Dec 182012
 

ECU coach Ruffin McNeill smiles as he talks about the Pirates' upcoming bowl game.   (Rhett Butler/The Daily Reflector)

ECU coach Ruffin McNeill smiles as he talks about the Pirates’ upcoming bowl game. (Rhett Butler/The Daily Reflector)

By Nathan Summers

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The crowd, or at least crowd noise, was deafening at the final home East Carolina football practice of the season.

Monday was one last chance for the Pirates (8-4) to simulate a few game sequences for what head coach Ruffin McNeill said he believes will be a raucous New Orleans Bowl on Saturday inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

The third-year coach has said for the last couple of weeks he expects half of the dome’s nearly 75,000 seats to be packed with Pirate fans for the noon EST showdown against defending bowl champ Louisiana. Last year, the Ragin Cajuns brought better than 30,000 to the dome for their victory over San Diego State.

“We expect that and probably more,” McNeill said of the non-stop simulated crowd noise that accompanied Monday’s brief workout, which he described as mostly a game rehearsal with no contact and limited special teams work. “They’ve sold out and we’ve done some research. They’ll be loud.”

This morning the 8-4 Pirates are on their way to New Orleans, and they won’t get much time to cool their heels.

They’ve got a 3 p.m. practice scheduled at the New Orleans Saints facility in nearby Metairie, and McNeill said his team is officially in game mode from this point forward.

After a long layoff in between the end of the regular season and Saturday’s game, the coach said his players are ready for an opponent.

“They got their travel sweats (Monday), and there are a lot of things going on with them, so I think they’re excited about it,” McNeill said of the team’s final preparations on Monday. “I think they got a little tired of hitting each other, but I think we’ll have a lively practice (today) in New Orleans.”

The setup

The Pirates will practice at the Saints facility again at 3 p.m. on Wednesday before a 6 p.m. welcome party for the team to be held at Rock ’N Bowl.

On Thursday, the team will practice inside the dome at 1 p.m., after which selected players will visit the city’s Ochsner Hospital.

On Friday, players from both teams will attend an awards luncheon at the New Orleans Marriott.

Contact Nathan Summers at nsummers@reflector.com or 252-329-9595.

via The Daily Reflector.

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