Keys to the Game
Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014

By Kevin Monroe

For the ninth straight year, Kevin Monroe, color analyst for the Pirate IMG Sports Network, provides “Kevin’s Keys to The Game.” In his weekly breakdown of what East Carolina must do to beat its upcoming opponent, Monroe brings a unique perspective as a member of the broadcast team and as a former star defensive back for the Pirates (1995-99).

East Carolina at Temple

12 pm | Lincoln Financial Field (cap. 69,176) | TV: ESPNN


The forecast for East Carolina's noon kickoff against Temple at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia is calling for 50 degrees and cloudy skies with 72 percent humidity and a 20 percent chance of precipitation. North winds are projected to be 10 miles per hour. Slight changes during the American Athletic Conference game, which will be shown on the ESPNews network, include an increase in temperature to 51 degrees, 71 percent humidity by the end of the contest, a zero percent chance of rain at 4 p.m. and North winds increasing to 12 miles per hour. (Filed by Al Myatt)

Full-size radar loop

Scientific forecast


American Schedule

Memphis 40, Tulsa 20 (ESPNU)
Cincinnati 38, Tulane 14 (ESPN2)
ECU at Temple, 12 pm (ESPNN)
UCF at UConn, 12 pm (CBSSN)
Houston at USF, 4 pm (ESPNN)
Last Week's AAC Scores >>> ..... | Thursday > ECU 31, UConn 21 (ESPNU) ..... Friday > Cincinnati 34, USF 17 (ESPN2) ..... | Saturday > Memphis 48, SMU 10 (ESPNN) ..... UCF 34, Temple 14 (CBSSN) ..... .....

College Football Playoff Rankings

Released date: Oct. 28, 2014

 1. Mississippi State 7-0
 2. Florida State 7-0
 3. Auburn 6-1
 4. Mississippi 7-1
 5. Oregon 7-1
 6. Alabama 7-1
 7. TCU 6-1
 8. Michigan State 7-1
 9. Kansas State 6-1
10. Notre Dame 6-1
11. Georgia 6-1
12. Arizona 6-1
13. Baylor 6-1
14. Arizona State 6-1
15. Nebraska 7-1
16. Ohio State 6-1
17. Utah 6-1
18. Oklahoma 5-2
19. LSU 7-2
20. West Virginia 6-2
21. Clemson 6-2
22. UCLA 6-2
23. East Carolina 6-1
24. Duke 6-1
25. Louisville 6-2)

Official College Football Playoff Website



'Body of work' will matter at the end

There is a reason the FCS football playoff and NCAA basketball tournament committees do not publish weekly polls. College Football Playoff organizers state the early rankings are to “condition the public” prior to the final Dec 7 rankings. ... More from Greg Vacek...



Elections weekly in college football

Al Myatt

You can't avoid the realization that an election day is approaching. Reminders are everywhere. Every week in college football has an election day, when voters rate the teams for ranking purposes. ... More from Al Myatt...



Recruiting Class of 2015-16 Verbals

Northern Durham (NC) HS SF Kentrell Barkley (left); Trinity Valley (TX) CC PF Clarence Williams (right): Thumbnail sketches...


Playoff model has fatal flaw

The debate rages on. A team has to win convincingly in order to move up in the polls unless the team plays a higher-ranked opponent, and then any victory will move the needle upward. ... More from Brian Bailey...


Audio: The Brian Bailey Show

The Brian Bailey Show airs on Pirate Radio 1250 on Mondays at 6:30 p.m. Brian's guest this week was ECU outside receivers coach Dave Nichol (right): Replay show...


Audio: Coach Ruff Weekly Presser

ECU coach Ruffin McNeill spoke with the media at his weekly press conference on Monday (courtesy of Pirate Radio 1250; Bonesville file photo): Select clip...




Inside Game Day | Photos... | Post-game Audio...

AAC SCOREBOARD >>> ..... | Thursday > ECU 31, UConn 21 (ESPNU) ..... Friday > Cincinnati 34, USF 17 (ESPN2) ..... | Saturday > Memphis 48, SMU 10 (ESPNN) ..... UCF 34, Temple 14 (CBSSN) ..... .....

How good is ECU?

Al Myatt

GREENVILLE — East Carolina became bowl eligible for the eighth time in the last nine seasons with a 31-21 American Athletic Conference football win over Connecticut at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium on Thursday night. The Pirates improved to 6-1 overall and 3-0 in the American Athletic Conference ... More from Al Myatt...

PURPLE HEART: East Carolina coach and alumnus Ruffin McNeill joins in on the fight song in front of the "Boneyard" in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium after the Pirates' hard-fought victory over American Athletic Conference foe UConn. © [W.A. Myatt photo]

View more pix in W.A. Myatt's photo gallery...

Audio: Ruff Post-game

ECU coach Ruffin McNeill spoke with the press after the Pirates defeated UConn 31-21 Thursday night (recorded by W.A. Myatt; file photo): Select audio clip...

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By Kevin Monroe
All rights reserved.

View ECU's 2014 football schedule

East Carolina will face off against the 4-3 Temple Owls in Philadelphia today. It will mark the first time the Pirates meet an American Athletic Conference team with a winning record and it will also be their toughest league test to date.

The Owls have lost back to back American games to Houston and Central Florida and are looking to get back on track. Temple is one of only 12 teams in the nation averaging more than 30 points per game while giving up less than 20 points per game. The Owls have a solid track record when it comes to red zone defense, giving up scores only 61 percent of the time. The Pirates will need to be mistake-free in the red zone and turn each trip into points. If ECU wants to win this game to stay undefeated in the AAC, it will need to follow this script:


I used this key last week and it would be appropriate to use it every week. There isn’t anything more important than taking care of the football. That fact is magnified this week because Temple is tenacious at swiping the ball from opposing offenses. The Owls have 8 interceptions and 11 fumble recoveries through 7 games, just shy of 3 takeaways per game. Add in their 23 pass breakups and the Owls are getting their hands on the football at an alarming rate. Anthony Davis and Shariff Finch each have 3 fumble recoveries and Tavon Young has 3 interceptions. The Pirates have done a pretty good job of taking care of the football. The offense has thrown 7 interceptions and lost 3 fumbles this year. Quarterback Shane Carden will need to make smart passing decisions and the ECU ball carriers will need to wrap the ball up with an iron grip.


Temple has been impressive on special teams with 3 punt returns for touchdowns and 3 blocked kicks. Just last week, the Owls blocked two UCF punts and returned one for a touchdown. ECU punter Worth Gregory has had a really good year and was recently added to the Ray Guy Award list. The Alabama transfer is averaging 45.6 yards per boot. The execution in the punt game will need to be flawless today, including covering and tackling effectively once the ball is kicked. In the field goal kicking game, Warren Harvey has to be more consistent. He is 6 for 11 on the year but it hasn’t hurt the Pirates yet. However, in a tough road conference game like this that could go down to the end, Harvey has to be dependable from start to finish.


The Pirates are pretty good converting on third down plays, moving the chains 46 times in 96 chances, almost a 50% rate. Temple is giving up first downs only 38% of the time. Even more impressive is the Owls' proven ability to force three and outs. They are 17th in the nation in that defensive statistical category. In 94 total drives by opponents, 36 of those drives (38%) have ended in three plays and a punt. Carden and this Pirate offense will need to be efficient against that kind of resistance. It starts with getting 4 or more yards on first down in order to make second and third down less imposing. Converting in the red zone will also be paramount as the Temple defense buckles down when backed up near its goal line.


Though the Pirates have played down to the level of their competition over the last three weeks, they have fought hard, been mentally tough and found ways to win each game. Today the level of competition will present a much stiffer test. If the Pirates don’t come ready to play, they will lose. If they protect the football on offense, are solid in execution on special teams and convert third downs and trips to the red zone, they will win.

This one should be a good one. Expect the Pirates to rise to the occasion.

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11/01/2014 03:38 AM