GREENVILLE, N.C. – Second-year ECU Head Football Coach Scottie Montgomery addressed members of the media on Monday prior to the season opener this weekend against James Madison. The following are selected comments:

 Opening Statement:

“Welcome to the 2017 football season. Since we left Philadelphia and the way we felt in our stomachs when we left the field at Temple, we have been looking forward to this moment. For our team it has been about pure focus to get to this point. The focal point for us right now is today. Today is our open day for our players. We changed that term from off day to open day meaning that the building is open for them to come in and do whatever that they need to do to make sure that we are focused and prepared to go against a very good James Madison football team.”

 On James Madison:

“They (James Madison) were national champions last year and we think that they have gotten even better and we feel that we have also gotten better. We’re talking about a team that had won their final 12 games and the only game that they lost was to UNC. You know that you are dealing with a talented team and a well-coached football team. I think that Coach (Mike) Houston has done a wonderful job there. They’ve got the longest active win streak in Division I, they averaged 47.0 points per game and they outscored their opponents 700 to 318. That says everything about who they are as a program right now and for him to come in and selectively take transfers and gel that football team, they are to be commended.

 “Defensively, Bob Trott (Defensive Coordinator), I’ve known for 20 years – he coached me in college. He does a really good job of using four downs and being able to get from a 4-2-5 to a 4-3 because of the help of some good football players in their back end. Then in their front I think they are experienced on defense as a team we will see coming in this year. We are focused on making sure that today we do what we have to do to be prepared to go against them on offense.

 “Offensively, we have talked about their 47.0 points a game and it all starts with the quarterback. He’s as accurate of a quarterback as we have seen. What I really like about him is he has the ability to stay in his fakes a lot longer than others because of his quickness and release. He’s a really, really good football player. He places the football with accuracy, can hurt you in the run game which gives them another number in the run game. I really like their offense, their 11-personnel and the way they use the tight end. The tight end cannot only be used in a lot of the run sets but also they have the ability to use him in the pass game as well. So we have a serious challenge there. But all in all we talk about a really good football team that is getting better.

 “The thing that concerns you when you play a team of this talent level right out of the gate is that they have a lot of carry over. They played a lot of football games last year which led into a good offseason, which leads into a quick spring and then it leads into summer ball and fall camp. What you see is a team that has been able to play together, continue to grow and are led by a defensive line group and a quarterback that helps them become a total football team. It’s a really, really good football team coming this weekend and our guys are ready and look forward to the challenge.”

 On ECU:

“For us, I don’t have much to talk about because we didn’t play last week. But moving forward our focus is on this team and making sure the things we have done in the offseason have improved the depth of this team. The number one objective of this team in the offseason was to build team chemistry. I’ve told people before that team chemistry is built when you leave the field not when you are on it. You need to know and to trust the people around you. So we are looking forward to that.”

 On Naming Of Team Captains:

“Our players had the ability to vote for captains. Our captains will be on offense Gardner Minshew, Jimmy Williams and Garrett McGhin and on defense Bobby Fulp and Jordan Williams. These are exactly the guys that I thought it would be, which is a great feeling when you have that with your team. To look at the votes coming in with almost the exact same thing on every one of them knowing that the spirit of this team is aligned and we have worked really, really, hard to get to that point. We know that this is a team that is going to play well together as we move forward and we are focused on today. A lot of people are going to talk about being focused on this weekend and the game but no, we are going to focus on Monday, then on Tuesday and every single day that we are in. We are intent on playing well and that’s what we have to do.”

 On Injuries:

“At the beginning of the year you need to know about the injuries that happened and throughout the off season. Trevon Brown will be out. His clearance will come this Wednesday or Thursday so we look forward to hopefully having him back for next week. Also Colby Gore, his clearance is probably going to come in the next couple of days, his physical clearance. We don’t believe in not playing on Tuesday and Wednesday with not having any physical contact and then being able to go into games so he won’t be available for us this week. Malik Gray is also out with a knee injury. We are looking forward to having him get back in the swing of things hopefully by the end of this week. We will find out a little bit more about where he is next week, but he’s out right now and then of course Blake (Proehl), but people have seen that for a while now. Overall, we are a healthy football team. We are team that is very hungry and focused on what is going to happen on September 2.”

 On The Team Chemistry From A Year Ago To Where They Are Now:

“Well, there was one thing with this team that kind of hit my heart. Usually when they get that last Saturday, you know the last one off before the first game, all of them want to go do different things. Whether they want to go see their parents or hang out with their friends away from the team because they’ve been around them all camp. Well, this year they came to me, and I never saw it coming, all of them voted they wanted to watch the fight together. When you get the team that wants to do one thing on their only real weekend off, that’s special.”

 On An FCS Team Like James Madison Moving Up A Little Bit To Be Like A FBS Team:

“One of the main reasons JMU has made a huge transition even three years ago is that they have been very selective of the people that come out of the Power 6 group that they bring into their program. They’ve been selective – you don’t just take anybody. I know a lot of them, some of them I have worked with, some of them I have recruited, some of them I have coached, and so they have been very selective. All those guys that they have brought in have been productive but they have been great people, worked really great together and they are humble. A lot of people are just looking for talent, but I think what Coach Houston has done is a really good job of getting great people and players from the Power 6 level that can come in and have an immediate impact, but are humble enough to listen to coaching.”

 On Coach Montgomery’s Emotional Level Coming Out Of The Tunnel This Year As Opposed To Last Year:

“I know this team and my emotion doesn’t have to be the jump start for us. We have a lot more self-motivating people than we did last year at this time. I will have a ton of energy when it comes this Saturday. This is a huge football game and a huge atmosphere that we get to play in front (Pirate Nation), so if you were in my shoes imagine how you would feel?”

 On Biggest Concerns For Saturday:

“Our biggest concern is operation. When you talk about a team like JMU, offensively what you are going to see is a team that is going to come out and give you a tremendous amount of tempo. They are going to hard count you on first down and third down, which people don’t think about. They just think that you take it for granted that you are going to see some hard counts on third down, but you are talking about a quarterback at the line of scrimmage that can mess up some things operationally. So operation is first, before the ball is snapped. That is critical for us. And then yes, we have got to find a way to take care of the football. The guy that is running out there for us first at running back, Derrell (Scott), he hasn’t put the ball on the ground for us, knock on wood. That is a big deal to us and that is why he is where he is right now. The guys that are coming in behind him have done a better job taking care of the football, but we wanted to make sure everybody knew that we are going to do a better job taking care of the football. Then on defense, we have added some different pieces to the puzzle that gets us to the football a little quicker. Some more ball steals in the back end and then with our front we think that we have added some depth, the ability to pass-rush that will get it out of his hands a little quicker, but we have a challenge and that is one of them.”

 On What Has Stood Out The Most During Fall Camp That Is Memorable:

“The amount of guys that are willing to sacrifice for one another is probably what has stood out most. That’s not just players, but that’s coaches too. The way that guys have been willing to fill in. If a guy has to run out for 15 to 30 minutes, no questions asked. So that is one thing that I am going to remember about this camp. The NCAA had an effect on camp with some rule changes and I think that it was a good thing. I think it gave a team like us the chance to really grow the team chemistry rather than always being on the field. Our guys were able to get stronger during camp and that is hard to do. Also, our guys were able to become a lot closer with their coaches.”

 On Having A Chip On Everyone’s Shoulder Like Last Season:

“I think that for a lot of people that chip that we talk about is evident. You feel it, you don’t just see it. Now you can actually feel it and that’s the way that we practice. This was the most physical preseason, with altercations and everything, because everyone sees how hard you have to play every snap. Everything that has happened and everything that has been said is really, really good for this football team. We wouldn’t have responded the way that we have in recruiting and in playing, unless we had to hear some negative things. We wouldn’t be where we are today if we hadn’t already been through what we’ve already been through and had to hear some of the things that we had to hear, which were rightfully so. We have embraced it, we are embracing the chip. But it’s not just the chip that we are giving lip service to. Now we don’t have to talk about the chip anymore, it’s there and you see it on the field. You see it on the one-on-one drills that the receiver beats the defensive back. The next time that receiver comes to the line that DB is going to try and jam him at the line of scrimmage and then I’m going to have to be using my whistle the next five minutes because they’re going to be at each other. That’s what we need. We have competitive people in a lot of places.”

 On Having A Message For The North State Little League Team That Represented Greenville:

“We are so proud of you. Can’t say how proud of you we are. You are already heroes, not only for young kids but you are heroes for people like me that would like to relive the dream of playing in the Little League World Series. The other thing that I would like to say is perseverance. This is only going to make you stronger. I can’t wait to see where they are next year, some of those guys are of course moving on and growing up. To the coaching staff, I know exactly how hard it is to put it all together and have parents work with you. Parents, all the evenings that you give up and the weekends that you give up but it is all worth it. This is a memory that they will always have. The one thing that I don’t understand is the set up and how we lose and that’s it. But I’m not going to cry about it but I was a little bit upset about it. We were at Meet the Pirates and it was a special occasion because we had all the football fans in the stadium and we were all watching you guys do the best that you possibly could. Of course it is a hurtful time for you when you lose in that situation, but you have to be commended for the way that you played.”