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Kevin's Keys to the Game
Saturday, October 7, 2006

By Kevin Monroe

Game 5: UVa at ECU

Each week, Kevin Monroe, Sideline Reporter for the Pirate ISP Sports Network, provides “Kevin’s Keys to The Game,” outlining what East Carolina must do to beat its opponent. Monroe brings a unique perspective to the task, not only as an analyst on the radio broadcast, but also as a former defensive back for the Pirates (1995-99).

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East Carolina can defeat Virginia if it accomplishes these key objectives:

  1. Attack, Attack, Attack: The Cavaliers will go with a freshman quarterback, Jameel Sewell, who is only starting the third game of his young career. He has completed 29 of 51 passes for 220 yards. That is only 7.5 yards per completion. The UVa running game is not much better with leading rusher Jason Snelling only averaging 55 yards per game.  This Virginia offense is ranked 115th in the nation and the Pirates need to put pressure on the Wahoos from beginning to end. East Carolina’s defensive backs have proven they can play man to man coverage, which should free up the front seven to blitz, stunt and wreak havoc on the freshman QB. The Pirate defense ranks 4th in the country with 14 total take-a-ways and will need at least 3 more to win on Saturday.

  2. Be Precise: As bad as this Cavaliers offense has been, their defense has been just the opposite. Virginia come to Greenville with a defensive unit ranked in the top 20 in the nation.  The Cavs are coming off a week where they picked off 3 passes and recovered two fumbles. Linebackers Clint Sintim and Jon Cooper each have three sacks this season and there are three others with two sacks apiece. In the secondary, shut-down corner Marcus Hamilton is the current ACC career leader with 13 interceptions (3 in 2006). James Pinkney and the ECU offense will have to be precise and efficient with the football. If James stands in the pocket too long, he will get sacked, and if he makes an ill-advised throw it will probably get picked off. A good mix of run and pass will be needed to slow down this aggressive defense of the Cavaliers.

  3. Establish the RunWith a week off to heal his turf toe, I look for Chris Johnson to have a game like he did versus Memphis when he amassed 106 yards on 22 carries. Brandon Fractious has shown flashes of brilliance running the football, but those flashes are sometimes followed by untimely fumbles. The Pirates don’t have to be great in the running game, just good enough to force Virginia to respect it. East Carolina cannot allow UVa to drop 6 or 7 players in pass coverage and ignore the threat of a running game.

  4. Continue to Improve: East Carolina fans as a whole are happy with this year’s team because the Pirates play hard and have been competitive in every game to date. Now that a third of the season is in the books, it's time to turn those competitive outings into victories. With a 1-1 record in conference play and eight total games remaining there is still a lot to play for this season, but close losses won’t continue to go by un-criticized. The team must continue to get better each game and the wins will fall into place.

The Bottom Line: Virginia is a quality opponent, but the Pirates should win this football game. The Wahoos struggle to produce more than 260 total offensive yards per game, while the Pirates are gaining that many yards through the air against tougher opponents. Virginia looked good against Duke last week, but Duke turned the ball over 5 times and had a punt blocked. Defensively, the Pirates haven’t been great but they have found a way to limit points and force turnovers. The combination of a prolific passing offense and forced turnovers on defense should be enough to result in a victory for East Carolina, but that is just on paper — now they have to play the game!

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02/23/2007 10:32:26 AM


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