After suffering his first ever blowout loss at the hands of Virginia Tech, East Carolina head coach Scottie Montgomery is looking forward to returning home, when the Pirates face-off against the Knights of Central Florida inside Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium Saturday.
“This is a great test for us to start the [American Athletic Conference], but the best part about all of this is being able to start it in the AAC in Dowdy-Ficklen,” said Montgomery. “We needed to return home, it’s time for us to return home.”
Alluding to his recent loss, Montgomery felt his players could take away a few things from what the 3-1 Hokies were finding success in.
“[Virginia Tech] did feed off of [its] crowd momentum and I thought that [its] team enjoyed to play,” said Montgomery. “We used them as an example on how we played at times when we played at Dowdy-Ficklen we have to come back and be prepared to go at a high level.”
Though Virginia Tech was arguably the best opponent ECU will face this season, due to size and athleticism, Montgomery’s biggest emphasis on the loss was pad level. Pad level is a big reason Montgomery credits the Hokies with dominating the trenches, especially on special teams.
ECU has been fortunate to have the upper-hand in the majority of its games when it came to the trenches, but like Montgomery said, fundamentals end up winning. Sprinkled with multiple errors on special-teams, and ECU proved to be out of the game early.
“We had a lot of mental errors on special teams, the blocked field goal and the blocked punt goes back directly to what I said earlier, they played lower than us,” said Montgomery. “You’ll start to see a lot of our starters on special teams, we knew that we needed to get to this part of the year going through a tough non-conference schedule. We learned a lot about our team, and now it’s time to win the AAC and the way that we do that is put our best foot forward in every situation.”
After getting past an overtime loss against Maryland, UCF beat Florida International, 53-14 and unlike ECU will have the hot hand coming in.
Another devastating blow to the Pirates’ confidence is the potential loss of nose tackle Demetri McGill, who Montgomery calls one of his most productive players. He suffered an injury in the game that the team is still awaiting results for.
To compromise, defensive end Fred Presley will move inside, resulting in an ever-changing defensive line rotation for the fifth straight game.
Although ECU isn’t too high on momentum right now, the team will look to turn over a new slate as conference play starts, and Montgomery understands how last week’s loss can play into helping him prepare for this week’s conference opener.
“I don’t like to lose, but I’ll tell you what, disappointment sometimes can be the pathway to creativity and that is what we’re looking for right now,” Montgomery said. “We’re going to be as creative as we possibly can to give our kids the opportunity to go out and be 1-0 in the ACC.”