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Defensive reboot continues

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East Carolina defensive coordinator Robert Prunty congratulates players as they come to the sideline against Virginia Tech on Saturday in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

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By Nathan Summers
The Daily Reflector

Thursday, September 21, 2017

East Carolina has not had many defensive answers in its first three football games, allowing 154 points and nearly 2,000 yards so far this season.

But there was a quick answer from one of ECU’s lead defenders when asked the most disappointing thing about the start to the season for the 0-3 Pirates, who trek to Connecticut on Sunday to open American Athletic Conference play.

“Just the hard work and effort that we’ve been putting in each and every day, out here grinding and trying to do whatever we can to win, and to be 0-3, that’s not what you want,” said defensive end Kiante Anderson, the team’s leader in sacks and tackles for loss. “That’s not the outcome that you want, but I feel confident coming into this week as far as our practices that we’ve been getting better and better.”

Defensive coordinator Robert Prunty, now in his second week running the ECU defense after replacing Kenwick Thompson, is hoping for more balance and better execution after getting gutted for 675 yards last week by Virginia Tech.

“We tackled, and it was on me,” Prunty said of the 64-17 loss to the Hokies. “In the secondary, we should have made some adjustments. We should have gotten tight on coverages. We played off and we were too loose in coverages, and guys played like they were scared to give up the deep ball and they threw the ball up under us.”

Prunty said he was happy with ECU’s ability to control the Tech rush to an extent, but said quarterback Josh Jackson was able to adjust and beat the Pirates through the air.

Anderson said a decided advantage comes this week in the fact that the Huskies (1-1) run an offense very similar to the Pirates’, so he said it makes for an easier assignment, even for a team desperate for its first win since the last time it faced Connecticut a season ago.

“There is always adversity, and it’s something you always have to deal with it, but coming into this game, it’s nothing that we haven’t seen before,” Anderson said. “We’ve just got to be fundamentally sound and keep our technique under pressure.”

On the mend

Head coach Scottie Montgomery said Tuesday that sophomore safety Tim Irvin (ankle) was on the practice field on Wednesday night but was not a full participant.

“He did a few things in individual (workouts), but didn’t do anything too strenuous today,” Montgomery said of Irvin, noting that sophomore cornerback Colby Gore was back in full action. “Hopefully we’ll get a chance to see him (today), and then we’ll know a little bit more.”

Montgomery noted that junior offensive lineman Garrett McGhin, who walked off the practice field with a protective boot on his foot, was out of practice completely, as was senior linebacker Ray Tillman (wrist).

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

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