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Scottie Montgomery weekly press conference: BYU Preview

(WITN)
Published: Oct. 16, 2017 at 3:05 PM EDT
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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 night’s game against BYU. The following are selected comments:

Opening Statement:

“After a tough loss to UCF we have turned our focus to BYU. We examined the tape, corrected our mistakes and realized that we have to be better in ever phase of the game to beat one of the country’s best teams. I thought a lot of people competed at a high level during this game but I want to single out a few people. Davon Grayson is pouring every part of his soul into every game; every practice and I really, really like what he is doing on the field. We have got to get everybody competing at his level. Also, young people that have showed up and made a huge impact; Darius Pinnix, Aaron Ramseur and Davondre ‘Tank’ Robinson are just a few that have made a lot of strides from the beginning of the season to now. I was really excited for Tahj Deans to score his first touchdown as a Pirate. We’re building to make sure that we continue to get better and the young people are doing a great job. Some of our older players are bridging the gap for some of these young people. When they can be jealous they are not, they are trying to help them get on the field and make them make more plays, so I am really excited about that. I realize it’s not going the way that I want it to go, probably not the way that a lot of people want it to go, but we are building. It’s going to take us a little time but what I know is that our guys, especially out old guys, don’t have very much time. They’re trying to do everything that they can do to help this program and our young people are coming along really, really quickly. But we are building.”

On ECU Injuries:

“Leaving this game, we are banged up just a little. I think we are getting better in some spots but we are banged up. I’ll start with some of the concerns; as you know we found out last week about Kiante Anderson and he will be out a significant amount of time. We don’t know quite how long he will be out with a knee injury. In the game, Deondre Farrier sustained an ankle injury, which we think will be okay but I don’t know about that yet. Also, Bobby Fulp has been battling for the last two or three weeks a quad contusion that also is very sore at this point in time. Corey Seargent, hamstring, he’s been a guy that has been trying to battle through that for the last three or four weeks. But on the positive side we do get some guys back. We get Kendall Futrell back this week. He will be back in practice and ready to roll. Derrell Scott will be back off his groin injury and is closer to getting back for the last couple of weeks. Then probably the most significant person that we will have back this week will be John Spellacy. That will allow us to kick Garrett McGhin back over to the guard position.”

On BYU:

“Moving on to this weekend, BYU is known for a lot of things. They are known for their maturity on the field but they are also known for the atmosphere that they create when they are playing at home and this is my appeal. I am asking everybody that this homecoming weekend to come out and support the Pirates. Come out and support the university. Come out and serve our colors, purple and gold. Some of our guys, they are seniors and this is their last opportunity at homecoming and we really want to make it a fantastic experience for them. So I know that all of our true Pirates will be out this weekend. I want Bagwell Field at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium to be jumping for this homecoming weekend.

“Speaking of BYU, you look at what they’re going through and they have been hit with a ton of injuries on offense and defense. It’s a team that traditionally has great depth and they have been hit quite a bit with injuries moving to this point. They’ve also played a ridiculously tough schedule. They’ve played Wisconsin, LSU - big time opponents. Mississippi State, you name it. I don’t think anybody would trade their schedule to this point in time so we are looking at a really good football team that just happened to go against the likes of Boise State and some other places that have been traditionally great football programs.

“Offensively they are kind of a different team than we have seen and they are more of a power team with bigger backs, much bigger backs. For instance, a 250-pound back versus a 175-pound back that we have faced. So it is a different challenge. Offensively, they can also get into the seams and throw the ball, definitely well, down the seams. So we are going to have to do a good job on defense, much better than we did last week. We think that this team gives us an opportunity to play some different guys in coverage and also some different guys in the front so we are looking forward to that.

“Defensively, they give you a little bit of a problem because they came out in three different fronts in three different games. We are thinking that we are going to see a four-down team but they also came out in what we call a diamond front which is where they stacked their backers and make it really hard on the inside zone team to read the backers. All in all it is going to be another tough opponent for us. We are really excited to be able to get a chance to come back and play homecoming, get a chance to get a win against a football team that is also coming in here trying to win as well. I think this will give us a good boost of energy going into our open date and we can finish strong.”

On Frustrations Of The Season:

“I think it’s hard when you are winning as well. I don’t think people understand the difficulty of that comes in just running a program and doing things the right way. It hasn’t been harder than I thought. The one thing that I will say is that the speed of this league has been a little bit different than I could have imagined. If there was one thing that I wish I would have known a little bit sooner is that overall, we have to recruit a faster athlete. We have to continually go after these fast athletes that are out there. That’s been one of the challenges of putting our guys in position. So in this last game I thought a lot of our guys played their heart out but there were a couple of situations where we were out-ran. Coach Connors has done a great job with the guys that we have been able to give to him with getting them faster and faster and faster. Now the challenge goes back to myself and goes back to the coaches that we continue to increase our overall team speed.”

On When He Knew [Gaelin] Elmore And [Korrin] Wiggins Would Not Be Available For UCF:

“Really late in the week and at that point in time we knew that it was a policy that they had violated. They are back and they are available to play [this week].”

On Darius Pinnix’s Progress:

“He is growing and we thought that we had gotten a great player when we recruited him through the evaluation process. He was one of the first kids that we had a chance to recruit through a whole year process and I really was worried through the end. I think there were a couple of teams that tried to come back and recruit him but when he got here the most impressive part is what he is like in the classroom. And because of his ability in the classroom I think that gives him the ability to grow. I think that he is running hard and we’ve got to continue to create some lanes for him. I think he’s going to be the guy, like I said a few weeks back, that you’re going to hear about and continue to hear about as we move forward with the program.”

On Pinnix Moving Up The Depth Chart:

“If you watched him in camp, then you kind of knew early he was going to be a guy. Everybody that has covered us through camp and seen him here and got going they realized quickly after carrying the ball two or three times that he was going to be good. The same thing goes with Tank Robinson. We felt like as soon as they could get the playbook and understanding how they fit in the locker room then they would have an opportunity to be special for us. So it has nothing to do with building toward the future. If anything, I like to play older players and I respect the guys that have been in the grind for three, four, five years and have the ability for them to get a chance to play, especially if they have been here. You have to earn it when you are a freshman, a redshirt freshman or a true sophomore. So the guys that are out there right now, their teammates respect them.”

On Asking For Fan Support:

“The main reason I ask this is because of the sacrifice of our football players. The next thing is supporting the university and supporting and serving our colors. This isn’t easy. There is no rhyme or reason to what has happened. But what I’ll do is that I will say I know that true pirate fans will come out and support us. I understand how hard it is to watch a product be the way that you want it to be. But I can guarantee that these guys in the locker room are giving every single thing that they have. We are working as hard as we possibly can and the product will get better. I want people to be there so they can see it when it starts to turn.”

On Thomas Sirk’s Decision Making:

“I think you need to pay close attention to some of his decisions and some of those interceptions. I thought the one this past week, he was stepping up into the pocket to throw it deep down the field with a one-on-one matchup outside and we didn’t get the follow through. I am more concerned with the timing and the ability to get it out in 2.7 or 2.8 [seconds]. So his decision making of where he is going with the ball, I’m not too worried about it. The timing of him getting in there, maybe stepping up into the pocket and step quicker, just getting the ball out a little bit earlier, that’s what we are concerned with. We really have to pay attention to how quickly we get the ball out and we do have protection issues. It hasn’t been just our offensive line it’s been our running backs; it’s been our tight ends but the quarterback can fix that with just being much quicker in the pocket.”

On A Similar Team ECU Has Faced Like BYU:

“They are a completely different look to something we have seen at this point in time. I don’t think you can compare them to anybody. It’s very hard to do that. It’s hard for me to compare teams that we see in back-to-back weeks, so a team out of conference to a team in conference or a team we have played is hard to do.”

On UCF’s Receiver’s Pregame Comments And Defense Taking It Personal:

I think so, but you have to realize when someone says they are going to score 70, that’s not an attack at the defense. That’s an attack at the offense because offense goes against offense. If offense can stay on the field then they won’t score 70. If you don’t give up a punt return for a touchdown they have no way to get close to it. If you don’t throw a pick for a touchdown, they have no way to get close to it. So it wasn’t just about the defense, it was about offense, defense and special teams. If you take two of those touchdowns off the board early in the game when all this stuff happened and some penalties and some situations where we put them in, it doesn’t happen. I told the guys before the game it isn’t about offense versus defense. It’s about their program versus our program. It was a statement that he made and did I talk to our guys about it, yes. But there was no talking about it that was going to help, you just have got to go out and play. I think the only way you get a chance is if you watch the teams that have scored that many points. And they have scored a lot of points this year but you have got to give a lot of credit to what their defense and what their special teams are able to do.”

On Pulling Thomas Sirk Early And Potentially Playing Reid Herring:

“Yes, there was some thought about getting Reid in the game and it was precautionary to get Sirk out of there at that point in time. I felt like they had really started pinning their ears back and beating us with four-man rushes, sometimes even getting to us with some three-man stuff. I felt like when we put Gardner [Minshew] in I wanted to get him some quick passes and get the ball out of his hands quickly, but I also wanted to give him some reps because I think that he deserved reps. If they had started to heat us up some more I probably would have gotten Reid some reps in there. At some point we would like to get Reid some reps but right now it was about getting Gardner better and understanding that he needed some reps.”

On Continuing Concerns About Penalties:

“I am disappointed. The first few penalties, the false starts, they did a good job of crowd noise whether it was real or pumped into the stadium so that went to the coaching staff. I will give all three of those penalties as far as false starts to the coaching staff. On third down, Thomas [Sirk] was trying to get us to the play that he wanted but he had no ability to do it because they had so much coming through the loudspeaker. He was trying to get it done but he wasn’t able to do it. The one on the sideline with Tank Robinson, I thought that was an unfortunate play for him. I didn’t think that he tried to hit the guy. There were three or four in there that I questioned. Not the actual call, but I questioned if it was a discipline penalty versus a hard and aggressive penalty. We’ve got to continue to get better at it. Our guys understand it. They know what is going on and we can’t play football like that. They’re also some frustrations from me and we are working every week to make sure that we improve that.”

On Jimmy Williams’ Play The Last Couple Of Weeks:

“There are a few things we need to clean up. Some of it is hand placement on some of the catches. All things that you can work on if you are willing to work on them but I think he is willing to work on them. We’ve gotten him in some good spots and haven’t found him. The way that we like to use Jimmy is down the field because he can run but that doesn’t marry up well with not protecting the quarterback for a long time. But when we do hit him in those intermediate passes he has got to catch those balls and he will catch them moving forward. We’ve just got to correct a few little things in his hand placement.”