East Carolina head coach Scottie Montgomery set an unofficial record on Monday with a news conference that lasted all of seven minutes and 11 seconds. That’s 431 seconds by my count. That included his opening comments on the South Florida game, a preview of Temple and questions from the media.
Quite frankly, as a media member, I’m not sure what else can be asked.
This is a program that has a defense, at this time, that doesn’t give this team an opportunity to win a football game.
That can certainly change, but as of right now this tumultuous season continues to spiral downwards. Only a shanked kick at Connecticut stands between the Pirates’ 1-4 record and a likely 0-5 start, as the Huskies would have had all of the momentum in that overtime that never happened.
ECU continues as the nation’s 129th-ranked team in total defense. That’s 129th out of 129 teams.
I’ve asked Coach Montgomery about his defense twice since Saturday’s 61-31 loss to USF.
“I just think that the biggest thing that we have got to go out on the practice field and do is to execute, like I said, the junction points,” said Montgomery. “We are starting to get guys exactly where they are supposed to be. We had one-on-one situations on the perimeter, we had one-on-one situations on the inside, and they ran us over a couple of times. But I think that if we fundamentally get in better positions to tackle them it would have been different.”
The USF success on the Pirate defense doesn’t concern me as much as the UConn success from last Sunday. The Huskies simply were not that good offensively, but still rang up almost 600 yards of offense and certainly had a chance to steal away a victory late.
Coach Mo sort of agreed.
“I really do think that the speed, the overall team speed of USF, put us on our heels when we shouldn’t have been,” he said. “We should have been much more aggressive. What we are going to do in practice is try and give our defense as many great looks at speed, even from our No. 1 receiver, No. 2 receiver and No. 3 receiver. We are going to put as much speed as we can on the field and put them in space to make sure they can get to the spot.”
Speed shouldn’t be an issue this week against Temple.
The Owls have a new coach in Geoff Collins who is working to spread things out. Currently he doesn’t have anywhere near the same type of speed that USF has. Neither did UConn.
Montgomery was quick to point out that several Pirate defenders played well against USF. He said they played the way he remembers what Pirate football was like when he was a player at Duke.
“Defensively, some of those guys that show that toughness, the bright spot on our defense, were Aaron Ramseur, Alex Turner and Colby Gore,” said Montgomery. “I thought their speed placed our guys and it shouldn’t have. Our guys were on their heels, which made us a little bit more vulnerable to cut blocking. I thought the biggest story on our defense was at the junction points and usually all of them are junction points of cut blocks.”
Montgomery was asked about any Pirates that weren’t giving their best efforts. Coach Mo deflected the question away, saying he was only emphasizing the positives.
“It’s not more of a concern about the effort of others,” he said. “It’s more about me shining the light on guys that played with the true Pirate spirit. The ones that when I came and played against these guys [ECU] in 1999, those guys that were flying around. They may have not been the tallest or the biggest, and I want to recognize those guys because I thought that when they went against the opponent across from them every single snap, they tried to dominate the opponent.”
I believe one of the other disappointing parts of this season is that the Pirates aren’t playing tough in the fourth quarter. Even when they have been outmatched in talent in former years, ECU teams always played tough late.
There are certainly several winnable games left on the schedule. The offense can play with just about all of the teams left on the Pirate slate.
The defense has to turn the page and improve in all phases.