Tim Salem, Offensive Coordinator
"Obviously, I have had a chance to watch East Carolina play defense, the team that we are facing Saturday. We have talked to our offensive players about being road warriors. We should be playing in a very fun environment. I think that is one thing that our players are looking forward too - that kind of an `us against the world' (type atmosphere) up there and a very critical Conference USA football game. Those guys in the purple jerseys, I think play fast, they are structured on defense and very sound. They have given up some points, but they have given up some points to some quality teams. I think that there have been some hidden yards that they were disappointed that they gave up, but I think they have some stoutness to them and we are looking forward to the challenge."
What are your impressions from last week's game?
"I tell you what in college football right now - the thing that has happened is that every Saturday is like a whole new season and I think you have to do what you have to do to win that game, then you turn the page and move on. I mean you look at what happened to the top 10 teams this past week and some other teams that have had some scares. Now-a-days in college football, it is amazing how even and equal all teams are. You take away a few of the top teams, even though they were beaten last week, but sometimes there is no difference between the 40th-place and the 80th-place team. All it is, is one play, one lucky break, or lucky bounce. A lot of schools have good coaches and the players amongst all the teams and levels are getting pretty equal with that scholarship limit that came a few years ago. You better be ready to play every Saturday and you better be able to play hard every Saturday. If you do those things you have a chance to win. Now, if you go out there and not play hard, play soft, or not as fast, then you are going to have to be really lucky to win no matter who you are playing. Every Saturday for us has to be a championship effort for us to keep winning."
How do you think Kyle Israel has done managing the offense?
"I think that to date, he has done an adequate job. You just would hope that on a couple of those plays where there is a bigger play opportunity that he would throw a pass twelve inches closer to the receiver and do some things. Then, the adequate play becomes above average play of the quarterback. Those are the things that he has got to press upon and try to make. M.A.P. - make a play. He has to make more maps. We have to make some more plays. We have eight games to go, plus anything beyond that which is what we are pushing for. He has to be the focal point of getting things done and the biggest thing the quarterback has to do is run the club, run the show, and get in the right place, but make sure his mistakes are to a bare minimum. I think he has thrown one interception this year and he has to keep it that way for us to be successful."
What stands out about East Carolina's defense?
"I think they are very stout on defense and they have good size. They play their gaps and the play with good knee bends and leverage. They run to the ball like a defense should. In the opening game of the season, I think that Virginia Tech rushed 31 times for 33 yards. They stopped a team that has some stoutness to them and they have played fairly well in their other games. They have played some pretty good competition with West Virginia. We have our work cut out for us. They have good players and good coaches. We are looking for a battle to go up there and give it our all to see what is going to happen."
John Skladany, Defensive Coordinator
"Well, we are excited to have the opportunity to go up and play East Carolina. Getting through the first four games at 3-1, hopefully we have some confidence and some excitement built up on the football team. We are looking forward to the second conference football game up there. I think that we are going to have our hands full, but we are really looking forward to the challenge and should be a great football game."
What is the difference in going on the road after three straight home games?
"Well, I think that the first football game this year [at NC State], we were really ready to play. The crowd was out of it for a while. In the second half the crowd got into it and they were really making some noise. That can make it difficult for you. We try to tell our players that you have to perform under pressure and do not crack when things are really getting wild and hectic out there, so we have been through it once and have come through successful. It is something that we will be able to draw back from. You know as well as I that the momentum will shift and change in football games. You really have to be poised and disciplined to win on the road, so that you do not get distracted with momentum switches or the crowd taking you out of a football game. I am glad that we have had that experience in the first ball game up there because I think that it will be at least as loud as that and probably louder."
Assess the play of your linebackers so far this season.
"I think that the depth is starting to come around a little bit. I will be glad when we get Alex Thompson back. He played a good football game against NC State. He was making some plays against Texas. He is a heady guy and a smart football player, who has really improved. Getting Chance [Henderson] and [Cory] Hogue back along with Lawrence Young, and now Darius Nall has stepped up when [Derrick] Hallman was tweaked a little bit. So you have some guys that have played some football and they help on special teams tremendously. Those guys really can do a lot for the football team. The more depth that we have, the fresher we are going to be as the season wears on."
What does East Carolina do that will threaten the defense the most?
"East Carolina, I have been very impressed by them. I think they are well coached. They have a good scheme and they mix their personnel groups up. They have a good inside running game and they can get you outside a little with some stretch plays and a little bit of option. The thing that they do a nice job of is the play action pass. They have a good running back, running attack and they do a nice job with play action passes. Then they sprinkle in some bootlegs and screens. I have been very impressed with their scheme on offense and their execution so far."