Keys to the
December 23, 2007
By Kevin Monroe
ECU vs. Boise State
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 22nd-ranked Boise State if it accomplishes these key objectives:
Slow the Broncos'
ground attack: Boise State is known for its ability
to move the ball up and down the field and score with any team in the
country. Being in a conference with Hawaii, Fresno State and Nevada has
forced Coach Chris Peterson to concentrate heavily on offense. The
Broncos' leading rusher is Ian Johnson who had a breakout year last year
and was very instrumental in the win over Oklahoma in Fiesta Bowl. In
only 10 games this season, Johnson has rushed 203 times for 1,030 yards
and 16 touchdowns, but he hasn't carried the rushing load on his own.
There are three other running backs with at least 22 carries. Jeremy
Avery has 93 carries for 603 yards and 8 TD’s and averages 6.5 yards per
rush. D.J. Harper carried 84 times for 373 yards and 5 scores and
averages 4.4 yards per tote. The Pirates have been solid most of the
year against the run, but this will be one of their challenges.
Oh yeah, they can
throw it too:
The rushing game is just half the story. BSU's passing attack is just as
good, if not better, than its ground game. Quarterback Taylor Tharp is
259-379 for 3070 yards and 28 touchdowns. Tharp is accurate, completing
almost 70% of his passes and only throwing 9 interceptions. Tharp’s
favorite target is wide receiver Jeremy Childs with 82 receptions for
1,045 yards and 9 touchdowns, but Childs was suspended last week for a
violation of team rules. In Childs' absence, Tharp will look for other
receivers to step up, including Titus Young and Austin Pettis. The pair
has 37 receptions and 11 touchdowns combined. The Broncos are passing
for an average of 283 yards per game. The Pirates have struggled all
year against air assaults, giving up 290 yards per game.
Get the ball to
Deion Sanders once said big-time players make big plays in big games.
The offensive star of East Carolina’s team is Chris Johnson, but he has
had plenty of help from Jamar Bryant and Dwayne Harris. Boise State is
just as good on defense as it is on offense, so these players and others
will have to meet the challenge as BSU is giving up only 325 yards of
total offense and 20 points per game. East Carolina is averaging 377
yards and 30 points per game. The Pirates will need to put the ball in
the hands of the big three early and often on Sunday to stretch the
field and the BSU defense. A silent day from any of these guys could
spell trouble for ECU. The name of the game may be score as much as
possible. Nevada scored 67 against Boise State and it still wasn’t
Bag of Tricks:
In bowl games, each team has two to three weeks to prepare and 12 games
of film to observe. So there is not much either team will do that will
surprise the other. The only advantages the Pirates may have are new
plays that don't show up on film — and trick plays. Every coach has a
stable of trick plays and Coach Skip Holtz hasn’t unveiled many of those
plays this season. Last year, Boise State ran several against Oklahoma
in the Fiesta Bowl to pull off the upset. Expect to see fireworks in
Sunday’s game from both teams
Boise State is an excellent football team that scores 40 points per game and
limits its opposition to only 20. The Broncos can beat you running the ball
or throwing it. Defensively they are very stingy, especially against the
run, giving up only 114 yards per game. The Pirates will need to execute
sound fundamentals in all aspects of the game to get this victory. Expect a
high scoring shootout.
Send an e-mail message to
Dig into Kevin Monroe's Bonesville
12/22/2007 08:27:11 PM