October 15, 2013
Eagles Prepare for ECU
After nearly five decades, it's finally over.
This Saturday will mark the last game between Southern Miss and East Carolina as members of Conference USA and the final matchup of this rivalry for the foreseeable future. The Pirates are moving to the American Athletic Conference after this season, putting a temporary ending to a series that has been played 38 times and dates back to 1951.
"I think any rivalry starts with two very good programs that, over time, have put themselves in position to play for the championship. That's where a rivalry is built, unless it is a geographical issue, which this is not," head coach Todd Monken said. "Really what it says is that East Carolina has had a really good program over the years and so has Southern Miss."
Things haven't been too kind to the Eagles lately, who are coming into the game with a nation-leading seventeen game losing streak still firmly intact. Southern Miss used a much-needed bye last week to attempt to get healthy and shake off the remains of a heartbreaking one-point loss to FIU at home two weeks ago.
Coach Todd Monken said his team has used the time off to mend some injuries and prepare for a talented ECU team that boasts the #2 offense in the conference.
"The positive part was I thought our guys responded well to the bye week in terms of how they practiced. I thought their attitude; their attention to detail and their body language was outstanding," Monken said.
"We got a chance, like any bye week, to assess what we're doing, assess personnel and how we can do it better. That's what we're paid to do, to try to figure that out. I think that's the one positive."
One thing Monken took a long look at was the play of starting quarterback Allan Bridgford, who has thrown 11 interceptions already this season and is feeling the pressure of a fan base growing impatient with the team's constant turnovers. The first-year head coach has been a little more patient with his quarterback, saying he is confident in Bridgford's ability to lead the team and confirming that he will start this Saturday in Greenville.
Keeping Bridgford and the rest of the players motivated has become more challenging as the losses continue to pile on but Monken has been impressed by how his team has responded to the adversity in practice. If it will translate to the field on Saturday is a totally different issue.
"Our guys' energy level and last week's practices were good. Is it frustrating? Of course it is. Is it frustrating for our
staff? You bet it is. But the energy level and the attitude and the body language have been fine," he said.
We've just got to figure out a way to do it better, starting with myself and our coaching staff. That's what we're paid to do and that's what we aim to do starting this week and moving forward. "
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