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Keys to the Game
Saturday, November 21, 2009

By Kevin Monroe

Saturday, Nov. 21, 2009, 3:30 pm
Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium

For the fourth straight year, Kevin Monroe, color analyst for the Pirate ISP Sports Radio Network, provides ďKevinís Keys to The Game,Ē 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).

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

  1. Contain Joe Webb

    The Pirates will face the best athlete they have seen all season at the quarterback position in UABís Joe Webb. That says a lot considering that East Carolina has encountered Travaris Cadet from Appalachian State, Jarrett Brown from West Virginia and Tyrod Taylor from Virginia Tech.

    Webb has a big strong arm, and he runs like a running back. He is the second leading rusher in the conference. Last season Webb rushed for 1,011 yards. He has already eclipsed that mark this season with 1,158 yards with two games remaining. Webb is a very capable passer with 1,730 yards and a completion percentage of close to 60%, but you canít let him beat you with his feet.

    Memphis held the Blazers to 111 rushing yards, more than 100 yards under their average, but UAB passed for 378 yards on its way to the victory. The Pirates must pressure Webb, but they will have to remain in their rush lanes and be disciplined. They canít allow him to make big plays with his feet.


  2. Pass Efficiently

    UAB's secondary has struggled in its pass defense this season. Its opponents are passing for 325 yards per game. The Blazers have given up 22 passing touchdowns through 10 games, which is more than 2 per game. Patrick Pinkney had his best game of the season last week (20-29 for 275 yards and 2 TDs with no interceptions).

    Running back Dominique Lindsay and the running game open up the passing game, so that is where the offense needs to start. When ECU does decide to pass the football, it will need to spread the field and take advantage of the Blazers' ineffective play in the defensive backfield. Last week wide receiver Darryl Freeney emerged as a force with a career high 152 receiving yards. With Freeney having two good games in a row, itís really going to open things up for Dwayne Harris to make plays.

  3. Protect This House

    With two regular season games remaining and both of them at home, the Pirates have a meaningful advantage. ECU leads the conference in home attendance and has sold out all of this season's five home games leading up to this one. The Pirates need to take it personal that UAB plans on coming into their house and taking away their opportunity to win the C-USA championship. The crowd will be in the game as long as the Pirates play with effort and minimize the mental mistakes. ECU has lost only one home game this season, to Virginia Tech. One reason for the home success is that the environment in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium is one of the best around. To win championships, you have to win your home conference games.

The Bottom Line

The Pirates know what they have to do to win the East Division of C-USA. That all starts with this game against UAB. ECU should be able to pass and run on the Blazers but will have a hard time stopping them on defense. Nobody has really bottled up Joe Webb all season, and neither will East Carolina. The Pirates just need to contain him and keep him out of the end zone. The Pirates only need a one-point victory. To achieve that they will have to outlast the Blazer attack.

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11/20/2009 03:59:13 AM


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