Unhappy with defense, ECU’s Montgomery makes staff changes

The Pirates have given up more than 600 yards in each of their first two games and have lost 11 of their last 12 games dating back to last season

ECU coach Scottie Montgomery will have his work cut out for him in his third season with the Pirates this fall (Ben Queen/USA TODAY)

Unhappy with the performance his defense, which has allowed more than 600 yards in each of its first two games this season, East Carolina football coach Scottie Montgomery has replaced defensive coordinator Kenwick Thompson.

Montgomery made the announcement Sunday, 24 hours after the Pirates were virtually defenseless in a 56-20 thumping at the hands of West Virginia.

“While these decisions are difficult to make, both from a timing and personal standpoint, my responsibility is to sustain the best interest for our program,” Montgomery said in a statement. “We appreciate Coach Thompson’s efforts, but I feel a change in direction is needed at this time.”

Thompson came to ECU with Montgomery last year after spending two seasons as linebackers coach at Vanderbilt. He will be reassigned within the program, but will not continue in a coaching capacity, according to the announcement.

Associate head coach Robert Prunty, who also works with the Pirates’ defensive line, will take over Thompson’s duties as coordinator effective immediately. Prunty had been the co-defensive coordinator at Cincinnati before coming to the Pirates in January.

ECU has allowed an average of 616.5 yards per game in losses to James Madison (34-14) and West Virginia (56-20) to start the season and has lost 11 of its last 12 games dating back to last season. After Saturday’s game, in which the Mountaineers scored touchdowns on seven of their eight first half possessions, Montgomery said it looked as though his team was playing with only 10 players on defense at times.

The Pirates play defending ACC Coastal Division champion Virginia Tech this Saturday.