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Keys to the Game
Friday, October 14, 2011

By Kevin Monroe

C-USA Standings & Scoreboard

ECU Schedule, Scores, Attendance

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 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 Memphis Saturday night if it achieves these key objectives:


The 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 turnovers.


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.


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


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