Keys to Victory

Head coach Rich Rodriguez gave his "Keys to Winning" against Cincinnati on Tuesday. There are no surprises, nothing fancy. But if WVU does these six things, it would be hard-pressed to lose.

1. Hit big plays

"We didn't hit nearly enough against Wisconsin, and the ones that were there we completely missed sometimes. We need a few of those to...

2. Get more continuity in the running game

"That's a big part of our offense. We'll run more than most spread teams, like Cincinnati."

3. Stop the big special teams plays and break a few themselves

WVU's coverage on punt returns was horrid in the middle of the field against Wisconsin. The Blue and Gold must cover better, and actually get a few returns of its own. Punt return man Lance Frazier fair caught or let go all of Wisky's punts last week. It changed the field position completely, giving the Badgers a short field for many scoring drives.

4. Better pass rush

More than that, because most anything would be better than the two to three players West Virginia brought last week. Co-defensive coordinator Todd Graham has already said he will blitz larger numbers to get to quarterback Gino Guidugli. The sophomore ranks in the NCAA top 10 in Total Offense (287 yards per game) and Points Responsible for (20 per game).

5. Better pass coverage

WVU's secondary, in working with the better pass rush, must cover better. WVU will play more man, safety Angel Estrada said, and look to play a little tighter on wideouts.

6. Create a turnover

It's something WVU didn't do against Wisconsin and did very well versus Chattanooga. It can also be a game-turner.

Musket Blasts

* "This is a big game for us because we have the off week afterward," Rodriguez said. "We will think about this one for a long time, and we need to get a win on the road. I told our players we must have all their focus and attention, but we can't put all our eggs in this basket."

* Rodriguez, on Guidguli, the UC signalcaller who led three come-from-behind wins as a freshman and the one two weeks ago in the overtime opening win over TCU: "The kid has 'it,' whatever that intangible is," he said. "Some guys just have that, and if everyone knew what it was, those would be the guys you would recruit. He is the centerpiece of the offense, and he has that savvy, that extra dimension. I think it is more glaring at that position than any other."

* When asked what type of game -- high or low scoring -- he expects and would like to see. "I want the kind where we win," Rodriguez joked. "It seems like a lot of ConferenceUSA's games are high-scoring, and that is always more fun. We want to score some points."

*Cincinnati has had two weeks to prepare for this game, and there is always the worry that it changed a lot, from formations and plays to special teams returns.

"I'm sure they did not show all their package," Rodriguez said. "But the off-time is always a concern."

Get used to it, as four foes have off-weeks before WVU when the Mountaineers play. Three other times West Virginia is off, and its next opponent is as well.

* Anthony Mims (hamstring) and Darnell Glover (ACL) are the only players out for Saturday's 7 p.m. clash. The players lifted today, and all are expected to practice the full week.

* Rodriguez noted the UC game is a solid one for recruiting in Ohio, and that both teams' fans can travel to see the clash. The Bearcats return the home date next year at Mountaineer Field.

"Geographically and recruiting-wise it just makes sense," he said.

BlueGoldNews Top Stories