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Keys to the Game
Friday, September 9, 2011

By Kevin Monroe

East Carolina vs. Virginia Tech
Saturday, Sept. 10, 2011, 3:30 p.m.
Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, Greenville, NC
TV: Fox Sports Net

For the sixth 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 Virginia Tech on Saturday if it accomplishes these key objectives:


The Pirates dominated the first 25 minutes of the game against South Carolina. They offense moved the ball while the defense held the Gamecocks scoreless and forced 4 turnovers. Those takeaways came on 4 first by USC. The second half was completely different, The ECU offense turned the ball over 4 times and South Carolina seized control of the flow of the game with 28 points in the third quarter. When the Gamecocks were forced to drive the ball the length of the field for a score, the Pirate defense stood strong and forced a punt or a turnover. But every time USC was given a short field because of a turnover, the result was a touchdown. With Virginia Tech having the same quick strike ability on offense as South Carolina, losing the turnover battle on Saturday will make it very tough for ECU to win.


East Carolina's offense is built on a short passing game that is used to open up the running game and set up the deep ball. Last week versus the Gamecocks, quarterback Dominique Davis averaged only 6 yard per completion and ECU struggled to stretch the field. Star receiver Lance Lewis was single-covered most of the game but because of the intense pass rush by the USC front four, Davis was unable to exploit the matchup and throw the ball down field. It won’t be any easier against the Hokies. Virginia Tech, which had 3 interceptions last week against Appalachian State, also has a stout pass rush. With Lewis continuing to be a prime target and the deep receiving receiving corps bolstered by the return of Michael Bowman and the emergence of talented newcomer Justin Hardy, the Pirates have the ability to create great one-on-one matchups and throw the deep ball. A few big plays by ECU can change the complexion of the game.


Virginia Tech running back David Wilson is a dynamic offensive player who scored on the first play from scrimmage in last week’s game against Appalachian State. ECU coach Ruffin McNeill pointed out this week that “Wilson is a great football player who also runs track.” Wilson runs a 4.29 in the 40-yard dash and can turn a short gain into a big play in the blink of an eye. He rushed for 162 yards and 3 touchdowns in week one. The Hokies have other threats on offense with quarterback Logan Thomas and wide receivers Marcus Davis and Dyrell Roberts, just to name a few. If the Pirates can contain Wilson and force Thomas into 3rd and long situations, they'll have a much better chance of beating the Hokies.


For the second week in a row, the Pirates have their work cut out for them on Saturday. Virginia Tech is ranked No. 11 and has another stacked team offensively and defensively. The only question mark is the quarterback, Thomas, who played behind Tyrod Taylor for two years before taking the helm this season. He only completed 47% of his passes last week, but the great running by Wilson took pressure away from Thomas. If the Pirates can protect the ball on offense while getting a big play or two, contain the run and keep from giving up the big play in the kicking game, they have a chance to beat Virginia Tech.

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09/09/2011 03:22:31 AM


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