Mixing it up at media day
By RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector
Saturday, August 17, 2019
East Carolina’s football players were asked about their favorite ice cream flavor Saturday and they got the opportunity to pick on teammates, but there also were serious questions pointed their way about the Aug. 31 opener at N.C. State and the rest of an important season for the Pirates under first-year coach Mike Houston.
All of it was part of a media day tradition, the mix of foolishness and seriousness during constant interactions between media members, players and coaches.
"My one cheat meal? If I could choose anything it would honestly be Whataburger," said senior defensive tackle Alex Turner, a 6-foot-2, 274-pounder from Houston. "It's a Texas thing. I miss it. Me and (linebacker) Bruce (Bivens) talk about that like every day."
Serious topics were highlighted by the Pirates' upcoming trip to Raleigh to face the Wolfpack, which finished 9-4 a season ago but also lost key offensive personnel and offensive coordinator Eliah Drinkwitz this offseason to become Appalachian State's head coach.
ECU’s last game was a 58-3 loss at N.C. State, on Dec. 1, 2018, two days after Scottie Montgomery was fired as part of a third straight 3-9 record by the Pirates.
Most of Houston’s staff is comprised of coaches who were with him at James Madison for a successful three-year stint that included winning the 2016 Football Championship Subdivision national championship. JMU began last year with a 24-13 loss to the Wolfpack in Raleigh.
"One big positive in being a little further south, compared to where I was last year, is we know how to drink sweet tea in the South," Houston said with a laugh to begin media day.
Houston also was asked often about not only JMU's matchup against N.C. State during Week 1 of 2018, but also the Pirates' game against the 'Pack at the end of the regular season.
"You have to look at both games," he said. "The (JMU) game was hot, No. 1, I remember that. They were a physical football team and we were a physical football team. It was one of those games where it was kind of a stalemate most of the day and they had a big play with about three minutes to go that gave them kind of the clinching score.
"It was a hard-fought contest. I am hoping to see that again in two weeks."
Media day was held after the Pirates conducted their final preseason scrimmage and before Meet the Pirates and the annual Pirate equipment sale for fans at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.
Physicality was a theme during the scrimmage, which carried over into conversational topics for media day at the Murphy Center.
"Either Tank Robinson or Bruce Bivens," No. 1 running back Darius Pinnix said when asked about the Pirates' hardest hitters on defense. "They bring the thump when they come at you."
Contact Ronnie Woodward at email@example.com, 252-329-9592 and follow @RonnieW11 on Twitter.