PRE-GAME ANALYSIS
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Keys to the Game
Friday, October 18, 2013

By Kevin Monroe

For the eighth straight year, Kevin Monroe, color analyst for the Pirate IMG Sports Network, provides ďKevinís Keys to The Game.Ē In 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).

East Carolina vs. Southern Miss
Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013 ē 12 pm
Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium (cap. 50,000)
TV: Fox Sports Net

 

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Coach Ruffin McNeill discussed the Pirates' loss to Tulane and previewed the Southern Miss game: Select clip...
 
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Hoops recruiting thumbnails: F Grant Bryant & G Bunyon 'B.J.' Tyson...

 

 

Tick, tick, tick... Time is running out to get your print or digital copy of the 2013 Bonesville The Magazine...

 

By Kevin Monroe
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East Carolina is finally back at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium for the first time since Sept. 14. Getting a 2-1 mark during that road trip makes it a successful one, but losing to Tulane was a tough pill to swallow. The Pirates canít have an emotional hangover against Conference USA East Division foe Southern Miss on Saturday because the Golden Eagles are a dangerous team. They have talented players and they are desperate for a victory. The Pirates can prevail if they deliver on these objectives:

RESPECT THE RIVALRY

East Carolina versus Southern Miss has been a big game going back to 1951 when the series started. Southern won 7 of the first 10 matchups and has a 27-11 overall lead. Lately, though, the Pirates have emerged as the better team, winning 3 of the last 4. Two of those wins came in Hattiesburg. The fact that the Golden Eagles have lost their last 17 games means they arenít playing as well as they have in the past ó but it doesnít mean they wonít play their best game on Saturday. USM has scored on every opponent this season and is not to be taken lightly. The Pirates must forget about the series record and focus on the rivalry. They must not lose sight of how important it is to USM to get their first win. The Golden Eagles are hungry for a victory and will seize the opportunity to grab one if presented.

KEEP THE PRESSURE ON

The Pirates have scored on their first possession in every game this season. Last week against Tulane, they got to the one-yard-line and had to settle for a field goal. They will need to come out the same way on Saturday and score on the first possession. After that, ECU needs to continue to put points on the board and put all the pressure on the Golden Eagles. USM allowed 56 points to Nebraska and 60 points to Boise State. The Pirates should be able to move the ball, but settling for field goals wonít do. As the saying goes, pessure will bursts pipes. If ECU can get an early lead, the pressure will be on in a big way. Losing is contagious and if the Golden Eagles get behind, I donít think they will fight. But if ECU lets USM hang around and keep it close, the result will be another dog fight like the Pirates have experienced the last two weeks.

GET OFF THE FIELD ON THIRD DOWN

Opponents are converting 46% on 3rd down against the Pirates, which is unusually high for a defense that has played as well as ECU's. East Carolina needs to force the Golden Eagles into 3rd and long situations and require them to convert. The Pirates have been better in the 4th quarter, giving up conversions only 37% of the time. If the ECU offense can sustain some drives, it will give the defense the rest it needs in order to play strong and fast from the 1st quarter to the 4th.

BOTTOM LINE

Dowdy-Ficklen stadium should be rocking on Saturday because Pirate fans will be primed to see their team in person after a bye date and a three-game road swing. ECU has played two close games since blowing out North Carolina on Sept. 28. This Southern Miss game could be a nice confidence builder if ECU comes out and plays well. They game shouldnít be close, but donít expect the Golden Eagles to come into Greenville and hand ECU the victory.

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10/18/2013 12:12 AM
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