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Montgomery focused on football wins

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East Carolina third-year football coach Scottie Montgomery walks through the rain during Monday's practice. Monday, March 11, 2018.

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By RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector

Monday, March 12, 2018

As the East Carolina football team returned to spring drills Monday after a week off and just a few days after ECU announced it is parting ways with athletics director Jeff Compher on May 1, third-year football coach Scottie Montgomery said he is looking forward to continuing to work with his team and is eyeing more wins as soon as this year.

The Pirates have gone 3-9 in consecutive seasons after Compher fired Ruffin McNeill in 2015 and hired Montgomery away from his offensive assistant role at Duke. That transition has come under scrutiny by some people and played a role in uneasy feelings among Pirate Nation.

Montgomery recognized the want for more victories when asked if he felt any responsibility for Compher’s resignation.

“At the end of the day you wish you could win more football games and we want to win as much as we can,” Montgomery said after Monday’s practice that was conducted in chilly and rainy conditions that turned into icy rain falling during the final portions of practice. “As far as responsibility there is only person I think is responsible for that, and it was his decision. I hate that question would arise, but that’s something we have to deal with and we understand as coaches and players that we have to play better football around here.”

The third-year coach added that he talked to Compher during the middle part of last week but not since then.

The university board of trustees announced Friday that Compher initiated and accepted a reduced contract buyout of $1.26 million. He will remain with the school until May 1, creating weeks and months for the Pirates to transition in many aspects.

With that in mind, Montgomery said his main focus remains on spring practice and his team.

“We hope and wish him well,” the coach said of Compher’s impending exit. “At the end of the day we are really concerned about the Pirates that are here and our football team. We are going to push these guys to be the best football team they can be this year coming (up).”

East Carolina split its spring drills into two main sessions, beginning Feb. 19 but including the players to be off all of last week while on spring break, which served as a midway point of spring practice.

ECU is off again Tuesday and a lot of this week will be about working toward Saturday’s first full spring scrimmage inside Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. The second scrimmage will be the annual Purple-Gold Game on March 24.

Montgomery said Monday’s practice was a success even during adverse conditions, partly because the time off created natural anticipation and intensity for the return to the team’s practice facility.

“Usually if you practice seven or eight days or nine days and get it kind of rolling and then have a (weather) day like today, you can kind of have a downturn with energy, but you could see that the last play of practice probably had as much energy as the first play,” Montgomery said. “We were happy about that.”

Contact Ronnie Woodward at rwoodward@reflector.com, 252-329-9592 and follow @RonnieW11 on Twitter.

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