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Kevin's Keys to the Game
Saturday, September 16, 2006

By Kevin Monroe

Week 3: Memphis at ECU

Each week, Kevin Monroe, Sideline Reporter for the Pirate ISP Sports Network, provides “Kevin’s Keys to The Game,” outlining what East Carolina must do to beat its opponent. Monroe brings a unique perspective to the task, not only as an analyst on the radio broadcast, but also as a former defensive back for the Pirates (1995-99).

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

1.      Protect this House:  After two games on the road to open the 2006 season, the Pirates will finally get a chance to play in Dowdy Ficklen stadium. After a pair of non-league games versus Ole Miss and Akron, Memphis will be playing in its first Conference USA game. When opening up its C-USA season on the road, Memphis is 1-9 and 0-5 under current coach Tommy West. With powerhouse West Virginia coming to town next week, it is imperative that East Carolina play well at home and find a way to get a win.

2.      Andrae the Giant: The most electrifying player on East Carolina’s roster, Andrae Allison, had no impact on last week’s game at UAB. After starting his ECU career with 12 straight games with 4 catches or more, Andrae was catch-less. His 6 catches for 86 yards vs. Navy in week one really opened things up for the other receivers and the running game. Coach Skip Holtz has to do whatever it takes to get the ball to Andrae, who has proven to be one of the most dangerous players in the country with the ball in his hands.

3.      Provide a Pocket for JP: East Carolina’s offensive line lacks experience with only two senior starters. Add in the injury to Dominique Lindsay and the running game could be virtually non-existent. That being said, ECU will need to pass the football to be successful against the Memphis defense. James Pinkney has a sore ankle and may not be as mobile as he has been, but when given ample time he has proven to be a dead-on passer. This will be the fourth time James will see significant time against Memphis and his third time as a starter. He has thrown at least one touchdown in each game versus the Tigers, with last year’s performance being one of the best of his career (26 of 46 for 297 yards and 3 TD’s).

4.        The Big Play: These two teams are very evenly matched and, in order to win a game like this, somebody will have to make a big play or a few big plays. East Carolina will get an important boost if: Pinkney hooks up with a receiver for a deep pass; a running back breaks a long run from the line of scrimmage; or, a return specialist springs a long runback. Defensively, the Pirates cannot afford to give up the big play. Memphis QB Martin Hankins has proven early that he can throw the football and his teammate, Joseph Doss, is a very capable running back. The big play can definitely help the Pirates, but it can hurt just as badly.

The Bottom Line: Home openers give you the opportunity to play in front of a friendly atmosphere for the first time and to start the ball game with the momentum. East Carolina fans are among the best in the country about getting behind their team. Dowdy-Ficklen stadium will be rocking and the Pirates can keep the fans involved by jumping on the Tigers early. Memphis is a quality opponent, but for the third game in a row, East Carolina will be playing in a winnable game. Maybe the third time will be the charm.

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02/23/2007 10:32:22 AM


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