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Keys to the Game
Thursday, November 5, 2009

By Kevin Monroe

ECU vs. Virginia Tech
Thursday, Nov. 5, 2009, 7:30 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 Virginia Tech if it accomplishes these key objectives:

  1. Contain the QB

    The Pirates have played well on defense over the past several weeks, defending both the run and the pass as well as they have all season. When East Carolina has struggled, itís been due in part to not getting enough pressure on the quarterback. Tech's Tyrod Taylor is going to be the most athletic QB that ECU has seen this season. He is among Virginia Tech's all-time leaders at his position in several categories. He is third all-time in career rushing yards with 1,317, tied for second with Michael Vick in rushing touchdowns with 16, and tied for second all-time in career 100-yard rushing games.

    After hearing all that, you might think Taylor is a run-first QB, but that is not the case. When he drops back to throw the ball, he usually throws it. He does an excellent job of moving his feet to buy time in the pocket to make his throws. Taylor is 12th in the nation in passing efficiency with a 3-to-1 touchdown to interception ratio.


  2. Deploy Sharp Passing Game

    I usually preach running the football and this week is no different. If the Pirates can establish a solid running game against the Hokies, they can have a chance to win this game. The key ,though, comes from the passing game. Virginia Tech ranks 9th nationally in pass defense, giving up 162 yards per game. Tech's defensive line has 15 sacks through eight games and its defense has 8 interceptions and 31 pass breakups. Patrick Pinkney will have to make quick and efficient decisions followed by accurate throws. ECU canít afford any turnovers in the passing game.

  3. Be Special

    Any time you play the Hokies, you have to be perfect on special teams. Tech has blocked multiple kicks every year since Coach Frank Beamer has been in charge of the program. He heads up the special teams and his attention to detail in that aspect of the game have spawned the nickname Beamer Ball. The Hokies have 123 blocks in Beamerís 276 games at the university. During his era they have blocked at least 2 kicks in a game 21 times.

    ECU will need to be very solid in its own punting and kicking execution, but also make plays in the return game. The team that plays best on special teams has the best chance of winning this game, because offensively and defensively the teams are well matched.

The Bottom Line

Virginia Tech is probably the more talented team, but the team with the best players isnít always the winner. If the Pirates come right out and take the game to Tech, who knows what can happen? The Hokies came into the season ranked in the Top Ten, but tough games versus Alabama, Nebraska, Miami, Georgia Tech, Duke (yes, Duke) and a loss last week to UNC-Chapel Hill have really battle-tested them. They can bounce back and have another ten-win season, or they can crumble under the pressure of big expectations and a big schedule.

The Pirates have nothing to lose. Regardless of the outcome, they are still in the driverís seat of the East Division of Conference USA. A team with nothing to lose is a dangerous team to play against.

Send an e-mail message to Kevin Monroe.

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11/05/2009 02:24:19 AM


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