After a crazy month of weather it is on to October for the East Carolina football team.
One game was moved by a day, while another was canceled and is still in limbo.
Through it all, the Pirates are at .500 as the calendar flips over to the tenth month of the year.
Saturday’s 37-35 win over upstart Old Dominion gives the program a real shot of momentum as conference play resumes. The American Athletic Conference took note as well, honoring kicker Jake Verity as the league’s “Special Teams Player of the Week” and Nate Harvey as the league’s “Defensive Player of the Week.”
Verity improved to 8-8 on the season in field goal attempts with the game winner on Saturday night. Harvey has gone from 5th string running back to one of the nation’s top statistical leaders on defense.
“Once you look at it, all of them are connected, especially this week,” said ECU coach Scottie Montgomery at his weekly news conference Monday. “If Jake [Verity] doesn’t get that chance to kick that field goal at the end, then he probably wouldn’t be the Special Teams Player of the Week. If Nate doesn’t make the sacks and the tackles for loss that give us the chance to get the ball back, then he wouldn’t be the Defensive Player of the Week. We’re really happy that it’s connected, and it says a lot to our team.”
The Pirates have a most odd situation at quarterback. The football adage says that if you have two quarterbacks, then you really don’t have any. Montgomery, though, says he likes using all three of his quarterbacks in a game.
“I like my three,” said Montgomery. “I’ve had one and that one has gotten hurt and then you have zero. I hope that math can tell you I like my three and I like the skill set of our three. What’s really significant for everyone to understand is that all three are playing in their first year at quarterback, all three of them. So, one of the things we’re seeing is first-year mistakes from all three of them. If we can clean up some of the first-year mistakes with the talent we have around them and the creativity we have going on now around them, they have a chance to be pretty special. I like our three and I’ll take those three all the time.”
A key play in the game came late, when Montgomery’s starter at quarterback, Reid Herring, looked like he was trying to throw one away. An ODU defensive back almost came up with the interception. It was as close as it can get.
I was standing about six or seven feet from the play and I thought ODU safety Justice Davila had the interception. One official ruled it a catch and the other said Davila was bobbling the football and didn’t have control. I’ve seen several replays and think the call could have gone either way.
On Monday, Conference USA Coordinator of Football Officials Gerald Austin addressed the play with this comment.
“I have confirmed that even though the official may have gotten the call correct he was too technical in his decision to rule incomplete on that interception,” said Austin. “He should have called it a catch and let replay decide. We cannot take a play away from a player that we cannot back up as officials.”
WHAT????? From my vantage point on the sideline I watched and listened as the officials got together. One of them said they were certain that he didn’t have possession. The other indicated that he thought it was a good catch, and didn’t see a bobble. One overruled the other and they came up with an incomplete pass and called it that way. If replay was conclusive, then the call would have been overturned. It’s the official’s job to do the best to get the call right. It’s replay’s job to overturn an obvious error. There was simply nothing obvious about this play. The play could have gone either way.
Austin’s comments were bizarre at best. Too technical? I think Mr. Austin was ‘too technical’ in his explanation.
So now the Pirates get back into conference play visiting Temple. The Owls have had the Pirates’ number of late. ECU hasn’t beaten the Owls since 1995. They didn’t play from ’95 until 2014 when the two started playing as members of the American Athletic Conference.
Temple has scored a non-offensive touchdown in all five of its games so far this season. The Owls have scored a total of six touchdowns with their defense and special teams.
“On special teams, this is going to be a big week for us,” said Montgomery. “They apply a lot of pressure in special teams and are very opportunistic. They tip the ball away in a turnover situation. They’ve dominated games through special teams. We have our work cut out for us in that area. We’re going to have to be really sound and our best players are going to have to play their best on special teams this week.”
Add in the offense and defense to that statement as well. These Pirates played with great poise and confidence two weeks ago in Tampa, and repeated that effort in the win over ODU at home.
It will certainly take that same kind of effort this week in Philadelphia.