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Keys to the Game
Friday, October 1, 2010

By Kevin Monroe

East Carolina at North Carolina
Saturday, Oct. 2, 2010, 3:30 p.m. (TV:
Kenan Stadium, Chapel Hill, NC

For the fifth 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 North Carolina if it accomplishes these key objectives:

Move the Chains

The Pirate offense was fast-paced, high-powered and dynamic through 10 quarters. However, the last two quarters of the Virginia Tech game the offense seemed a little rattled and confused. Dominique Davis appeared rushed and unsure of himself and the offense stalled. The Hokies made some adjustments at halftime that the Pirates never solved. Offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley and the staff have had a couple of weeks to go over where things broke down and prepare for the North Carolina defense. The Tar Heels are giving up over 200 yards rushing per game and 128 yards passing. Those numbers are very misleading because of a game against Georgia Tech, which ran the ball 90 percent of the time. Whether it is through the air or in the running game, the Pirates can’t afford to stall on Saturday. They must keep the chains moving and put points on the board.

Stop the Run

In the second half of the Virginia Tech game, the Hokies pounded the Pirates on the ground. After Ryan Williams went down with a bad hamstring, Darren Evans stepped in nicely to pick up the slack. The Hokies finished the game with 249 yards rushing. The Pirates will have to be better on the defensive front against North Carolina if they expect to win this game. The Tar Heels have two running backs averaging over 5 yards per carry, Johnny White (5.1 ypc) and Shaun Drauhn (5.5 ypc). The Heels have a balanced offensive attack with 101 passes and 95 rushes through three games, but they would love to establish the run, eat up the clock and keep the East Carolina offense off the field.

Win the Turnover Battle

After three games, ECU is plus-3 in the turnover battle and the Tar Heels are plus-1. North Carolina has fumbled the football 10 times in three games, losing 7 of those. In an in-state rivalry game like this, the team that turns the ball over the least is usually the one that wins. Playing disciplined football offensively and defensively usually leads to winning the turnover battle.


East Carolina is 2-0 and in first place in Conference USA. After losing its first non-conference game because of a poor second half, ECU has had two weeks to prepare for this game. Coach Ruffin McNeal was raised in Lumberton, NC, and played for the Pirates, so nobody knows better what it means to beat the Tar Heels. The game won’t mean much in terms of bowl bids or conference standings, but the winner of this game will have a leg up in the recruiting battle. North Carolina is the top dog when it comes to getting the state of North Carolina’s top recruits. Coach McNeil would love nothing better than to knock them off that perch. On the road, in a hostile environment, this will be another tough test for the Pirates.

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10/01/2010 02:49:38 AM


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