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PRE-GAME ANALYSIS
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Keys to the Game
Friday, November 21, 2008

By Kevin Monroe

East Carolina at UAB
Saturday, Nov. 22, 2008, 7 p.m.
Legion Field, Birmingham

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).

©2008 Bonesville.net
All Rights Reserved.

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

  1. Contain Joe Webb

    Blazer quarterback Joe Webb is UAB’s best offensive player. At 6-4, 220 pounds, Webb is the team's leading passer with 177 completions for 2,007 yards and 10 touchdowns. He is also the team's leading rusher with 866 yards and 10 rushing touchdowns. He is averaging 5.4 yards per rushing attempt. You can’t deny Webb’s freakish athletic ability, but he is not without flaws. He is not the most accurate passer, completing only 59% of his passes and throwing 15 interceptions through 10 games. The Pirates haven’t faced a quarterback with this much athletic ability since week two versus West Virginia’s Pat White.

    East Carolina was without Zack Slate and Josh Smith last week because of injury, and the defensive line still played pretty well. The front seven will need to have a great game on Saturday in order to slow down Joe Webb and the UAB offense
    .
     

  2. Move the Chains

    The Pirates have struggled over the last month with their offense. They played quarterback shuffle with Rob Kass and Patrick Pinkney for two games and for the last two they have settled on Pinkney. Patrick hasn’t played badly, but the offense has stalled in a big way. Over the last 12 quarters, ECU has scored only two offensive touchdowns. The running game has been fairly solid with Norman Whitley, but the Pirates have had trouble with third and short situations.

    UAB is weak on defense, giving up 465 total yards per game. That 465 includes 184 yards rushing and 281 passing yards. If the ECU offense is ever going to wake up, this is the week to do it. The Pirates will be playing a lot of young guys at the receiver position, but they have some talented players that can make plays when given the opportunity.
     

  3. Stabilize the Kicking Game

    East Carolina placekicker Ben Hartman has been virtually money during his career, but over the last three weeks he has become a lot less effective. He is just 7 for 13 over that span, including three misses last week. In Ben’s defense, last week’s field conditions were not optimal with the swirling winds. He made 4 of 5 field goal attempts against Marshall, but the one he missed could have won the game in regulation. The week before, against Central Florida, he missed two of four.

    The punting game behind Matt Dodge has been pretty good this season, but Matt has been known to be inconsistent from kick to kick. He has had a couple of kicks over 50 yards this season and a couple less than 10 yards. The Pirates will need all facets of the kicking game working this week to beat UAB.

The Bottom Line

East Carolina has never won a Conference USA football championship and hasn't played in the conference title game since the league went to the two-division format. If the Pirates can find a way to beat UAB, they will clinch a berth in the championship game. UAB is 3-7 and has no chance of postseason play. The Blazers have nothing to lose, but not much to play for. The game is at night and the weather won’t be pleasant. There is a good chance that the Blazers won’t have many fans in attendance. Regardless of the circumstances, East Carolina must seize this opportunity to nail down that elusive shot at the C-USA title.

Send an e-mail message to Kevin Monroe.

Dig into Kevin Monroe's archives.

11/21/2008 01:04:54 AM
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