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Bless the heart of the county commissioners, I think we all will come knocking on your doors when we receive our new...

The players' view: McGhin, Herring offer insight

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East Carolina's Reid Herring, back, hands off to Anthony Scott during a 41-19 win against North Carolina on Sept. 8 at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

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By RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

East Carolina’s football team had a rare opportunity to be unified and fully concentrated on watching South Florida play at Illinois last Saturday, a game that ended with the Bulls rallying for 18 points in the fourth quarter for a 25-19 win and 3-0 start to their season.

ECU sought safe ground before Hurricane Florence and traveled to Orlando, Fla., last Wednesday after its game against Virginia Tech was canceled.

Players and coaches gathered in a meeting room at their hotel to watch the USF-Illinois Saturday afternoon matchup. It is unique for most college football teams during a bye week — albeit an unconventional and unexpected one for the 1-1 Pirates — to be together in front of a TV to scout their next opponent. ECU begins American Athletic Conference play this Saturday with a game at USF in Tampa.

“We were all tuned in and watching it and it felt really good to just watch your competition from an outside view and see what was going on and what happened in college football,” senior offensive lineman and team captain Garrett McGhin said Tuesday during a teleconference with reporters. “One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is that you can learn a lot from other people’s mistakes and you don’t necessarily have to mess up yourself to learn from a mistake. You can watch somebody else and learn from their mistakes, and also see what they did well and check in on technique and stuff for your game.”

ECU has tried to remain focused on football, but it hasn’t been easy at times. McGhin said the big-picture aspects have been consistent like the Pirates were in Greenville, but they are not.

“Just not sleeping in my own bed is the biggest thing,” the 6-foot-6, 302-pounder said. “The whole routine isn’t a big deal for us because at the end of the day we are still sticking to our routine with practice and things like that. Honestly, it’s the little things.”

McGhin and starting quarterback Reid Herring both said the team’s focus is turning more and more on playing a game Saturday at 8 p.m. against the Bulls, who have a 7-1 lead in the all-time series against ECU and are favored again in this matchup.

East Carolina has had extra time to prepare and also possibly extra motivation with what Florence just did in North Carolina.

“We are all definitely focused on this weekend, but at the same time we have the eastern part of North Carolina in our hearts and that is who we are going to go out there and play for,” Herring said. “We hope to go get the ‘W’ for them.”

In sticking with the Pirates’ week-long theme, coach Scottie Montgomery and his club finished its late-morning practice, held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, about the same time it would if the Pirates were at the Cliff Moore Practice Facility on ECU’s campus.

Only the coaches, players and staff needed for practice went to the Sunshine State last week. The remainder of the ECU contingent will join later this week.

“We had a great day of practice today and great focus,” Montgomery said. “Defensively, I thought we stopped the ball in space and that’s been one of the biggest things we’ve talked about in the last few days. They have a lot of talent at their skill positions and we’re going to have to get them stopped in space, sometimes by ourselves.”

Contact Ronnie Woodward at rwoodward@reflector.com, 252-329-9592 and follow @RonnieW11 on Twitter.

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