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Keys to the Game
Friday, September 5, 2008

By Kevin Monroe

HANNA UPDATE: ECU announced in a Friday afternoon press release that the ECU-WVU game is still scheduled for a 4:30 p.m. Saturday kickoff at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. An additional announcement is expected Saturday morning. Visit for updated information.

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.

East Carolina can defeat West Virginia if it accomplishes these key objectives:

  1. Contain Pat White

    Last week 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.

  2. Eliminate Mental Mistakes

    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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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

The Bottom Line

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


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