Operation Move On is in full effect for East Carolina after its 33-23 road loss on Saturday to then-No. 21 South Carolina.
When coach Ruffin McNeill took over the Pirates program five years ago, he installed the 24-hour rule, which gives players a day to celebrate/dwell on the previous game. However, the Pirates (1-1, 0-0 AAC) put Columbia in their rear view about the same time the team bus did.
“On the bus coming back we had about four-and-a-half, five hours and I thought the guys would be sleeping and getting away from it like I asked them to,” McNeill said. “But it wasn’t that way. The coaches had already begun diving into the film on the bus, evaluating the game we just played and already began dissecting Virginia Tech.
“I have four buses of players and we were texting the entire time. Guys, seniors, freshmen (texting), ‘Coach, can’t wait for this week.’ I was very proud of that and it defines this team.”
Never miss a local story.
The study sessions didn’t end until the Pirates pulled into Pitt County.
“It was 4:30 in the morning and they were still texting. I was like, ‘Get some sleep.’ And they were like, ‘You get some sleep.’ It was like that and it was about getting ready and moving on. So Operation Move On was in effect pretty quickly.”
ECU’s next destination is Blacksburg, Va., where the Pirates will face an undefeated Virginia Tech (2-0, 0-0 ACC) team that surged to No. 17 after beating No. 8 Ohio State 35-21. Kickoff is at noon on ESPN.
The Hokies have won four consecutive games against ECU.
East Carolina failed to score touchdowns on key opportunities against the Gamecocks, a key theme that was costly in two previous losses to Virginia Tech.
In 2011, ECU’s Michael Dobson dropped a potential game-tying touchdown pass in the fourth quarter versus the Hokies, and last season outside linebacker Montese Overton couldn’t haul in what looked like a sure pick-six during a 15-10 defeat.
“It always comes down to who makes the most plays. It’s simple,” McNeill said. “… We’ve had some tight contests with them. You have to make those plays.”
It’s in the genes: Pirates fans will see some familiar names on the backs of Virginia Tech jerseys, as three players have ties to the NFL. Star sophomore cornerback Kendall Fuller is the youngest brother of former VT stars Vincent Fuller, who is now with the Detroit Lions, and Kyle Fuller, a 2013 first round draft pick of the Chicago Bears.
Senior left guard David Wang is the younger brother of former standout Ed Wang, a 2010 fifth round draft pick. Backup right guard Alston Smith is the son of NFL Hall of Famer Bruce Smith, while offensive lineman Kyle Chung’s father is Eugene Chung, an assistant coach for the Kansas City Chiefs.
Injury update: Projected starting nose tackle Terry Williams has been upgraded to questionable this week. Williams has been working his way back on to the field after a knee injury and participated in practice on Sunday.
Receiver Daquan Barnes (back), inside linebacker Devaris Brunson (knee) and outside linebacker Kirk Donaldson are listed as out for Saturday’s game.