Thankfully, the 2017 East Carolina football season came to an end on Saturday in Memphis.
The Tigers made short work of ECU, rolling to a 49-0 halftime lead on their way to a 70-13 victory.
All of the talk of Pirate improvement started to crash down on the game’s first play from scrimmage.
Memphis quarterback Riley Ferguson hit Anthony Miller on a little first down bubble screen. Miller took the football 89-yards for the touchdown. The Tigers never looked back.
Memphis had very little to play for in the regular season finale. The Tigers had already clinched the American’s West Division title. Sure, they wanted to win to continue to move up the national rankings, but other than that the Tigers just wanted to stay healthy.
At times the game looked like a 7-on-7 pass skeleton. The ECU defense was non-existent and the Tigers scored at will.
The Pirates were hoping to put up enough fight to show the fans that the team had improved.
Coach Scottie Montgomery had said the Memphis game was very important to show that improvement.
He said his team needed to show everyone that things will be different in the future.
Unfortunately the game proved to just be more of the same.
Add it all up and the Pirates gave up 50 plus points in half of their games. ECU gave up over 60 points in four games and 70 once, in the season finale.
The Pirates were dead last in the nation in total defense.
Coach Mo caused quite the stir when he had this to say to the media after the loss to Memphis.
“I haven’t made a whole lot of guarantees since I got here, but we’ll be a better football team, and we’re going to go play in the postseason next year,” Montgomery told the media. “I’m convicted, and I know the guys will be. We’ve got to add a few pieces to the puzzle, there’s no question, and we’ve got to do some things differently and I accept that. That’s exactly what we’ll do.”
Twitter and Facebook were buzzing with reactions late Saturday.
Perhaps it’s Coach Montgomery putting all of his chips on the table. All of a sudden it’s ‘bowl game or bust’ for ECU in 2018.
I think the statement would have a lot more bite had the Pirates shown improvement in the finale at Memphis. Halftime blowouts happened way too often this season for this team.
The major frustration for Pirate fans is that lack of competitive games this season. In the nine losses, only the Tulane game was close.
There’s normally a process to turning a program around. The saying goes that you have to walk before you can run. Your team has to be competitive before it can win. It’s a couple of months until spring football, and some eight months until August camp.
The Pirates have always been a program with fight. To be the best, you have to beat the best, and the Pirates of old would schedule and battle with the best of the best. They certainly didn’t win them all but they usually battled and sometimes pulled off an upset or two.
The best teams in ECU history always played with a chip on their shoulder.
That chip was a by-product of a player not being recruited by the big boys, or being overlooked by other instate teams, or being undersized. That chip carried the East Carolina football program a long way at times.
Montgomery’s first chore may be to figure out how to get that chip back. Teams had way too much of an easy time in beating ECU this season.
I can’t guarantee the postseason but I can guarantee this:
Give the Pirate Nation a team that is competitive in every game, that fights to the bitter end, that plays with a chip on its shoulder, and I’ll give you a Pirate team that all ECU fans will show up for.
Pirate fans don’t expect to go undefeated. They do expect a team and a program that won’t back down to anyone.
Get the chip back, and the rest will take care of itself.