Practice Update: Bye Week

The Pirates responded big after their loss to Navy; beating conference opponent Houston at home and becoming bowl eligible. Now the team has a bye week to rest and prepare for their next match-up with conference opponent Tulane. Inside ECU Sports caught up with some offensive and defensive players to talk about the season to this point.

Shane Carden

Conference player of the week again for the second time this season; coming into the season as a backup did u ever think this could be possible?

"Yes and no. I always pictured myself as the starter and knew my ability to play, but it means a lot that people in the conference are respecting what I can do and it means a lot, but right now we're focusing on our goals as a team and hope to get those by the end of the season."

With the offense clicking so well, could this bye week slow you guys down?

"We have a good train moving right now and we want to keep it rolling. This week we're just picking up on a few things that the last couple weeks fundamentally we have gotten away from. So we're working on those because as an offense we know we can be much better."

Your two main targets, Hardy and Jones, both went down with concussions this past week. How can this affect the offense?

"Obviously we don't want anybody getting hurt, but I feel like this is the week to do it. The bye week should give them time to recover, and I'm sure they'll both be back out there next week. They're key components to our offense so having them healthy is important for the next couple games and definitely a bowl game."

Vintavious Cooper

Big win this past week, the team is going bowling. What does it feel like?

"It feels great; my first year here and we get to go to a bowl. Everybody is excited, but at the same time we want to stay focused and make sure we end on a good note going into bowl season. Our goal is to complete the mission so to speak."

120 yards plus in the past three games for you, how have you been able to do it?

"Just being confident, staying positive and coming on the field understanding the offense. Throughout the season it has been hard work, the offensive line has been working hard and has improved week in and week out. Ultimately it's the overall effort from them that has made all of this possible."

You're 109 yards away from reaching 1,000 on the season. Is this a personal goal of yours?

"It definitely is. Coming into the season I didn't know if I would play enough to get to this point. Now that it is reachable, I want it bad. Not just because it's an individual goal, but because it is something as an offense we can be happy about especially the offensive line that gets the majority of the credit for it."

Derrell Johnson

After getting beat bad last year by Houston, was this a statement win this past weekend?

"Yes they kind of embarrassed us last year. Anytime you feel like you didn't play up to expectations of not just the fans but yourself, it's something you keep in the back of your mind to come back out and prove your better than you played."

With the bye week this week you've had a couple days off, how important is this rest for the team?

"It's very important; offense, defense, and special teams all play hard out there and we are a very physical team. Playing physical like that you get banged up with some nicks here or there so it's always good to have this bye week to recover."

What are the goals of the team after this bye week?

"Our goals after this bye week are to beat Tulane, beat Marshall, and then whatever bowl we are put in we expect to go there and win as well."

Leonard Paulk

As a defense you made Houston punt on their first five possessions. How were you guys able to come out so strong after last week's performance?

"We used last week as motivation. The whole goal of our play is to stop the offense, we needed to execute the plays that were called and that's what we did."

Hardy isn't out here today, but when he is, who goes against him? Any friendly competition going on?

"He's a great competitor and someone who makes you work hard. Everybody gets a chance to go against him and we all enjoy it, playing against a high caliber receiver like him makes us better as defensive backs.

Describe the bye week process for the defense?

"We're pretty much just focusing on fundamentals and technique right now. We want to make sure everybody stays focused on that goal of a conference championship and we believe this bye week can help us prepare even better."

Final Thoughts

It seems as though the Pirates are enjoying this bye week and are making the most of it. Now that the team is bowl eligible they are focusing purely on getting healthy and preparing to make their run at the conference championship. The Pirates will face conference opponent Tulane next Saturday November 17th. This is another huge game for the pirates; Inside ECU Sports will be at practice next week to talk to the team about what they need to do to get their next win.

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