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Thompson out as ECU coordinator

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Kenwick Thompson

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By Nathan Summers
The Daily Reflector

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Amid East Carolina’s woeful 0-2 start to the football season, Kenwick Thompson is out as the team’s defensive coordinator.

In his second season in Greenville with head coach Scottie Montgomery, Thompson’s tenure ended Sunday in the wake of the Pirates’ 56-20 shelling at the hands of West Virginia. In that game, the ECU defense was on the receiving end of seven first-half touchdowns and has now allowed 90 points in two games.

“We made some transition in the offseason and thought we did a good job with recruiting and putting a lot of talent on the defensive side of the ball,” Montgomery said in a meeting with media members Sunday following the announcement. “We got off to a slow start (in a season-opening loss to James Madison) and I really challenged everybody to get better this week in some way, in some form. I didn’t necessarily think we got better. We needed a little bit of a change in direction.”

The change in the short term is the promotion of first-year defensive line and associate head coach Robert Prunty to the coordinator post.

Thompson, meanwhile, has been reassigned within the program, according to Montgomery, who added that he considered the former Vanderbilt staffer a friend and a colleague.

Specifically, Montgomery said he hoped the change will help reunite the defense and help them play together.

“We have to become a little bit more simplistic in some of the things that we’re doing and help our back end and help our linebackers play better together,” Montgomery said of the team’s 4-2-5 scheme. “I didn’t necessarily think that we played well together. I thought we tried to fix some issues in the run game from the week before that stressed us a little bit too much in the secondary, and I think collectively we need to put together a little bit better plan to play together.”

Prunty served as co-defensive coordinator at Cincinnati for the last three years prior to his appointment at ECU in January. Montgomery said he considered Prunty’s success last season against his ECU team when he hired him.

The Pirates have surrendered an average of 616.5 yards per game in losses to JMU (34-14) and WVU. Montgomery said further adjustments are on the way for this week’s home clash with No. 16 Virginia Tech.

“There will be some small changes. We’ll have some structural changes but we’ll find out how beneficial it is for us as we move forward,” Montgomery said. “We just felt it was time for a change.”

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

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