WVU - Cincinnati game preview

The Cincinnati Bearcats claw their way to "Touchdown City" looking for their first win in 13 attempts against the Mountaineers.

Series: West Virginia leads series 11-0-1

Common Opponents to Date: ECU - (UC 40- ECU 3 / WVU 48-ECU 7)

Bearcats to watch: QB-Gino Guidugli, DE-Trent Cole, C-Josh Shneyderov, LB-Jamar Enzor, K-Chet Ervin, DE-Andre Frazier, RB-Richard Hall, DB-Doug Monahgan, WR-George Murray II, DB-Zach Norton, DT-Lonnie Simmons, OL-Kyle Takavitz.

Injuries:

WVU - Tim Brown (Achilles) Out, Jahmile Addae (Shoulder) Probable.

Cincinnati - Mike Wright DT (Ankle) Doubtful

Game Outlook:

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Game Info
WVU 1-1, 0-1
UC 1-0, 1-0
Sat 9/13 Noon
Mountaineer Field
Series: WVU 11-0-1
TV: ESPN Regional
Sagarin: WVU-29 UC-40
Line: WVU -7
Stats & Trends
WVU offense vs. Bearcat defense

This could be the key match-up on Saturday. WVU boasts a strong running attack and improving passing game while the Bearcats bring a speedy and attacking defense to "Touchdown City". The Bearcat defense has adjusted well to the loss of all everything defensive end Antwan Peek (2003 3rd round selection, Houston) thanks to Trent Cole (6-4, 227, Jr). Cole, a candidate for the Ted Hendricks Defensive End of the Year Award, has emerged as the 2003 version of Peek by wreaking havoc in Cincinnati's opening game. Against East Carolina, he racked up 10 tackles and 1 sack. Joining Cole on the defensive line will be Andre Frazier (6-5, 213, Jr), Ka'son Love (6-2, 267, Sr) and Jon Newton(6-3, 270, Fr), replacing the injured Mike Wright. Quincy Wilson and his stable of back-ups should be able to gain some ground on this smallish defensive line if Cole is kept in check.

The linebacking corps is lead by Jason Russel (6-2, 207, Jr). Russel emerged last year as a solid backup and is expected to be a top contributor in 2003. Rounding out the linebackers are Tyjuan Hagler (6-2, 220, Sr) and Jamar Enzor (6-1, 222, Jr). Hagler, rated 52nd best linebacker by Phil Steele's, and Enzor are speedy and aggressive players that totalled a combined 14 tackles against the Pirates.

Matching up against WVU's tall receivers will be a hard hitting group of defensive backs. Returning starters Doug Monaghan (6-3, 210, Jr) and Zach Norton (6-0, 184, Sr), both pre-season first team All Conference USA picks, combined for 9 tackles last week. Monaghan also intercepted one pass in the opener. Rounding out the Bearcat defensive backfield are Franklin Collicot (5-11,195,Sr) and Daven Holley (5-11,179,Jr). Collicot returns to his free safety position that he claimed in the last part of 2002 while Holley, a converted wide receiver, continues to learn his position. Collicot and Holley combined for 5 tackles in their first game.

Advantage: WVU

WVU defense vs. Bearcat offense

This could be tough match-up for the Mountaineers. Cincinnati QB Gino Guidugli (6-3, 220 Jr) is considered one of the nations top signal callers. Guidugli is on the preseason list of candidates for the Davey O'Brien Award, recognizing the nation's top quarterback and has been recognized by Street & Smith's as an honorable mention All-American team and as the Best Under Pressure and Best Quarterback in Conference USA. While Guidugli wasn't very impressive last week (13-25,121 yds, 1TD), the Bearcat rushing attack was effective enough that Guidugli's arm wasn't needed to win the game.

Also contributing to Guidugli's mediocre numbers was the totally revamped receiving corps. All of last year's starters were lost to graduation Gino is looking at all new faces for 2003. Starting for the Bearcats at wide receiver are Derick Ross (5-10,180, So), George Murray (6-1,193, Jr) and Kevin Hazel (6-0, 197, Jr). At tight end is Dennis Hart (6-3, 220, Sr) who is quickly becoming Guidugli's favorite target.

Leading the ground attack on Saturday could be a trio of running backs. Richard Hall (5-11, 218, Sr) will most likely get the start but Tedric Harwell (5-11, 184, Sr) and Derick Eddington (5-7, 192, Fr) will certainly see action. Hall gained 117 yards on 26 carries while backups Harwell and Eddington racked up 190 yards on 17 totes combined. The trio also combined for 4 touchdowns.

Blocking for Guidulgi and the running backs will be the best offensive line in Conference USA. Anchoring the offensive line is center Josh Shneyderov (6-2, 272, Sr). Shneyderov has been named to the preseason watch list for the Dave Rimington Award, honoring college football?s top center. Shneyderov's neighbors on the line will be guards Travis McGee (6-3, 301, Sr) and Kyle Takavitz (6-4, 299, Jr). Takavitz has been received preseason honor as C-USA's Best Pass Blocker by Lindy's and All Conference USA by Lindy's among others. Protecting Guidugli's front and back side will be Steve Eastlake (6-6, 287, Jr) and Anthony Colton (6-3, 294, Sr). It will be imperative for Blueford and the gang to put pressure on Gino but this will be a tough assignment considering the talent and experience of the Cincinnati offensive front.

Advantage: Slight edge to Cinncy

WVU special teams vs. Bearcat special teams

This week WVU matches it improving special teams against an inexperienced Bearcat unit. Handling short kicking duties for Cincinnati will be Chris Manfredini (5-9, 165, Fr), who replaces the departed Jonathan Ruffin at placekicker. Sophomore Chet Ervin, who performs the long kicks, connected on his only field goal attempt against ECU from 42 yards, and averaged 36 yards on eight punts. Ervin did receive a pre-season honor from Lindy's as the second team All-CUSA selection.

Returning kicks for the Cats will be a pair of small but elusive returnmen, Tedric Harwell (5-11,184, Sr) and Thaddeus Lewis (5-10, 169, Sr). Harwell had only one return last week that netted 3 yards while Lewis gained 21 yards on his only attempt. Lewis was busier returning punts against the Pirates, returning 4 punts for 31 yards.

While these two units seem even, the home field factor gives the edge to WVU.

Advantage: Slight edge to WVU

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Picks to Click:

On Offense: Miquelle Henderson

On Defense: Fred Blueford

This week in the Big East:

BC at UConn ; Ball St. at Pitt ; ECU at Miami ; Louisville at Syracuse ; Rutgers at Army

According to the latest Saragin ratings, five Big East teams are ranked in the Top 30. Only Pittsburgh (62), Temple(102) and Rutgers(131) failed to make the Top 30. Future Big East member UConn is rated 91. Also in the Saragin ratings, the Big East is ranked as the 4th best conference, outranking the ACC and Big 10.

Totally Useless Facts:

* An amazing twenty three Bearcat players are from the Cincinnati area.

* WVU is 4-1-0 in games played on September 13th, the only loss being a 25-29 decision to Richmond in 1974.

* Hall of Fame head coach Sid Gillman coached the Bearcats for six seasons (1949-1954).

* Cincinnati (Est. 1885) has the fifth-oldest football program in the country, behind only Rutgers, Michigan, Navy and Minnesota.

* WVU had 8 rushing touchdowns against Cincinnati in 1989 resulting in a 69-3 victory.

Be sure to check out our Stats & Trends section for lots more matchup information!

Prediction:

In years past a match-up between the Mountaineers and Bearcats meant a sure victory for the Blue and Gold but times have changed. Rick Minter has slowly developed Cincinnati into a solid program with hopes of joining the Big East Conference. The 2002 Conference USA champions have no doubt that they can play with the Mountaineers but if the Blue and Gold can win the turnover battle, much like they did against ECU, the Mountaineers will move to 12-0-1 all time against the Bearcats.

WVU - 34 Cincinnati - 20


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