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East Carolina's Bruce Bivens high-fives teammates during a scrimmage on Aug. 10, 2019.

Bruce Bivens is as vocal as ever on the East Carolina football defense, which can both excite and worry first-year Pirate coach Mike Houston.

Bivens' voice is important and it carries now in the middle of ECU's defense as he approaches his junior season and his second year as a starting inside linebacker.

"I like his leadership abilities and he is very vocal out there, but the thing I have to do with him sometimes is that he is hyper, but he also is the one who is kind of setting everything with our fronts and stuff," Houston said. "He can't get so hyped up that he doesn't get set. But I love his enthusiasm and the way he competes as a good tackler and a physical player."

Bivens has mainly been paired during preseason camp with Xavier Smith as the top two linebackers. Smith made only one tackle in 2018 as a freshman tight end and special teams player, and it is Bivens entering this season as a more experienced defender with 71 career tackles (8.5 for loss last season).

"Our linebackers have to be vocal because we have to communicate, and he is getting a lot better at it," defensive coordinator Bob Trott said of Bivens, a Houston native who is 6-foot and 234 pounds.

Bivens and Smith were part of an ECU defense Thursday that rebounded from a strong day by the Pirates' offense on Wednesday.

Houston said it was the secondary that stood out during Thursday's practice, particularly with aggression in defending passes. He said that set the tone for the team segments of practice.

"You have to have consistency every single day, because you can't just wait until you get your butt chewed out to decide that, 'Hey, I am going to be locked in and focused and go hard today,'" Houston said. "You have to do that every single day, so this was a great learning experience for both sides of the football the last two days."

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