Scottie Montgomery previews Saturday's road game at Central Florida

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GREENVILLE, N.C. – Second-year ECU Head Football Coach Scottie Montgomery addressed members of the media on Monday prior to Saturday’s road game at No. 22 UCF. The following are selected comments:

Opening Statement:

“Coming off of a disappointing loss against Temple, a few things that stood out in that game were that we didn’t have an identity whatsoever in the run game offensively. Defensively I thought we did some things better, but we have got to win some of those one-on-one battles that we have struggled with all year at the corner position and also in our fronts in some of the one-on-one blocking situations. The bright spots on defense were Aaron Ramseur who had nine tackles and an interception. In addition, Davondre “Tank” Robinson at safety really played well and helped us out, while Mike Myers gave us some great play at times.

“Offensively we got a strong performance from Jimmy Williams and Davon Grayson. Davon, even though his yardage wasn’t where it usually is, he graded out to be the best player on offense for the week but our run game is directly connected to a few things. The one thing I will say is that we have to find the correct and perfect combination in our offensive front and then we have got to continue to understand to press the line of scrimmage at running back to help our running game. Finally, the missed assignments - we had too many missed assignments in our offensive front that had nothing to do with the physicality of the game after I went back and watched film. It’s simple and fundamental things that can be corrected and that is what we plan on doing.”

On UCF:

“Moving forward, we are going against a really good UCF football team. They have a lot of speed and what they do offensively is they like to stretch you horizontally in the run game, and then they will stretch you vertically in the passing game. They are playing at a higher level on offensive than we have seen this year. They are averaging a ridiculous amount of yardage per play and last week. I think they had under 50 plays but they had so many big plays in the passing and running game.

“On defense is where this team has grown the most. Defensively they play with tremendous amount of passion and speed. Shaquem Griffin is one of the best players in this conference if not in the country, and Jamiyus Pittman is another great football player. At linebacker Pat Jasinski, he has 27 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and a sack. They are doing a great job offensively and defensively right now and they’ve got a lot of speed in special teams. Their biggest asset that they have is a lot of speed. They’ve done a good job of recruiting down in Florida and elsewhere. They are also a team that is playing with a lot of juniors and seniors, built the team the right way and doing things the right way. Coach Frost is doing a great job with this team.”

On UCF Having Any Weaknesses:

“Not that I can find and not that we can see. I’ll tell you what they do well; I’ll talk about one of the positives versus their weaknesses. They do a good job of identifying one matchup in the game that they really like and they go after it. Over and over and over again until you do something to change it up. So we are going to have to do a good job of trying to identify a matchup that we really like and use some of what they’re doing to be productive on offense. But I don’t think that they have a whole lot of weaknesses or any weaknesses that I can see. What they do have is a lot of size in their defensive front and a lot of speed in their defensive secondary, their linebackers and their skill positions on offense. Every one of them can run.”

On Fixing Defensive Struggles:

“I think that we are trying to fix it week to week. We have got to get our personnel in that should be playing at all times. I think our personnel like Tim Irvin being in the game helped us fix a few of the missed tackle problems that we had. I think “Tank” Robinson added to the mix now gives us a little more athleticism at the safety position from time to time where he had to learn. But it is going to be a growing issue for us to go forward. We are going to have to fix a lot of those small problems that we have and a lot of it is directly related to tackling. I think that Coach [Robert] Prunty has done a good job of reducing what we do. I’ve never seen so many corner backs in position to make plays and now we’ve got to grow them to the point of where they actually make plays. Hopefully we can continue to fix it throughout the season but moving forward definitely going to have some conversations about personnel.”

On Offensive Line Play Making Progress Until Temple:

“I was very surprised. It was very surprising. We’ve worked really hard in trying to build that group and that’s kind of the way that I am looking at it, as one game they didn’t play as well as they could. They’ve been growing every single week and they’ve been protecting better. This was a week where our tackles didn’t necessary protect the way that we’ve seen. I’ve seen some good players get in but we just didn’t protect in the situations where we are used to seeing three, four, five kick slides. We didn’t see that from our tackles and they beat us up a little bit on the edge, which was frustrating for Thomas [Sirk] at times because he feels that he has some things he can do. But I really thought that came directly from our inability that we had to run the football. People can pin their ears back on your tackles and come at him all game. If you don’t have a personality in the run game then it is going to be tough for you to protect the passer. So yes, I was a little bit shocked in the way that we performed on the offensive front and I know they were a little bit shocked. It was a sad meeting yesterday because once they get to see it on tape they realized we were one step away, one play away, and then it turned into the type of meeting where ‘hey we can fix this and it’s all us in here together’. I really like the fact that nobody on offense was pointing finger toward them and they didn’t point back. It was good, it was hard for them to see themselves kind of take a step back in this game and they’ve been progressing every game so far.”

On Seeing Those Problems In Practice Or Just On Game Day:

“We are not seeing a lot of those problems in practice. It would be a lot easier to fix them if we were seeing a lot of them in practice. One of the things that we are seeing our staff, especially our young coaches, they’re doing a good job giving us information that we need to give our guys. It’s been awesome. Some of those opportunities that we had in the game, which was frustrating of course for the quarterback and defense, we actually got the same exact call. We had the same exact hash on the same exact part of the field and we didn’t execute it. We saw the coverage right and our show team was doing a fantastic job, we just didn’t go out and execute. Even to the point of where we had an issue in practice where one of our coaches caught the issue, corrected the issue, brought it to the hotel to make sure we saw it again and we got that same look in the game and we didn’t execute it. So that made it tough. We are not seeing a lot of those issues that we have. We had a lot of good on good work last week and we weren’t expecting to be in a situation where we had to throw the ball and protect that many times in a game. We’ve got to be able to run the football here at ECU. We’ve got to be able to run the football. For us to do what we need to do, protect the quarterback, we’ve got to have an identity in running the football. So we will spend as much time as we’ve spent in the past and more trying to get the correct combination at offensive line and the correct combination in the backfield to be able to get that done.”

On Not Naming A First-Team Player On The Depth Chart:

“You’ve got guys that are halfway injured and guys that are not halfway injured. It’s an “OR” on a lot of them because you don’t know if they are going to be able to practice on Tuesday, or will they be able to practice on Wednesday. That’s kind of where it goes. I am trying to be as transparent with everybody on who we actually have access to and who will actually start. I’m not going to name a starter for a guy that we don’t even know if he is going to go Tuesday or Wednesday. Those are some of the “ORs” that you see on the depth chart. Its more about the guys being physically fit and being able to play.”

On How Physically Banged Up The Offensive Line Is:

“When we say banged up, you see [John] Spellacy is a big question mark. D’Ante Smith is another guy that would be a big question mark and Cortez Herrin is another guy that hasn’t been completely healthy for the majority of the year. Then the “OR” of finding out where Garrett McGhin plays, so those are the reasons that you see the “OR” listed.”

On Instilling Discipline In A Short Amount Of Time:

“It’s not just on the field, its every single day and its every single play, going through the locker room to make sure that every shoe is in line the way it is supposed to be. But our discipline is something that they’ve worked really hard on. I was upset of course after the game because of the penalties, but I got to go back and look at some of the penalties on tape and you don’t agree with some of the things that happen on tape or the calls but you’ve got to coach through it. So we are still going to push ahead the discipline that I talked about and guys that have discipline penalties, they have to pay the price for having discipline penalties. We’re going to play the people that are most disciplined. I think we’ve got some great young talent on this team. We’re going to play them, we’re going to play the guys that have worked really hard the last four, five years being here, we are just going to play a lot more people. But our discipline, it has to be better. It doesn’t just start on the field. We have officials during practice and we don’t see as many flags in three or four weeks at practice than we did in the first quarter of this game. We are doing everything that we can to create more discipline and it isn’t just starting this week. But yes there will be more emphasis on it. We have to pay attention to not only the penalties that we are getting but the people that are getting them.”

On Saturday’s Attendance:

“I really wasn’t focused on it too much. I had heard that sometimes fall break is a certain way and I have played in stadiums with a lot less people and won games. So as far as that’s concerned, we’ve got to handle our business on the field. That’s what I tell each one of these coaches and these players, if that bothers you then you are in the wrong profession. You’re supposed to be coaching not supposed to be spectating to see what’s going on outside of the field. If you’re watching that then you are watching the wrong thing. Our fans will come, they will show up and cheer, and we have got to do our part, which is play and coach.”

On The Areas Of Scheme, Recruiting And Development:

“Scheme I think we are growing every single second. I think recruiting we have had one full class to recruit here. That’s the frustrating part of it all. I feel like I could have helped our situation a lot more with 25 scholarships quicker and quickly. But the foundation of the program, you can’t just go out and recruit 25 junior college players. You can’t do that to your program, so we have had to recruit some young guys and we’ve got young guys playing. The development, I think we have a ways to go in every situation. I think that we can develop our guys better and we can make sure when they get to their junior year they’ll be a little more physically fit than we are right now. Coach C [Connors] is doing a good job working with those guys. We also have to bring in the highest level of recruiting. One of the things that a lot of people need to understand is that we are recruiting in a different pool now. It was fine if you watched the talent level of some of the places in the last conference that we were in, it’s fine to play. But now, every week you are seeing guys that are big time draft picks and we have to get to the point that where we are recruiting draft picks to go against those draft picks. And that’s exactly what we are doing. I think that we have a couple of players on this football team that are definite draft picks and we have just got to continue to grow and make sure that we have multiple draft picks in each class.”

On The Factors That Work In Practice, But Not On Gameday:

“The one thing is consistency and repetition. You have to do it over and over and over again. Thomas [Sirk] got better for us because he started practicing over and over. So what we’ve got to do offensively, at least from the execution standpoint, we’ve got to be able to call 15 routes the entire rest of the season so everybody knows exactly where everybody is at and you’ve just got to do it over and over and over again. In practice you are getting some good looks. We are getting some good reps, but there are some changeups that teams can throw at you in the game. The protection is the protection and we’ve got to get to a point of where we do transition that from practice to the game field. We are working hard at it and I’ll tell you, our kids are working really hard to try to get some of the issues fixed. It thought Jimmy Williams had a spirited talk to the team after the game and it was based on just competing at the highest level, but having the competitive discipline. I thought that was interesting and competitive discipline is directly connected to being able to execute especially when you are competing at a high level.”

On The Team’s Confidence:

“Well they get their confidence from me, I hope, and my confidence is that I get to go out and practice, play and coach again. I know that we have several people that are very confident and I also know that we have people that are not confident. Confidence comes from being there and making a play. Sometimes you lose confidence and you are there and you don’t make the play. It’s a lot different than being in a situation where scheme wise you get schemed and you are just not in the correct area. So we have got to continue to grow our confidence but we’ve got to continue to grow it through competition against each other. That is why last week I decided to go so much good on good. I want our guys to be competing and be in a situation where somebody is going to win the battle. Right now we have got a lot of guys that are very confident and others that are just confident and we’ve got guys that need to build their confidence. I wouldn’t categorize the whole team as being confident or non-confident. I just think that there are different people with different levels of confidence and sometimes you can look at the stat sheet and see it.”

On Comparing UCF’s Turnaround To Where ECU Is At:

“I think that their situation is a little different than ours for a lot of reasons. I think that Coach Frost has done a great job. If you do look at their roster and their two deep, he has recruited some good players to be compliments to the older players that were already in place with a lot of speed and he has grown it. They’re in a place where they aren’t going very far to recruit their talent and they are doing a good job. Now what I will tell you is that I do think that this program [ECU] can look at that program [UCF] and see that each one of these kids that are developing, getting better and stronger. Whether it’s the way that they played last year compared to the way they are playing this year. They are getting bigger, fast and stronger so we can mimic them in that way and continue to grow, but our situations are a lot different. We recruit the eastern part of the state and we recruit this state, and I think we can do it with this state. We don’t need to always go and try to mimic what other people are doing. We have just got to get the very best from this part of the state and when we start doing that you will see the difference. We can compete right here from the east and I believe that. Now are we going to go to Florida? Yes. Am I going to mimic their game plan and go down and recruit every part of Florida? No, I’m not going to fly over these good kids that we have here. We’ve just got to get these good kids here and we are starting to do that.”