Keys to the Game
Saturday, September 20, 2014

By Kevin Monroe

For the ninth straight year, Kevin Monroe, color analyst for the Pirate IMG Sports Network, provides “Kevin’s Keys to The Game.” In his weekly breakdown of what East Carolina must do to beat its upcoming opponent, Monroe brings a unique perspective as a member of the broadcast team and as a former star defensive back for the Pirates (1995-99).

East Carolina vs. North Carolina

Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium (cap. 50,000); TV: ESPNU


The forecast for East Carolina's home football game with North Carolina at 3:30 p.m. today is calling for a high in the low 80s with increasing cloudiness during the day. There is a 20 percent chance of a shower. Northeast winds are predicted to be 10 to 15 miles per hour. (Filed by Al Myatt)

Full-size radar loop

Scientific forecast



Inside Game Day | Photos | Post-game Audio

AAC SCOREBOARD >>> ..... Friday > USF 17, UConn 14 ..... ..... Saturday > Duke 47, Tulane 13 ..... Temple 59, Delaware State 0 ..... Texas A&M 58, SMU 6 ..... ECU 70, North Carolina 41 ..... UCF 41, Bethune-Cookman 7 ..... Cincinnati 31, Miami (OH) 24 ..... Memphis 36, Middle Tennessee 17 ..... Houston 47, UNLV 14 ..... .....


Your personal guide to split loyalties

The term "House Divided" has been used to describe members of the same family that root for different teams when those teams play each other. On Saturday, there will be many families that have both East Carolina and North Carolina connections with an acute interest in the matchup in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. ... More from Greg Vacek...



Numbers better for Smith and staff

Al Myatt

With the big games that Shane Carden and Cam Worthy had offensively in a 28-21 win at Virginia Tech on Saturday, it's easy to lose sight of the contributions of the East Carolina defense in a 2-1 start as the Pirates get ready to host North Carolina (2-0) on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. (ESPNU). ... More from Al Myatt...



Big win means bigger opportunity

East Carolina made it three in a row over ACC teams on Saturday, beating Virginia Tech 28-21 in Blacksburg. More impressive is the fact that each of the three wins came on the road. Now the Pirates can go for four in a row ... More from Brian Bailey...


Audio: The Brian Bailey Show

The Brian Bailey Show airs on Pirate Radio 1250 on Mondays at 6:30 p.m. Brian's guest was ECU RBs coach & recruiting coordinator Kirk Doll: Replay show...
Audio: Coach Ruff Weekly Presser
ECU coach Ruffin McNeill spoke with the media at his weekly press conference on Monday (courtesy of Pirate Radio 1250; Bonesville file photo): Select clip...


Inside Game Day | Photos | Post-game Audio

AAC SCOREBOARD >>> ..... Thursday > BYU 33, Houston 25 ..... ..... Friday > Cincinnati 58, Toledo 34 ..... ..... Saturday > ECU 28, Virginia Tech 21 ..... Missouri 38, UCF 10 ..... Boise State 38, UConn 21 ..... NC State 49, USF 17 ..... FAU 50, Tulsa 21 ..... Tulane 35, SE Lousiana 20 ..... .....

Carden leads poetic triumph

Al Myatt

BLACKSBURG, VA — The late British poet laureate, Rudyard Kipling, probably would have liked Shane Carden. In the poem 'If' Kipling says, "If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster And treat those two impostors just the same ..."

The Captain, Carden, has experienced both triumph and disaster in the span of two weeks on the road against nationally-ranked teams as East Carolina quarterback. ... More from Al Myatt...

Game Day Pix from Lane Stadium

ECU quarterback Shane Carden gives offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley a bear hug after putting the Pirates ahead of Virginia Tech in the game's final minute. [W.A. Myatt photo]

View W.A. Myatt's complete photo gallery...

Audio: Ruff & Players Post-game...

ECU coach Ruffin McNeill and some of his players spoke with the press after the Pirates defeated Virginia Tech on Saturday (recorded by W.A. Myatt; file photo): Select audio clip...

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By Kevin Monroe
All rights reserved.

View ECU's 2014 football schedule

The East Carolina Pirates return home to Dowdy-Ficklen today to face in-state rival UNC-Chapel Hill. Every time these programs match up, it is a big game for both teams. This year the Tar Heels opened the season in the top 25. The Pirates are their first real test after wins over Liberty and San Diego State.

ECU, as usual, is fighting for respect. After a win over N.C. Central in the opener, the Pirates went on the road to South Carolina and Virginia Tech and played well against two of the nation’s top teams, going 1-1.

This game will help to add validation to the winner. The Pirates must perform well in some key aspects of the game in order to prevail.


The Pirates have to win the battle up front on both offense and defense. Defensively, ECU faced one of the top offensive lines in the country two weeks ago against South Carolina and held their own. Last week, with the return of big Terry Williams, the defensive line played even better and held 17th-ranked Virginia Tech to 7 first half points and 21 for the game. This was just a week after the Hokies put up 38 points in defeating No. 8 Ohio State. Offensively, ECU has run the ball well and protected Shane Carden even better through three weeks. VPI defensive coordinator Bud Foster’s unit pressured Carden some, but the senior QB was still able to get off some clutch passes, throw for 3 touchdowns and run for a score. The Tar heels have a very inexperienced offensive line with one junior, three sophomores and a freshman. The Pirates must attack that unit from beginning to end. The Heels are more experienced on the defensive line and have 10 tackles for loss and 2 sacks through the first two games.


UNC quarterback Marquise Williams became the starter during the course of last season and has proven to be a winner ever since. The junior is a dual threat who has rushed for and thrown a touchdown in five games in his career. The Pirates will need to pressure Williams, but they must make sure they are disciplined in the rush lanes because Williams can hurt you with his feet. He is currently the leading rusher for the Heels, averaging 6.4 yards per carry. He has only been sacked once this season, but he has been rushed into some quick decisions and has thrown 2 interceptions.


North Carolina has big play threats on offense other than Williams. Kick returner/wide receiver Ryan Switzer led the nation last season in return touchdowns. He has been bottled up so far in 2014, averaging 6.8 yards per punt return — but it only takes on play to break open a game. He is also the Tar Heels' top receiving threat with 14 catches through two games. Running backs T.J. Logan and Elijah Hood are explosive threats that the Pirates will need to contain. Receivers Quinshad Davis, Bug Howard and Mack Hollins can also strike for big plays. The Pirates will have to be sound with their coverage and tackling in the backend to keep from giving the Heels momentum. Offensively, ECU has a ton of big play receivers and a stable of capable running backs —  just staying the course and stepping up when their name is called could lead to breakaway plays today.


The renewal of this grudge match is a headline-grabbing event in the media. You can believe the Tar Heels will be taking the Pirates seriously year after giving up 55 points and losing big in Chapel Hill last year. The Heels will be approaching the game as a measuring stick to see where they are in this young season. The Pirates want to prove to the nation that they are better than advertised.

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09/20/2014 11:43 PM