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Montgomery mulls QB plan

E Carolina-Houston Football-3

Houston linebacker Roman Brown tries to catch East Carolina wide receiver Quay Johnson as he turns for the end zone to score after his reception during the second half in Houston on Saturday.

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By Nathan Summers
The Daily Reflector

Monday, November 6, 2017

It is a strange time in the football season to have a quarterback controversy, but struggling East Carolina is having a tough time deciding which of its passers gives it a shot to win a third game.

Two days removed from a 52-27 pummeling at Houston, ECU head coach Scottie Montgomery listed his two QBs on the team depth chart as senior Thomas Sirk “or” junior Gardner Minshew as the starter.

Both have started this season and both have logged a considerable amount of playing time for the Pirates (2-7, 1-4 American Athletic Conference).

In fact, Minshew came off the bench at Houston to spell Sirk – the team's starter in seven of nine games – and proceeded to pass for 463 yards and three touchdowns and also set new ECU single-game records for pass attempts (68) and completions (52).

Who starts the game this Saturday against Tulane has yet to be determined, according to Montgomery.

“I thought two weeks ago against BYU (an ECU win), what we saw in Gardner is a much calmer quarterback than we did in the first couple of situations in the games that he was in, when he was a little bit more frantic in the pocket,” the coach said at Monday's weekly news conference in advance of Saturday's 7 p.m. kickoff in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium against the Green Wave (3-6, 1-4). “I really liked him in the pocket last week. I really think he was settled and did a good job with it.”

Montgomery said the team would announce its QB setup for Tulane later this week. 

Saturday slump

The Pirates have had a good deal of difficulty translating their practice field success into wins in games this season.

Montgomery acknowledges that truth, saying it is at least partly due to a lack of defined leadership on the roster.

“We've had some of our captains in the lineup, back out of the lineup, whether it's injuries or (inconsistent) playing, but there hasn't been a smooth transition of leadership from one guy to the next,” the coach said.

Also at issue is fast starts in some games that have not been sustained late, or the opposite like Saturday at Houston, when the Pirates were down 21-0 and 28-3 early in the game and never recovered.

Defensively, Montgomery said the Pirates' bane continues to be big plays.

“I think this is a team that has to get better at stopping the big play because the momentum shifts in the game really affect this team,” he said, noting that he expects younger leaders to emerge like defensive lineman Alex Turner, center John Spellacy and linebacker Aaron Ramseur.

Contact Nathan Summers at nsummers@reflector.com, 252-329-9595 and follow @NateSumm99 on Twitter.

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