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Kevin's Keys to the Game
Saturday, October 14, 2006

By Kevin Monroe

Game 6: Tulsa 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 Tulsa if it accomplishes these key objectives:

  1. The Air Up There: Even though the Pirates have shown the ability to run the football versus Memphis and again last week against Virginia, their bread and butter is still the passing game. Senior quarterback James Pinkney has 20 career 200-yard passing games, tying him with QB great David Garrard and leaving him just one shy of Marcus Crandell’s school record. With the probable return of Aundrae Allison to the lineup, the Pirates need to throw the football well. Tulsa leads the conference in pass defense and is second in the nation, giving up only 115 yards per game through the air. Pinkney and the Pirates are averaging over 250 yards per contest.

  2. Ready for Anything: The Golden Hurricane has one of the most explosive offensive units in the country. They possess a balanced attack that has been slowed but not shut down all season long. Tulsa is scoring 28 points per game by averaging 158 yards on the ground and 265 yards through the air. Behind one of the nations most experienced offensive lines, quarterback Paul Smith is charging to the top of the record books in nearly every category. The East Carolina defense has shown it can stop the run, as it did versus West Virginia, and stop the pass, as it did against Memphis in the second half. It will take those two efforts combined to contain the high powered offense of the Golden Hurricane.

  3. The other 1/3: We can talk about offense and defense all day, but the team that makes things happen on special teams will probably win this game. Last week, punter Ryan Dougherty was named Conference USA's special teams player of the week after averaging 55 yards per punt and scoring a touchdown on a fake field goal. Kicker Robert Lee has had a sub-par year, but after missing only three field goals all last year the Pirates know he can be deadly when he gets it going. With Allison hurt last week, receiver Bobby Good took over the punt return duties and proved he is a threat to make a big play. Tulsa has a dangerous returner of its own in Idris Moss and the Pirates must contain him.

  4. Time of Possession: This is an overused stat in most cases, but when playing against a team like Tulsa, which features a really good offense, the longer you can keep the ball away from them, the better. Against UVA, ECU maintained the ball for 38 minutes — more than 16 minutes longer than the Wahoos. If East Carolina can duplicate that feat against Tulsa, a victory will be almost certain.

The Bottom Line: Tulsa, 4-1 overall, is 1-1 on the road this year with the victory coming in overtime in Annapolis against Navy. A weak schedule may have given the Golden Hurricane a false sense of confidence that ECU can exploit. The reigning C-USA champs are talented but beatable. However, in order for the Pirates to win, they will have to play 60 minutes of their best football of the year.

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02/23/2007 10:32:27 AM


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