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Keys to the Game
Friday, November 14, 2008

By Kevin Monroe

ECU at Southern Miss
Saturday, Nov. 15, 2008, 3:00 p.m.
M.M. Roberts Stadium, Hattiesburg

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 Southern Miss if it accomplishes these key objectives:

  1. Contain Damien Fletcher

    The Golden Eagles offense starts with the ground game. Running back Damien Fletcher has 162 carries for 1,062 yards in nine games. Fletcher is a smaller back, 5-10, 177 pounds, but he can carry the load when called upon. The junior is averaging 18 carries per game and 6.5 yards per carry. Fletcher has been starting since his freshman season and has tremendous big play ability. The Pirates have been great against the run this season and they will need another solid effort this week to pick up a victory over Southern Miss.

  2. Corral the Passer

    The Pirates will have a tough task this week pressuring the passer. Southern Miss quarterback Austin Davis is a freshman with a ton of talent. Davis is the second leading rusher on the team with 41 yards per game and is passing for 240 yards per game. The offensive line of the Golden Eagles is a veteran crew boasting three juniors, a sophomore and a senior. East Carolina defensive ends C.J. Wilson, Zack Slate and Scotty Robinson will need to contain rush this week to not allow Davis to escape and to put plenty of pressure on the freshman.

  3. Mount a Balanced Attack

    Against Memphis and Central Florida, the Pirates had a very impressive running game, but could not pass effectively. Then last week versus Marshall, when ECU was able to open things up a little and get the passing game going, Norman Whitley found tougher sledding against a stout Thundering Herd front seven. Quarterback Patrick Pinkney looked really good last week and the receivers collectively caught the ball well and made some big catches. Against the Golden Eagles, they will need both the running game and passing game to be firing on all cylinders.

The Bottom Line

East Carolina is once again going to be the better team in this ball game. That doesn’t matter to Southern Miss. The Golden Eagles own the Pirates in this series and they don’t lose very many Conference USA home games. 'The Rock' (M.M. Roberts Stadium) is also one of the toughest places to play in the league. The Golden Eagles are averaging 31 points per game this year and ECU hasn’t scored very many points in its last five games. The Pirate defense has a huge task on Saturday.

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11/14/2008 02:59:01 AM


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