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Keys to the Game
Friday, October 16, 2009

By Kevin Monroe

ECU vs. Rice
Saturday, Oct. 17, 2009, 3:30 pm
Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium

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 Rice if it accomplishes these key objectives:

  1. Have a Short Memory

    Last week’s game at Southern Methodist left a bad taste in the mouths of the loyal subjects of the Pirate Nation. Let’s face it, SMU was not a good team — the Pirates dominated virtually every aspect of the contest except the scoreboard and the mental game. Mental mistakes like throwing a post route into triple coverage or not blocking the right person on field goals skewed the outcome. Everything about that game takes you back to a period of football after the departure of former coach Steve Logan and before the arrival of Skip Holtz.

    While the fans won’t soon forget last week, the players must — when you play football you have to put the last play, the last series, the last game behind you. The Pirates haven’t been consistent in 2009, but we have seen flashes of their ability on offense and defense. Putting the Mustangs behind them will be paramount if they intend to play well Saturday

  2. Attack by Land

    The one thing East Carolina did really well last week was run the football. The Pirates rushed for 176 yards, 144 of which came from Dominique Lindsay. Rice is giving up 256 yards per game on the ground and ECU has the capability of having a big day if it blocks well up front. Running the football effectively will open up the rest of the offense for Coach Todd Fitch and quarterback Patrick Pinkney. There have been some injuries amongst the running backs, but no matter who gets the bulk of the carries on Saturday it will be somebody with tons of talent.

  3. Get Out Fast

    The Pirates have been a fast-starting team all season. Much to the chagrin of the Pirate Nation, the majority of this year’s scoring has come in the first half. Rice is giving up lots of points, scoring few and is 0-6. Odds are the Owls are going to win a football game this season. All they need is for ECU to start slowly so they can build some confidence and start believing in themselves. However, a quick start by the Pirates would more than likely break the spirits of the Owls and send them into a downward spiral. The easiest thing to do in sports is get used to losing. Getting behind by double digits to the defending conference champions could take Rice right out of the game mentally.

The Bottom Line

East Carolina is by far the better team. Rice is a solid program and had some very good talent the last few years. The Owls beat ECU in Houston in 2006, preventing the Pirates from claiming an East Division title. This Owls team doesn’t have those same players and it shows. Rice has been pounded on defense, giving up over 472 yards and 44 points per game. Offensively, the Owls have struggled to get into a rhythm and are only averaging 16 points per contest. ECU has the opportunity to have a bounce-back game and regain the momentum it lost last week in Dallas.

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10/16/2009 03:15:37 AM


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