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Anytime, anyplace for Minshew

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East Carolina quarterback Gardner Minshew calls for a snap during a game against Virginia Tech earlier this season. Minshew could get his third start on Saturday against Tulane.

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By Nathan Summers
The Daily Reflector

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Gardner Minshew doesn't care if he starts, comes off the bench or alternates every snap.

He just wants to win.

The junior quarterback's second season at East Carolina can only be called up and down based on his chaotic ins and outs this season. Splitting time with graduate transfer and usual starter Thomas Sirk, whether based on injury or performance, has become perhaps the only norm for Minshew.

It was the same last year when Minshew served as the primary backup for then-senior Philip Nelson. Both Sirk and Nelson share in common being the preferred starter for most of those games, but it is Minshew who has been the enduring force — and very often the best playmaker — and it might be his job again Saturday night against Tulane.

“I don't care. Whenever they put me in I'll be ready to play, whether it's the fourth quarter or the first drive,” said Minshew, who by script came off the bench on the third series of the game at Houston and, aside a handful more snaps for Sirk, played the rest of the game. “I just want to play and help my team.”

The numbers are beginning to level out between Sirk and Minshew, who won the starting job for the season opener against James Madison but was supplanted by Sirk the following week at West Virginia.

Both passers have nine touchdowns, though the more mobile Sirk also has scored a team-best three times on the rush.

But despite the team's 2-7 record, Sirk's seven starts in nine games and a 52-27 pasting from UH last weekend, it is Minshew that is coming off a banner 463-yard performance in which he set new school records for pass attempts and completions despite not starting.

“I just want to help my team win, and I feel like the best way to do that is on the field making plays,” said Minshew, who has amassed 1,117 yards with three interceptions in seven total appearances compared with Sirk's 1,665 yards and nine picks in eight games. “Anytime I get to go out there, I love it and I'm going to take advantage of every opportunity I get.”

Without question, Minshew has a rhythm with ECU's receivers, especially dynamic junior Trevon Brown, with whom he has linked up with for all five of the receiver's touchdowns this season. That includes another school-record 95-yard connection at WVU.

The former Mississippi junior college QB find appears to be a favorite to claim the full-time starting role next season, but with rising sophomore Reid Herring and potential freshman phenom Holton Ahlers still aiming toward Greenville next year, nothing is certain. So Minshew is squarely focused on the now.

“I'm not worried about that at all. I'm not worried about next year,” he said. “I'm just trying to go out and win this game.”

Montgomery stays mum

ECU head coach Scottie Montgomery remained tight-lipped as to whether or not it would be Minshew’s third start of the season or Sirk’s eighth on Saturday night at 7 in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

Following Wednesday night’s practice, the second-year coach did confirm there would still be a game plan that involved both passers being used. He also admitted the decision on the starter has been made, but Montgomery chose to wait before making it public.

“I’ll probably announce that a little but closer to Saturday, but the decision has been made,” Montgomery said, joking that he was aware Wednesday night was the last media availability leading up to Saturday’s game. “Either way, you’ll see a little bit of both of them.”

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

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