Scottie Montgomery discusses Saturday's season finale vs. Temple
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 season finale at Temple. The following are selected comments:
“It’s hard to move past a game when you give up 66 points, but that’s what we have to do. Defensively, we did not tackle well. We were where we were supposed to be schematically, but could not get people on the ground. Defensively, our lack of ability to tackle and move to the football showed up all over the field.
“Offensively, I thought it came down to a couple of possessions in the second quarter where we didn’t do anything with the football. Back to back three and outs had a big effect on us closing out the half. Once Navy was ahead two possessions and had the ball, it made it very hard to recover.
“I can’t overlook a great performance on the defensive side of the ball in Ray Tillman. He did a good job in this game of anyone on the team of playing off the cut block and made tackles. I talked a lot about it last week and he listened to me.
“You can’t say enough about Zay Jones. I was very happy that Justin Hardy was in the building to share the moment with him. We will be able to look at that banner here for a long, long time.
“We did not have one of our better performances on special teams. We struggled catching the ball. It was a windy day, but it was also a windy day for Navy. We lost our kick returner Chris Love early in the game, but hopefully he will be back this week. We did not field the ball at a high enough level and there was also another missed assignment and mental error in the kicking game that I was not pleased with whatsoever.”
“Moving forward to Temple, they have a really good football team that is well coached. Defensively, Haason Reddick and Delvon Randall are their anchors and present a lot of challenges. On the offensive side of the ball, Phillip Walker had one of his better games last week where he operated at a high level in third and long situations. As a team, they rushed for about 220 yards and threw for about 330. All of this is why they are in the situation they are. While they aren’t the biggest team we will see, they are working well on offense and defense.
“Another thing I would like to say about Temple is that they have made their recruiting work. I track a lot of teams and what they do in recruiting, even before I got here, and they are making it work with the guys they liked in the recruiting process. They have nine or 10 starters on defense that are juniors and seniors and are working really well together.”
On Dayon Pratt:
“We will have Dayon back this week potentially. He is chomping at the bit to get back on the field and it will be a big boost to us if he can. We have lost a lot of production at the position since he left.
On This Week’s Practice Schedule:
“We will not have classes during the time we practice this week but everything will remain pretty much the same. We will go early on Thursday so we can let guys go and be with their families or let guys who can’t go home have dinner with us or their position coaches.”
On The Quarterback Situation This Week:
“Gardner (Minshew) has grown a lot this year. Looking at the tape, he had three opportunities in the game during which I would have liked him to be better, but he judged the wind pretty well. He stepped up in the pocket and kept his eyes downfield, even when he was scrambling. He looked like a guy who could be a big-time quarterback.
“Because we did not practice yesterday, I can’t tell you who will start this week but Philip (Nelson) has come to us and said he definitely wants to give it a shot tomorrow. We will play the guy that is most prepared.”
On First Year As A Head Coach:
“It hasn’t necessarily been harder than I thought, but it has been challenging at times. One of the most challenging things has been trying to create and keep competitive depth. You can get upset at a player for not doing something the correct way, but the next player you put in has to be at the same level or better or you are cutting your nose off to spite your face.
“It is of course challenging when you are losing. After the first and second games, I knew some of the deficiencies we were trying to hide on the field would come out. We as coaches should have done a better job of figuring out how to produce the best out of our players versus trying to hide some of the issues they had.”
On Filling Positional Needs For Next Year:
“We will have 25 slots that can be filled due to dismissals and other factors. What we have to do is recruit great people. We have to have guys that will compete at a high level. Once we jump past that, we have to concentrate on our fronts and getting better there. We will get better. I want to add a couple more playmakers, but a lot of concentration will be on the fronts.”
On Some Encouraging Signs Of The Program:
“No blame between players. I want them to look at film together and see the mistakes and be able to be held accountable by their coaches. I don’t want them to point fingers. We are finally at a point where we have started to make that turn and we understand our shortcomings.
“I am as hard on our coaches as I am on the players. I can see some things better from a big picture standpoint versus being right in the middle of it with the players.”
On Getting The Team Ready For This Week:
“This is the last time we play together as a team this year. Coaches are paid to motivate their players in tough situations and looking in the eyes of a Dayon Pratt and a Zay Jones, that’s enough for me to motivate all 110 guys.”
On Takeaways From The Season:
“We had some guys come out and give everything they had. I also think we had guys that played above their level. When you have guys that do that, you have to compartmentalize some of the things that did not go right. We also had guys that did not meet the level of expectation we had. The entire program did not meet the level of expectation I had. I know our team a lot better than I did 12 weeks ago. I know our gameday personalities and exactly what to expect. That will be very helpful moving forward.”
On Looking Ahead To The Offseason:
“What I will do Monday following the Temple game is recruit in three states in one day. It will be all recruiting that day. We only have about 10 or 11 days to recruit. I will then come in during the middle of December and take some time for myself undisturbed to go through every single position group, both sides of the ball and special teams to evaluate our progress. That is the biggest question right now. I will then sit down with every coach and talk about issues, concerns, things we did well, things we didn’t do well and then move forward from there. I don’t want to look past December because that is a very important month for our program.”