Players, Coaches React to Benkert Injury

ECU players and coaches expressed their thoughts on losing starting quarterback Kurt Benkert for the season and how to replace him moving forward.

Head coach Ruffin McNeill: “That was tough news we got this morning. I’m disappointed for (Kurt Benkert). You talk about a kid that exemplifies what we look for in this program from on the field to his work ethic. It’s just tough because I love these boys, not just the football part. This is a guy that waited and earned everything he got, he’s earned everything so far.”

McNeill continued: “It’s just a minor setback for a major comeback for him. No kid will work harder to get back than him. There’s no ‘why’ but ‘what’s next?’. Right after it happened we sat with his fiancée and him and he asked, ‘coach what can I do, how can I help the team since I’m not ready to play.”

Defensive coordinator Rick Smith: “They know they have to play as hard as they can play regardless of the quarterback is. It’s (the defenses) job to go out and get the ball back. I didn’t see anything or hear anything from our kids talking about it. They’re just going to go out there and play.

Smith continued: “All of my uncles were in World War 2. I’ve heard them on the porch on Christmas and Thanksgiving and they would get together and start popping the bourbon. Two of them were marines and I heard it a million times, ‘well during the war we just buried the dead, stacked the wounded and kept marching.’ I always use that analogy for our guys if someone’s out for the year the next guy has got to step in. That’s just the way football is.”

Senior cornerback Rocco Scarfone: “We’re confident in whoever is going to be back there. We know the coaches have trained everybody; they’re all prepared to play. We obviously know that whoever they’re going to put back there is going to do a good job for us. It does hurt losing someone like Kurt. You just feel for him because you know what he’s going through. He’s sat on the bench, he’s paid his dues but that’s the game of football. Injuries happen but you just have to set it up for a major comeback.”

Senior safety Domonique Lennon: “We believe in Blake (Kemp). He’s a smart quarterback, he has a good arm as well. It happens it’s football. Injuries come and you just have to come back. We’re going to miss Benkert but Blake is pretty good as well.”

Senior cornerback Josh Hawkins: “It’s sad to hear that Benkert went down like that just a week before his first starting debut game. We have guys that are ready to fill in his position. It’s sad to here but we definitely have guys to step in and were going to need one of them to fill it in.”

Senior linebacker Zeek Bigger: “It’s always going to help. Just like if I were in this situation I would look for my brothers to help me and keep my head up. This team will not lose a beat and if I have something to do with it, we won’t. He will be back, injuries and things like that are all part of the game. But he’s going to come back strong, I know how hard he works and I believe in him. He’s a great kid and great player who still has a lot more time to play.”

Bigger continued: “We are Pirates, we're going to keep playing football. Anything could happen to anybody at any given time and that’s the game of football. It’s shocking but you have to move on, keep his head up and keep on rolling. (Kemp and Keith) are good. Both of them are good, the two guys behind can actually play and they're not just people that are terrible or anything like that, they’re all good. All the quarterbacks are pretty decent in my eyes and we can win on any given day and we will win.”

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