PI-TV: Coach Ruff Previews UAB

The Pirates continue to roll with their seventh win of the year. Ruffin McNeill conducted his weekly press conference from Ward Building on the campus of East Carolina University. Catch the latest injury updates and more here on
GREENVILLE, N.C. - Mission accomplished last Saturday as East Carolina picked up their 7th win of the 2013 college football season with a 58-24 homecoming win over Tulsa. This week UAB is on the docket for a 2 pm Senior Day kickoff in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. The Pirates have an opportunity to pick up their eighth win against just two defeats as they continue to build their resume.
Ruffin McNeill continues to stress consistency, fundamentals and making the simple routine plays that lead toward victories and talked about it in his UAB Week press conference on Monday.
Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium was rocking as the Pirates rolled up 505 yards of total offense behind Shane Carden's 384 yard passing performance where he threw for five touchdowns and ran for two more. For that he was named Conference USA Offensive Player of the Week for a third time this season.
Inside receiver Justin Hardy wasn't too shabby either in taking over as ECU's all-time leader in touchdowns with 23 along with ten catches for 99 yards against Tulsa last Saturday.
The emergence of Isaiah Jones as a true freshman has been a sight to behold. Jones hauled in eight catches for 108 yards including two touchdowns against the Golden Hurricane.
Between Carden, Vintavious Cooper and Breon Allen, ECU also exhibited a pretty potent running attack at times. Even though the overall numbers weren't record setting at 121 net yards on the ground, it was enough for Lincoln Riley's ECU offense to keep the Tulsa defense honest.
The Pirates' defense continues to make big plays and improve as the season marches on. You have to take your hat off to the job Rick Smith has done on that side of the ball.
UAB stands at 2-7 and 0-4 in Conference USA play after falling at Marshall 56-14 on Saturday in Huntington. The Herd scored 42 unanswered points and chalked up 657 yards of total offense in the game and had three running backs to run over 100 yards in the win.
Jordan Howard led the Blazers' run attack with 123 yards on 22 carries. Darrin Reaves added 99 yards on 24 touches. Jonathan Perry completed 10 of 17 passes for one touchdown. Reaves had three receptions for 47 yards and a touchdown catch. J. J. Nelson caught one pass for 58 yards.
Their only two wins came against Northwestern State and a three point win over Florida Atlantic. The Blazers haven't won a game since October 12th. Coach McNeill talked about what we can expect on Saturday from UAB.
"They play two quarterbacks offensively in Jonathan Perry and Austin Brown. Jonathan is more mobile and a dual-threat quarterback. Austin is more of a straight drop-back passer. We have to be prepared for two different types of quarterbacks this Saturday," said McNeill, "Darrin Reaves was a first-team all-conference running back last year. He shares time with Jordan Howard, and Jordan has speed. They're both powerful runners and they both have speed. I think one of the best receivers in the league is Jamarcus Nelson. He has a lot of speed and they've been going to him a lot more."
The Blazers will try to make good use of two running backs on Saturday in 228 pound Jordan Howard and 5-10, 200 pound Darrin Reaves. The Pirates are well aware of UAB's propensity to run the football.
"We have to stop or control it, especially on early downs. I watched them against UTSA and Middle Tennessee, and they do a lot of things from unbalanced to overloads, and closed sets. They have the ability to do some different things, so we'll have to be ready for them."
McNeill says UAB will jump around and change and disguise coverages on defense.
"On defense, they return five starters from last year's team. They will be a multiple defense giving you some even-man fronts and some odd. They have a lot of movement on the coverage end, so we'll have to be smart and make sure we distribute the ball properly. Jake Ganus, their safety, stands out, along with linebackers D.J. White and Dihaeem Watkins, and Jimmy Jean at corner."
McNeill enjoyed watching Justin Hardy break the all-time ECU touchdown record last Saturday against Tulsa with his 23rd touchdown catch.
"He was happy to get it. When you saw him go to his knees, he was probably praying to his dad. Lance [Lewis] and Dwayne Harris have extended the expectations at that position, which is what you want as a team, a group and individually, too. It was pretty cool to see him be able to break it at home in front of 45,000 family members."
The Pirates hope to win this week and set up a showdown next week in Huntington against Marshall for the Conference USA East Division title and a bid to the C-USA Championship game. There is a possibility of hosting that game depending on how these last two weeks play out.