where every team seems to score an abundance of points, Coach Houston addressed the importance for ECU to find ways to get in the end zone to make a game of it.
“I have a lot of confidence in our guys on the offensive side of the football. I have a lot of confidence in our quarterback. I told them as I left the field that I want to see us go and play to our potential,” Houston told PirateIllustrated.com, “Go out there and execute at a high level, be really aggressive. Run the ball effectively, throw the ball effectively and just be what we know that we can be and what we have shown flashes of this year. If that’s what we see on Saturday, it’s going to be important for us to maximize our redzone opportunities.”
That all starts with Holton Ahlers for ECU at quarterback where Houston says he wants to see relaxed confidence from his veteran signal caller.
“He’s a very talented player. I’ve got a lot of confidence in him. I want him to have that same confidence in himself to just go out there and play his game,” said Houston, “When he’s really in the groove and comfortable, confident and throwing the ball on time, everybody working together and on the same page, I think he’s an extremely effective quarterback. We’ve seen that this year, we’ve seen that last year.”
“He had a rough week last week, but you are going to have those from time to time. All of us are. I just want to see him bounce back and just be the guy that he is.”
With Covid19 restrictions high in the city of Philadelphia at the moment, Houston says ECU has made alternate travel arrangements for this weekend’s encounter against Temple.
“We have adjusted where we are going to stay. We are not going to be staying in Philadelphia. We are staying at a hotel that I have used in the past with some of my games in the Northeast, so we should be able to operate normally.”
Game time is set for shortly after 12 noon in Philadelphia when ECU take on Temple at Lincoln Financial Field on ESPN+.