Monday, September 13, 2010

ECU's McNeill expects Va. Tech to rebound from losses

GREENVILLE – East Carolina coach Ruffin McNeill has known Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer since 1989.

Having studied with Beamer's staff as an assistant coach at Appalachian State, McNeill said he's less worried about the Hokies' two-game losing streak to open the season than how his team prepares this week for the game in Blacksburg on Saturday.

No. 13 Virginia Tech (0-2) has dropped games to Boise State and James Madison to start the season, shocking its fan base and drawing more anticipation headed into the game at Lane Stadium with the Pirates (2-0, 2-0 Conference USA).

"They'll do a great job getting their team together," McNeill said. "We have to worry about ourselves again this week, not Virginia Tech. ... We know we're facing a team that may have their back up against the wall. They're at home and we know they will be ready to play."

The Pirates, adapting to first-year coach McNeill and his new spread offense, have posted impressive numbers against two Conference USA teams. The two-time defending champions are looking forward to going on the road to test their system against a team with a defensive reputation.

With a 51-49 victory over Tulsa and last week a 49-27 victory over Memphis, the Pirates have unexpected momentum, considering the fact they lost 29 starters from two back-to-back Conference USA championship teams.

"We feel good where we are," McNeill said. "To be able to win the football game and grow at the same time is definitely a positive. I think momentum is a positive thing. ... The momentum is there."

-- Edward G. Robinson III