Keys to the
By Kevin Monroe
East Carolina at Tulsa
Conference USA Championship
Saturday, Dec. 6, 2008, 12 p.m.
H.A. Chapman Stadium, Tulsa, OK
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).
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Carolina can defeat Tulsa if it accomplishes these key objectives:
Move the Chains
The Pirates had a breakout game offensively
against Texas-El Paso last week,
racking up 53 points. They hadn’t scored more than 30 points all season
and they suddenly exploded on the Miners. Tulsa has the leading offense
in Conference USA and East Carolina needs to keep that high-powered
offense on the sidelines. The only way to do that is to play keep away.
If East Carolina can establish the running game early, it will open up
the middle of the field for the passing game. Time of possession is not
usually a big issue, but keeping Golden Hurricane quarterback David
Johnson and running back Tarrion Adams off the field could be a major
key to this game.
Rush the Passer
Quarterback Johnson is one of nine on the Maxwell
List for college football’s best player. He has completed 220 of 333
passes for 3,671 yards and 42 touchdowns this season. He is probably the
most accurate passer the Pirates have seen all year, completing over 66%
of his throws. The Pirates must put pressure on Johnson. Tulsa has given
up 17 sacks on the season, which is a reasonable number considering the
355 total passing attempts by Golden Hurricane quarterbacks.
Tulsa has shown some vulnerability upfront. None of its lineman have
lettered more than two years. ECU defensive ends Zack Slate and C.J.
Wilson need to have big games on Saturday. They will also need the help
of the big guys in the middle, Linval Joseph and Jay Ross. The four of
them have combined for 19 sacks on the season, led by Wilson's 9 sacks.
on Third Down
The Pirates have struggled offensively all season long, especially on
third down. They are converting only 40% of the time but are holding
opponents to 34% when ECU is on defense. Defensively, the Pirates need
to be able to get off the field on third down. They will have their
hands full trying to stop Johnson and his receiving corps, but the
biggest threat may come from running back Adams. Adams has rushed for
1,200 yards and 9 touchdowns. Against Tulane, he ran for 323 yards on 33
The matchup will mark East Carolina's first ever appearance in the
Conference USA championship game.
Conversely, Tulsa will be appearing in the title game for the third time in
four years. The ECU seniors took it upon themselves last week to put the
team on their shoulders and fuel the big win over UTEP. Patrick Pinkney,
Brandon Simmons and others played exceptionally well and the Pirates showed
that they are capable of putting up big points. We know the defense will
show up, but don’t expect this to be a 13-10 game. It’s going to take 30
points or more to beat Tulsa at home.
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12/05/2008 03:02:40 AM