The East Carolina University football team is finishing up the first half of spring practice and is preparing to have its first scrimmage of the spring season on Saturday morning.

The East Carolina University football team is finishing up the first half of spring practice and is preparing to have its first scrimmage of the spring season on Saturday morning.

Head coach Mike Houston has been gearing up the team for the scrimmage in practice. After getting to know the team more as each day has passed, Houston believes that the team is a lot better than what it was at the beginning of spring practice.

“There is no doubt that we have improved as a team,” Houston said. “It was after Saturday that we went in and watched film spending a lot of time with it. The thing is that when you sit back and you look at it verses that first Monday of contact, there is a drastic improvement and I would be disappointed because the way I feel coming off the field if we don’t look at the film today and see an improvement for Saturday so this team is getting better.”

A big emphasis going into spring practice was improving in physicality, technique and tackling, Houston said. Overall, the football team has been working to improve in those areas and looks to continue doing that moving forward.

“We are continuing to try and improve in those areas,” Houston said. “Certainly we are starting to expand the offense, we are starting to expand the defense, we are putting more wrinkles in, but it still comes down to the same base fundamentals on a daily basis that we are trying to get consistently really good at.”

One of the biggest emphasis’ with working on the defense is how they will be able to be just as aggressive on the defensive side of the ball with senior defensive end Nate Harvey graduating and declaring for the NFL draft. Houston and the defensive coordinators have been working on trying to figure out how to replace the impact Harvey brought to the team during the 2018 season when he finished third in the nation in sacks per game (1.21) and first in tackles for loss each game (2.1).

“Certainly Harvey was a great player for us last year and it’s hard to replace a guy of his caliber,” Houston said. “The big thing is that we are going to have to do it together. I don’t know just yet if we have one individual that will be that productive but I think that we can be very productive as a unit.”

Houston went in with a gameplan of how to work with the team and get them going. Like every coach, Houston has his list of different criteria that everyone on the team has to meet on a daily basis.

Houston expressed how Wednesday was one of the best practices all year, but said that there are still things the team has to work on and get better at. Whenever individual players on the team makes a mistake, Houston said his big thing is to hold them accountable and to do that the same for each of the players on the team.

“You have certain variables, certain standards, that you have to hold them accountable to every single day,” Houston said. “You just don’t tolerate anything that doesn’t meet that standard and that’s the way you gotta do it but you got be consistent with it. You can’t treat one player one way, and another player a different way, you gotta treat them all the same and you got to hold all accountable. I do think they are seeing that and I do think that they are responding positively to that.”

The first scrimmage is set to kick off on Saturday morning with no exact time set. Houston said he feels that not only has the team gotten better overall, but they have gotten to know each other better and that will show when the team will step onto the field to show what it has been working on throughout spring training.

“I think we are getting to know our team and our team is getting to know us,” Houston said. “I would be really disappointed if we did not have a great weekend. If we can have a great practice on Friday, and a really sharp scrimmage on Saturday then I will be very pleased going into next week.”

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