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PRE-GAME ANALYSIS
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Keys to the Game
Tuesday, October 27, 2009

By Kevin Monroe

ECU at Memphis
Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2009, 8 pm
Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium

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 upcoming opponent. 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).

©2009 Bonesville.net
All Rights Reserved.

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

  1. Defend the Big Play

    Memphis is only 2-5 this season but has tons of talent. The Tigers have the school's two all-time leaders in touchdown receptions and receiving yards. Duke Calhoun and Carlos Singleton rank as the third best receiving duo in the country as it pertains to touchdowns with 40 between them. Calhoun already has 5 touchdown catches this season and 3 of them have been for 60 yards or more.

    Running back Curtis Steele had a 240-yard day against Texas-El Paso and is averaging over 100 yards per game. He has the ability to break the big one at any given time. The Pirates need to prevent the Tigers from uncorking explosion plays — those resulting in gains of 20 yards or more — through the air or on the ground.

     

  2. Run the Football

    I used this same key last week but, quite honestly, running the football is a fundamental element for winning football games anytime. If you can’t move the ball on the ground, your passing game has to be unstoppable or you won’t win football games. It’s timely to mention the topic again, considering recent injuries to Jonathan Williams and Brandon Jackson.

    With Memphis giving up 186 rushing yards per game, ECU has the capability of having another big day if it has effective up-front blocking. Running the football successfully will open up the rest of the offense for the Pirates. Patrick Pinkney is throwing the ball better over the last few weeks. Being productive on the ground will take the pressure off him to have to win the game by passing.
     

  3. Feed the Playmakers

    The Pirates haven’t had a host of players on offense making big plays each week. With injuries, schemes, or other issues there just doesn’t seem to be the same group of names and faces stepping up each week. The exceptions have been Dwayne Harris and Dominique Lindsay. Harris has run the football, passed the ball, returned kickoffs and, of course, caught passes this season. He is the most athletic and dynamic player the Pirates have. Offensive coordinator Todd Fitch and Coach Skip Holtz have put him in several positions to keep defenses off guard and allow him to best help the team. Harris needs to have at least 10-15 touches every game.

    Lindsay has been the one constant yard gainer at running back this season. ECU started the season off with five good backs, but Lindsay has been the only one who has been consistently good. When he is healthy you have to give him the football.

The Bottom Line

The Pirates missed a big opportunity two weeks ago when they lost to Southern Methodist. They could be sitting at 4-0 in the conference and alone atop the Eastern Division. Instead they are tied at the top with Marshall and Southern Mississippi. East Carolina can ill afford to lose another conference game to a team it should beat. Memphis has good team but has struggled defensively and has been very inconsistent on offense. The Pirates have a couple of very tough conference games coming up against Tulsa and Southern Miss. They need to take advantage of this game against a team they should beat.

Send an e-mail message to Kevin Monroe.

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10/27/2009 01:57:43 AM
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