Keys to the
By Kevin Monroe
Game 5: ECU at Houston
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 Houston if it accomplishes these key objectives:
Virginia had the number two rushing offense in the country and a basic
non-sexy passing attack. The Mountaineers mixed the run and pass very
well and were able pile up points at will last Saturday. Most of the
passing plays were quick and to the outside, but when East Carolina
tacklers got in the open field with the WVU receivers, the Pirates were
unable to make tackles. The reason East Carolina fared so well the
previous two years versus the Mountaineers was because of stellar open
field tackling. That was not the case last week, and if Pirates expect
to slow Houston’s high octane offense, they must tackle a lot better.
Running back Anthony Aldridge is UH’s big play threat. Aldridge, a great
runner who catches the ball well out of the backfield, has four
touchdowns in the first three games. The Pirates had better wrap him up
or it could be a long night.
Play better in the
The Pirates have reduced the number of big plays in the passing game
over the last two weeks, but there are still way too many open receivers
running free in the secondary. Leon Best, who began the year as a
starting corner back, has been moved to free safety. His speed and
athleticism should help East Carolina keep the football in front of them
on Saturday. Houston has given the starting quarterback job to freshman
Case Keenum after sophomore Blake Joseph struggled in the first few
games this year. Keenum possesses a strong arm and has thrown for over
560 yards and four touchdowns as the backup. Keenum does make some
freshman mistakes and has three interceptions to go with those four TD’s. If
the Pirates can get in good position on the receivers, an interception
opportunity is very probable. This is the fourth straight week I have
had to use this as a key, its time the defensive backs stepped up.
Carolina has really been hit with the injury bug over the last couple of
weeks. In today’s game, the Pirates will be without several big name
players on offense and defense — Scotty Robinson, Khalif Mitchell,
Marcus Hands, Jonathan Williams and Willie Barton to name a few. The
second and third string guys will have to step in and play well. Some
players will be moved around to different positions in order to cover
the deficiencies created by the injuries. Good programs are able to
rotate new players in when starters are injured and not suffer much of a
drop-off in production. A huge key will be whether those players moving
up in the depth chart are up to the challenge.
Last week was a
blip on the radar screen. ECU played its worst game of the last three
years, and West Virginia played about as good as it can play. East
Carolina needs to put that game behind and come out ready to play well.
With one loss in the conference already, ECU cannot afford another one.
A hangover from last week could be disastrous for this game.
The Pirates only have one non-conference game left, so every game from here
on out is very important. East Carolina would love to go to back-to-back
bowl games for the first time this decade. To make that happen, the Pirates
will have to take this season one game at a time and play solid football on
the road and at home.
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09/29/2007 01:09:07 AM