The old adage says that teams usually show the most improvement from week one to week two.
Pirate fans certainly hope and pray that’s not the case.
After James Madison trampled East Carolina on opening night in Greenville, West Virginia followed with a roundhouse punch of 49 first half points in a 56-20 shellacking in Morgantown.
Seriously, West Virginia could have scored 80 if it hadn’t taken the foot off the gas pedal. It was that bad.
ECU head coach Scottie Montgomery had promised changes and announced a big one on Sunday, replacing defensive coordinator Kenwick Thompson with veteran assistant Robert Prunty.
Montgomery explained it this way Sunday afternoon.
“We made some transition in the offseason and thought we did a good job with recruiting and putting a lot of talent on the defensive side of the ball,” he explained. “We got off to a slow start and I really challenged everybody to get better this week in some way, in some form. I didn’t necessarily think we got better. We needed a little bit of a change in direction.”
So Coach Mo made the move on Sunday afternoon.
On Monday at his weekly news conference I asked him what differences we would see right away on defense.
“One of the biggest things that I think you will see is a little bit of a different variance in the way we play in our fronts,” he explained. “Also we will play a little bit closer to a 4-2-5 than always having the guys shooting in the box, in-and-out of the box. We have to be able to settle down guys and knowing exactly which gaps they have.
“I thought we did a better job of gap control in this last game but we just spread way too much stress in situations in two-by-twos where we didn’t have a nickel kind of mid-pointing between the end of line of scrimmage and the No. 2 receiver.
“So I think you will see a little bit of variance in our defensive front, not necessarily not being four down but just some variances in there.”
I was fortunate enough to be the first to interview Coach Prunty since the promotion on my weekly radio show Monday night on Pirate Radio 1250 and 930.
You could tell that it was a tough time for him and the staff. You could also tell that Prunty looks forward to the challenge.
“We’re going to really hit the basics and that means tackling,” said Prunty. “It’s all about alignment and we’re going to get that down as well.”
I asked Prunty if he thought the team was physical enough in practice.
“I sure do,” he stated. “We even put pads on for Thursday’s practices. I know Coach Montgomery wants us to be physical and we certainly are.”
Thompson’s departure means the Pirates are a man down on the staff. Montgomery says a couple of other coaches will have increased responsibilities.
“It won’t be a full-time role but we will have someone,” said Montgomery. “Damon Magazu will be working with our safeties now. We will also call on Coach [David] Mackie to also be working in a new role.”
Virginia Tech comes to town this week as a three-touchdown favorite.
Montgomery says it’s absolutely vital for his Pirates to get off to a good start.
“It is very, very important,” said Montgomery. “I think the biggest, most important deal is that I think that our offense, every year as an offense you get better and better as each week goes on. That’s just kind of how the offense is when you are going against great football teams.
“Defensively it is really, really important that we start fast. We have got to find a way early to get a couple of stops and I don’t necessarily mean three-and-outs. I mean stops before it turns into one drive for a touchdown, two drives for a touchdown, three drives for a touchdown, because the energy on both sides of the ball are kind of predicated on that.”
Pirate fans may not be expecting a win this week but they ALWAYS think the team should be competitive.
So far in 2017 this ECU team is 0-2 in that category.
The Kidd says
Defensive line. What defensive line? We’ve been living and dying by our offense being able to score 50 points per game for years. We haven’t had a defensive line since Linval Joseph and Greg Hudson the defensive coordinator! I could be wrong here but wasn’t that also when Jeff Connors was at UNC? I just remember our entire team being a lot more “fit” at that time, whoever the strength and conditioning coach was.
Mike Wilson says
You might be right KIDD. Did you know Coach Greg Hudson was a base defense with three blitz package. The secondary was based on ZONE AUTO which was cover 2 or 4. It was simple defense and kid responded greatly. No thinking just playing around and playing football.
I wonder who Coach Mo going fired Monday on Offense side of the Ball. Our offense vs BUD FOSTER Defense. ECU might score 14 points and its going be towards the end of the game. 48 to 14
Jes Knappen says
I agree. Nonexistent defensive line and low scoring offense. Painful to watch. The first game was winnable. The next two; no chance! Take the spread again this week.