football Edit

Minshew Named Starter for ECU and Coach Mo Recaps Tuesday

Gardner Minshew (pictured in Tuesday's practice) will be under center when ECU takes on JMU.
Gardner Minshew (pictured in Tuesday's practice) will be under center when ECU takes on JMU. ( photo)

ECU junior quarterback and returning starter Gardner Minshew worked with the first team offense on Tuesday. Following practice, second year Pirate head coach Scottie Montgomery confirmed that Minshew is slated to start in the season opener against James Madison on September 2nd in Greenville.

"Gardner Minshew will be our starting quarterback opening the season. We're really, really proud of him," Montgomery told Tuesday afternoon after the team's two-hour workout at Hight Field, "Also we're really proud of the way Thomas Sirk came in and competed and push Gardner into a high level."

It wasn't an easy decision for Montgomery who used to work with Sirk in their time together at Duke. The competition has been brisk.

"It didn't make it easy to make the decision. The decision was made on early Sunday, but I didn't have a chance to get together with the kids because that was their off day. The most important thing was that we needed to treat both sides - both Thomas and Gardner with a great deal of respect."

Last season Minshew appeared in seven games as a sophomore and started in the last two games in place of an injured Philip Nelson. The Northwest Mississippi C.C. transfer completed 119-of-202 passes for 1,347 yards and eight touchdowns for the Pirates with just four interceptions.

Minshew expressed his jubilation to have won the job to open the season against James Madison in the home opener on September 2nd.

"I'm excited mostly for the fact of just getting it behind us so we can get ready for James Madison because that's something that's been on our minds for a long time," Minshew told PI, "We're just ready to play ball. I think the whole team is."

The Pirate junior talked about how he found out the news.

"He just sat me down and said he was really proud of how I've worked through the spring and the summer and that he is really proud in how I competed and that I won the job."

For Duke transfer Thomas Sirk, it comes as a bit of a blow being a senior but he took it in stride and talked about it on Tuesday.

"It doesn't change anything that I do going forward. Just keep competing that the level that I am. I feel like during camp I brought everything I had and I'm going to continue to do that - continue to push Gardner and push myself. For me it's about setting personal goals and I got this far and I'm going to keep working."

Sirk knows that he remains one play away from getting in the game. Anything can happen and as the backup quarterback, he has to be ready to go just like the starter.

"You never know when your opportunity is going to come. You never know when they're going to call your number and you never want to be the one that when they call your number that you're not prepared for the situation," Sirk said, "I'm going to come out here every day and compete just like I'm the starter. Nothing changes in the way I prepare for a game."

ECU also lost a defensive player from the roster when Travon Simmons made the decision on Wednesday to transfer from the Pirate program. The 5-10, 188 pound senior preseason third team Athlon All AAC selection had moved from free safety to strong safety and found himself playing behind Bobby Fulp and Auburn transfer Tim Irvin.

Catch Coach Mo's reaction to that in his post-practice press conference as coverage of 2017 preseason football practice continues.