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 South Carolina. The following are selected comments:
“I feel very confident saying that Pirate Nation had a lot to do with us winning that football game. There were some critical times in the game where, as a coach, you can feel the effect of the crowd whether it’s for you or against you, and how your team communicates. We did a really, really good job from a fan standpoint and Dowdy-Ficklen was perfect for this weekend. I reached out to several people over the last couple of days and told them that I thought that was a real, real big deal in that game. The way that we turned out and gave our kids support – that was impressive.”
On NC State Game (Recap):
“I’d be remised if I didn’t say that I think we beat a really good football team in NC State. They were physical in their front. Their skill guys were a lot bigger and stronger than we imagined them being. We thought they were big and strong, but when we got them out on the field, they were even bigger and stronger. They were well coached. I thought they played through the echo of the whistle. It was a physical battle the entire time. That was a big-time matchup like I said before the game, and we are very happy to come out on the victorious side of things.
On ECU’s Defense:
“Defensively, I thought Demetri McGill played a good game. We challenged him from a physical conditioning standpoint in January, and I’m happy to say he played 51 snaps at about a 94-percent effort grade. That is so hard for a defensive lineman to do. Right behind him and our defensive front, Jordan Williams had another great game. He was detailed in his alignment and his assignments. I thought Cam (White) also did a good job back there at the linebacker position. Our outside linebackers played their butts off. (Dayon) Pratt probably had the best practice (and) the best game that we’ve seen him put together. We thought that all week coming into this, he was locked in. Coach Kenwick Thompson did a great job with him and gave us a chance to make plays.
“Our defensive secondary made some critical plays in that game. It was physical at the catch point a couple times. I thought they had some catches that they could make on us, and DeShawn Benton had a big hit down on the right-hand side at a critical point in the game. We needed that to happen. We tackled at about 18 of 21. Unfortunately, the ones that we didn’t make were in big-time situations and scores were (the result). We’re working to fix that. All in all, I thought our defense played a good football team and played really well. We won the situational battle in that game, especially when it mattered.”
On ECU’s Special Teams:
“From a special teams standpoint, we’ve got to make sure that we can convert on some of those extra points and with that field goal combined, it kind of let us know what we had. I think Devaris Brunson has shown a distinct characteristic of toughness. That was one of the most critical kickoffs that you’ll see in a game after a score like that, and to be able to get it tackled inside of the five (yard line) was truly team football because as soon as they got tackled, the only thing on my mind is time. He’s shown up two weeks in a row as a great special teams player.”
On ECU’s Offense:
“Offensively, wow. I thought our offensive line competed. I was really proud of them. Going into that game, it was probably one of the best defensive lines that we’ve seen anywhere that we’ve been in college just with the speed at defensive end and the strength and speed they had at defensive tackle. It was really good to see our guys go out and compete at a really, really high level. They played so many people in their defensive front. It was amazing. They were running in four guys at a time. When you can do that in such a heated environment from both standpoints, then you get good results out of that usually, but our guys stepped up to the calls.
“Philip Nelson – what can you say about him when he picked himself up off the ground and was telling his teammates ‘let’s go, let’s go?’ He took a critical step in leadership because those guys were going crazy on the sideline when they saw him get up. They were very defensive of him and that’s the way you want the rest of the crew to be for the captain of the team out there on the football field. I don’t know how much I can say about our receivers and how hard they played without the football. A lot of people think it’s all about catching the ball and you get to see stats, but we played extremely well without the football. On the perimeter, there were times they beat us, but they beat us some times schematically on trapping the corner. Out wide, it’s very hard to get that guy blocked when he’s shooting inside on you. Anthony (Scott) and Devin (Anderson) just played really, really, really well. Anthony had some fumbles, but in this game, it’s a next-play mentality. If you’re going to play football, you have to have really thick skin. It was hard for him to come to the sideline and deal with all the coaching that goes on, but at the end of the game, he was back in there and we trusted him to go make a play and he made a play.
“I wanted to save the last comment about a guy I thought was very critical in us winning this football game. James Summers is about as complete a football player as I’ve ever been around, period. The position flexibility that he gives us, we don’t take for granted. We know how hard it is to go and prepare. Just imagine if you had five jobs and you only have the same eight hours to do those five jobs. That’s what he does on a weekly basis.”
On South Carolina:
“It was a great team win and we put it to bed on Sunday. We had a great team practice Sunday night preparing for South Carolina. We’re going into a big-time SEC environment against a big-time SEC school with a big-time SEC coach and some big-time SEC talent. We are looking forward to the challenge of going on the road with our guys. We’ve done everything to prepare them. One of the reasons we went to Charlotte to practice was to go through every detail from getting off the bus, the details of practices and playing and all that. We’ll be prepared when game time gets here.”
On South Carolina’s Defense:
“This was a physical battle for us last week and this will be another physical battle. They are extremely talented at the defensive line position. What they have at defensive end is extremely athletic. It’s an SEC-talented team. They’re anchored at linebacker by great players. (Chris) Lammons at corner presents a challenge for us because he can truly cover and he’s physical. Usually you get one – a cover guy that’s not physical or a physical specimen that can’t really stay close to receivers, so we’ll be challenged at that position. I’ve got so much respect for Coach (Travaris) Robinson and Coach (Will) Muschamp. They’ve been doing it together a long time. They know each other. Communication won’t be a problem with them. They know how to motivate players. I went down to visit them when they were all at Florida because of an offensive coach they had, Kurt Roper, who is one of the sharpest guys I’ve been in a meeting room with.”
On South Carolina’s Offense:
“Offensively, they’re blessed to have, once again, it seems like every week we have to prepare for two quarterbacks. It presents a challenge. I’m very familiar with Brandon McIlwain from Newtown (Pa.). We recruited him and thought he was a great player. (He’s) very good with the ball, great with his feet, had great pocket presence (and) creates challenges out on the perimeter. Over the last couple of days, we’ve also been able to watch (Perry) Orth. Watching him play, they feel a little bit more comfortable with him throwing the football right now. All in all, it presents a tough challenge. They have a great young freshman out at wide receiver (with a) big body like one of the guys we saw last week. He’s going to be a hard tackle, pretty good in short spaces and has an extended catch radius so we have our hands full. On their offensive line, they have a guard who may be one of the best that we’ll see. He reminds me a lot of the guys we faced when we were preparing in the National Football League. They’re a great football team all around.”
On Preparing For A Road Environment Like South Carolina:
“We’re going to try to do everything from a noise standpoint, but the biggest thing about being on the road is the travel. Being focused, locked in and every person just doing their job and focusing on the game and situational football. Situational football in this game will be really, really important because that’s when the crowd is really evident: going in, coming out, third down, red zone, strike zone. I’m looking forward to moving fast throughout the rest of this week. We have to be able to play in noise.”
On What Game Films His Staff Is Using To Prepare For South Carolina:
“We’re trying to watch it all. We’re going back to Florida. A lot of that staff was together then, and then of course we’re going into what he (Muschamp) did at Auburn. We have to watch a lot of tape. It’s an ordinate amount of tape. Watching the first two games sometimes can be good, but sometimes it can be bad because you don’t know how much of the playbook they truly have open whether it’s offensively or defensively. Just as we are getting better, their coaches are getting better and more familiar with their and players and the players are becoming more familiar with the coaches, so it’s always the unknown. As coaches, what we try to do is watch a huge chunk of tape and by the time the guys roll in here tomorrow morning (Tuesday), we try to reduce that down to what we think will be helpful for them instead of clouding them with a lot of information that is useless.”
On The Impact Of Having Demage Bailey Back:
“It was noticeable. We were able to be stout in some situations and get some stops at the line of scrimmage or get down a big, strong back this past week. I think Demage also helps us keep our linebackers cleaner to the football. He can get on an edge, but he can also get right down the center and have his eyes in the gap and his body in another gap. He can get it done both ways, so we’ve been really impressed with him.”
On ECU Defensive Line Coach Deke Adams’ Familiarity Under The Same Title At South Carolina For Three Years:
“We had a personnel meeting with Deke on both sides of the ball where I sat in, and I got my notes from that personnel meeting. He knows a lot about those kids. He knows what they play for, how they play and what positions that they feel more comfortable at, so we got a great amount of intel from Deke. We’re really happy he’s on our staff.”
On The Team’s Confidence Following Saturday’s Win Over NC State:
“Confidence is always great in everything that you do in life. If you’re confident in something and you put your mind and you work really hard to accomplish a goal, then it’s going to be great for you. The most important thing is we have to be confident in how we practice tomorrow and the way that our coaches are preparing right now. I’m confident in that. I’m confident in the process. I’m not really concerned with last week as much as people probably think. It means a lot more outside of the building than it does in the building because we’re in season. We’re so focused on the day and that’s kind of the way we’re trying to raise our kids and our program. Hopefully, in two-to-three years, our program will be known for trying to win each and every day.”
On Importance Of Getting Off To A Fast Start At South Carolina:
“I think it’s important to get off to a clean start. I’m not sure fast is necessarily the term. We’re going to have to play four quarters of football. We may have to play beyond that, but what we have to do is make sure Pirates can’t beat Pirates. We have to play clean ball and communicate well. Mental errors and alignment issues can’t be what we’re talking about at halftime. If we’re talking about those things, that’s not a clean start. I would prefer we just play clean football and everything else will take care of itself.”
On If Things Were Learned From The Win As Opposed To A Loss:
“We definitely think we learned a lot about our team. It’s always good when you learn a lot and you win. We had a tackling circuit on a Sunday night. We were in just helmets, but we had a good tackling circuit where we used pads and different things to keep our kids up, but also emphasized how we tackle. Even just lowering the target by Bobby (Fulp), we would have had him in the game. That was a huge, critical error in the game because our game plan evolved around Bobby a little bit. A lot of people didn’t know that. The kicking, we’re working every way that we can possibly work. I’m using some motivational tactics that we tend to use with kickers at times. I’ve got faith in those guys. I trust them. I’ll put them out there again. I don’t like always going for it on fourth down, but if I’ve got to do it, I’ll do it.”
On Fourth Down Decision Confidence Being In Offense Or Defense:
“It’s a combination of both. It’s probably 50-50. I really think we’ve worked hard in situational football. I really believe that. I had a lot of confidence in our guys to get one or two yards, or even at times three yards just because when you feel the flow of the game, it has a lot to do with that, too. You really think about what you have on the menu as far as the offense. The coaches put me in situations where, some people might think they’re hard, but they’re not because I know what the plan is in that situation. I know what we have. I know what they’re doing and I know that we can stop them in some of those situations. I also think from a tendency standpoint and studying what they’re going to do to us defensively that we can put together a really good play in those situations.