Keys to the
September 18, 2009
By Kevin Monroe
ECU at North Carolina
Saturday, Sept. 19, 2009, 12 p.m.
Kenan Stadium, Chapel Hill
For the fourth
straight year, Kevin Monroe, color analyst for the Pirate ISP Sports
Radio Network, provides “Kevin’s Keys to The Game,”
his weekly breakdown of what East Carolina must do to beat its
Monroe brings a unique perspective to the task as a
member of the broadcast team and as a former star defensive
back for the Pirates (1995-99).
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Carolina can defeat North Carolina if it accomplishes these key objectives:
Get to the QB
Carolina quarterback T.J. Yates struggled last week to make plays down
field against the Connecticut Huskies. Give credit to UConn, though,
because when Yates is given ample time to throw, he is a talented
passer. In 2007, Yates passed for 344 yards against East Carolina.
Much been said about the talent of ECU’s defensive line, but so far the
unit has not lived up to expectations. In the opener against Appalachian
State, both C.J. Wilson and Linval Joseph spent time on the sidelines in
the second half because of cramping. Last week, West Virginia
quarterback Jarrett Brown repeatedly out-maneuvered the ECU rushers on
his way to a career passing day.
Yates is not a mobile quarterback and the Tar Heels' offensive line is
the weakest position group on the team. The advantage should go to the
Pirates in that matchup and they must get to Yates early and often.
The Pirates have yet to get into a sustained
offensive rhythm. Against Appalachian, East Carolina looked good in the
first half, but did so by only running the football. The Apps struggled
to stop the run in the first half and the Pirates weren’t forced to
throw the football. The second half was much different — when ECU needed
to get a first down, it couldn’t get it done. The West Virginia game was
similar, with the Pirates scoring all 20 points in the first half and
fizzling in the second half.
Through two games, the ECU offense has lacked rhythm and explosiveness
in the second half, tallying zero points after halftime. Patrick Pinkney,
one of the most accurate passers in Conference USA a year ago, has yet
to throw for more than a 45% completion percentage this season. Finding
that offensive rhythm against North Carolina’s top 20 defense will be
Avoid the Long Strike
WVU's Brown really exposed the Pirates' defense last week with his legs
and his arm. The most worrisome surprise came in the ECU secondary,
which Brown torched for 334 passing yards and four touchdowns, including
scoring tosses of 46 and 58 yards. If the Pirates expect to go on the
road and beat the Tar heels, they will have to play better defense in
the back end. North Carolina has some big play talent and the Pirates
must keep the ball in front of them and make tackles to avoid those
This game isn’t a conference game for the Pirates and it won’t keep them
from winning a second straight C-USA championship. That being said, it is a
HUGE game for East Carolina. It’s a big game because of what it means in the
recruiting battle for in-state high school talent. The winner of this game
will have bragging rights and the upper hand as it pertains to recruiting.
Former ECU head coach Steve Logan used to say that games versus North
Carolina and N.C. State were must-win games. The coaches have changed, but
the stakes haven’t.
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09/18/2009 02:00:30 AM