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Cutcliffe offers support for Montgomery

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Duke football coach David Cutcliffe, right, talks with East Carolina's Scottie Montgomery before they are introduced Monday in Cary at the Bill Dooley Pigskin Preview.

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By RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

CARY — Duke football coach David Cutcliffe was asked Monday during the Bill Dooley Pigskin Preview about nightmares he has in his profession.

He joked that one involves facing a North Carolina offense and N.C. State defense during the same game. He was sitting next to East Carolina third-year coach Scottie Montgomery while telling the story to the crowd.

“Scottie, thank goodness we are so close,” Cutcliffe said as he looked over to Montgomery and they shared a laugh.

Cutcliffe was serious about their relationship when he was asked later about the ECU coach’s struggles so far with the Pirates. Montgomery has a 6-18 record in two seasons at ECU.

“It’s so gut-wrenching and we all live it, because that is what people look at most,” Cutcliffe said of a coach’s win-loss record.

They are good friends because Montgomery, a Duke player during the 1990s, served as a Blue Devils offensive coordinator, quarterbacks coach and receivers coach under Cutcliffe.

He was hired away by ECU in December of 2015 and after consecutive losing seasons has been a popular name in coaching hot seat articles this offseason. But Montgomery and his staff also have hit a surge this summer in recruiting to help ease the minds of some fans.

“What you can’t do and what I keep encouraging Scottie is you never lose by strengthening your program,” said Cutcliffe, who was a 2013 national coach of the year and spent most of his career as an offensive assistant at Tennessee. “Whether it’s the discipline of your program or the growth of your program or recruiting, and I don’t know of anybody more committed to those things than Scottie Montgomery. It’s a difficult era for people to be patient, but I know what he is doing with his program and that is extremely important.”

Cutcliffe and the other Atlantic Coast Conference coaches will begin ACC media days in Charlotte today. Montgomery will be in Rhode Island next week for the American Athletic Conference preseason media event.

Montgomery made a splash early in 2016 with an upset of N.C. State in Greenville to highlight a 2-0 start to his head coaching career. The Pirates struggled late in that campaign during American play, and last year was defined by lopsided defeats, concluding with a 70-13 rout at Memphis for a second straight 3-9 record.

It was after the Memphis game when Montgomery guaranteed that East Carolina will make the postseason this year.

The guarantee could add to the pressure on Montgomery this season. He was asked Monday about what the Pirates are facing this year and he didn’t back down from the expectations.

“I’ve been feeling pressure since I was probably 9 or 10 years old and stepped on to the football field or a basketball court,” Montgomery said. “I love the way it feels to be able to go out and perform every single day. As far as pressure, some people say you apply it and we are going to apply a lot of pressure to our guys and our program this year to make sure that we grow to where we need to be at the end of the year.”

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

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