Keys to the
October 13, 2007
By Kevin Monroe
Game 7: ECU at UTEP
Each week, Kevin Monroe, color analyst for the Pirate ISP Sports
Radio 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 a
member of the broadcast team, but also as a former defensive
back for the Pirates (1995-99).
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Carolina can defeat Texas-El Paso if it accomplishes these key objectives:
freshman quarterback Trevor Vittatoe, UTEP’s offense has been a pleasant
surprise in 2007. The Miners' offense is 25th in the country in
scoring offense averaging over 35 points per game. Vittatoe is a
versatile quarterback that can beat you with his arm and his legs. In
their come from behind victory over Tulsa last week, the freshman
completed 21 of 27 passes for 319 yards. Vittatoe has started every game
this year and the coaches have to be happy with his performance thus far
— he has thrown for 10 touchdowns with only two interceptions through
six games. The leading receiving threat will come from wideout Jeff
Moturi, who caught 25 passes for 425 yards and seven touchdowns. All the
success UTEP has had through the air still comes secondary to its
stellar running game. Running back Marcus Thomas already has 11
touchdowns this year and last week versus Tulsa he rushed for 207 yards
and three touchdowns. The Pirates will have their hands full trying to
slow down this explosive offense.
Pour in points by
The Pirates may have to put points on the board almost every possession
if they want to compete. The 35 points per game that UTEP is scoring on
offense is tops in the conference, but defensively they are giving up
over 30 points per game. East Carolina needs to establish the running
game early and allow that to open up the play action pass. This UTEP
defense is giving up over 327 passing yards per game. The Pirates have
been effective with their running backs and tight ends in the passing
game, but need to get the receivers more involved. Steven Rogers and
Jamar Bryant are still waiting on their breakout game of 2007. The
running game, behind Chris Johnson, has been effective over the last two
gamesm and things shouldn’t change this week. UTEP is giving up 162
yards per game on the ground.
The East Carolina
kicking game has been suspect all year with the poor kicking of Ben
Hartman and the inconsistent punting of Matt Dodge. Both kickers will
need to come up big versus UTEP, which has some big-time athletes in the
return game. ECU’s return game has been great over the last few games.
Although not seeing much production on punt returns, Dewayne Has been
fearless deep and is sure-handed. Chris Johnson is deadly on kickoff
returns and had another touchdown return last week.
Be tough on the
Going into the Sun Bowl hasn’t been easy on anyone this year as UTEP has
performed solidly at home. During his tenure, winning on the road under
Skip Holtz has become somewhat routine for the Pirates, but they have
only one road victory this year against Houston. If ECU wants to be a
genuine contender for the Conference USA crown, it will need to be tough
on the road.
The Pirates are facing another tough league opponent after already having
battled Southern Miss, Houston and Central Florida. The plane ride down was
a long one that ECu will have to put behind in order to focus on the task at
hand. A win in El Paso will announce the Pirates as serious contenders for
the conference title.
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10/13/2007 08:28:29 AM