Keys to the
September 5, 2008
By Kevin Monroe
ECU vs. West Virginia
Saturday, Sept. 6, 2008, 4:30 p.m.
Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, Greenville
Each week, Kevin Monroe, color analyst for the Pirate ISP Sports
Radio Network, provides ďKevinís Keys to The Game,Ē
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 West Virginia if it accomplishes these key objectives:
Contain Pat White
the senior quarterback and Preseason Big East Player of the year threw a
career high 5 touchdown passes. He was 25-33 for 208 yards, passing Marc
Bulger for the most career yards from scrimmage for a West Virginia
quarterback. The last time East Carolina faced White, he was 18-20
passing in a 48-7 trouncing of the Pirates. The scary thing about Pat
White is that passing is the second best thing he does. He is 6th
all-time among NCAA Division I quarterbacks in rushing yards.
The Mountaineers have a ton of offensive weapons, but the only way to
stop them is to stop the top dog. WVU's offense starts and ends with
White, and its almost impossible to shut him down completely. If the
Pirates can keep him under 150 yards passing and 100 yards rushing, they
will have a great opportunity to win.
Time after time last weekend, East Carolina looked as though it was
trying to find a way to lose. The lateral pass that wasnít seized by
friendly forces, the kickoff that wasnít picked up, and the blocked
extra point were all mental mistakes that could have and should have
been avoided. In week one you expect some mental mistakes, and the
Pirates were lucky enough to make some big ones and still find a way to
win. West Virginia is a Top 10 team, and a repeat against the
Mountaineers of ECU's game one mistakes can not only result in a loss,
they can result in another 48-7 blowout.
Start Fast and Finish Strong
West Virginia isnít ready for the Pirates' size and speed. The
Mountaineers' week one opponent, Villanova, is not in the same league as
East Carolina. If the Pirates can come out early on defense and smack
the Mountaineers in the mouth, and start out on offense with a sustained
scoring drive, they can really put doubt into the minds of the WVU team.
Those first few drives will set the tone for the rest of the game. Once
that tone has been set, ECU will have to play at a very high level for
60 minutes. The second team offense and defense will have to play
valuable minutes in order to keep the starters fresh.
But the Pirates wonít be able to sneak up on West Virginia. The
Mountaineers have seen the film of last week's ECU-Virginia Tech game
and they know they are facing a formidable opponent.
Expect to Win
I used this key last week, but I canít emphasize
enough how important it will be for the Pirates to play with confidence.
West Virginia is the last game this year in which the Pirates wonít be
favored, but they have to play like they are the better team. In
athletics, there is nothing worse than a pat on the back. ECU canít
afford to have a hangover from knocking off the Hokies in Charlotte.
There are valid reasons why West Virginia is ranked No. 8, and ECU will
have to play its very best to spring the upset. Expectations play a huge
role in how a team plays and the only acceptable expectation for the
Pirates on Saturday is the expectation to win.
This yearís schedule, though very challenging, lays out nicely if the
Pirates can win this game. The Virginia Tech game was an announcement to the
nation that East Carolina was to be taken seriously. The West Virginia game
will determine if the Pirates are truly good enough to play with the
nationís elite. I am not saying the Pirates should or will go undefeated,
but they have the talent to make this a fun season to be a part of.
The one factor I left out is the weather, partly because I am not sure which
team bad weather will benefit. Both teams have proven they can both run and
pass. If the lady named Hannah brings a lot of wind and rain, it could make
moving the ball on offense tough for both teams. Defense will then become
even more important and I believe the Pirates have a slight edge over the
Mountaineers on defense.
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09/05/2008 06:00:34 PM