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Carolina could very easily be 3-0 right now. Virginia Tech gave the Pirates
more than enough chances to win that game two weeks ago, but ECU struggled
to get points when the Hokies made miscues. The Pirates have turned the page
on that loss and are squarely focused on the athletic and talented UNC-Chapel
Hill football team they will collide with on Saturday. North Carolina sits
at 1-2, but has played a top ten team in South Carolina and one of the
nationís top rushing teams in Georgia Tech.
Carolina can defeat the Tar Heels if it performs well in these key aspects of the game:
The Hokies were able to put a lot of pressure on Shane Carden. When the
opponent has good defensive backs, your quarterbacks needs an extra second
or two to give his receivers time to get open. Shane appeared to be rushed
and flustered against Tech and never got into an offensive rhythm. The
offensive line has played very well at times this season, but it will need
to have its best game at Kenan Stadium. The Tar Heels play a high-activity,
blitzing and stunting defense. North Carolina has 6 sacks through three
games ó linebacker Norkeithus Otis has 3 of those sacks and linebacker
Darius Lipford has 2. When Shane Carden has time in the pocket to throw, he
is one of the very best passers in in college football.
PRESSURE BRYN RENNER
On the flip side, East Carolina needs to put pressure on Tar Heel
quarterback Bryn Renner. ECU has 10 sacks on the season, led by Lee Pegues
with 3 and Terrell Stanley with 2. Renner, like Carden, is a very good
passer when given time, but he does tend to get a little flustered when he
is repeatedly pressured and hit. Georgia Tech didnít get much pressure on
him in the first half and gave up 20 points. In the second half, the Yellow
Jackets turned up the dial and shut the Tar Heels out.
PLAY WITH TENACITY
coaching staff wonít call this a must win, but I think itís a very important
win. Ruffin McNeil has undertaken a program change at ECU that has put the
Pirates on track to annually produce eight or more wins. In order to achieve
that kind of standard, ECU must be competitive in its non-conference games.
Let me amend that: Not only must the Pirates be competitive, they need to
start winning some of those games. When the opportunity comes to play North
Carolina, N.C. State and other in-state schools, the Pirates are playing for
themselves, their fans and for the big one ó their recruits. This will be a
game that all North Carolina/East Carolina recruits will be paying attention
to. ECU needs to play with its hair on fire and leave everything on the
field. This isnít ECU's Super Bowl, but a win would be super important to
The Pirates know what to
expect from a Larry Fedora-coached team. They faced him four times at
Southern Miss and last year when he took the job in Chapel Hill. His spread
formation offensive attack will be fast and furious ó or NASCAR-like as
Coach Ruff describes it. Playing defense against this type of offense calls
for three things from Pirate defenders: discipline, conditioning and
toughness. Offensively, the Pirates will once again face a stout defense
with speed, strength and agility akin to the one they faced against Virginia
tech. ECU will need to be patient, efficient and effective with its play
calling and execution to win this game.
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