McGee Previews East Carolina Game at Media Luncheon

UABSPORTS.COM Freshman running back Jordan Howard currently leads all freshman in the country with 96.6 yards per game.
UABSPORTS.COM
Freshman running back Jordan Howard currently leads all freshman in the country with 96.6 yards per game.
UABSPORTS.COM

Nov. 11, 2013

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – UAB head coach Garrick McGee, along with tight end Nolen Smith and running back Jordan Howard, spoke to the media on Monday in advance of Saturday’s matchup with East Carolina.

The game is slated for a 12 p.m. EST kick from Greenville, N.C., and will be the Blazers’ final road game of 2013. The contest against the Pirates from Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium will mark UAB’s second in a row against one of the league’s Eastern Division leaders.

Below are comments from McGee, Smith and Howard from Monday’s media luncheon.

Head Coach Garrick McGee

On the team’s goals…
“They will never change. We just want to get better and continue to grow as a program and individually.”

On team’s motivation level…
“We have a big game this weekend against a very talented team. I know (ECU head coach) Ruffin (McNeill) very well. He does a very good job with that program. He has recruited really well. He has a very talented quarterback that is throwing the ball at a very high percentage. He has one of the top receivers in the country, and the kid could get open in NFL games right now.”

On East Carolina…
“They play a 3-4 defense. They do a really good job with the three inside defensive tackles. They have a bunch of speed behind them. We want to continue to get better with each game.”

On if they will do anything differently at practice…
“No. We are going to continue with what you do at this point of the season. Practices kind of change towards the end of the season. You are not practicing as long or as physically. We have changed too because our injury situation has cut down our depth. We have found a way to practice and get quality reps.”


 

 

On challenges ECU’s offense presents…
“It’s the same type of scheme (as Marshall’s). It’s another spread offense, the same type of philosophy. Everybody runs their own version of that offense. They throw the ball a lot more than Marshall and Middle Tennessee. The numbers say that they are going to throw the ball for a high percentage and a lot of yards. We need to limit their snaps. We need to maintain possession of the ball.”

On playing a lot of road games…
“We need to play better. I haven’t thought of that. I think our kids like going on the road. We try to set the hotel and everything up exactly like it would be if we were here at home.”

On red zone offense…
“We’re moving (the ball). It seems like there is a mistake here or there. When you are playing possession-style football, if you get a penalty or miss an assignment and get negative yards, it sets you back.”

On freshman RB Jordan Howard…
“He is mature. He works hard and he studies football. He’s a really smart football player. It seems like when he’s running that he’s not running hard because he’s patient. He’s not wild like most freshmen are. He gives himself an opportunity to get yards. Most of the time you have to teach young runners to run the ball inside. He’s a downhill runner. You can teach a kid to bounce outside. It’s hard to teach a kid to be tough enough to run inside.”

On junior WR Nolen Smith…
“He’s done a good job. He is confident in his leg (that he injured last season). We all know that he can make catches down the field. He’s tall, he’s long, and he can catch the ball with his hands. It’s good to see him make a play.”

On running game taking opportunities away in the passing game…
“It does, but I think that’s our best opportunity to win games. We haven’t changed our system at all. Our offensive system is flexible enough to do what he have to do to produce yardage.”

Junior Wide Receiver Nolen Smith

On progression of offense this season…
“At the beginning of the year we started off pretty strong and put up good yards. We have put up a lot of rushing yards with two backs in Darrin Reaves and Jordan Howard. Earlier in the year we had both good playmakers outside, but due to some injuries we have to make more on the rushing. In the latter part of the season we have been leaning more on the rushing part of the offense.”

On the quarterback change…
“I don’t think as an offense it has really affected us. Having two quarterbacks that can run the offense and know the offense is a good thing because as players we trust both quarterbacks when they are in there. They are going to make plays. As far as Jonathan Perry bringing something to the table, I think he brings versatility. He can run the ball, he can make plays. Austin is more of a pocket guy. He likes to throw the ball and get the ball out.”

On trouble in the red zone…
“We will have mental mistakes or penalties that will knock us out of field goal range or knock us out of the red zone. Just little penalties that will knock us out of short yard situations where we will have to end up kicking a field goal. You just have to execute. You have to focus on doing your job and doing what you’re supposed to do on each play. “

On challenges from ECU’s defense..
“They have a lot of speed in the back. They have three really good up front D-linemen, so it is going to be a challenge to our offense to run the ball like we have been and be able to throw it down field when we have our shots.”

On recovery from injury..
“It was tough sitting on the sidelines last year with an injury like that, but just being away from it and watching it just made me work harder to be back and be with the team. Not that I didn’t feel a part of the team, but it was weird because I had never been on the sidelines for that long. As far as the off-season and coming back, I was ready to play this year. I am back to 100 percent with the knee. Being in meetings with Coach (Richard) Owens you learn pretty much the entire offense. He doesn’t like to focus on just one position. He likes to explain the whole offense so you’ll understand it and be able to play multiple things.”

Freshman Running Back Jordan Howard

On UAB’s key to its success in rushing…
“Our running back coach, Coach (Eric) Evans, stresses us running the ball in practice and he makes us run hard. He is just always on us about working hard in practice.”

On the biggest challenge as a freshman…
“I have learned how to work hard. Before I got here, I didn’t know how to practice hard, I just went through the motions, but now I have learned how to work hard and work on my technique more.”

On challenges from ECU’s defense…
“They have a lot of speed, so we can’t really go sideways. We have to run downhill which is what I like to do anyway. We try to go at the defense so that by the fourth quarter they are worn down and we can get big gains.”

On his downhill running style..
“When I was younger I used to have a lot of speed and I could outrun everybody, but then everybody started catching up to me so I had to readjust how I ran.”

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