I have joked at times this season that I not only don’t have the answers, I’m beginning to wonder what the questions are.
The search for answers continues at East Carolina after the Pirates fell 63-21 at the hands of Central Florida in Orlando on Saturday night.
It’s gotten so bad that second-year head coach Scottie Montgomery took time out of his weekly news conference to ask Pirate fans to show their support for the program by coming to the homecoming game against Brigham Young.
“The main reason I ask this is because of the sacrifice of our football players,” said Montgomery. “The next thing is supporting the university and supporting and serving our colors. This isn’t easy. There is no rhyme or reason to what has happened. But what I’ll do is that I will say I know that true Pirate fans will come out and support us.
“I understand how hard it is to watch a product be the way that you want it to be. But I can guarantee that these guys in the locker room are giving every single thing that they have. We are working as hard as we possibly can and the product will get better. I want people to be there so they can see it when it starts to turn.”
Whether it starts to turn this week against BYU remains to be seen. The Cougars are struggling as well, but have played a bit of a tougher schedule to date.
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The Cougars will officially make the longest journey by a current FCS program to play at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium Saturday night. BYU will make a 1,886-mile trip this week, further than the likes of Texas-El Paso, Texas State and Texas Christian.
The Pirates and Cougars have played a total of 14 games. Both teams have just a single win. ECU beat Connecticut while BYU opened its season with a win over Portland State.
Oddsmakers like BYU by just short of a touchdown in the game.
BYU has struggled offensively, much like Temple before the Owls got to Greenville. The Cougars have most likely looked at the tape and can’t wait to get here.
Look how much has happened since the only other meeting between BYU and ECU.
The Cougars and coach Bronco Mendenhall beat ECU and coach Ruffin McNeill, 45-38, in October of 2015. The two coaches apparently hit it off. Mendenhall took off for Virginia after the season and then hired McNeill after Coach Ruff was fired by ECU.
Two years later both programs are in turmoil.
Montgomery knows that this BYU team, like his own, is desperate for a win.
“You look at what they’re going through and they have been hit with a ton of injuries on offense and defense,” said Montgomery. “It’s a team that traditionally has great depth and they have been hit quite a bit with injuries moving to this point. They’ve also played a ridiculously tough schedule. They’ve played Wisconsin, LSU — big time opponents — Mississippi State, you name it.
“I don’t think anybody would trade their schedule to this point in time, so we are looking at a really good football team that just happened to go against the likes of Boise State and some other places that have been traditionally great football programs.”
Make no mistake about it. East Carolina needs a win and needs it now.
The problem is that BYU faces the same scenario. Two desperate teams some 1,800 miles apart.
Call it the “Desperation Bowl.”
It’s most likely as close as either team will get to a bowl this season.