Keys to the
October 20, 2007
By Kevin Monroe
Game 8: NCSU at ECU
Each week, Kevin Monroe, color analyst for the Pirate ISP 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).
All Rights Reserved.
Carolina can defeat North Carolina State if it accomplishes these key objectives:
Get out fast:
Wolfpack has played probably the toughest schedule of any of East
Carolina's opponents. The Pack's losses came to Central Florida, Boston
College, Louisville, Clemson and Florida State, all of which are quality
programs with abundant talent. N.C. State has plenty of talent, too, but
has found a way to lose these games instead of finding a way to win
them. Winning football games is hard work. Losing them is easy — and
contagious. If the Pirates can start fast, the 'Here we go again'
mindset will begin to affect the Pack. Coming off of a bye week, State
is rejuvenated and telling itself that the second half of the season
will be different. If the Pirates start slowly and don't establish some
swagger, the Wolfpack's confidence will swell. If ECU comes out firing
on all cylinders and establishes a sense of control early, the players
in red and white will start to wonder if defeat is once again inevitable.
East Carolina has only lost one fumble this season, which ranks first in
the country, and has thrown eight interceptions. N.C. State has fumbled
seven times and been intercepted 15 times, including five picks versus
Boston College. In an in-state rivalry game like this, turnovers mean
everything. The team that turns the ball over the least will have the
best chance to win. Freshman running back Jamelle Eugene had significant
fumble problems in the preseason but took good care of the football in
the Wolfpack's last game versus Florida State. Eugene had 14 carries for
101 yards against the Seminoles. Quarterback Daniel Evans has been
known to make questionable decisions with the football. If Backup QB
Harrison Beck isn’t healthy, the Pirates should have the opportunity
make some plays in the secondary.
Run the football:
Pirates have escalated their running game in recent weeks, gaining at
least 160 yards rushing in each of the last three games. Running back
Chris Johnson has been the catalyst for this much improved ground
attack, averaging over 120 yards over the last three games. State is
giving up 226 rushing yards per game and has been decimated by injuries
on defense. The combination of the those converging circumstances sets
up the opportunity for East Carolina to have another good day on the
Play for the
This game will be
played in front of a number of North Carolina high school football
recruits. The school that wins this game immediately gets the upper hand
in key recruiting battles. Prep stars want to win football games when
they get to the next level and are influenced by what they see on the
field when two schools that are courting them go head to head. For that
reason, it is very important for the Pirates to play well against all
In the master scheme of things, this game is not as important as the
Conference USA games ECU has played and will play. Instead, the magnitude of
this game is associated with bragging rights, respect and recruiting.
Winning is a must for the Pirates, because they are favored against a 1-5
team. N.C. State will say that it is rebuilding if it loses, while a Pirate
loss will imply that a "rebuilding" N.C. State team is better than ECU. That
is the burden East Carolina carries after a long history of being considered
an underdog to the Wolfpack in most seasons. The only way to get out of the
shadow of in-state schools is to beat them.
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10/20/2007 03:29:58 AM