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Keys to the Game
Saturday, September 24, 2011

By Kevin Monroe

East Carolina vs. UAB
Saturday, Sept. 24, 2011, 3:30 p.m.
Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, Greenville, NC

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).

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East Carolina can defeat UAB on Saturday if it achieves these key objectives:


The East Carolina offense is known for jumping on opponents in the first quarter before they can figure out the Air Raid offensive scheme. Most teams find themselves down 2-3 touchdowns before they know what hit them. At that point, the Pirates either mash the gas pedal and speed off to a 50-point day or they stall and let teams back in the game. Through two games this season, East Carolina has taken the early lead, but the offense hasn’t been stellar.

The Virginia Tech game was a real setback, because even though the Hokies are perennially a top-ranked team, the Pirates have always found a way to put points on the board. Only one touchdown from this offense won’t get it done. Dominique Davis completed only 20 passes at a 52 percent clip with no touchdowns and 127 yards, easily the lowest output of his ECU career.

The running game behind the new offensive line has only produced 35 yards per game. Even though the Pirates deploy a pass-first offense, it makes things easier if they can establish some type of run game.


East Carolina’s offensive line is the third youngest (based on starts) in the nation. The unit held its own against a stout defensive line from South Carolina, but started to show its age and experience against Virginia Tech. The Hokies were able to put tons of pressure on Dominique Davis and stifle the running game as well. It was the first negative rushing day I can remember as a player or commentator. UAB has allowed 88 points and 1,052 yards of offense through two games. East Carolina needs to make its presence up front felt early and drive the Blazers off the ball.

Defensively, the Pirates have looked good, but they could ramp up the pressure on the quarterback. Through two games, they have 7 QB hurries and only one sack.


East Carolina's pass defense in the early season has surprised everyone but the coaching staff with its excellent performance. After facing two top 12 teams, the Pirates are allowing only 111 yards per game through the air and have given up only 1 touchdown pass. Last week’s return of their best cover man, Emanuel Davis, only made the Pirates better.

The one way the Blazers can beat East Carolina is by making big plays through the air. With only 11 starts under his belt, quarterback Bryan Ellis has already moved into fourth place among UAB's all-time passing yardage leaders. Even though the Blazers have yet to score an offensive touchdown this season, Ellis has connected with 9 different receivers for 286 yards in two games. Nick Adams, a speedy wide receiver, tallied UAB's only TD to date on a kick return. Jackie Williams and Patrick Hearn are also very good wideouts that the Pirates will need to be all over on Saturday.


It's still early in the season and a lot can happen over the next 10 weeks, but it is vital for East Carolina to win this game. The Pirates were given a pass by the fans because they were outmatched in the first two contests. That won't be the case this week as ECU is the better team and is playing at home. Losing can be contagious. Getting into the win column will turn this season back in the right direction.

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09/24/2011 03:27:33 AM


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