Is it me or does defense dominate every first scrimmage at East Carolina? It certainly seems that way.
Even the high-powered offenses of late led by the likes of Shane Carden, and even those of a more vintage era led by David Garrard, Marcus Crandell and Jeff Blake seemed to all struggle in that first scrimmage.
Hopefully, it’s a sign that this new look defense is ready to make a difference in 2017.
Defense definitely ruled the day in the first scrimmage of fall camp.
“You can hear (the defense) over there right now and how excited they are to come out to play,” said second year head coach Scottie Montgomery to the media after the scrimmage on Saturday. “I’ve put a lot of pressure on that group, because I think that group is ready to go. I feel good about who they are and the leadership they have on t hat side of the ball, but to see them come out and play well today was really good.”
Turnovers were the big story in this first scrimmage. There were a total of six. That’s one of the areas coaches have emphasized early in camp. This is a team that has to create pressure and get turnovers in order to have success on defense.
Coach Montgomery took a day to examine the game film from the first scrimmage and then had this evaluation after Sunday’s practice.
“I was satisfied with our effort today following a physical scrimmage,” said Montgomery. “We came back today and cleaned up some things on the defensive side of the ball, such as alignment and communication, that I didn’t see yesterday until watching film. On offense we talked about a lot of the details, especially taking care of the football. But overall after watching tape, I think we are in a good place as a team.”
While the defense shined on Saturday the offense had to take a step back. This offense was really never stopped early last season, except by turnovers. Those turnovers cost the Pirates dearly last season and that certainly got the attention of offensive coordinator Tony Petersen.
“It was great to see the defense get turnovers, but we also had the ball in our hands and gave it to them,” Petersen told the media after the Saturday scrimmage. “Yes, there were guys who were backups out there, but they still have to hold on to it.”
Petersen was especially upset because protecting the football has been a prime focus at camp this summer.
“It’s the number one thing we talked about when we started camp and the number one thing that kept us from two, three or four more wins last year,” Petersen stated.
One of the other headlines from Saturday’s first scrimmage was the play of former J.H. Rose standout Mydreon Vines. The true freshman caught ten balls for 123 yards. He also caught a 10-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Gardner Minshew.
Probable starters Jimmy Williams and Davon Grayson didn’t play for precautionary reasons.
Reports out of practice indicate that Minshew may be leading the quarterback battle. He led two of the scoring drives and was 11-of-17 for 181 yards on the day. Thomas Sirk was 9-of-14 for 118 yards.
Coach Montgomery says he’ll name his starter after the second scrimmage.
Defense ruled this first scrimmage.
Look for the offense to bounce back in scrimmage number two.
It always does. Just ask Carden, Garrard, Crandell and Blake.