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PRE-GAME ANALYSIS
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Keys to the Game
Saturday, November 24, 2007

By Kevin Monroe

Game 12: Tulane 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).

©2007 Bonesville.net
All Rights Reserved.

East Carolina can defeat Tulane if it accomplishes these key objectives:

  1. Running is Wave's Forte: East Carolina's most important task is containing Tulane running back Matt Forte. The Green Wave has rushed for over 2,000 yards and 38 touchdowns. Forte is averaging 6 yards per carry and 182 yards per game. He has carried the ball 336 times for an average of 30-plus carries per game. No other Tulane running back has carried the ball more than 20 times this season. If the Pirates are going to beat the Green Wave, they will have to keep Forte to under 150 yards. That sounds like a lot of yards to give up, but this is no ordinary running back. Tulane has won its last two games, with Forte rushing for 178 yard and 197 yards, respectfully. The Green Wave would rather run the ball then throw it. They have 457 rushing attempts and 322 passing attempts on the season.

  2. Sustain drives on offense: It’s very tough to win time of possession against the Green Wave because Forte and Company run the football so well, but the Pirates must find a way to sustain offensive drives. Tulane is a lot like East Carolina on defense. It is very solid against the run, giving up only 124 rushing yards per game. The Wave's pass defense is a different story, surrendering almost 300 yards per game and 23 touchdowns season-to-date. Whether it’s Rob Kass or Patrick Pinkney, the ECU signal caller will have to get the offense in a good rhythm and maintain that rhythm throughout the game. The longer the drives, the longer ECU can keep Forte off the field. The Pirates will have to take what the defense gives them, which means they probably will pass first, pass second and run third on Saturday.

  3. Finish strong: Saturday is Senior Day in recognition of those Pirates playing their final home game. Among them are running back Chris Johnson, offensive lineman Josh Coffman and cornerback Travis Williams. The seniors would like nothing more than to have the opportunity to play for the conference championship. But because of last week’s loss in Huntington, WV, that can happen only if ECU defeats Tulane and Texas-El Paso upsets Central Florida in a game that kicks off in Orlando at 2:00 p.m.. The only thing the ECU seniors can ensure is that they finish the regular season strong and win their last game in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

The bottom line: The Pirates stumbled last week in losing to Marshall, probably costing themselves a shot at the Conference USA championship. This Tulane game is their opportunity to try and right the ship and put a positive exclamation point on an otherwise good season. It will take a strong defensive effort to contain Forte, but there is a reason the Green Wave is 4-7. Forte rushed for 297 yards on 44 carries versus Memphis and the Tigers still managed to win the game. Tulane has found more ways to lose games than to win them this year — and this is a game the Pirates can’t afford to lose.

Send an e-mail message to Kevin Monroe.

Dig into Kevin Monroe's Bonesville archives.

11/24/2007 03:57:59 AM
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