Keys to the
By Kevin Monroe
Game 2: UNC-CH at ECU
Each week, Kevin Monroe, color analyst for the ISP Pirate Sports
Radio 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 a
member of the broadcast team, but also as a former defensive
back for the Pirates (1995-99).
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Carolina can defeat UNC-Chapel Hill if it accomplishes these key objectives:
Set the tempo:
Pirates did a great job of maintaining their composure in Blacksburg
amidst the most emotional environment we have seen in years. If they can
come out on Saturday against the Tar Heels with the same controlled
intensity, they will cause problems for North Carolina. It will be
important for East Carolina to get the early lead. That will require the
Pirates to establish the run against an inexperienced Tar Heel front
seven. This will be the first opportunity for this ECU team to play in
front of a home sellout crowd. Getting out to a quick start offensively
will keep the crowd in the game.
Play better in the
East Carolina managed to hold Virginia Tech to 33 yards rushing and had
four quarterback sacks. Those stats can be attributed to the stellar
play of the front seven, not the defensive backs. When quarterback Sean
Glennon managed to set his feet and deliver a good throw, there were
Hokie receivers running free all game long. Tight end Sam Wheeler caught
the only offensive touchdown for Virginia Tech after he got behind the
secondary in the second half of last week's game. Wheeler was a handful
all game running free in the secondary. ECU's defensive backs have tons
of talent but seemed out of position and unsure of themselves all game
long. Rick Smith is one of the best DB coaches in the country and I am
sure he will have the defensive backs playing much better this week.
Run for show, pass
Pinkney proved that he had great instincts under the center last week.
He needs to take his play to the next level on Saturday. Pinkney had the
element of surprise working for him last week, but this week the Tar
heels have film on the Pirates and know exactly what to expect from him.
His 14-25 performance was good, but he will need to be more efficient in
the passing game this week. The option running attack must set up that
passing game for the potential big plays that can be the difference in
I could make
turnovers a key every week. It is widely believed by head coaches at
every level that winning the turnover battle tends to ultimately mean
winning the game. In a game with the buildup and magnitude of this one,
the one intangible that can’t be predicted is turnovers. Both teams are
starting young inexperienced quarterbacks, which should mean turnovers.
Pinkney managed to escape week one without a turnover, but week two
could be a different scene if he loses focus. Tar Heels quarterback T.J.
Yates was 13-18 for 218 yards and three touchdowns versus James Madison,
but he also threw an interception. Protecting the football is paramount
in this game.
The Pirates are the better football team. There are a lot of reasons they
should win this game — and more than a few ways they could lose it. East
Carolina has to play great on offense, defense and special teams to produce
the desired outcome. It doesn’t matter that ECU is 0-1 and UNC-Chapel Hill
is 1-0. This will be a very competitive game and one that will be a
barometer for ECU’s program under Skip Holtz. Though it has no effect on
their conference championship ambitions, this game represents a MUST win for
the Pirates. It's all about in-state respect, not only on the field of play
and in the media but also in the recruiting wars.
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09/07/2007 02:48:02 AM