Keys to the
August 31, 2012
By Kevin Monroe
ECU vs. Appalachian State
Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012 • 12 Noon
Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium (cap. 50,000)
Television: Fox Sports Network
For the seventh
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).
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Carolina can defeat Appalachian State on Saturday if it achieves these key objectives:
ESTABLISH THE RUN
The Pirates have rotated several running backs throughout the offseason and
preseason trying to find just the right mix. Coach Ruffin McNeil has always
said that, because of the fast-paced nature of this offensive scheme, he and
the offensive staff believe they need a running back-by-committee lineup.
They feel like they have that now with Michael Dobson, Reggie Bullock and
transfer Vintavious Cooper. Those three plus Hunter Furr and freshman Chris
Hairston have been the guys fighting for the right to carry the rock this
season. With a new starting quarterback at the helm, it will be important to
get the running game going early against App State. This will force the
Mountaineers to respect the run as much as the pass.
DON'T GIVE UP THE BIG
Appalachian State, behind head coach Jerry Moore, has plenty of big play
potential. Last season the Pirates gave up 45 big plays, an average of 3.8
plays per game that went for 20 yards or more. The Mountaineers will be
outmatched in this game when it comes to size and talent, but big plays are
the great equalizer. The App State offense will be led by quarterback Jamal
Jackson who threw for 15 touchdowns and rushed for another 7 last season.
His dual threat ability will put lots of pressure on East Carolina’s
SOLID KICKING GAME
will start a new punter and kicker this season for the first time in a few
years. The place-kicking duties will be handled by sophmore Warren Harvey
and the punting by Trent Tignor. Field goal kickers should make two of every
three they attempt or 66.7 percent. Last season they were accurate on 12 of
17 for better than 70 percent. Punters should average more than 35 yards per
punt with significant hang time (approximately four seconds). The Pirates
averaged 39.8 yards per punt last season. These new kickers don’t have to be
extraordinary, they just need to perform up to the status quo and avoid
making negative plays that could hurt the team.
BALL TO THE PLAYMAKERS
Receivers Justin Hardy, Derrick Harris and Reese Wiggins, just to name a
few, are guys that can make a short catch and turn it into a long touchdown
run. The more opportunities to get those guys the football the better for
the Pirates. Both Hardy and Harris will also handle the kick return duties.
It's games like these when the playmakers can take over if given the
opportunity. New starting QB Rio Johnson will have a stable of quality
receivers to throw the ball to — he just needs to get rid of the ball
quickly and accurately and let those guys do all the work.
East Carolina successfully carries out these four strategies on Saturday, it
will win the game. Considering that Appalachian State is a very worthy
opponent, a failure by the Pirates to execute the plan or to protect the
football could result in a loss. With two spread offenses pitted against two
3-4 defenses, this one has the potential to be fun for the fans to watch.
And let's not forget to mention the intense in-state exposure the final
outcome will receive.
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09/03/2012 11:26:34 AM