football Edit

Mike Houston Recaps Day Two of ECU Spring Football Practice

East Carolina offensive coordinator Donnie Kirkpatrick works with his unit hoping for continued improvement.
East Carolina offensive coordinator Donnie Kirkpatrick works with his unit hoping for continued improvement.

East Carolina went through the paces of their second day of spring football practice on Saturday under slightly better weather conditions than on Friday.

Afterward, Pirate head coach Mike Houston summarized the day’s work.

“We had a much sharper practice than yesterday. The rust we saw yesterday, we got cleaned up and so I’m excited for next week,” Houston said.

The competition at wide receiver and defensive back is hot and heavy and Houston reiterated after Saturday’s workout.

“It’s a competition and I think there is better ability there. I say that and a lot of the guys have been here a couple of years. They’re older and more developed and they’re playing much faster,” said Houston, “It’s been fun to watch those matchups.”

“Shane Calhoun had another really solid day today and had some impressive catches both in skelly and team and at wideout we’ve got some solid weapons.”

What will it take to make Houston feel better at the end of camp about how much his team has developed?

“Seeing us improve upon what we had to finish the fall. Seeing us playing at a really high level together on each side of the ball in separate units and executing at a high level, I think those things right there are what you want to be really excited about.”

“To continue to see the development of our offensive line and defensive line because those are two areas that we really needed to address when I got here. Those are the things that you’re excited about with the potential that you have with all of these players back from a year ago.”

It will not be long before the Pirates are once again in pads and the hitting begins. Putting a physical team on the field will be necessary if ECU is to be competitive in the highly competitive American Athletic Conference.

“We need to hurry up and get in pads because of that competition. I will be very disappointed if we don’t have an exciting practice on Tuesday. I told them every day we are in pads we’re going to have some type of competition,” said Houston, “What we’ve turned into is anytime you have a competition and you put something on it, they go after each other so I think you’re going to see a pretty physical spring from that standpoint. Because of that, we’ve got to be very strategic about how much of that stuff we do too.”

The Pirates won their last two games of last year’s regular season against Temple and SMU and Mike Houston likes what it did for his team’s confidence as we advance into spring football at ECU.

“The way we finished up last year really set us up well going into spring practice. I’ve been very pleased the first two days.”

Houston said Jeremy Lewis has been impressive the first two days in his transition back from tight end to defense.

“He’s playing at a position that requires a lot of physicality. Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday is going to be really important for him next week, but he looks like he belongs at that rush position,” Houston said, “He’s a smart player who plays with edge and he brought that to us offensively, but I think he’s much more comfortable at rush end than he was as a tight end.”

Another player making a chance is Demetrius Mauney who has moved from running back to defensive back.

“Demetrius, it’s maybe been a little bit more of a tougher adjustment because we’re going from a tailback to now a safety. The terminology and reads and coverages. It is not for lack of effort or lack of enthusiasm or ability. I think we’ve got to find the right spot. He’s an incredible character person. He’s an important guy for this program so I want to give it some more time there because I think next week when we put the pads on I think that probably suits him a little bit better.”

Oklahoma graduate transfer Ryan Jones figured to be a prominent part of this year’s football team and Houston gave an update on his status.

Oklahoma graduate transfer tight end Ryan Jones was charged with multiple driving-related misdemeanors in Pitt County on Feb. 20. Jones was cited for a misdemeanor DWI, speeding, and reckless driving to endanger and has an upcoming court date on May 4. Mike Houston addressed Jones’ situation as it relates to ECU football.

“Ryan is suspended currently. He is in the middle of some return to play stuff. He was in the practice facility with us. He is not participating in practice yet. He has done what we’ve asked him to do so far,” said Houston, “He’s got to go through some stuff legally and with the school in addition to us, but we all make mistakes. We all do and he’s owned it so now he’s in the middle of working his way back.”