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Kevin's Keys to the Game
Saturday, November 25, 2006

By Kevin Monroe

Game 12: ECU at N.C. State

Each week, Kevin Monroe, Sideline Reporter for the Pirate ISP Sports Network, provides ďKevinís Keys to The Game,Ē 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 N.C. State if it accomplishes these key objectives:

  1. Break Their Spirit: North Carolina State is 3-8 this season and '0' for the last six games. The Wolfpack hasn't won a football game since October 5th, when it defeated Florida State after having beaten Boston College in its previous game. Losing is contagious and once you start a streak itís usually hard to break. In order to win, it takes 11 guys playing together doing their job; to lose, it only takes one guy not doing his job. The Pack is out of bowl contention and is coming off a loss last week to its biggest rival, North Carolina, amid rumors that Coach Chuck Amato may be fired. This team is under more stress and turmoil than any team the Pirates have faced this year. They donít have much left to play for and, therefore, have a very weak spirit. If ECU can score a couple times early, I think the Wolfpack will toss in the towel.

  2. Air It Out: I said all season long that the Pirates' bread and butter is the passing game. Over the past six weeks, East Carolina is 4-2 with both losses coming in games in which James Pinkney threw for less than 100 yards. Pinkney has the arm strength, touch and decision-making skills to win games. He is among the nationís top 25 in total offense per game (242), pass completions per game (19), total passing yards (2,438) and passing yards per game (222). Aundrae Allison is one of the nationís most talented receivers, but has only had two 100-yard receiving days this year. He still has caught a team-leading 56 passes for an average of 68 yards a game. Heís 11th nationally in receptions per game (6.2). Throw in super-athletic Phillip Henry and the sure-handed tandem of Roach & Rogers, and you have one of the best receiving corps in Conference USA. Pinkney must have a big passing day if the Pirates expect to beat the Pack.

  3. Corral the Run: N.C. State has two very talented running backs in former Greenville Rose star Andre Brown and Tony Baker. Individually, neither has had a stellar year thus far because they are sharing the carries, but combined they have rushed for 1,252 yards and 9 touchdowns. If the Pirates are going to be successful in this game, they must be good against the run and force State into third down and long all game long. After playing well in his first two starts, QB Daniel Evans has begun to fizzle. If the Pirates can keep pressure on him and play well in the secondary, he shouldnít be able to beat ECU with his arm.

  4. Play with Passion: The Wolfpack may not have much to play for, but East Carolina has a lot of important objectives in this game. First and foremost for the Pirates is their pride and respect from the other in-state schools. Second, recruiting battles are affected by rivalry games like this, especially with State and ECU going after a lot of the same players. The winner on the field gains an advantage in those recruiting battles. Last but not least, the Pirates are playing to assure themselves a postseason bid. With 6 wins, the Pirates are bowl-eligible, but 7 wins would make them a shoe-in. This game should mean a lot to the players and it will take extreme intensity and passion to prevail.

The Bottom Line: N.C. State as a team is not very good. The Wolfpack has lost 6 straight games and is coming off a deflating defeat at UNC-Chapel Hill. That being said, they donít respect the Pirates. If you asked 10 State players if they thought they would come away with a victory on Saturday, I bet all 10 would say yes ó not just because itís the right thing to say, but because they believe no matter how bad they are, they can still beat the Pirates. Former ECU coach Steve Logan used to tell us that the N.C. State game was not one that we would like to win, but one we had to win. Hopefully, the Pirates will take that approach Saturday night.

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02/23/2007 10:32:35 AM


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