All of the early morning workouts, all of the practices in the spring and fall, all of the work in the classroom — it all adds up to why you play football at East Carolina.
You play football at ECU to play the game on those magical Saturdays. Make no mistake about it, this is the best time of the year.
You could see the anxiety on Scottie Montgomery’s face at his first in-season news conference on Monday. You could also see the confidence in his look. All we’re waiting on is for the calendar to turn to September 3rd for the start of Pirate football.
I came to Greenville in October of 1984 and immediately fell in love with the place. Pirate Nation has a big chip on its shoulder and for whatever reason it turned out to be a great fit for me personally. Coach Mo is the eighth ECU coach I have had the pleasure to work with. I wasn’t here for Coach Ed Emory’s debut, but I have been for all of the rest since then.
I look forward to Scottie Montgomery’s debut Saturday night.
It must be some kind of feeling to run onto Bagwell Field with your team. That’s the feeling Coach Montgomery will have this Saturday night.
He joked that the butterflies actually started flying around in his stomach on the day that he was hired.
My early observations on this program under Coach Montgomery are that the team appears disciplined and focused. There is certainly a plan in place.
The trick will be for that plan to translate into victories come September.
Montgomery says that every period of practice has been and continues to be vital. He wants his coaches and his players to give everything they have in each of those sets.
“I think they kicked in December 13th,” said Montgomery. “This is what we live for as coaches and competitors. There is nothing like the focus that goes into trying to get yourself prepared for spring ball, summer workouts and fall camp, but there is nothing like this week.”
This week will go quickly. The Pirate players had Monday off, while the coaches put together their game plans for week one. East Carolina will be a prohibitive favorite, but we’ve all seen upsets over the years, especially in the opening games.
Montgomery vows that his team will certainly be ready.
“We had a great workout last night,” said Coach Mo. “I think everybody’s mentality, of course, goes into a little bit of an overdrive because we’re trying to focus on every detail. You have got to realize that we prepare sometimes 35, 36 weeks of the year to have the ability to work for 14 weeks. Our coaches, they understand the gravity of the moment. I understand the gravity of the moment, and we’ve done a good job of making sure our players understand the gravity of the moment. It’s a big-time week.”
Montgomery took time out to briefly update both sides of the football. If you read between the lines, it looks like Coach Mo believes what many of us do — that this East Carolina offense has all kinds of firepower.
“Offensively, we think we’re in position to go out and play a clean football game,” said Montgomery. “We’ve been able to scale back on what we want to do. Philip (Nelson) has a great understanding of what we want to do and his weapons offensively. Our offensive front, we have worked really, really hard to become a better running football team.”
I believe this offense will look to establish the run early against Western Carolina, and then open things up later on.
On defense, the Pirates are expecting to see anything and everything from the Catamount offense. Montgomery says the option and triple option are part of the Western arsenal.
“They return seven or eight starters and the scheme presents a few challenges for us defensively,” he said. “One of the things you see on tape is they use the scheme to benefit their players, and a lot of people wouldn’t understand exactly what I mean. They do a good job in the zone-read scheme, and not only a zone-read scheme, but also the triple-option.”
The Pirates have certainly had their problems against option football (Navy) but this is a different staff and different team for that matter. Coach Montgomery will call on communication as the key for his team, especially on defense.
“Defensively, our point of emphasis is communication. We have to communicate at the highest level. I think that Coach (Kenwick) Thompson and his staff have done a great job of making people understand that communication is key. We’ve really worked hard on it from an offensive, defensive and special teams standpoint.”
Sure, there are many questions to start the season. That’s the fun of it!
Now, we’ll start getting the answers.
We’ll see you at Dowdy-Ficklen on Saturday night.