Keys to the Game: West Virginia

Our Keys of the Game this week has as our special guest jfox3. As many of you who visit the Bearcat Insider Message Boards know, jfox3 is one of our Moderators. This week he gives you his Keys to a Bearcats victory over West Virginia. As well as jfox3 I'll be giving my thoughts on this game as well.

Keys by jfox3,

On Defense UC must stop the WVU running attack. If they can get WVU young QB White to throw the ball UC will be a lot better off. We can not allow a big game rushing or we will be in some serious trouble. Make them pass!

On Offense If I was UC I would start the game out with a play action pass and go deep. WVU secondary has struggled a little bit this season with the loss of Pacman Jones. I would take my shots deep. WVU has a very good run defense. Looks like we will have to have an efficient passing game to have a chance to win this one.

Coaching: Hopefully our coaches play Moore alot and he could be the difference maker.

Overall---We must win the special teams battle like we did in 2003. Make WVU pass and stop their run. We must make the short throws and keep their D guessing. If Slaton and Gwaltney are both injured, then we must take advantage of them using their subs. I can't say my Bearcats are going to lose so I'm predicting a 31-28 win!

Now it's my turn. As many know, my brother was a member of the West Virginia football program from 2000-2004. He had a nice career while there and our family had the chance to know many of the West Virginia fans over the years. Let me tell you this, going to games in Morgantown was always a blast and I look forward to seeing some of the people who became our friends over the years. But enough of the small talk. Let's get down to business and talk what needs to happen for the Bearcats to earn another Big East victory tonight.

As everyone knows, West Virginia enters as the Big East's number one team. While I expected them to be good, I didn't see the success they've enjoyed this year. The Bearcats will need to play a great game to have a chance to win this game and here are the Keys in my opinion.

Bearcats Offense vs. West Virginia Defense

When the Bearcats line up tonight they will be looking at a defense that has many athletes. This is not to say all of them are great athletes, but each player will give everything they've got to Jeff Casteel and his defensive staff.

The Mountaineers line up in the 33 Stack defense. While this may not be the most aggressive defense up front, the number of athletes on the field because of this scheme is second to none.

The three man front doesn't always get pressure on the quarterback, but it does allow for linebackers to make plays. While I don't see the star linebackers from the previous years (Grant Wiley), I do see two players who know what they need to do and get it done in Kevin McLee and Jay Henry.

But while the linebackers make the plays, it's the leadership and athletic ability of Mike Lorello and Jahmile Addae. Both these players are veterans who will hit and make plays.

The Bearcats need to be balanced and put points on the board early. Look for Dustin Grutza to hit his backs out of the backfield as well as his tight ends. This could be the night for Brent Celek to get back on track with a big performance. Tonight could also see a return of Mike Daniels in the game plan.

If UC can slow the linebackers, they have a great chance to gain yards and put points on the board.

Bearcats Defense vs. West Virginia Offense

As we all know, the Bearcats defense is very young. When breaking down the no-huddle spread attack of Rich Rodriguez you expect to see a team throwing the ball all over the field. Instead, you get a team built on the running attack fueled by the zone blocking scheme of offensive line coach Rick Trickett.

Trickett is one of the best in getting the most from his linemen. And while the Mountaineers have had better lines in past years, this year's group has one of the best in Dan Mozes. The junior has been a mainstay now for three seasons and moved this year to center early in the season after the team struggled at the position. The play of Terrill Bryd and the other defensive tackles will be key if the Bearcats hope to slow WVU. Also keep an eye on Cincinnati native Ryan Stancheck from Cincinnati LaSalle High School. The redshirt freshman got his break early in the season and hasn't looked back.

For the Bearcats to slow down the running attack they will need to have big games from the defensive line and linebackers. WVU likes to get their linemen down to the second level, if that would happen the Mountaineers will rush for over 200 yards and a victory.

Both Jason Gwaltney and Steve Slaton are expected to play. Also expected to play is quarterback Adam Bednarik.

Special Teams

West Virginia doesn't have the breakaway threat of PacMan Jones this year, but they still have threats to score on special teams. The Mountaineers biggest weapon this year is kicker Pat McAfee. The true freshman has a super strong leg and is a full scholarship player.

The Bearcats will need to get at least one big special teams play tonight to stay in the game.

Key Players to Watch

Pat White: The young quarterback is a great athlete and alot like last years QB Rasheed Marshall. While he looks to be a better passer early in his career, White has no problem in tucking the ball away and making big plays with his feet.

Steve Slaton: A true freshman who enjoyed a career game against Louisville. But while he's posted some big numbers, he still has a lot to learn. If his line is on track, Slaton can use his speed to make big plays.

Jason Gwaltney: The high school All-American made a splash with his commitment to West Virginia. Injuries have slowed him this year, but if he's back at 100% keep an eye out for him. Big and powerful back.

Owen Schmitt: The surprise of this past spring. Schmitt is a big 6'3 - 250 lb. fullback who has tailback skills. This kid can make plays if given the ball.

Dan Mozes: All-American prospect who is one of the best offensive linemen in the Big East. While he's been a guard most of his career, Mozes has moved to center this year midway through, and helped the Mountaineers offense get into gear.

Garin Justice: Has big size 6'8 - 300 lb. and has anchored the right tackle position and does a great job in using technique to win battles.

Mike Lorello: The Ohio native (Worthington-Kilbourne) is a safety prospect who has NFL skills. Should be considered an All-American prospect that's played in double figure games each of his first three seasons. Does a great job of making tackles for loss

While these are just a few of the top players for WVU, the program is sitting with many talented players. West Virginia has used Ohio to bring in 13 players on their current roster. But while Ohio has been good to them, Pennsylvania is the biggest outside state with 23 recruits.

While you could say the Louisville game was the biggest Big East game the Bearcats have played in, tonight will surpass that game from a few weeks ago. The Bearcats must bring their A-game to have a chance to pull the upset many West Virginia fans don't want to see.



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