Keys to the
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).
All Rights Reserved.
Carolina can defeat UAB if it accomplishes these key objectives:
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
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.
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.
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.
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11/21/2008 01:04:54 AM