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Keys to the Game
Friday, September 26, 2008

By Kevin Monroe

Houston at ECU
Saturday, Sept. 27, 2008, 3:30 p.m.
Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, Greenville

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 Houston if it accomplishes these key objectives:

  1. Pressure the Quarterback

    Houston has one of the best offenses in the country, averaging over 36 points and more than 400 passing yards per game. East Carolina’s front four has been explosive at times this season, but the last two games have been a challenge. Both Kevin Moore of Tulane and Russell Wilson of N.C. State were able to buy enough time to find open receivers down field. Defensive ends Zack Slate and C.J. Wilson need to show up big versus Houston quarterback Case Keenum.

    Through four games, Keenum has thrown for 16 touchdowns. The Cougars' offensive line boasts three seniors and a junior and has allowed only 7 sacks on 216 passing attempts

  2. Defend the Backend

    Now that you understand what the Pirates are up against in Houston's offensive line and quarterback, you have an Idea of just how potent this passing attack is. Keenum can’t do it by himself; he has a number of dangerous wide receivers to choose from. The Cougars have eight receivers with at least 10 receptions, led by senior Mark Hafner with 30 catches and 7 touchdowns. In comparison, the Pirates have only three receivers with at least 10 receptions.

    The East Carolina secondary is young, but the majority of the principals have a lot of game experience. The corner position has been a revolving door all year. We have seen Jerek Hewett, Darryl Reynolds, Emanuel Davis, Travis Simmons and Dekota Marshall all play significant snaps. This game will separate the men from the boys in the secondary.

  3. Mount Long Drives

    The Cougars are a dangerous offensive team and present special problems whenever they have the ball. With that in mind, the best way to slow them down is to keep them off the field. East Carolina dominated time of possession against Virginia Tech and West Virginia and was able to maintain control of the game.

    Patrick Pinkney will have to lead this ECU offense on solid sustained drives to consign Keenum and Hafner to the sidelines. With the addition of Norman Whitely in the backfield, the Pirates now have three very capable running backs to keep the chains moving. Whitely averaged over 9 yards per carry last week and Jonathan Williams averaged over 7 yards per carry.

The Bottom Line

East Carolina hates to lose to its in-state rivals, but the loss to State wasn’t a conference game and it quieted all the BCS talk swirling around the team. Now the Pirates can just relax, play football and not worry about playing for the national title. The most important goal at this point is to win the conference. At 1-0 in the conference, ECU is in great shape.

The Cougars are averaging 36 points per game for a reason; they are really good at what they do offensively. The Pirate defense has forced at least two turnovers in every game this year. They will need at least two on Saturday and they will need to win time of possession to keep Keenum off the field.

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09/26/2008 02:41:58 AM


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