ECU game in fluid situation
By RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector
Monday, September 10, 2018
Like many people in North Carolina, the East Carolina football team is taking a day-to-day and even hour-to-hour approach as it transitions from Saturday’s rivalry win over North Carolina to this Saturday’s game at Virginia Tech with the threat of Hurricane Florence looming.
Kickoff is scheduled for 12:20 p.m. in Blacksburg, Va. It is the first road game of the year for the Pirates (1-1), who had their season-opening loss to North Carolina A&T at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium postponed from Sept. 1 to Sept. 2 because of thunderstorms in Pitt County.
Florence is tracking like a much more serious situation.
ECU has canceled all classes after noon Tuesday and encouraged students to leave campus before tropical storm force winds begin in Greenville, possibly as early as Wednesday night.
“There are a lot of different steps and conference calls to be made, not just with ECU and Virginia Tech, but also there are campus things that are connected to it,” Pirate coach Scottie Montgomery said Monday at noon during his weekly news conference. “There is a huge gamut of conversations and things going on right now. ... The hard thing is just the unknown.”
Montgomery said the team might leave Greenville earlier than normal if the game remains on schedule to be played.
He added that he and his staff learned from its experience with Hurricane Matthew in 2016. The Pirates played at South Florida on Oct. 8 and ran into complications after the game in trying to get back to Greenville.
They had to use alternate routes, and then the following week’s home contest against Navy was postponed because of Matthew’s impact.
“It’s about the student-athlete and how we can make sure we protect them, and I’m a lot more equipped to deal with it this time because we’ve been in this situation before,” Montgomery said. “I understand how important this situation is and how quickly it can change in eastern North Carolina, so it’s something that we are monitoring, but the football part of it is we’re really focused on driving up to Roanoke and then going into Blacksburg to be able to play the game.”
While ECU had to deal with delays and postponements during Matthew, the Hokies were able to play on Oct. 8, 2016, and beat North Carolina during heavy rain and winds in Chapel Hill.
Montgomery opened his news conference Monday with an update on starting cornerback Colby Gore, who suffered a block to the head by UNC running back Antonio Williams and was treated at Vidant Medical Center under concussion protocol. He was released from the hospital Saturday night and is not yet listed on the official injury report for this week.
“His X-rays were negative and we don’t know if we’ll have him this week at all yet because the secondary evaluations he has going on,” Montgomery said. “The great news for our locker room and for our team is that he is doing well. For the fans and everybody around him who called and gave us support and prayed for him, we are very appreciative of it.”
Only backup tight end Ben Norris and backup offensive lineman Donovan Noel are listed as out.
Va. Tech is ranked No. 13 in the country and has allowed a total of 20 points in its two wins this season, highlighted by beating Florida State 24-3.
ECU showed significant improvements on both sides of the ball during its 41-19 rout of UNC. The defense shut out the Tar Heels after halftime, which Montgomery said was vital and defined by physical play.
“Our defensive line was unbelievable,” he said. “UNC put out one of the biggest offensive lines, just looking at them without knowing weight. They were huge, to the point where I had our coaches after the game find out where they came from and where they were recruited from and how big they came in and the process of their development.
“But our defensive line in the second half just played so hard and they maintained the line of scrimmage and even dominated the line of scrimmage at times. That’s what I was most impressed with.”
Contact Ronnie Woodward at email@example.com, 252-329-9592 and follow @RonnieW11 on Twitter.