Scottie Montgomery breaks down Cincinnati matchup

Published: Oct. 17, 2016 at 3:45 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE, N.C. – First-year East Carolina University Head Football Coach Scottie Montgomery addressed members of the media on Monday prior to this Saturday’s road game at Cincinnati. The following are selected comments:

Opening Statement:

“A huge thanks to all of our service members: the police department, fire department, the city of Greenville and government agencies that helped us through the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew. Thanks to both to our administration on campus and our athletic department for putting our student body’s safety at the forefront. That was very impressive by everybody that was included in the surrounding areas.

“A positive of the tragedy like the one we went through was that we had a chance to be around our team a whole lot over the last 5-6 days. We were able to grow our team much closer and hopefully worked out all of the kinks that we tried to start turning since the start of our four-game losing streak. What we’ve been faced with is addressing the win column versus the loss column. We had a good time being able to grow our team from a life lesson standpoint. We also got to meet about academics, but had an inordinate amount of time for football meetings. We were able to be on the grass twice a day whether it be for a walkthrough and a practice for the times that we were out there, and then a lot of meeting time.”

On Cincinnati:

“Coach (Tommy) Tuberville has a really good football team. They’ve had some games very similar to ours where turnovers within about a minute and 15 (seconds) and two-minute timeframe changed the outcome of some of their games. Offensively, I think that they have the chance to be a really, really good offense whether it be with (Hayden) Moore or (Ross) Trail at the quarterback position. They give them a chance to be very effective throwing the football and a run game to go with Mr. (Tion) Green. He is a fantastic running back. We’ve seen him a lot over the last three-to-four weeks because of the teams that they’ve played and like-opponents, and have challenged some of our backs to carry the football with the same kind of protection that he carries it with. (I’m) very impressed with him. He’s 6-foot, 230 pounds and a very tough tackle.

“Defensively, they present another challenge for you, especially in their front. Cortez Broughton and Alex Pace are two 300-pounders right there at the tackle positions (who) can make it tough for you. Also, their linebacker Eric Wilson at the ‘MIKE’ position and Antonio Kinard at the ‘WILL’ linebacker position give them a really, really good front – six or seven depending on what personnel and package they’re in. At the free safety position, Zach Edwards gives them not only the ability to play the deep third, but also comes down and makes tackles at a high level. Defensively, what you see is a team with double digits in interceptions and double digits in sacks, which give them a chance in any season to play well. The issues that they’ve had are the same issues that we’ve had. They’ve also had turnovers that hurt them at crucial times of the game. Another thing that I think they’ve done a good job is not just their interceptions, but also they’re aggressively trying to take the ball away by swiping and punching either from the back of the offensive player or just all over the field holding guys up and getting the ball out. They’ve done a good job defensively trying to get the ball away.”

On The Return Of Demetri McGill And What His Status Is For Saturday’s Game:

“Last week, I would’ve said he had a great chance to play at about 85 to 90 percent. This week, it’s an even better percentage. I don’t know exactly where he’ll be, but it’ll be a little bit better than what he would’ve been for a Thursday night game. He’s really critical for our team. A lot of the tackles we may have missed or didn’t quite get to against South Florida, if Demetri is there in some of those situations, it gives our linebackers the ability to see it earlier. What Demetri does is he keeps the linebackers clean, and a lot of times, missed tackles happen when backs jump out from behind offensive and defensive linemen at the last second and they make a quick move. So, getting him back, getting Corey (Seargent) back and getting Colby (Gore) back, on the field, it’s going to be very helpful for our defense. Our whole team, now, is probably as healthy as it’s been since we went into training camp. We knew that some of the things that we went through during the offseason from a discipline standpoint were going to make our program better and would potentially hurt us in the winning games category if we lost anyone from a depth standpoint. One thing that we’re not going to do here is we’re not going to put our program in harm in any way, shape or form for trying to win a game or to get a guy a few more reps. We’re going to do things the right way and build it the right way. Now that we have everyone back, we will benefit from it quite a bit.”

On Quarterback Philip Nelson’s Status:

“Philip had a great practice on Sunday night. What really got me fired up about him was the way that he practiced, and then I came up and looked out the window and I was upset at Philip because he was out there running routes like he was a receiver and Gardner (Minshew) was throwing it to him when we had eight other receivers out there late. They’re having fun again playing football. I think we hit a certain level of fatigue, but seeing Philip out there last night let us know that we can count on him. He has a doctor’s appointment today and we’ll find out more. He had a great day of work last night.”

On The Role Football Plays During The Aftermath Of A Natural Disaster Like Hurricane Matthew:

“Greenville loves the Pirates and our football team loves Greenville. Right now, I think a good portion of the younger players on our team is helping people move back into their homes because they’ve been displaced and that’s just a way to say thank you for the support that we’ve had even in the midst of us losing. As a distraction as a football team, we had 26 players displaced as well and the only reason that they were able to come through was because of what we were doing here with football. As much as it means to our football players, it means the same to our community. It’s very important for us to get back and correct the win column versus worrying about what we’ve done in the past in the loss column. I think it will be a big-time boost to our community. They need us as much as we need them and we’re really happy to have a chance to help our community.”

On James Summers’ Listing As The No. 1 Running Back On The Depth Chart:

“We want to utilize him as much as we can. What we’ve realized is that a lot of the things we’re going to do (like) getting the ball at the line of scrimmage (and) getting the ball downhill, we think he can help us immediately with some of those issues and take the stress off of our offensive line. We also think that Anthony Scott can help us as well. We’re going to try to create more of a 1-2 punch with them. I like the way that James to this point in time is taking care of the football, which protecting the football is more important than any amount of yards or anything else. I think he can take care of the football at a high level, but we want him in the game as much as we can. We also realize that his conditioning level has to improve if he’s going to continue playing as much as he’s playing now.”

On Preparations During The Unexpected Bye Week:

“With our open date, I felt like it fell right where it needed to fall – halfway through the year. We were at a point in time where a lot of our guys were bumped and bruised and went through a physical gauntlet of games, so it came at a good time. Everything that we do is planned out from live scrimmages for the young guys to the team meetings with just me and the players. We had a freshman party at my house. All of these things are planned as long as we get to them in a certain amount of time. We want to have things done for them. The only thing that kind of shakes you a bit is recruiting and thank goodness we were able to get our coaches on the road and get them on planes and to places where they needed to be. From an open date standpoint, we did as much as we could do. It worked out really well. We had the support of our administration to let us do things, whether it was taking our team to movies. It was an open date where we didn’t have school, so when you kind of have all of that working together, it just worked out where it was a good time for an open date, both mentally and physically.”

On Having Eight Players Listed As Potential Starters In The Secondary On The Depth Chart This Week:

“It helps us quite a bit. I don’t know if we’ve had those guys healthy like they are right now. The one thing that it allows us to do is to have multiple packages without multiple people having to learn multiple packages. Now, we can send guys in, do their package, have their responsibilities down to a tee, everybody understands the personnel and substitutions and you don’t have to plug a guy here like what happened to us at South Florida and not having Corey (Seargent), then losing Colby (Gore) and asking safety bodies to play corner and nickel positions. We don’t have to do that and we’re really happy about that.”

On The Lack Of Defensive Sacks This Season:

“It’s been tough to not get some of those sacks, but what we’ve realized is that sacks go hand-in-hand with coverage. We have to do a better job covering, but we also know that the ‘X’ plays go hand-in-hand with the sacks. The one thing that we’ve noticed also, and I’ve done a tremendous amount of research over the last five days, is that we’ve played running quarterbacks. As we settle into guys that will stay in the pocket, our sacks will increase. I’m looking for a large increase in sacks, not only from our defensive front, but also our backers. If you look at what Cincinnati has been able to do, they’ve been able to create some sacks not only in their front, but also with their backers. It’s time to start stressing the coverage and start bringing a little bit more pressure just adding different people for more looks. We have Randall Anderson back. He’s healthy and back being able to rush the passer and (gives us) some more speed. Demetri can come back into the center and now we can put those guys back out on the edge a little more and create a better package for rush.”

On Time Spent Addressing Special Teams:

“We thought our special teams got a lot better against South Florida. We had to build on it. The biggest deal now is the people who are coming back into the fold with health; they’ve had a week-and-a-half basically of practice time on special teams. We called the special teams meeting time on the field ‘mini camp.’ What we did last week was we had three days of mini-camp, which kind of had an NFL type of feel to it where we able to attack every phase of the ball. The people that we had out there got a lot of reps, not just two or three reps like in a normal week. We had a lot more time with the guys last week.”

On Going Into Cincinnati’s Environment For Homecoming:

“It’s a very good environment. It’ll be extremely loud, but a great atmosphere in a city setting, which is different for us and the places we’ve gone to play. We look forward to it. We know it’s a night game. The atmosphere comes with a night game. We think our guys need a game where the energy level is extreme and is high. That’s the kind of atmosphere we need to turn it around and get going in the direction that we want it to go.”