Montgomery sticking with QB Sirk, as long as he’s cleared to play

ECU quarterback Thomas Sirk had a career performance Sunday in leading ECU's win at UConn (Ben Queen/USA TODAY)

Scottie Montgomery may have changed defensive coordinators, but he’s staying with his starting quarterback.

As long as the doctors say it’s OK.

The East Carolina football coach announced Monday that Duke transfer Thomas Sirk is in his school’s concussion protocol after taking a hard hit to the head during last Saturday’s loss at West Virginia. If he’s cleared to play, Montgomery said he will be back under center for the Pirates when they take on Virginia Tech at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium this week.

“If he is healthy and he is ready to go, more than likely he will be the guy that starts,” Montgomery said at his regular weekly press conference. “If there is something that we see throughout the week that changes that from a health standpoint, then we feel very comfortable going with Gardner (Minshew).”

Sirk completed 16 of 34 passes for 191 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions against the Mountaineers in his first ECU start before getting knocked out of the game in the third quarter. He was replaced by Minshew, who went 7 for 13 with 137 yards — 95 of which came on one play, a touchdown pass to Trevon Brown that was the longest in school history.

Minshew, a junior in his second season with the Pirates, started the season opener against James Madison, but was benched in favor of Sirk in the second half.

Because neither quarterback has played a full game yet, Montgomery said it’s hard to say which has been more effective. His history with Sirk — they teamed together to beat Virginia Tech in 2015 when Montgomery was the offensive coordinator at Duke and Sirk was his quarterback — may have something to do with his decision to stick with the graduate transfer.

“Both of them have been in and at times both of them have looked great,” Montgomery said of Sirk and Minshew. “Gardner came in and looked great at the end (against West Virginia), Thomas was real gutsy during the game. Right now, Thomas is still our starting quarterback unless something changes and then we will move forward with it.”

While Montgomery isn’t planning on any significant personnel moves for Saturday’s game, his coaching staff has undergone a major shakeup.

On Sunday, he announced that defensive coordinator Kenwick Thompson has been reassigned to a non-coaching capacity within the program and replaced by defensive line coach Robert Prunty. Montgomery then said Monday that he plans to take on a more active role in the offensive playcalling, along with offensive coordinator Tony Petersen.

“I’ve got nothing but trust and faith in what we do,” said Montgomery. Whose team has been outscored 90-34 in its first two games and has lost 11 of its last 12 games dating back to last season.

“What we’ve got to do is get on the same page in making plays. We’ve had a few drives where one guy makes plays, another guy makes plays, we need everyone to make plays consecutively and we don’t need dropped balls here and there. Everybody just needs to play together.”