PirateIllustrated - Houston Encouraged by the Play of His Younger Players So Far
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Houston Encouraged by the Play of His Younger Players So Far

Defensive lineman Alex Turner goes through individual defensive drills as spring practice continues at ECU.
Defensive lineman Alex Turner goes through individual defensive drills as spring practice continues at ECU. (PirateIllustrated.com photo)

With day four of ECU’s spring football practice in the books, first year head coach Mike Houston talked about the progress made

on a Wednesday that ended with another inside run drill that proved to be extremely enthusiastic.

“It was the second day in pads. I thought we made progress. I thought the competition at the end was pretty lively. The guys really got into it and we saw some guys really competing at a higher level than we had on Monday,” Houston said, “We’re learning how to practice. It’s still nowhere near what we want or what we expect but it’s better.”

The play of Houston’s younger players who just arrived in January has been encouraging so far but they still have improvement to make as the month progresses. That is particularly evident at quarterback and running back where the more experienced veterans like Holton Ahlers, Reid Herring and Darius Pinnix naturally have a little better grasp of the offense in the early going.

Houston has been encouraged by the play of his early enrollees.

“Considering they are supposed to be seniors in high school, it’s like Juan Powell has been in there in the three on three competition at the end and that kid has got some fight in him. He’s a great athlete but that fight is rare. Jaquan McMillan, a very talented corner is doing a good job. Alex Angus, he is a big athlete. I don’t know what he’s going to play one day. Right now we’re playing him at safety. He may play inside linebacker for Coach Thweatt at the end of his career. He’s doing a great job.”

“I think Bryan Gagg probably has the most thrown at him because all of the sudden you’re thrown into a college offense and all of the checks and reads and all of that stuff,” said Houston, “But he’s going in there and he’s working hard every day.”

“Jsi Hatfield had a great day on Monday. We’ll see film wise what kind of day he had today but I think those guys are working really hard and you don’t really notice a huge difference where they are not able to really compete or anything.”

Houston says his philosophy on redshirts is the best players who are ready to play are going to play.

“I think the four game rule really helps. It’s obvious that a senior that is 22 year old kid is going to be a completely different animal than an 18 year old kid right out of high school. You want to maximize their eligibility and get the best player on the field for the duration of their career but if a guy is ready to play as a freshman, he’ll play but we will try to redshirt them if we can.”

“The older guys are handling it a little bit better than the younger players. We changed up some of the ways we called things today because we call some things a lot of different ways. That way defenses can’t pick up on us and that added a little bit of hesitation to us but overall they’re doing a good job.”

“When you have a positive running play so does that say a lot about us offensively or negatively defensively but think we’re working really hard at it. I have been pleased with how Pinnix is playing vertical,” said Houston, “We’re really stressed to him what kind of runner he is and he has embraced that.”

Houston outlined his philosophy on playing younger players.

“The last several years we’ve played three backs and spread the carries pretty evenly. Certainly he is more of that style of runner and I think there is a place in every offense for that kind of runner.”

“I feel pretty good about a couple of our offensive linemen that they’re going to be just fine so I think we’re making progress.”

“We have a lot of young guys that we’re finding out a lot about,” Houston stated, “We’re using different lineups each day but I would say I’m pleased with the overall offensive line at this point.”