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PRE-GAME ANALYSIS
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Keys to the Game
Friday, October 17, 2008

By Kevin Monroe

Memphis at ECU
Saturday, Oct. 18, 2008, 12 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).

©2008 Bonesville.net
All Rights Reserved.

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

  1. Play as a Team

    The Pirate nation has been baffled over the last few weeks watching East Carolina lose three straight games after starting the season with with three wins. There hasnít been one particular thing to point to that would explain the problems over the last three weeks. ECUís offense has sputtered, the defense hasnít played well and there have been mishaps in the kicking game. The Pirates just donít look like a complete team.

    There have been individuals that have stepped up each week, like Jonathan Williams and Dwayne Harris on offense last week, but no total team effort. With the suspension of Jamar Bryant and the numerous injuries over the last several weeks, the Pirates have struggled to play as one. Memphis is a solid football team and the Pirates will lose if they donít come together
    .
     

  2. Protect the Football

    Over the past two weeks, the Pirates have turned the ball over seven times. That is compared to just two turnovers over the first two weeks of the season. Thus, it's no surprise that the first two games were the best the Pirates have played all year and the last two were the worst.

    Patrick Pinkney hasnít looked stellar over this losing streak. He has thrown a few interceptions and fumbled the ball at some very inopportune times. I agree with Coach Skip Holtz' decision to stick with him through good and bad, but Pinkney and the other offensive players must do a better job of taking care of the ball on Saturday.
     

  3. Play Better Pass Defense

    Here is a scary combination of facts: The Pirates have given up 629 yards passing over the last two weeks and the Tigers love to throw the football. Behind the big arm of Arkelon Hall, Memphis is averaging 283 yards passing per game. The Tigers have five receivers with at least 19 receptions. Those five receivers have also combined for 13 touchdowns through seven games.

    ECU hasnít found much continuity at the corner position this season. Coach Greg Hudson would like to see two guys rise to the occasion, but thus far many have tried and none have succeeded. The good news is that they are all young with plenty of room for growth. The bad news is that they are all young with plenty of room for growth.

The Bottom Line

For some time, I have been saying each week that the Pirates have the better team compared to their opponent. But for their last few outings, they havenít been playing like it. This week I am calling it a draw.

The Tigers are explosive on offense, averaging over 180 yards rushing and over 280 yards passing. Defensively, Memphis could be a lot better. The Tigers are allowing 170 yards per game on the ground and 200 yards through the air.

On paper it looks like it could be a shootout. For the Pirates' sake, letís hope not ó they have yet to win a shootout. It will take a great defensive effort on Saturday to get the victory, but the Pirates are capable if the play together.

Send an e-mail message to Kevin Monroe.

Dig into Kevin Monroe's archives.

10/17/2008 02:35:57 AM
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