Practice Update: Offense Prepares

Offensive Coordinator Riley

With their bye week behind them, the Pirates look to continue their winning ways against conference opponent Tulane this Saturday. Inside ECU Sports caught up with Offensive Coordinator Lincoln Riley, along with some offensive players to talk about their big game to be played in the Mercedes Benz Superdome in New Orleans this Saturday.

Coordinator Riley reflects on the bowl bid

After beating Houston, the Pirates became bowl eligible for the sixth time in the last seven seasons. "We're excited, that was certainly one of our goals coming into the season," Riley said. "We have opportunities here to win some more games to improve our bowl destination, but we have bigger and better things in mind and we look forward to getting after one of them which is Tulane this week."

The bye week couldn't have come at a better time for the Pirates who look to get healthy and win out the rest of the season. "The bye week was good," Riley said. "We were able to get in some work on Tulane, but overall we got a chance to work on ourselves, get the team healthy, and work on fundamentals which we believe will lead us to a win this weekend."

When asked to describe Tulane's defense, coordinator Riley had this to say, "They're and NFL style defense, they bring pressure and do a nice job of mixing it up on the back end with some real athletic guys running around."

Carden shows versatility

In the game against Houston two weeks ago, Shane Carden had another stellar performance throwing for four touchdowns. During the game the Pirates used their hurry-up offense; something fans are not used to seeing Carden run.

"We always try to play a little more up tempo," Carden said. "I think everyone saw us running our hurry-up more against Houston because it worked so well; it's another part of our offense that we have and fans could see us running it more as the season comes to an end."

This weekend will be Carden's first start against Tulane; a team that the Pirates beat last year with a score of 34-13. I asked Carden what he expects from this Tulane defense, "They're a good defense, they'll come up and press our guys and I think it's going to be a lot of one on one battles; as a quarterback I'm confident in our receivers and know they will go out and make plays for me, so we're going to throw it."

Cooper runs into the record books

Running back Vintavious Cooper's performance in the past three games has been nothing short of spectacular. With 140 yards two weeks ago against Houston, Cooper became the first Pirate back to rush for over 100 yards in three straight games since Marvin Townes back in 2003.

"It feels good because I know who the person was that did it before me," Cooper said. "Being the first one to do it since him has made me feel good about it, and it has made me want to work harder to achieve more."

Cooper just needs to gain 109 yards this weekend to put him over 1,000 yards on the season; I asked if he thought it was possible against Tulane's defense. Cooper responded, "I think it is, they blitz a lot but for the most part their defense is a lot like the defenses we're used to seeing so I'm looking to have a big game this week against them and hopefully reach that goal."

Bodenheimer knows the bowl experience

Senior wide receiver Andrew Bodenheimer has been as reliable as it gets for the Pirates since his arrival four years ago. Bodenheimer has played in a bowl game before and talked about what it means for this team.

"It shows that we're working hard and it's paying off," Bodenheimer said. "We look to continue that for these next few games moving forward; this bowl game was one of our team goals and we're happy to have achieved it."

Every year college football teams have one bye week to rest their squad and work on personal goals. Bodenheimer has been here for bye weeks in the past and believes they help the team.

Bodenheimer said, "I think the bye week as helped us a lot; we got some good work in all week, had some game like reps, and really got in some extra work to help prepare us for Tulane."

This will be the second time in two seasons Bodenheimer has seen conference opponent Tulane. The Pirates pulled out a convincing win last year at home, but this year's Tulane team is different. I asked Bodenheimer to describe their secondary.

"They play a lot of man and are very aggressive," Bodenheimer said. "They're going to come after us from the start so we have to be able respond and start fast."

Final Thoughts

The Pirates look to keep putting up offensive numbers this week against Tulane. It seems as though the offense has used the bye week to work on fundamentals and prepare for the rest of the season. This week will present a challenge for the Pirates; but expect to see a lot of scoring in this match-up between two aggressive teams. Kickoff from the Mercedes Benz Superdome is at 3:30 p.m. this Saturday.

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