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Keys to the Game
Friday, November 7, 2008

By Kevin Monroe

ECU vs. Marshall
Saturday, Nov. 8, 2008, 3:30 p.m.
Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, Greenville

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 Marshall if it accomplishes these key objectives:

  1. Pitch and Catch

    The offense has to start with the running game. Last week, Norman Whitley proved he could carry the load for East Carolina if given the opportunity. The Pirates won't be able to win, however, just running the ball. ECU has returned to the two-quarterback system it employed last season. In the Memphis game, Rob Kass played the majority of the second half and helped spark the victory. Last week against Central Florida, Patrick Pinkney played the majority of the second half snaps and helped to bring the Pirates from behind to get their second straight victory.

    Regardless of which guy gets the start, East Carolina needs to stick with the quarterback that is playing the best. Most of the problems in the passing game have come from wide open receivers being missed or receivers dropping passes. The Pirates will have to execute in the passing game against the Herd to pick up this victory. Marshall is giving up a staggering 262 passing yards per game

  2. Contain Darius Passmore

    Marshall’s best offensive player has made life very hard on opposing defenses all season long. Wideout Darius Passmore is averaging 100 yards receiving per game. He has 46 catches for 795 yards and 5 touchdowns. He has 20 more catches than the next receiver on Marshall’s offense. East Carolina’s pass defense has struggled this season and it will have a tall order against Passmore and the Herd. He has sub 4.3 speed and any small mistake could mean a big play.

  3. Win the Turnover Battle

    This will be the biggest game of the year for the Pirates. After losing three straight games, East Carolina has turned things around and has an opportunity to take sole possession of fisrt place in the East Division of Conference USA. A Marshall win would put the Herd in the driver's seat in the division.

    In games like this, when you have two solid teams, the difference in the game usually comes down to not turning the ball over. The Herd is even on the year in turnover margin with 14 giveaways and 14 takeaways. The Pirates are plus one in the category with 17 turnovers and 18 takeaways. ECU can keep the Marshall offense and Passmore off the field by sustaining drives and taking care of the ball.

  4. Use the 12th Man

    It’s well known that playing in Dowdy-Ficklen stadium is tough for any opponent. Pirate fans don’t sit on there hands like those at some universities and the students don’t leave at halftime to resume tailgating. The Pirate Nation packs the house for big games and cheers from beginning to end. ECU will need that type of showing from the faithful on Saturday in order to create that charged atmosphere.

The Bottom Line

The Pirates have a lot on the line on Saturday. Since entering Conference USA more than a decade ago, East Carolina has been striving for a league championship and coming up short. This game will not only tell a lot about this team, it will determine if the Pirates retain control of their own destiny in the race for the division title.

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11/07/2008 01:26:09 AM


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