Houston has found their quarterback of the future, and his name is D’Eriq King. The quarterback turned wide receiver turned quarterback got his chance as the starting quarterback, and showed that he’s not letting go of that position.
King finished the game 15-for-21 for 330 yards and three scores. He also added 14 yards and one touchdown rushing, and looked poised throughout the game. It didn’t always look like Houston would dominate through the air, as the ground game started out on fire early. Duke Catalon and the Cougars marched down the field on their first drive, and it appeared that Houston would try to ease King’s way into the offense. That quickly changed with some aggressive playcalling. His three touchdown passes went to three different targets as well.
Courtney Lark snagged one of those touchdown passes, giving him two in the last two games. Steven Dunbar and Linell Bonner hauled in the other two, and torched the Pirates secondary all game. Dunbar finished with six catches for 171 yards and Bonner had seven catches for 147 yards. King had time to throw, and his three touchdown passes were to wide open receivers. The game was in the Cougars favor for most of it, but that didn’t stop ECU from competing.
Gardner Minshew took over for Thomas Sirk early in the game, and the Pirates didn’t look back. After Sirk started 2-for-5 for five yards and an interception, Scottie Montgomery decided to go with Minshew. Abandoning the run game, the one-dimensional Pirates offense gave Houston fits. Davon Grayson was a handful for the secondary in the first half, and finished with six catches for 38 yards. His stats weren’t his best, but he consistently beat the Cougars secondary and made some pretty difficult catches. His teammates picked up the slack from their, and it was mostly Trevon Brown and Quay Johnson. Brown finished with 11 catches for 141 yards and two touchdowns while Johnson hauled in a game high 14 passes for 115 yards and another score. Minshew finished 52-for-68 for 463 yards with three touchdowns and a pick.
It was good to see ECU’s offense continue to fight when the defense struggled. Houston’s secondary was banged up, and the Pirates took advantage. It may not be the year that ECU anticipated, but Montgomery’s getting his team to compete despite continuous adversity. As for Houston, Major Applewhite’s decision to put King in and go uptempo have continued to yield immense dividends. King is the quarterback of the future for the Cougars, and he could be the change that makes his team dangerous.