Scottie Montgomery discusses upcoming Virginia Tech game

GREENVILLE, N.C. – Second-year ECU Head Football Coach Scottie Montgomery addressed members of the media on Monday prior to Saturday’s home game against No. 16 Virginia Tech. The following are selected comments:

Opening Statement:
“A little quick recap on the West Virginia game. We had a slow start at West Virginia on defense, and then we came back with a solid drive on offense and went down and got points. Then unfortunately we couldn’t slow them down again. We had a chance to get the ball back to answer on 14-3 and go back to 14-10, but we had an errant snap by John Spellacy, who thought he heard the snap count. The defense was just making an adjustment and a young kid in that situation, he snapped it. He didn’t have another bad snap and I thought he graded it out actually pretty good.

“Defensively I don’t think that we spread the stress around equally. I thought we played much harder as a team in the second half. Special teams, I thought we left some opportunities on the field against them and had poor execution. We didn’t execute well. The onside (kick) that I called we worked really hard. I think it came up short by half a yard, which is the difference in winning and losing in those situations. We just didn’t play to the level that I would expect us to play. I thought we played much harder, like I said, in the second half.

“During the game we got a few bumps and bruises. We only really have two major concerns. Right now, Colby Gore and Thomas Sirk are in the concussion protocol. The test did not rule them out for the game (this week) but we have to stay on that from a day-to-day basis to see what their availability will be. I’ll know more about that tomorrow and even more about it on Wednesday. Messiah Rice will return to us this week back into the lineup and we look forward to him getting some snaps. Not necessarily into our starting lineup but he does return to our lineup this week.”

On Virginia Tech:
“Virginia Tech is an extremely talented team offensively, defensively and special teams. Defensively, they are led by Bud Foster in the 4-2-5 defense. But he has done a really good job using Mook Reynolds and a defensive secondary that is a as highly talented group that I have ever played against with so many draft picks. They have kind of known for a long time that they would have draft picks back there. Their interior defensive line, two guys playing the interior are two really, really good football players and will give us a hard task on the inside, but we will be up to the challenge. I thought our offensive line play got a lot better this week; they didn’t give up any sacks. We rushed the ball for about 130 yards but the rushing game had to be a little bit slowed because of the score and it changed quite a bit. But I thought our offensive line grew. I thought the left side of our offensive line played at the level we expect them to play. They had a few mental errors in there but that will be a challenge that we are all looking forward to seeing as the game goes on.

“Offensively with Josh Jackson at quarterback, what they’ve done is given themselves a chance to use all their personnel especially in the run game. He does a good job of extending plays in the run game to create some late run-pass options. Also at running back Travon McMillian is a great runner. They do a good job running inside zone. Also they will use a counter in power to try and keep you off balance on defense. Defensively what we will have to do before this game is we have to simplify a few things. Take the stress off some of our players and spread it around equally and I think that our guys will rally behind Coach Prunty and the defensive staff to play at a higher level than we have played the last couple of games and that is what we are expecting to do.”

On What The Defensive Will Look Like Behind Coach Prunty:
“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. 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.”

On Having Confidence With Recent Success Against ACC Opponents:
“We are pretty confident right now after last night. We had to go through a lot yesterday. Defensively we had a great meeting yesterday in the defensive meeting room. Offensively, I thought our coaches did a good job. They pulled all the positives from the game and we went in a completely different light. We tried to correct all the negatives. We talked about our penalties; we talked about all the things that we could correct. We don’t necessarily see ACC success or Virginia Tech success or any of that. What we see is a team that we need to get better and focus on us and that’s what we tried to do last night.”

On Which Quarterback Has Been More Consistent:
“It’s kind of hard to say because both of them have been in and at times both of them have looked great. Gardner (Minshew) came in and looked great at the end (West Virginia), Thomas (Sirk) was real gutsy during the game. Right now, Thomas is still our starting quarterback unless something changes and then we will move forward with it.”

On Promotions Within The Defensive Staff:
“It won’t be a full-time role but we will have someone, 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.”

On Thomas Sirk Starting Saturday If He Is Healthy:
“If he is healthy and he is ready to go, more than likely he will be the guy that starts. If there is something that we see throughout the week that changes that from a health standpoint, then we feel very comfortable going with Gardner. We thought Gardner came in and was a lot more settled than he was in the first game.”

On Tyshon Dye’s Performance At West Virginia:
“He was really aggressive with inside zone running and when he got to the second level he made a guy miss, which created a long run – something we hadn’t seen in a long time. We still have got to clean him up on a few things. He made a couple of mental errors in the game but I thought he ran the ball effectively.”

On Possible Advantage After Seeing Virginia Tech And West Virginia Play:
“I think we got a chance to see them in back-to-back weeks. A little bit of a different atmosphere you know in the Virginia Tech-West Virginia game. I thought they came out against Delaware and played great defense and did exactly what they wanted to do on offense. They were going back home and being able to play at home so it was advantageous, but there’s still a lot we don’t know about this team because of a new quarterback (Josh Jackson). They are still growing and every week they are going to give this quarterback more and more.”

On The Importance Of Having Success Early Against Virginia Tech:
“It is very, very important. 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.”

On Playmakers Get The Ball More This Week:
“We have made a conservative effort. I have told you before that I was going to do a better job personally of making sure that our playmakers get the ball more and we are going to continue to grow that. That will get better and we will make sure that in some crucial situations we get better at that. There were a few crucial situations in the game that we could have gotten our playmakers the ball more and we will continue to do that.”

On Offensive Play Calling:
“I have become more involved in that as of late but for the most part Tony (Peterson) is still. I’ve got nothing but trust and faith in what we do. What we’ve got to do is get on the same page in making plays. We’ve had a few drives where one guy makes plays, another guy makes plays, we need everyone to make plays consecutively and we don’t need dropped balls here and there. Everybody just needs to play together.”