Bonesville: The Authoritative Independent Voice of East Carolina
Daily News & Features from East Carolina, Conference USA and Beyond

Mobile Alpha Roundup Daily Beat Recruiting The Seasons Multimedia Historical Data Pirate Time Machine SportByte™ Weather





Put your ad message in front of 1,000's and 1,000's of Pirate fans. Call 252.637.2944 for flexible options & rates.





Keys to the Game
Friday, October 8, 2010

By Kevin Monroe

East Carolina at Southern Miss
Saturday, Oct. 9, 2010, 7:30 p.m. (TV: WITN/CSS)
M.M. Roberts Stadium, Hattiesburg, MS

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 Southern Mississippi if it accomplishes these key objectives:

Play for 60

The Pirates have really struggled over the last two weeks to score points or stop opponents in the second half. During the early to middle part of this decade, ECU was so bad on defense that opponents rushed for 300 yards a game on a frequent basis. The difference between those Pirate teams and this one is that Coach Ruffin McNeill's defenders have demonstrated that, in the first two quarters, they can stand toe to toe with a top 25 offense and shut it down. The second half is a different story. Both Virginia Tech and North Carolina just lined up after intermission and ran the ball right at East Carolina and did so at will. Offensively, the Pirates have struggled in the second half. After scoring 24 points in the first half in Blacksburg and 14 in Chapel Hill, ECU managed only 3 points in the second halves of those games. Southern Miss is a very good team. If the Pirates don’t perform better offensively and defensively in the second half on Saturday, they can expect similar results in Hattiesburg.

Poise on the Road

Southern Miss has established one of the toughest home field advantages in the country. The stadium only seats 36,000 fans, but the environment is unlike any other in the conference. The Golden Eagles have won 11 straight home games going back to Nov 1, 2008. In those 11 games, USM has averaged nearly 40 points per game. The Golden Eagles have a 75 percent winning percentage at home since 1974. The USM faithful call Roberts Stadium “The Rock” and it generally chews up visiting teams and spits them out. ECU played very well and showed tremendous poise through their first two conference games, but those games were at home. This will be the Pirates' third straight road game and another opportunity for ECU to get its first road win of the year. Scoring early, consistently moving the football, and getting off the field defensively on third downs will get the crowd out of the game. In order to keep the home fans subdued, the Pirates will have to play well in the second half as well.

Establish the Run

After four games, Jonathan Williams is averaging 5.4 yards per rush, but his carries dropped from an average of 16 per game in the first three games to only 8 carries last week at North Carolina. The spread offense is a pass first, pass second, and run third offense, but there is room in the offense to get the running backs involved as we saw in the other games. ECU must stay with the running game Saturday night in order to keep the linebackers honest and open up the throwing lanes. Last week against the Tar Heels, several passes were caught underneath but the Heels were dropping their backers into the passing lanes and rallying to the ball to make tackles for short gains. Running the ball will make those backers stay in and respect the run.


The Pirates are still 2-0 and in first place in Conference USA. After losing their two non-conference games because of poor second half play, they have the opportunity to prove several things on Saturday: First, that they can play a top quality opponent for 60 minutes; second, that they won’t wear down defensively in the second half and can make crucial third down stops when necessary; and, lastly, that they can perform well on the road in a hostile environment. East Carolina won at the Rock in 2006 in overtime, but wins in Hattiesburg have been few and far between. It will take a solid performance in all three phases of the game for the Pirates to win on Saturday.

Send an e-mail message to Kevin Monroe.

Dig into Kevin Monroe's archives.

10/08/2010 03:12:27 AM


©2001-2002-2003-2004-2005-2006-2007-2008-2009-2010-2011-2012-2013 All rights reserved.
Articles, logos, graphics, photos, audio files, video files and other content originated on this site are the proprietary property of
None of the articles, logos, graphics, photos, audio files, video files or other content originated on this site may be reproduced without written permission.
This site is not affiliated with East Carolina University. View's Privacy Policy. Advertising contact: 252-349-3280; Editorial contact:; 252-444-1905.