Scottie Montgomery discusses SMU matchup

Published: Nov. 7, 2016 at 3:26 PM EST
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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 home game against SMU. The following are selected comments:

Opening Statement:

“I’ll start by saying Tulsa had a great team with a lot of weapons on offense and a lot of weapons on defense. Offensively, their weapons were their skill players – the receivers, the backs – and all of them combined proved to be a tough task for our defense. On defense, I thought their skill was at the defensive end position. It really gave us a hard time by rushing three at times and even rushing four gave us some hard challenges. They won this game at the line of scrimmage. I thought their run game, in every facet, was superior to ours in the way that we executed and the way that they executed. They were able to create pressure with four and sometimes three (pass-rushers), which allowed their team to use a lot of coverage’s against our quarterbacks. On the other hand, I thought we could only apply pressure by bringing six or seven, which put way too much pressure on our cover guys. We’ve got a lot of growing to do in both cases.

“Congratulations to Zay Jones on another great performance. I also thought Gardner (Minshew) did a great job coming into the game in some situations where he was able to scramble forward and make plays. Also, I thought defensively, Kiante Anderson played with a lot of grit. He played with a chip, which I’d like to see a lot more of our guys play with at this point in time of the season. Special teams also provided a plus on several occasions. That’s something we have grown week-to-week. I’m very proud of the way they put their plan together this past Saturday.

“We’ve got a lot of growing to do as a team. I think we have to continue to give our guys the best opportunity to win every single situation and play. We’re working very, very hard to make sure we do that.”

On What More The Team Can Do To Win:

“The first thing we have to do is eliminate the things that we haven’t had before. The penalties have to go away. I think our technique in coverage and tackling has to be a lot better. We’re trying to put as many different guys and bodies on the field that we can. The first thing you have to do is control all of the things that take no physical talent, and that’s what we’ll start with.”

On How Close Gardner Minshew Was To Starting Saturday’s Game At Tulsa:

“We were close. It came down to Philip having a really good Friday. Moving forward, we’ll be in a similar situation. He’s going to have to be able to practice to go, especially with the performance Gardner had. He’s been good every time that he’s come in from a percentage standpoint, but also the timing of everything that we’re doing. If Friday had been different, we probably would have had a different starter.”

On What He’s Learned About Gardner Minshew After Seeing Him Play A Few Games:

“Pocket poise is the biggest thing. Right now, we’re going to have to have a lot of pocket poise. Coming into the season, we knew (we had) offensive line limitations, but it’s not always going to be clean. There’s not always going to be an umbrella in the pocket. The guy that can be poised and step up into the pocket, as bad as that may sound, and create some scrambling toward the line of scrimmage is going to have a better opportunity. We’ve seen Gardner do a good job of that.”

On If Zay Jones Is Aware With All Of The Numbers He’s Accumulating:

“I think he’s working to try to win every game. That’s not his deal. If it was someone else on the team I would probably say they were pretty conscious of it, just like if another receiver out there was close to it. I don’t know if they could handle it the way he has. He’s more concerned about our wins and losses. When it comes, it’ll be a big deal for him and we’ll make sure we celebrate it, but the biggest deal is he’s trying to lead in every single way that he can. That’s what he’s focused on.”

On What Stands Out On SMU’s Team:

“Tremendous growth and skill at the receiver position. I don’t mean all over like I did last week, but I think (Courtland) Sutton is probably one of the biggest, strongest players that we’ve seen at the position. He’s an extreme talent. All around, they play hard. Defensively, they get to the football. They’ve created a lot of opportunities to be in winning situations at the end of games. Their record may not display how close they’ve been. I think this last week was just an anomaly. You see certain games where things don’t go your way early, and I think that’s what happened to them. They had a few turnovers where things go wrong, but I think the competitive nature that Coach (Chad Morris) has been able to instill in his team in their second year has been easy to see.”

On His Involvement With Tony Petersen’s Offensive Play-Calling:

“I’m very involved. I’ve spent a lot of time in there. If you told me at the beginning of the year that we’d average 500 yards per game, I would have been okay. Then, you tell me we only score 28 points per game and I would have been pressed because we like to be in the 32-point range and we’re not there. The biggest point is our red zone performance has been getting better and better. Unfortunately, this past week we had a red zone opportunity that was marred with back-to-back mental errors. When you put a scheme together and you feel like you have the perfect scheme and the perfect play-call and everything, and we have a mental error inside of that where we’ve had them a couple times down there in the red zone. But when we got the ball where we wanted to get it, especially when I talk about getting the ball inside the five (yard line) and first down or inside the three, (that can’t happen) in those situations. We’ve got to continue to grow, but we still have a long way to go.”

On The Significance Of Military Appreciation Day This Coming Saturday:

“I can’t say enough about our military and what they do for the United States of America. I’m proud to be an American. I can remember waking up on September 11. I was in Denver, Colorado and saw our service people. I remember waking up again a year or two later and seeing people I knew really well, grew up with, went to high school with or was in college with being deployed or getting ready to go fight for the right of all of us to do everything that makes America great. There is something special, not only from me, but my entire family because of the way I was raised and the people I’ve been around – the pride and heart that goes into saying that I will do anything for people that I don’t even know and stand on the line and put your life in the middle of true fire for the freedoms of people you don’t know. I also have been a part of knowing Pat Tillman and understanding what he had to go through to come to his thought pattern. I’ve played in the National Football League. I’ve had all the things in life you could possibly imagine being given to you, and for him to go represent us and every other young man and woman that has gone across the seas, I’m very thankful for what they do and how much they sacrifice not only for me, but my children and hopefully one day, my children’s children.”

On Thoughts After Making The Quarterback Change And How Long Of A Leash Philip Nelson Had:

“I don’t think it was short. If you watch early parts of the game, I thought we just missed some throws. A lot of people thought they were down-the-field throws, but they weren’t. We missed some hitches where Zay had to go down to get it and fell down. Those plays turn into second-and-one, and then it gives a play-caller the whole playbook. Instead, we were second-and-six, and I saw some of those. Then we had some times where the pocket did break down. I would’ve liked to see him scramble toward the line of scrimmage and throw the ball away rather than retreat and take sacks. Those were some of the critical times that I thought some of it had to do with his physical ailment.”