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Pirates brace to put on their pads

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East Carolina running back Trace Christian goes through drills during Friday's practice.

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BY RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector

Monday, March 18, 2019

Mike Houston is ready for 8:45 this morning.

The first-year East Carolina football coach was ready for it last week, bringing it up one day before the Pirates even began their first spring practice workout on Friday.

“We’ll start finding it out at about 8:45 on Monday morning, because that is when we start inside run,” he said. “Inside run is going to be a drill that is kind of going to be the backbone of our program, and it is not going to be for the faint of heart because we are going to be a physical football team. That is on both sides of the ball.”

The Pirates, who are looking for a spark after three straight 3-9 records under former head man Scottie Montgomery before he was let go in December, practiced in helmets but without pads on Friday and Saturday.

They will put on shoulder pads today, leading to more physical drills like “inside run.”

Houston stressed tempo during ECU’s first two spring sessions, even breaking down some bad habits Friday that he wants fixed as players and coaches continue to mesh and figure each other out amid new concepts and tactics.

“We have to learn them and they have to learn how we function during team work and how we function during 1-on-1s,” Houston said. “It’s a lot about getting to know each other.”

On Saturday, ECU announced that the request for standout defensive lineman Nate Harvey to gain an extra year of eligibility for medical hardship was denied by the NCAA.

The team did not practice Sunday.

“Is it going to be an easy road? Absolutely not,” Houston said. “There are going to be tough times, there is no doubt. But you have a group that is committed to making sure that we get the task done and accomplish the goals that we have set out.

“Some of those we’ve already accomplished, but there is still a lot of work to do. ... It is going to take time, but I am not more excited about anything else as I am for this program.”

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

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