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Keys to the Game
Saturday, September 15, 2007

By Kevin Monroe

Game 3: USM 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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East Carolina can defeat Southern Miss if it accomplishes these key objectives:

  1. Contain Jeremy Young: Through two weeks of the season, the Pirates have faced two drop-back quarterbacks in Sean Glennon of Virginia Tech and T.J. Yates from UNC-Chapel Hill. Yates threw a beautiful deep ball, but this week’s threat will come from dual threat QB Jeremy Young. Young threw for a career high 254 yards on 19-36 passing last weekend versus Tennessee and ran for another 48 yards on nine carries. The senior didn’t have his best game against ECU last year, throwing for only 79 yards and rushing for 13 more. After two games this season, he is averaging just under 200 yards passing per game and six yards per carry. East Carolina will have to be very disciplined against Young to contain him.

  2. Play better in the back end: I used this same key last week, but the Pirates actually got worse in the back end from the first game to the second. I have decided until the ECU secondary gets better, I will keep this as a key to the game each week. In week one, East Carolina gave up 245 yards to Virginia Tech QB Sean Glennon. Of all the quarterbacks ECU will face in 2007, Glennon was one of the worst. T.J. Yates, the Tar Heel freshman, added 100 yards to Glennon’s performance and the Pirates still managed to win the game. Southern Miss is a better fooball team than North Carolina and the Pirates will have to fix what’s broken, especially with the deep ball, this week.

  3. Establish the run: I said last week that teams run for show but pass for dough. Patrick Pinkney must have read my article because he certainly passed for dough with his 406 yard performance against the Heels. The only problem is that the Pirates never got the running game together. Chris Johnson has had a big receiving year but the ground yards have been scarce. He recorded 136 reception yards and two touchdowns last week but registered only 19 rushing yards.  Through two games, Patrick Pinkney is leading the team in rushing with 70 yards.  Johnson, Norman Whitley and freshman John Williams need to step it up and have a big game on the ground this week. Southern Mississippi will be prepared to stop the pass based on last week’s game film, so running the football could set the tempo in the game.

  4. Win the special teams battle: The Pirates have been solid in the kicking game over the last several years, but last week’s performance by Ben Hartman set the program back a few years. Hartman missed three field goals inside of 37 yards. The backup kicker is punter Matt Dodge who has been giving Hartman good competition all year. The coverage teams will also have to do better after giving up a punt return for a touchdown versus the Tar Heels. The one bright spot was the big kickoff return by true freshman Jonathan Williams that almost went the distance.

The bottom line: The Southern Miss game is usually the biggest game of the year for the Pirates. This year is no different. The Golden Eagles represent ECU’s main competition in Conference USA's East Division. Before last season, USM had won the last five between the teams and nine of the last ten. Last year’s East Carolina victory at the Rock in Hattiesburg awakened a foe that perhaps had begun to take its victories over the Pirates for granted. With that in mind, ECU will have to play even better than last year to win this ball game.

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09/15/2007 01:44:57 AM


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