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Keys to the Game
Friday, October 10, 2008

By Kevin Monroe

ECU at Virginia
Saturday, Oct. 11, 2008, 12 p.m.
Scott Stadium, Charlottesville, VA

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.

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

  1. Forget the Houston Game

    The first thing the Pirates have to do is get the Houston game out of their minds. That game sent the entire Pirate Nation back to 2005, and that is a place where none of us needed to be. Over 600 yards of total offense was given up to the Cougars and that was after getting four takeaways. East Carolina’s defense seemed handcuffed to Houston’s no-huddle offense. Rushing the passer or covering receivers was made even tougher because the Pirates struggled just to get lined up correctly. The bye week gave East Carolina the opportunity to get some injured players healthy and to refocus as a team.

  2. Back to the Basics

    Virginia is not Houston. Until last week versus Maryland, the Cavaliers had failed to score more than 16 points in a game. The most rushing yards they have had in a game is 210 and the most passing yards is 226. UVa has a lot of talent, but no players have established themselves as game changers. ECU has to get back to simple things like getting off blocks and wrapping up on defense. Same thing on offense — the Pirates should just focus on moving the chains. Both the passing and running games were MIA versus Houston.

  3. Control the Line of Scrimmage

    The Pirates will be without standout wide receiver Jamar Bryant, which takes away one of their big play threats. Not having your main deep threat means that playing small ball becomes very important. It all starts up front offensively. Since the Tulane game in week three, the Pirates haven’t been sharp on offense. East Carolina's offensive line is young but experienced, while this UVa defensive front is one of the more inexperienced units the Pirates have faced this season. After losing first-rounder Chris Long last year, the Cavaliers are starting two freshmen on the defensive line.

    Conversely, the defensive line is the most talented and deepest group on the field for ECU. The defensive front must get up field and disrupt Virginia's offensive line and backfield. The Cavaliers have a young offensive line with only one senior starter.

  4. Secure the Football

    Through five games, the Virginia offense has turned the ball over 14 times (9 interceptions and 5 fumbles.) That is almost three turnovers per game. It’s hard to win ball games when you are giving it away so often. The Pirates have turned the ball over 11 times through five games. The team that can protect the football and not turn it over should win this game.

The Bottom Line

The Pirates have the better team, but they have yet to get over losing to in-state rival N.C. State three weeks ago. The Houston game was a big time hangover from that loss. If they are truly the team they showed they could be in early September, the time is now for the Pirates to reassert themselves and reestablish control of their season. Patrick Pinkney started the season on fire and will need to regain that form to lead this offense on Saturday. On the other side of the ball, the loss of Quentin Cotton has been tough, but seniors like Pierre Bell and Zack Slate need to get this defense going.

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10/10/2008 02:02:45 AM


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