GREENVILLE, N.C. - With a little over a week to go before East Carolina takes on Louisiana-Lafayette in the New Orleans Bowl,
head coach Ruffin McNeill addressed the press.
"I tell you what, I'm excited. It's always exciting when you get to play extra games. The keys to the game will be matching the fast tempo of Louisiana, playing physical football along with execution and fundamentals," according to McNeill who spoke to a large group of press assembled in
Murphy Center, "Our next goal is to play our best game on December 22nd."
Entering the game, the Pirates and Ragin' Cajuns have idential 8-4 records for the season.
Louisiana averages nearly 35 points per game while giving up nearly 29 points a game. They won four of their last five contests after losing to Florida by just seven points in Gainsville. They also beat former ECU offensive coordinator Todd Berry's Louisiana-Monroe team who was really hot early in the season.
Running back Alonzo Harris and quarterback Terrance Broadway, a transfer from Houston, lead Louisiana's running game, combining for nearly 125 yards per game and over 1,400 yards combined. In addition, Effrem Reed tallied 433 yards on the ground and Torrey Pierce was good for another 250 yards of rushing.
Broadway has also thrown for over 2,500 yards this season, connecting on 64 percent of his passes for an average of 210 yards per game through the air. That includes 16 touchdowns against 8 interceptions for the season.
Harry Peoples has 61 catches to lead the Ragin' Caguns, but defensively you also have to account for Javone Lawson, Derryl Surgent, Jamal Robinson and Jacob Maxwell who combined for 107 catches in 2012.
East Carolina enters the game as a three-point underdog in the Mercedes Benz Superdome when the Pirates take on the Ragin-Cajuns next Saturday at 12 noon eastern time.
"We have to be smart about our work," said McNeill in talking about having and keeping a healthy team coming into the New Orleans Bowl, "The players have exhibited a coach me attitude"
McNeill spoke on being proud of his team for making a bowl after missing one last year. It was only the third time that the former Pirate safety hasn't been in postseason play over the course of the last quarter century.
"It felt strange being at home during the Christmas holidays last year," said McNeill, I'm proud of the resilliancy and the ability to bounce back, competitive character and teamwork that this group has shown."
It's a one game season, especially for the seniors when East Carolina travels to the Mercedes Benz Superdome for the second time this season. A place that the Pirates are very familiar.
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