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Keys to the Game
Friday, September 19, 2008

By Kevin Monroe

ECU at N.C. State
Saturday, Sept. 20, 2008, Noon
Carter-Finley Stadium, Raleigh

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).

All Rights Reserved.

East Carolina can defeat N.C. State if it accomplishes these key objectives:

  1. Dominate the Line of Scrimmage

    Its no secret that North Carolina State has struggled to move the football and score touchdowns this season. Though the Wolfpack hasn't found a consistent rhythm at quarterback, the bulk of the problems lie on the offensive line. State starts juniors and seniors at all five offensive line positions, but only one of them started more than eight games last season. Being an upper classmen usually means lots of game experience, but not in this case.

    For East Carolina, the loss of Stanley Bryant at left tackle will hurt offensively, but Travis Melvin and D.J. Scott have each played a ton of snaps over the last year. They will have a tough task against the Pack’s defensive line. State’s front, led by junior defensive ends Willie Young and Shea McKeen, is a force to be reckoned with

  2. Establish the Run

    I used this key last week and the Pirates had a bad day running the football against Tulane. The good news is that ECU still won the game even though it found out the hard way how good Tulane’s defense really is. The bad news is that the Pirates can’t afford to run the ball poorly and continue to win games. The Wolfpack's front seven are the best part of its defense but still haven't been very stout against the run. State is giving up an average of 150 yards rushing per game and 4.3 yards per carry.

  3. Feed the Playmakers

    With Quinton Cotton out of action, the Pirate defense will have some big shoes to fill. Nick Johnson has played well but the offense needs to kick it up a notch to help offset the void.

    Sophomores Dwayne Harris and Jonathan Williams and junior Jamar Bryant have proven to be this year's big play guys. When Patrick Pinkney takes offensive snaps on Saturday, he needs to do his best to find one of these guys.

    Williams runs hard, but has the moves of a smaller scatback. Harris is as dynamic a receiver as East Carolina has ever had. Every time the ball is in his hands he has the ability to break the big one. Bryant has been ECU’s deep ball threat and came up with the game winning TD last week.

  4. Play Loose

    East Carolina was under a lot of pressure last week after winning big games against Virginia Tech and West Virginia. Tulane was the prototypical “trap game.” The Pirates were the superior team but seemed primed for an upset. They managed to squeeze out an impressive last-minute win but they now must relax and play their own game. ECU can’t focus on its enormous media following — the Pirates just have to put on the blinders and go out and have fun.

The Bottom Line

East Carolina is a better football team then N.C. State, but it’s a rivalry game and anything can happen. The Pirates need to jump on the Wolfpack early and get the home crowd out of the game. This State offense hasn’t scored a touchdown against a Football Bowl Subdivision opponent since last December. If the Pirates can force a few three-and-outs, they can really demoralize the Pack into the here-we-go-again syndrome.

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09/19/2008 04:59:25 AM


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