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ECU QBs rotate at practice

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East Carolina freshmen quarterbacks Kingsley Ifedi (2) and Holton Ahlers practice on Tuesday morning.

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By RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

East Carolina’s reset at quarterback picked up Tuesday morning with the first full practice of the week, but coach Scottie Montgomery plans to use as much time as possible to determine a starting QB.

A public proclamation might not come until Saturday, when ECU welcomes high-powered Houston for a 7 p.m. American Athletic Conference matchup inside Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

The Pirates, who just lost 49-6 at Temple, are using this week to figure out which combination of Reid Herring, Holton Ahlers and Kingsley Ifedi will give them the best chance at upsetting the Cougars (4-1, 1-0 AAC). One of the signal-callers taking full control of the offense also is a possibility.

“I told them today that we are going to go out there and practice, and this is like an NFL training camp,” offensive coordinator Tony Petersen said. “You guys are trying to make the team every day.”

Petersen added that he was very attentive of how Herring, who started the first five games for ECU (2-3, 0-1), performed with the No. 2 offense, because of the sophomore QB’s unfamiliarity with some of that unit’s personnel. All three quarterbacks split time with the first-team and second-team offense.

Montgomery reiterated what he said Monday in that leadership is an aspect of this reopened competition.

“We have a lot of time this week, because of fall break, and we can get them a lot of reps,” he said. “When it comes to Saturday, hopefully by that time we’ll know. All the way up until then, we expect these guys to compete.

“We have to do better as coaches putting them all in a better spot. That starts with me, and that will happen.”

Herring won the starting job during spring drills. He has a 6-to-5 touchdown-to-interception ratio and has been replaced during the second half each of the last two games. Two weeks ago against Old Dominion, he returned to lead the offense late in the fourth quarter and guided the winning drive.

ECU ranks 122nd in the nation in pass efficiency.

“I’m good (with confidence) and we just come out here and we compete every day,” Herring said. “We rotated today and everybody looked good and made plays. I think that is going to help our room a lot, and we are all going to start playing better.”

Ahlers has led the Pirates in rushing each of the last three weeks, but the Greenville native and true freshman left-hander is 2-of-10 passing for the season for 7 yards in a limited role as a passer. Ifedi, a redshirt freshman from Charlotte, also is a dual-threat QB who has attempted five passes and completed two of them for 13 yards. Herring is 118-of-218 for 1,273 yards, but hasn’t been effective as a runner.

“It was really different, because today we split it down three ways,” Ifedi said of changes to practice compared to previous weeks. “We all got equal reps and we all had equal opportunities to go out there and execute.”

All three QBs have played in each of the last two games.

Montgomery said Monday that he wants to identify one of them to take the majority of the snaps Saturday, even if some type of rotation remains in the game plan. Petersen agreed after Tuesday’s practice.

“As long as the young man who is going out there is making the right decisions and doing what we are coaching them to do, then I think you have to give a kid a chance to play,” Petersen said.

Contact Ronnie Woodward at rwoodward@reflector.com, 252-329-9592 and follow @RonnieW11 on Twitter.

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