ECU’s locker room an ‘accountable’ one

Published 3:50 pm Monday, October 9, 2017

GREENVILLE — After showing improvement in the past weeks, the East Carolina (1-5, 1-2 AAC) offense took a huge step back in this Saturday’s game against Temple (3-3, 1-2 AAC) The Pirates dropped their second American Athletic Conference game of the season, 34-10.

Moving forward, all groups on the team focus on accountability. The running backs couldn’t move the ball. That handicapped the entire offense, which struggled as the offensive line struggled. Defensively, ECU faced many of the same problems it has all season.

“I think we just have to sustain drives and make the plays, we got to catch balls, we have to block up front,” quarterback Thomas Sirk said. “I mean as a quarterback I have to make great reads…I’ve got to hold myself accountable, and I can’t throw it up like that.”

Although the game was not as big of blowout as Pirate fans have endured earlier in the season, the Temple defense did shut down the ECU offense, holding it to just 10. The Owls got 179 yards rushing to ECU’s 34 yards on 22 carries.

The biggest struggle ECU faced, however, was converting on third down. The Pirates moved the chains only three times on 14 third-down opportunities. When the offense fails to generate long drives and pick up points, it leaves the defense working even harder on less energy as they spend more time on the field.

“Our third down conversions were pitiful by our offense,” head coach Scottie Montgomery said. “I thought, defensively, what they did to us … was their defensive line got after our front quite a bit.”

The offensive progress made in weeks leading up to Saturday focused around Sirk getting more comfortable under center. He was ECU’s leading rusher against South Florida. Against Temple, though, the mobile quarterback finished with negative yardage.

“All and all, they outrushed us,” Montgomery said. “They just outgained us on offense, stopped us with their defense, and just too many mental errors and mistakes in our front.”

In addition to the lack of run-game established, ECU receivers struggled holding on to passes, leaving a lot of yardage on the field. Montgomery said that the players have started to take responsibility for their faults in the game.

“The locker room was an accountable locker room, where the captains of the team spoke in detail to the players about what players need to do,” Montgomery said after the game. “I don’t think I’ve been a part of a locker room like that before, where a player stood up and said, ‘I had four or five plays in this game where I knew my job to the upmost and didn’t go do it, so I have to hold myself accountable.’”

This week’s conference matchup will be even tougher for the Pirates, as they travel to Florida to face No. 22 and undefeated Central Florida. The odds are stacked against them, but the hope is to find something on the road that they can bring back to Greenville.

After all, ECU hasn’t won a home game since beating Connecticut in Dowdy-FIcklen Stadium on Oct. 29, 2016.

“This is a football town. Even this whole area, it’s all about football,” wide receiver and Pam Pack product Jimmy Williams said. “We got to do what we got to do, and go back out there and win games … And give people something to come here and watch, honestly.”