Tropical Storm Isaias is churning off the coast of the Carolinas and could begin to impact Greenville in earnest this evening and into the night. Despite the storm and some inclement weather this morning, ECU’s football team was able to squeeze in practice No. 4 of preseason camp in the afternoon hours.

“If you’re not dealing with coronavirus stuff, you’re dealing with a hurricane,” head coach Mike Houston said on Monday. “It’s always keeping you on your feet here in Eastern North Carolina. Started practice this morning, lightning ran us off the field, so had to take a break. Came back this afternoon, was able to get practice in.”

With all of the different factors bearing down on them, the Pirates were able to turn-in yet another high-energy practice that keeps the program moving toward its Aug. 29 matchup against Marshall in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

“Really good energy this afternoon,” Houston said. “Had a pretty good mixture of run play-action pass period, had some good competition, ended with a really extended team period, got a lot of reps in today. It’s going to be great film to watch. Saw a lot of really positive plays, both sides of the football. Really good energy, coaches out there having fun. It was a really enjoyable afternoon on the field. One of those when you come off and you just feel good about the progress you’re making as far as the team as a whole.”

Minus ECU emblazoned masks worn by the coaching and support staff and the spread out nature of the practices, Houston said Monday felt more like a normal practice since preseason camp started last week.

“You had some jawing back and forth between the offense and the defense,” Houston said. “You had some big plays by the offense and then the defense had some big plays. It felt like — I’m not going to say normal because we’re all out there with our masks up and the kids are spread out all over the place — but it felt like more of a normal situation than it has so far. It was a good afternoon, a lot of fun out there. It’s always good when the kids will compete like that.”

What was supposed to be an off-day from practice for ECU instead saw them put on shoulder pads for the first time yesterday. The program is scheduled to move to full pads later this week, pending the impact of Isaias on the eastern part of the state.

With four consecutive days of practice in the books, the pressure is taken off to attempt to fit a practice into Tuesday’s schedule. Should Isaias linger in the Greenville area, ECU will take a day off that Houston originally had scheduled for Sunday.

“I was glad to get today in because tomorrow is a little bit of an unknown as far as, are we going to be able to get a practice in or not,” Houston said. “I’m OK either way tomorrow because we got four straight days, which in a normal camp, that wouldn’t be that significant. These kids haven’t practiced since last November. So to get four straight days in is a little bit of a shock to their system. If we have to take an off-day from practice tomorrow, that’s fine.

“If we’re able to get one in tomorrow afternoon, that’s fine too. We’ll take a day here sometime in the next couple of days just to give them a chance to get their feet back under them. Pleased with the work so far, though.”

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