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Keys to the Game
Friday, September 25, 2009

By Kevin Monroe

ECU vs. Central Florida
Saturday, Sept. 26, 2009, 3:30 p.m.
Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, Greenville

For the fourth straight year, Kevin Monroe, color analyst for the Pirate ISP Sports Radio Network, provides “Kevin’s Keys to The Game,” his weekly breakdown of what East Carolina must do to beat its upcoming opponent. Monroe brings a unique perspective to the task as a member of the broadcast team and as a former star defensive back for the Pirates (1995-99).

All Rights Reserved.

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

  1. Play with Passion

    Before getting into the X's and O's of this game, one thing that has been bothering me about the first three games of this season is the lack of passion. East Carolina's players do care, and I am sure they want to win, but winning football games is about much more. It's about the hot summers running sprints; it's about the cold winters doing drills; and it's about the brotherhood that you develop with your teammates throughout the entire season.

    When two teams of equal talent face off, like two weeks ago versus West Virginia or last week versus North Carolina, the team that wants it more usually comes out on top. That passion usually comes when your back is against the wall late in the game. I am sure the Pirates have it in them, but it has yet to show this season. The only victory this season came against a less talented opponent which really just ran out of time.

    If East Carolina wants to beat Central Florida and get on the road to another Conference USA championship, the Pirates will need to dig deep and use that passion when the time comes.

  2. Finish Strong

    Through the first three games, it's no secret that the Pirates have scored a total of five points in the second half of those games. Two of those points came from a safety in the Appalachian State game. The offense in the second half has been out of sync and not very impressive.

    Last week the Pirates did turn a corner in their progression. Even though they only scored three points in the second half, they put together three very solid drives. Patrick Pinkney looked the best he has looked all season in those two quarters. One of the drives ended with a missed field goal, the next with a made field goal and the last ended with a turnover on downs. The offense needs to build upon that progress and put some touchdowns on the board against UCF.

  3. Better Secondary Play

    In every game this season, East Carolina has given up at least one deep ball for a touchdown. In the West Virginia game we saw three deep ball touchdowns. Injuries to Emmanuel Davis and Levin Neal have made a huge impact on this team's ability to defend the pass. Both guys are questionable for ECU on Saturday, but, whether they play or not, the secondary has to play better.

    Playing defensive back means making choices: You can choose to play it safe and keep everything in front of you; you can play aggressive and jump all short routes; or you can be steady, not giving up deep balls and picking your spots to jump short routes. Whichever style you employ takes commitment — and a few of the Pirate DB's have yet to figure out which choice to make.

The Bottom Line

East Carolina is at a crossroads in its season. The first three games haven’t gone quite as the Pirates expected. They can either lower their heads and feel sorry for themselves while loafing through the remainder of the season, or they can come out of the corner fighting. Only time will tell what type of team the Pirates will evolve into this season. Saturday’s game should give us a good indication.

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09/25/2009 02:30:48 AM


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