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Emotion will fuel ECU rush

083116ECUScott

ECU's Anthony Scott carries the ball against Tulsa at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium on October 17, 2015. (Joe Pellegrino/The Daily Reflector)

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By Nathan Summers
The Daily Reflector

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Football and emotion have a tricky relationship.

Too much emotion is a bad thing, but in the case of first-year East Carolina head coach Scottie Montgomery, emotion is a valuable tool in gauging who he wants on the field at a given moment. It will be that thinking, Montgomery said, that will go a long way in determining who will be toting the football the most out of the Pirates' backfield this season.

“There is an emotional factor to it, and my emotions are connected to that,” Montgomery said of his running backs, expected to be led by junior Anthony Scott and sophomore Devin Anderson. “If I see a back that goes out there who can't be tackled and they can't get a hand on him, then guess what? He's going to get the most carries.”

When the Pirates kick off the season on Saturday night against visiting Western Carolina, an ECU lead in the second half could spell a ground-heavy finish to the game. That could mean important auditions for all the members of the backfield crew, including sophomores Derrell Scott and Shawn Furlow.

It is not merely a matter of handing off to the hot hand, however, and Montgomery said he places a high value on spreading the ball around as a way of guaranteeing the fastest, most agile man is on the field.

“There are different levels of concern with where we are on the field. There are some red zone things, some midfield things, some backed-up things, so the game will have its own personality and we'll let that work out in the game,” the coach said. “But I can tell you this: If a guy wants to take over a football game, I'm not going to stand in his way.”

Moving on

The Pirates are making their final defensive adjustments, which have been considerable after the dismissal of starting end Darius Commissiong late last week following his arrest on felony animal cruelty charges.

Montgomery announced on Monday the one-game suspension of a likely Commissiong replacement in junior Demage Bailey, leaving the tandem of junior Mike Myers and sophomore Justin Brown to man the vacancy while seniors Demetri McGill and Fred Presley return to starting positions at nose tackle and end, respectively.

“We've been blessed because we've had a lot of growth in our defensive line as camp has moved on,” Montgomery said. “You'll see some younger players. You'll see some (of true freshman) Alex Turner. But we're prepared there with Fred Presley, and Demetri will be ready to step in there.”

Montgomery also noted that ECU, because of the multiple formations utilized by first-year coordinator Kenwick Thompson, has plenty of options.

For much of the offseason, the defense has shown a nickel package with five defensive backs, four linebackers and two linemen. The team also has the luxury of a pair of towering outside linebackers in senior Dayon Pratt and sophomore Yiannis Bowden.

“We're in a spot where from a schematic standpoint, because of our multiple fronts that we can use, and utilize both Yiannis and Pratt together, that we have some position flexibility,” Montgomery said. “So some of those situations and issues that we have, that we have a lack of guys that we had before, we'll be able to mask in some situations.”

Contact Nathan Summers at nsummers@reflector.com, 252-329-9595 or follow @NateSumm99 on Twitter.

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