Switching to the 3-4

Last season East Carolina finished 6-7 despite ranking 120th in the nation in total yards and 119th in points allowed.

Head coach Ruffin McNeill recognized the need for a change to his defense. "So, right after the season we made the decision to make the change."

McNeill cited three main factors for making the switch.  First, he felt it fit their personnel better as the Pirates seemed to have a surplus of linebackers; but not enough depth along the defensive line.  Second, he felt that the quality and quantity of recruitable talent within their geographic base was far stronger at linebacker than for defensive linemen.  Third, McNeill believes that the 3-4 is a more flexible option for the Pirates in Conference USA where they face more passing oriented offenses. 

Once the decision was made to make the switch, McNeill sent his staff to visit with coaches at BYU and with the Pittsburgh Steelers.  

McNeill and his Pirates open up Saturday night at South Carolina, a certain test for the new defense. 

Elon's HC: I am Tony Dungy

This week Jason Swepson will coach his first game as a head coach when his Elon Phoenix play at Vanderbilt.

Swepson has served the last 13 seasons as an assistant under Tom O'Brien at Boston College and N.C. State.  In total, Swepson has served as an assistant for 19 seasons now, and credits O'Brien, Tom Coughlin and Jack Bicknell as three of his mentors.  

That's a successful, albeit stoic group.  Develop your plan, deliver your plan, take action on your plan, do not deviate from your plan.

Swepson says he learned his coaching philosophy from these men.  "It's structure.  It's discipline.  There's a start and there's a finish."

Over the years, Swepson said he read up on authoritarians such as Vince Lombardi and Bear Bryant; but when he picked up Tony Dungy's memoir it really hit home, "I was like, 'OK, I can apply the principles I learned from Coach Coughlin, Coach O'Brien and Coach Bicknell; but this is who I am, Tony Dungy' and I can kind of just mix it all together and see if it works."  

Swepson has set a schedule for the year for his staff and players.  Staff arrive at 7AM and leave by 9:30.  For the players, meetings begin at 2:45, practice starts at 4PM and dinner is served at 6:30.  

Swepson also tries to show more personality than some of his mentors did publicly.  "I think the kids understand that I like to laugh and I like to have fun and do all that; but when we blow the whistle after stretch, it's time to work....And that's probably what's different from a Coach Coughlin and maybe a Coach O'Brien.  When you came into the building, you were under the gun with them.


Sports marketing paying off

A few weeks ago LSU announced that for the eighth straight year they have sold out their allotment of season tickets for Tiger Stadium.  They also set a new record for season ticket sales this year selling nearly 69,000 season tickets.  

Capacity is over 92,000 but many of those seats are reserved for students, opponents and a limited number are sold on a mini-plan or individual game basis.

No doubt the results on the field are what is driving season ticket sales; but we also believe that LSU's sports marketing department is doing it's part as well.  LSU seems to invest more heavily in marketing videos and materials than some other programs; but the return that they are achieving seems to show this is a wise decision by athletic director Joe Alleva and his staff.

Here's the latest video: Mike vs. the Duck


Florida coordinators to be on the field

Will Muschamp announced today that Charlie Weis and Dan Quinn will both be on the field and calling the game.  

Running backs coach Brian White and defensive backs coach Travaris Robinson will be in the box.  

Regarding the defense, Muschamp said, "Dan is going to call it and I'll be on the headset."

Muschamp did seem to take an opposing view of that which Lane Kiffin is taking, in saying that the players who perform best in practice are those that will see the field on game day.  Sounds like Muschamp is looking for his best 22. 

Florida Atlantic ventures into The Swamp Saturday night at 7. 

The DII SEC West

This offseason six schools left the DII Gulf South Conference to form the Great American Conference.  Thus, the Gulf South is left with only 5 schools (Delta State, North Alabama, Valdosta State, West Alabama and West Georgia).

Speaking honestly, West Alabama's first year head coach Will Hall said, "No offense to anyone; but that was four, five or six wins you could count on each year.  What's left is like the SEC West.

Hall takes over a team that went 7-4 last season; although the 4 losses came by a combined nine points.  In an interview this weekend, Hall said the biggest difference between himself and former head coach Bobby Wallace was that, "He (Wallace) is one of the most patient people I have ever met and I am probably one of the most impatient...Every team takes on the attitude of it's head coach.  Our team will take on the attitude of being impatient."  

Senior wide receiver Gerald Worsham said, "It (last season) was very frustrating, we knew we could do better and we were nine points away from maybe being No. 1....We've never had much senior leadership and Coach put this right into the seniors' hands."

Hall and West Alabama open the season Thursday night at South Alabama.  The "SEC West" portion of the schedule comes late as they play all four conference opponents between weeks 7 and 10.  


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