Week Two vs. Wake Forest
by Kevin Monroe

Following the Pirates' 24-21 win over Duke last Saturday there were a lot of questions.  The one I heard most often was, “Is Duke that bad or have the Pirates actually gotten better.”  The answer to that question is two-part.  East Carolina has definitely gotten better as a football team.  The defensive back-field was arguably the worst in the conference last year but played better than any crew of Pirate DB’s in this Millennium versus Duke.  With three interceptions, and an opportunity for about four more, they showed they understood where they were supposed to be, and they were there all game long.

Offensively the Pirates weren’t great, but they found a way to get the crucial third down conversions.  Hopefully in the coming weeks they will run the ball better.  The passing game was very effective, but I would like to see more than just Aundrae Allison involved.  The second part of that answer is; Duke is pretty bad.  Saturday vs. Virginia Tech, I saw all of their weaknesses exposed in a big way.  Duke’s passing offense and defense was very bad against the Hokies and the 45-0 victory shows that the Blue Devils have a long way to go.

This week the Pirates will face a Wake Forest team that is proving to be very beatable early in this season.  Their first ball game last Thursday night was an embarrassing loss to Vanderbilt, followed by a beating given out by the Cornhuskers this week.  This is a Wake team that is much better than the Blue Devils, but does have several weaknesses that the Pirates could exploit this weekend.  East Carolina has to travel to Winston on Saturday and it will be their first road game this season.

Wake has proven through two games thus far, that they can run the football.  The Pirates will have to play seven, eight, or even nine men against the run every play in order to stop this Deacon attack.  Back up running back Micah Andrews had over 250 yards rushing vs. Vanderbilt and showed glimpses of that versus the Cornhuskers, but only finished with 64 yards.  The Deacons got behind early because of two turnovers and were forced to pass the ball more than they wanted to.  Chris Barclay, who was last year’s starting running back, sat out of the first game for violating team rules.  He played on Saturday and had 60 yards on 11 carries.  The Pirates will see both backs in Winston on Saturday.  The Deacs have not proven they can pass the ball.  Ben Mauk was just 12 for 27 for 117 yards and three interceptions vs. the Cornhuskers and never looked comfortable back there.
The key to victory for the Pirates this week will be stopping the running game of the Deacons and establishing one of our own.  If we do those two things we can win this ball game.  The Pirate fans have seen this team play and realize their potential, so I expect to see a swarm of East Carolina Fans filing into Deacon Stadium on Saturday.

Kevin Monroe