DURHAM When Scottie Montgomery rejoined Duke’s coaching staff after three years with the Pittsburgh Steelers, he brought palpable energy and charisma to his introductory press conference in February. By July, he had already begun to make an impact on the recruiting trail, landing ESPN top 300 commit Nicodem Pierre, a quarterback from Miami.
Now in August, he has put his stamp on his position group, the wide receivers.
“He’s a lot more analytical than the coach we had in the past,” junior Issac Blakeney said. “In the past it was like ‘try to get 10 yards, try to get here,’ and with Coach Montgomery, it’s like, ‘fourth step, on your inside foot,’ things that detailed. It’s awesome.”
The attention to detail extends to their meeting room, where every seat is numbered from 1-14. The first seat goes to the receiver ranked highest, a spot Jamison Crowder has held all camp. The rest sit in order, and the seating chart is reset every couple of days.
“The seats change,” Blakeney said. “He is going to keep making you earn your spot, so there’s no getting content.”
Blakeney currently sits in the No. 2 spot, and senior Brandon Braxton and sophomore Max McCaffrey are in competition for the third spot.
For Montgomery, Duke’s offensive coordinator, the competition and precision are all part of the master plan to win as many games as possible.
“There is a very, very thin line between good and great,” he said. “As far as the passing game is concerned, we’re really trying to get to that level.”
N.C. State skips practice on first day of classes
RALEIGH N.C. State’s players got the day off Wednesday and there was a good reason for it, coach Dave Doeren said.
Fall classes started and Doeren said he has learned an axiom about the start of the school year and how it affects the players on the field.
“The first day of school is the worst day of practice,” Doeren said Wednesday at the Raleigh Sports Club meeting.
So the players were off, getting adjusted to their new academic schedules. Doeren said after 20 practices a little break is not the worst thing with the opener against Louisiana Tech fewer than 10 days away.
“I think our guys are sick of hitting each other,” Doeren said. “I’m hoping they’re going to hit the opponent as hard as they’re hitting each other.”
Doeren went through most of the depth chart for the opener at the meeting but cut off any questions about the quarterback situation before they were asked.
“I don’t see why we would want anyone to know who’s playing until we have to,” Doeren said.
Doeren did say he expected both Brandon Mitchell and Pete Thomas to play but he did not say how much or how he would split the reps for the first game or going forward.
Louisiana Tech doesn’t know “what we’re doing so let’s keep it that way for 10 days,” Doeren said.
Schoettmer earns scholarship, starting position
CHAPEL HILL North Carolina linebacker Jeff Schoettmer entered preseason practice as a walk-on, third-string middle linebacker. He ended it on scholarship, with a starting position on defense.
Schoettmer, a sophomore who played in all 12 games last season, is expected to start when UNC opens the season next week at South Carolina. Larry Fedora, the Tar Heels’ second-year coach, recently awarded Schoettmer a scholarship.
Schoettmer impressed the coaching staff last year, when he made the most of his limited playing time and finished the season with 23 tackles, two for loss, and a fumble recovery. Then he suffered a foot injury and missed spring practice. It proved to be only a temporary setback.
“He put on some weight, he got stronger,” Fedora said Wednesday. “We really thought he was going to be good, and he’s shown us that in camp.”
Entering the preseason, redshirt freshmen Dan Mastromatteo and Nathan Staub were atop the depth chart at middle linebacker. Staub suffered an undisclosed injury early in camp. Schoettmer and Travis Hughes have been UNC’s most consistent linebackers throughout the preseason.