Thank you for being one of our most loyal readers. Please consider supporting community journalism by subscribing.
With the struggling on-field results continuing and attendance dropping, ECU head coach Scottie Montgomery made a plea to Pirate fans ahead of this weekend’s homecoming matchup.
The message behind the words? Don’t give up on the players, continue to support the program and remain patient.
ECU, which is coming off a 63-21 loss to UCF, its sixth defeat by 20 or more points this season, faces 1-6 BYU on Saturday.
“I am asking everybody this weekend to come out and support the Pirates,” said Montgomery, who is 4-15 in two years as the Pirates head coach. “Come out and support the university. Come out and serve our colors, purple and gold. Some of our guys, they are seniors and this is their last opportunity at homecoming and we really want to make it a fantastic experience for them. So I know that all of our true Pirates will be out this weekend. I want Bagwell Field at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium to be jumping.”
Known for their home field advantage, the Pirates haven’t had much of one this season. They are 0-4 inside Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium and have lost every home game by double-digits. ECU led the AAC in average attendance last season and is still edging out UCF for the league lead in fans per game with 37,539 through half the year.
That said, attendance has been dropping each of the past two home games. After ECU had nearly 44,000 for Virginia Tech, the Pirates had under 35,000 for South Florida and just over 31,000 for the Temple game on Oct. 7, marking the lowest-attended Pirate home game since 2005.
But Montgomery wants the fans to keep supporting the players, who are putting in the work behind the scenes, and the university overall as the team tries to correct things on the field.
“The main reason I ask this is because of the sacrifice of our football players,” Montgomery said. “The next thing is supporting the university and supporting and serving our colors. This isn’t easy. There is no rhyme or reason to what has happened. But what I’ll do is that I will say I know that true Pirate fans are true Pirate fans and they will come out and support us.
“I understand how hard it is to watch a product not be the way that you want it to be. But I can guarantee that these guys in the locker room are giving every single thing that they have. We are working as hard as we possibly can and the product will get better. I want people to be there so they can see it when it starts to turn.”
ECU has also attempted to drum up fan support on social media, asking team leaders like senior Davon Grayson and junior offensive lineman Garrett McGhin to send a message to the fans.
“I would love to see everyone show up and support us,” Grayson said. “We want to show the young guys how it’s supposed to be, so that when their time comes, they know how the stands are supposed to look.”
Kickoff for Saturday’s game inside Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium is set for 7 p.m. The game will be televised on CBS Sports Network.
MORE DEFENSIVE INJURIES
There’s more than one reason ECU’s defense ranks dead last in college football, allowing an even 600 yards per game.
One of the main problems? The team’s health on that side of the ball. Dealing with serious injuries across the board, the Pirates were without eight starters by the second quarter of the recent loss to UCF.
Starting defensive backs Bobby Fulp and Colby Gore each left with injuries during the first quarter, while graduate transfers safety Korrin Wiggins and defensive end Gaelin Elmore were both suspended prior to the game due to a violation of academic policy.
Senior defensive end Kiante Anderson, one of the few bright spots for this year’s defense with three sacks, sat out the UCF game and could miss the rest of the season with a knee injury sustained in the Tempe game.
But that’s not all. While he’s still managing to play some reps, senior linebacker Jordan Williams has been limited with a knee injury over the past several weeks, and starting cornerback Corey Seargent and linebacker Ray Tillman have missed the last few weeks with various ailments.
The good news? ECU is expected to get back former South Central High School product and sophomore defensive end Kendall Futrell, who’s missed the past three games with an illness. Gore should also make it back this week, though the statuses of Fulp and Seargent are in question on the back-end of the defense.
BYU SCOUTING REPORT
For the second time in three weeks, ECU’s last-ranked defense will face an offense that ranks among the nation’s worst.
After getting beaten handedly by a subpar Temple offense in a 34-10 loss two weeks ago, the Pirates will try to right the ship against BYU, which is ranked 128th out of 129 teams in total offense (242.4 yards per game).
Similar to ECU, the Cougars (1-6) have faced a ridiculous schedule, including tilts against LSU, Utah, Boise State, Mississippi State and Wisconsin.
“I don’t think anybody would trade for their schedule to this point in time,” Montgomery said. “We are looking at a really good football team that just happened to go against the likes of some other places that have been traditionally great football programs.”
BYU has been ravaged by the injury bug this season, as 34 of its players have missed significant time with injuries, according to the Cougars’ media relations staff.
Saturday will mark BYU’s second meeting against ECU and its first trip to Greenville. The Cougars topped the Pirates 45-38 in Provo, Utah, in 2015 during Ruffin McNeill’s last season as ECU’s head coach.