Keys to the
October 14, 2011
By Kevin Monroe
East Carolina at Memphis
Saturday, Oct. 15, 2011, 7 p.m.
Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium (61,000), Memphis, TN
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
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.
Carolina can defeat Memphis Saturday night if it achieves these key objectives:
good news is the Pirates managed to get through
the Houston game without fumbling
which had been the main culprit in East Carolina's cavalcade of turnovers
over the previous three games. ECU receivers especially have had a hard time
holding onto the football this season, so fans shouldn’t overlook having a
fumble free game. The bad news is that the Pirates still turned the ball
over 4 times, all coming on interceptions. Dominique Davis threw 3 picks
before being replaced by Rio Johnson who promptly threw one of his own. The
interceptions and fumbles are a big problem and, with the exception of
the Virginia Tech game, ECU has
struggled in every game because of turnovers. The Pirates managed to
overcome those turnovers in
the UAB game, but just barely.
Memphis is an opponent that can beat the Pirates with some help from
ESTABLISH THE RUN
East Carolina has struggled to get its ground game going this season. The
UAB game is the only one in which the Pirates were able to run the ball the
way they feel they can and should. You can look to a number of reasons the
running game has been sub-par: a young, inexperienced offensive line, a
couple injuries up front, and quality defensive line play by opponents. All
that said, a running game or at least a threat of a running game is a must
in this Air Raid offensive attack. Houston put on an offensive show against
the Pirates in a variety of ways, not the least of which was a successful
rushing attack that opened up the pass. After ECU's Torrence Hunt showed
some promise for the Pirates' running game against the Cougars, he will have
an opportunity on Saturday to carry the load. It's an opportunity Hunt has
earned in practice this fall.
MAINTAIN DEFENSIVE INTENSITY
Memphis is a well-coached team with some talented athletes, but it hasn't
quite put things together offensively. The Tigers are averaging 13.5 points
per game. They don’t throw the ball particularly well (202.2 yards per game)
or run the ball very effectively (96.7 yards per game). They have a freshman
quarterback in Taylor Reed who can run and throw and has the capability to
be a huge threat. The Pirates had their worst outing of the season in
Houston against one of the nation's best offenses. They will face a
different style of offense against Memphis, one that may be easier to attack
than Houston’s quick strike offense. It will take intense, controlled
pressure on the quarterback from the defensive line and linebackers to
disrupt the Memphis offense. ECU's defensive backs will have to be better in
coverage and take away the big play.
The Pirates are 1-1 in Conference USA and are still
in the thick of the league race.
Memphis is talented and wasn’t picked to finish very high in the preseason
conference standings. This is a game the Pirates need to win to keep pace
with the other conference leaders. The Pirates are a talented young team but
have been killing themselves with turnovers and costly penalties. They have
yet to have their breakout game and this is the time to do it. The schedule
doesn’t get any easier from here on out.
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10/14/2011 03:35:35 AM