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Keys to the Game
Friday, October 31, 2008

By Kevin Monroe

ECU at Central Florida
Sunday, Nov. 2, 2008, 8:15 p.m.
Bright House Networks Stadium
Orlando, FL

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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East Carolina can defeat Central Florida if it accomplishes these key objectives:

  1. Keep the Chains Moving

    East Carolina got a much needed victory two weeks ago against Memphis by playing tough defense and getting first downs. It didn’t hurt that the Tigers lost their top two quarterbacks in the first quarter. ECU has returned to the two-quarterback system that it used all of last season. It’s not the most optimal situation, but the Pirates did win eight games in 2007.

    Patrick Pinkney has struggled some over the last few weeks and Rob Kass has stepped in and picked up some of the slack. Neither guy is setting the world on fire, but the key to this week’s game is to keep the defense off the field by getting first downs and keeping the chains moving. The running game has been the one saving grace of the offense recently, but the suspension of Jonathan Williams will be a big blow.

  2. Apply Defensive Pressure

    The Knights have started a freshman (Rob Calabrese) at quarterback the last three weeks while previous starter Michael Greco was injured. Greco is now healthy but still may be second string versus the Pirates. East Carolina needs to increase the pressure on the passer.

    Defensive ends Zack Slate and C.J. Wilson have played hard, but the D-line hasn’t gotten enough sacks or quarterback pressures. Things have been tough trying to replace Quentin Cotton, but there is still enough talent on defense to make big plays. The secondary needs work, but the best medicine for an ailing secondary is a good pass rush.

  3. Control the Trenches

    Central Florida started five senior offensive lineman last season and junior running back Kevin Smith tucked in behind them and led the nation in rushing. This offensive line does have some experience but the starters were all back-ups last year. QB pressure is important, but penetration in the backfield to disrupt the running game is just as important.

    Offensively, the Pirates will have their hands full. Central Florida is number one in Conference USA in rushing offense and passing efficiency defense. The Knights' defensive line causes havoc and makes it tough for opposing teams to run or pass effectively. The only way to beat them is control the line of scrimmage on offense and defense.

The Bottom Line

This has been a rocky season for the Pirates but two conference wins have put them in good shape. The Golden Knights have also had it tough, but they haven’t exactly had the easiest schedule. This is a decent ball club that has played tough games on the road. If the Pirates want to keep pace with Marshall in the battle for first place in C-USA's East Division, they will have to put forth a total team effort on Sunday night.

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10/31/2008 12:48:23 AM


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