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Keys to the Game
Saturday, October 22, 2011

By Kevin Monroe

C-USA Standings & Scoreboard

ECU Schedule, Scores, Attendance

East Carolina at Navy
Saturday, Oct. 22, 2011, 3:30 p.m.
Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium (34,000)
Annapolis, MD; TV: CBSCS

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 Navy Saturday afternoon if it achieves these key objectives:


East Carolina fans understand that I have to keep harping on this key until the team gets its turnover issues under control. Last week was a big step in the right direction as the Pirates committed only 2 turnovers against Memphis, while the defense was able to get 2 takeaways to even things out. The bad news is that Memphis isn’t a very good football team right now, so its defense isn’t a great barometer for what the Pirates will face the rest of the season. Dominique Davis had a costly fumble in the end zone to lead to the Tigers' first touchdown but the senior QB suffered no interceptions and had a pretty stellar passing and rushing effort. ECU needs to protect the football like a treasure this week because Navy’s ball control offense will limit the Pirates' possessions.


The Pirates have faced this triple option attack several times over the years and they know exactly what to expect from it. Containing the triple option, however, is easier said than done. The ECU defenders will have to play assignment football, which simply means each player will have to do his assigned job on each play. If everyone sticks to their assignments, the Pirates can stop Navy's running game.

For example, on any given play each player is assigned to an offensive player. If I am the outside linebacker, I may have the quarterback and will have to be disciplined enough to stay with the QB even if I am positive he is going to pitch the ball to the running back. The second I cheat over is when Navy will pop a run for a big play.

The Midshipmen are averaging over 430 yards of total offense and 31.7 points per game, with 332 yards per game coming on the ground. Nobody in the country runs the triple option any better than Navy.


East Carolina has struggled at times offensively this season, particularly against Houston and Virginia Tech and in the 7-turnover performance against UAB. In Saturday’s game, the Pirates will need to score early and often. Considering that ball control is a byproduct of Navy's style of attack, the Pirates must make every offensive possession count.

Having faced a very difficult schedule in the first half of the season, ECU's scoring per game is almost 2 touchdowns below last season’s stats. The Pirates are averaging 299 yards through the air and should probably be closer to 350. On the ground, ECU should be averaging over 100 yards per game, but is gaining 83 only yards per outing.

Davis seemed to find both his rhythm and confidence against Memphis, a combination he will need to summon up again in order for the Pirates to be successful in Annapolis.


The Pirates are 2-1 in Conference USA with a real shot at finishing well with their tougher conference games — against Central Florida and Southern Miss — at home, but they have yet to win a non-conference game. The Navy game will be their last opportunity to change their fortunes outside the league.

Pride should factor into this game as last year’s matchup with the Middies produced an an embarrassing ECU defeat. But pride must be accompanied by an A-game on offense and defense in order for the Pirates to prevail over Navy.

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10/22/2011 03:45:01 AM


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