Keys to the
November 10, 2007
By Kevin Monroe
Game 11: ECU at Marshall
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).
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Carolina can defeat Marshall if it accomplishes these key objectives:
Stay the course:
The most important priority for the Pirates on Saturday is to remain
focused and take care of business. There has been a lot of talk around
town about winning out and hosting the Conference USA championship game
in Dowdy-Ficklen stadium. With two games left, it's too early to start
thinking about the championship game. Last year, East Carolina
lost a crucial game to Rice by
losing focus and looking ahead. ECU has scored close to 100 points over
the last two weeks, and that offensive production is what makes the
Pirates favorites on Saturday. Coach Skip Holtz has preached one game at
a time all season, and the team will need to take heed of that advice
Run baby run:
If the Pirates can continue to operate their ground game like they have
the last two weeks, Marshall will have to score a ton of points just to
stay in the game.
Against UAB, ECU got its running
game got back on track, tallying 216 yards. Chris Johnson led the way,
but he was aided by the emergence of freshman Jonathan Williams. who
score his first career touchdown.
Last week at Memphis, Johnson
went nuts, rushing for 301 yards and earning C-USA offensive player of
the week. The Pirates totaled 491 yards rushing last week, pushing their
two-game total to 707. Marshall comes in to today's matchup giving up
211 yards rushing per game, including 362 yards to West Virginia and 269
yards last week to Central Florida.
Eliminate the big play:
Marshall is scoring 22 points per game compared to the Pirates' 32. The
one thing the Herd excels at is throwing the football. Quarterback
Bernard Morris has completed 183 passes for 2,342 yards through nine
games. Marshall has seven players with at least 14 catches on the year
and all of them are averaging over 11 yards per catch. The receiving
corps is led by sophomore tight end Cody Slate with 51 catches for 667
yards and 5 touchdowns. East Carolina is giving up 302 yards passing per
game, which ranks near the bottom of the country in that stat. Giving up
yardage is one thing, but the defenders in the Pirate secondary must
keep the ball in front of them and not give up the big play. The big
play is any play over 25 yards.
The Pirates haven’t won a Conference USA Championship since entering the
league in 1997. Last year, a late-season loss at Rice ruined East Carolina's
opportunity to play for the championship. At present, the Pirates control
their own destiny, but this football game sets up as the ultimate trap. East
Carolina is the hands-down favorite versus this 1-8 Marshall team, but the
Thundering Herd has nothing to lose and plenty to gain in terms of pride.
The Herd has a solid passing game and will surely attempt to exploit the ECU
defense's weakness in that area. If the Pirates aren’t focused and are
unable to run the football, Marshall has the ability to win this game. If
East Carolina comes out focused and plays offensive football like it has the
last two weeks, it should win this game by two touchdowns or more.
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11/10/2007 02:01:11 AM