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 USF. The following are selected comments:
“I give a lot of credit to UCF for winning the football game. I felt like our defense got off to a really good start, but unfortunately, our offense did not. Once we did get the momentum, it was quickly shifted by a special teams kickoff return for a touchdown. Actually, both times we grabbed the momentum, UCF responded with a touchdown or a major play in the game. As I looked at the numbers after the game, I was frustrated and disappointed in a lot of the things that went on because I had not seen the tape yet. The numbers that jumped off the stat sheet at me was the reason why the game was not won and that was five turnovers – five turnovers to their two turnovers that our defense did a good job of creating. The penalty discipline that we talk about for our team all the time, you wouldn’t think you’d lose a game that you committed two penalties for 15 yards, and your opponent has 10 for 92 (yards), or you outgain your opponent 521 to 373. I think our lack of success in the red zone is directly connected to us turning the football over. From that standpoint, the people that have turned it over are young players or players that are (playing for) the first time at their position. We knew that we would have some growing pains, but we didn’t think the growing pains would last this long or that there would be this many.
“Deondre Farrier is a guy that we have the utmost respect for the way that he has practiced and played up until this point. We have to continue to grow him and understand that he has to take care of the football in the red zone, but we do think he is talented. Everybody else that has basically had turnovers has either been in a special teams situation or it’s the first time they’ve played for the Pirates at their position as a starter. We’ve had 13 turnovers this year and have only taken four away. Whenever you throw that into the boat it makes it very hard to win. Also, if you look at the totality of the year so far, (you’re) looking at a team that has outgained its opponents by almost 700 yards, which is very rare for a team to be 2-3 at this point in time.
“The other major component of this game was special teams. They won the field-position battle at all times because of our lack of detail in our special teams play. The momentum was quickly shifted with the kickoff return because we felt like our team had held pretty well on defense and we started to make plays on offense.
“Defensively, I think Colby Gore is competing at a high level (and) so is most of our defense. Outside of the last play of the game, we only gave up a little over 300 yards. When you give up 300 yards in a game against a tempo team and a great coordinator and the talent that they have that should be enough to win a football game. We understand our issue and our problem. Our problem is we’re going to have to lean on our leadership, whether it is Zay Jones, Jimmy Williams or James Summers to have a great relationship with some of our younger players and our players in their first-time positions that have turned the ball over. We can’t beat those guys up emotionally by telling them how much they turn the football over. We just have to bring them in and make sure they understand the importance of what we’re doing. There are small details in taking care of the football that we can do better as coaches as well. (All) together is the way that we have to fix this problem that we have. When I say all together, there’s a play where Deondre decides, on the perimeter, to take a drop step and go back inside to the defense. The number one thing in that situation that he knows to do is to keep that ball on the perimeter, and if he keeps it on the perimeter, he would not be cutting back to the defense. Even if he is hit from inside and he’s on the perimeter, he’s likely to go out of bounds. Those things can be corrected and those things will be corrected.
“I think that, overall, what we have to understand is that we have a good football team. I have the utmost faith and trust in our coaches and our players and we are moving forward.”
“USF has done a really, really good job of putting together some great offensive personnel and some great pieces on defense to be able to give what Coach (Willie) Taggart wants. They also play with a lot of tempo, which gives our defense another chance to see some tempo and we’ve practiced some of the carryover that we have for a few weeks in a row. I think that we’re getting better and better at dealing with that.
“Defensively, they’re going to cause us some problems as well. They have speed. Deatrick Nichols is a cornerback I’ve known for a long time. I recruited him in the Miami area, and No. 10 (Deadrin Senat) on their front is probably one of their best players. At the linebacker position, Auggie (Sanchez) has been up for a lot of awards. He knows how to get the defense set. Not only does he get the defense set, but he also plays fast from side to side. I know why he is the type of player he is because he’s going against all that tempo. They’re a very intelligent team and a very intelligent coaching staff. We have our work cut out for us this week, but together we’re looking forward to the challenge. Our team is at as good of a point as they could be in right now after seeing the things that they saw on tape these last couple of days. It’s been hard on us all, but like I said, we will address some of those issues again and we will continue to make sure the product is what it should be and continue to work.”
On Injury Status Of CB Corey Seargeant And QB Philip Nelson:
“We’ll find out a little bit more about both of them, but we’re optimistic that we’ll have them. That’s optimism. I’m not sure either way at this point, but they both were in for treatment yesterday and both seemed to respond to treatment.”
On Squib Kicking The Kickoff In The Second Half:
“The first thing we were trying to do there was stop the bleeding. We felt like we had a major issue on two kickoffs in a row where the ball had been placed in the middle of the field where wanted it on our five and our four. What we wanted to do was keep it out of the speed’s hands. We want that ball to land between the 30 and the 20 on the first hop. That’s the detail of the kick and it has to be done as a specialty kick, so that lands at the 25-yard line. That means that an up-back is the one catching it and not the deep man. It also takes the up-back out of the return so it kind of throws a wrench in the kick return by having him carry it and not the fastest man on the field.”
On If There Is More Pressure To Win The Upcoming Game:
“I think there’s pressure and that’s what it should be. That’s what we signed up for and what we’re here for. There should be pressure on the coaches and the players, but is it any more than it was last week? It is because it’s the next week and we didn’t win last week. All of us have a microscope that we continue to pull out when we don’t do things the right way. We’re trying to make sure we point out the things that we didn’t do well. Thankfully, we were able to do a great job of researching ourselves and self-scouting us not only from scheme standpoint, but who’s touching the football and where they’re touching the football. If you look at some of the things we’ve done, they’ve done a good job in coverage’s in different places, but when certain people touch the ball in the red zone we’ve scored. When other people have touched the ball in the red zone we’ve fumbled. We have to continue to look at how we’re getting the ball to certain people when we’re moving people around. It’s good for our program. We don’t expect to lose. We didn’t go into last week expecting to lose, nor the week before or the week before. That pressure is something that we apply to ourselves and our players to make sure that we get a better product.”
On Fred Presley’s Transition To Nose Guard Last Week:
“He did a really good job for us. He, along with the rest of his colleagues at the position, did a nice job covering up the spots that Demetri (McGill) can cover up by himself. We had two guys in there at times, whether it was four-down or three-down and taking care of that situation. We got better because we played younger people in that game, which is going to help us. I don’t think they’re having some of the growing pains at the line of scrimmage that we’re having on the perimeter. Even with Colby early in the year, we had some growing pains with him, but he’s starting to settle in and play with a little bit more confidence.”
On Gardner Minshew’s Performance:
“He did okay. I would be remised if I said he did a great job, but when you’re coming into a situation where your offense isn’t playing as well as it could be or you’re just transitioning into one of those spots where you know what you have to do because you’re not able to run the football. We weren’t able to run in this game, which sometimes put us in a one-dimensional game putting too much on Jimmy, too much on Zay and then it directly puts too much on the quarterback. When that happens and you come in the game and make a throw for a big-time touchdown, you know that things are going to settle down for you a little bit. I thought, unfortunately, he didn’t make a great throw down there by the end zone. But that’s what happens when you don’t protect the quarterback or you bring a guy in trying to operate from your goal line, or to win a game. That’s no ideal for anybody to come into.”
On Band Protests During The National Anthem Saturday Before The Game:
“I’m aware of the situation. I was made aware of the situation. At this point in time, I don’t know most of the things that went on and how it went on. What I’m most concerned about right now is the way that we perform as a football team. The other part of it is, I’ve got nothing but trust and the utmost respect for the way that our university is going to handle the situation.”
On Reserve Running Back Derrell Scott’s Progress:
“He’s one of the ones we were all really, really excited about when we got here. He has not outperformed the guys ahead of him at this time and that’s what it comes down to. I would love to see him and (Shawn) Furlow carrying the football. Unfortunately in this business, we have to run with one, two or three guys out there, and right now, they’re not one of those guys.”