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Keys to the Game
Sunday, November 15, 2009

By Kevin Monroe

ECU at Tulsa
Sunday, Nov. 15, 2009, 8:15 pm
H.A. Chapman 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).

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East Carolina can defeat Tulsa if it accomplishes these key objectives:

  1. Establish the Run

    The Pirates ran the ball relatively well four weeks in a row, starting with the 155-yard performance versus Marshall on Oct. 3 and culminating with 275 rushing yards against Memphis on Oct. 27. Last week the ground game was bottled up by Virginia Tech, which limited East Carolina to 110 yards, the majority of which came in the first half. Establishing the run and having a big day on the ground won’t be an easy feat this week. Tulsa is allowing only 121 rushing yards per game. The Golden Hurricane has given up only four rushing touchdowns all season.

    Dominique Lindsay has been solid for the Pirates over the last five weeks since coming back from injury. Lindsay is averaging 101 yards per game and has amassed 135 yards or more in two of those games. With injuries having accumulated among the running backs corps over the course of the season, there is no true number two running back. Collectively, the backs will need to run the ball well early to control the clock, keep the chains moving and keep Tulsa’s offense off the field.


  2. Rush the Passer

    Tulsa, which features some very good athletes on the offensive side of the football, can score from anywhere. Led by first-year starting quarterback G.J. Kinne, the Golden Hurricane’s offense has moved the ball and scored points all year, averaging nearly 30 points per game. Kinne has been a pleasant surprise for Tulsa, completing 60 percent of his passes for over 1,800 yards and 15 touchdowns through nine games. Last week against Houston. Kinne threw for 334 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed for 100 yards and a score. When teams get pressure on Kinne, he will usually pull the ball down fairly quickly and look for running room. If the Pirates can pressure him and contain the scramble, that pressure has the chance to be very effective.

  3. Defend the Big Play

    With the Golden Hurricane’s ability to score big and score quickly, the Pirates have to keep the ball in front of them and tackle well. Last week against the Hokies, East Carolina had running back Ryan Williams stopped in the backfield several times before he broke tackles on his way to positive yardage. It will be imperative that ECU wraps Kinne first and then Tulsa’s offensive playmakers like Damrius Johnson.

    The Golden Hurricane has four receivers that have topped the career 1,000-yard receiving mark. Tulsa loves the big play and has 10 different receivers averaging more than 10 yards per catch. There have been some injuries in the two-deep of the Pirates' secondary, so the defensive backs, including the backups, will need to meet the challenge for East Carolina to come away with the win.

The Bottom Line

The Pirates are in control of their own destiny in Conference USA. If they win their last three games, they will play in the C-USA championship game. Tulsa is a quality opponent and will be favored in the game, but East Carolina matches up well against the Golden Hurricane. If the Pirates can establish the run early and keep Kinne and the high-powered Tulsa offense off the field, they have a very good chance of coming away with the win. They will need to be disciplined on defense and keep the football in front of them.

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11/15/2009 02:15:40 AM


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