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GREENVILLE, N.C. - When Rick Smith was brought back to Greenville from Skip Holtz's old staffs at ECU and USF, his mission was to improve the East Carolina secondary and defense overall. Slowly but surely that is occurring and the Pirates just need one big win to create a fully confident situation on defense.
ECU only gave up 13 points to Virginia Tech two weeks ago. Granted the Hokies missed their share of opportunities and pulled a few field goals and even missed an extra point, but you could see a much improved defensive front. The secondary continues to improve too.
The Pirates gave up only 53 yards on 34 rushing attempts against Virginia Tech.
Last year, North Carolina held the Pirates to just two Warren Harvey field goals in a 27-6 rout in Kenan Stadium. The Tar Heels rolled up 450 yards of total offense while limiting ECU to just 233. Bryn Renner passed for 321 yards and two touchdowns in the contest.
East Carolina hopes to turn the tables on the Tar Heels this week. Smith talked to PirateIllustrated.com for PI-TV and says what his defense "will be ready, enthusiastic and excited" and says what they need to do on Saturday.
"It's like the old addage, when you put a pot of water on the stove," Smith said, "You turn the stove up to 211 it's just warm water. But if you turn it up to 212 it turns into steam and you can move a locomotive. That's what I've told my guys. We just have to turn it up just one degree. There should be a sense of urgency because we've lost three starters."
For the Pirates to come away with the win this Saturday in Chapel Hill, East Carolina will need to have gap integrity on defense against the run and find ways to keep everything in front of them in the secondary verses the pass. ECU will not only have to score points, but they will also need to control the football more and grab a turnover or two along the way. ECU will do well to just move the sticks, improve in the run game and begin to stretch the field more in the pass package.
Giving the Pirate defense some time to rest in intervals will prove big on Saturday too. If ECU can prove early that they can run the football, this will turn out to be a great football game to watch.
The Pirates will be without the services of senior nose tackle Terry Williams. He was suspended on Wednesday for a violation of team rules. by head coach Ruffin McNeill, who remains just one game over .500 for his four years at ECU. That means the responsibility will fall on junior defensive lineman Chrishon Rose will have to step up as well as Virginia Beach freshman Demetri McGill who will take off the redshirt. McNeill hopes McGill will provide ample depth in the Pirate defense.
If there has ever been a more important game for East Carolina, it's hard to pinpoint. Smith talked about this week's contest and what he hopes to accomplish defensively for PirateIllustrated.com. We also caught up with Demetri McGill and safety Damon Magazu for their thoughts on this week's in-state matchup in Kenan Stadium.
Rick Smith delivers his last defensive word of the week, Ruffin McNeill recaps UNC preparation in The Last Word, Damon Magazu will have his final ride against the Tar Heels and talks to PI-TV as does nose tackle Demetri McGill who will see action in his first game on Saturday. Check it out here on PirateIllustrated.com.
Gametime is 12:30 on the ACC Network television and the ISP Pirate Sports Network. Catch the latest as our UNC Week coverages rolls on from Greenville.