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Keys to the Game
Wednesday, December 29, 2010

By Kevin Monroe

East Carolina vs. Maryland
2010 Military Bowl
Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010, 2:30 p.m. • TV: ESPN
RFK Stadium, Washington, DC

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.



Audio: Chris Johnson at Military Bowl Luncheon
Kevin's Keys to the Game
Defense out to save face against Terps
A game of beginnings and ends
Military Bowl Report & Photo Gallery No.3
Audio: Coaches McNeill & Friedgen and Players
Weather, layoff not a concern for Ruff
Pirates apply finishing touches in the cold
Military Bowl Report & Photo Gallery No. 2
Audio: Ruffin McNeill after Sunday practice
Pirates brave cold for Sunday workout
Military Bowl Report & Photo Gallery No. 1
East Carolina's wise men size up Terps

East Carolina can defeat Maryland if it prevails in these key aspects of the game:

Attack on Offense

The Pirate offense has to take the field knowing that it needs to score on just about every drive. East Carolina enters the game with one of the most potent offenses in the country. The passing offense is ranked 17th in the nation with 319.3 yards per game and the the team's 38.2 points per game is 12th nationally. Dominique Davis is competing 29.8 passes per game and has accounted for 45 touchdowns on the season. His two favorite targets are senior standout Dwayne Harris (93 receptions, 1,055 yards, 10 touchdowns) and Lance Lewis (78 receptions, 979 yards, 13 touchdowns), but Davis has a host of other receivers to throw to. Defensively, the Terrapins are no pushover. They are giving up only 22 points per game and are led by hard-hitting, three-time All-ACC linebacker Alex Wujciak and his two cohorts, Adrian Moten and Demetrius Hartsfield. Their secondary is laden with aggressive and hard-hitting juniors and seniors. The Pirate offensive game plan should be simple. Take what the Terps give. If Maryland drops 6 or 7 to take away the pass, then ECU has to pound the football to keep the Terps honest. If the Maryland defense plays straight up, then ECU has to establish the underneath routes and go deep when the opportunity presents itself. Guys are going to have to make plays for the Pirates to come away with a victory.

Bend, Don’t Break

"Bend, don't break" is one of those generic sayings in football like “he is coming into his own.” Everybody uses it, but nobody really knows what it means. Is that actually a strategy? Do teams go into games just trying to avoid giving up points but not caring how many yards the opponent gets? Not likely, but in a situation in which you know you are going into a game out-manned, reality has to set in, and the strategy has to become minimizing the bleeding on defense. The fact is, the Pirates will probably score 30-40 points, so the defense needs to keep Maryland to 28 points or less. That’s of course easier said than done, but when you have a month to prepare for a team the odds of devising such a plan of attack seems plausible. The Terps are pretty good on offense, especially through the air. Freshman quarterback Danny O’Brien was named Atlantic Coast Conference rookie of the year and only three teams in the country turned the ball over less than the Terps. Torrey Smith is O’Brien’s most dangerous threat scoring 12 touchdowns and netting 87 receiving yards per game. The running game has had its issues, but it hasn’t gotten in the way of Maryland scoring 31 points per game.

Be Special

The importance of special teams can't be stressed enough in a big game like this one. Pirate fans know this all too well after four missed field goals played a huge part in the 3-point Liberty Bowl loss to Arkansas last season. The Pirate defenders played lights out that day, but special teams let them down. Maryland may have the upper hand in the kicking game behind the impressive leg of kicker and punter Travis Baltz. Baltz was on the 2010 Ray Guy watch list, is 13 of 16 on field goals and is averaging 42 yards per punt. The Pirates have also been very solid in the kicking game, so the team that is the most consistent on game day will probably come out victorious. Each team has one of the nations top return threats in the Pirates Dwayne Harris and the Terrapins Torrey Smith.


Maryland isn’t happy about finishing 3rd in the ACC and ending up in the Military Bowl in its back yard against a 6-6 Conference USA opponent. It sounds a lot like the 9-2 Pirates in 1999, who felt snubbed when forced to pay a 7-4 Texas Christian team in the Mobile (AL) Bowl against some guy name LaDainian Tomlinson, or the 2007 Boise State team that had to play an inferior ECU team with some guy named Chris Johnson in the Hawaii Bowl. The point is, feeling sorry for yourself over the bowl game that you have been given isn’t the best plan for mental preparation. The Pirates need to come out early and put points on the board and let the Terps know that they mean business.

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12/29/2010 06:07:24 AM


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