Shaking Off Injury

One of West Virginia's walking wounded coming out of the Louisville game, defensive lineman Chris Neild is hoping to be back to 100 percent when the Mountaineers take on Cincinnati on Friday night.

Neild, who has been battling a shoulder injury, sat out for the majority of last week's Louisville game after doing a little more damage to his already injured shoulder.

"My shoulder is better," said Neild. "It was hurting a little last week when the game started, and then I banged it up a little bit during the game. Larry Ford wasn't doing a bad job in there. I was only going to go in if the rushing game really started to come into form, but we held them and he did a good job."

Neild was certainly being generous in his description – after all, the Mountaineers yielded 201 yards to the Cardinals – hardly an offensive juggernaut – on the ground. However, West Virginia did manage to keep Louisville out of the end zone, which proved to be the difference in WVU's 17-9 win.

Neild and the rest of the Mountaineer defense will likely have a much harder time containing an impressive Cincinnati offense. With two threats at quarterback, the defense has had to prepare for both senior Tony Pike and sophomore Zach Collaros. Collaros is expected to start, but Pike could play.

"They are really good with a large amount of play makers on the offensive side of the ball, so it's going to be really hard to contain them," admitted Neild. "They have (Tony) Pike coming back and their back-up (Zach Collaros) is just as good as him, so it's going to be a tough game for us."

Despite Pike's years of experience, Collaros has been impressive after stepping in earlier this year. In the Bearcats' last victory against Connecticut, the redshirt sophomore threw for 480 yards and one touchdown and had two rushing touchdowns of his own. Although he doesn't have as much experience as Pike, the Mountaineer defense recognizes that it doesn't make him any less of a challenge to defend.

"Collaros is a little bit more mobile than Pike is," said Neild. "Pike is a real efficient passer. He knows how to move around in the pocket and avoid pressure. They both do a really good job of that but Pike has a little more experience."

Neild is hoping that West Virginia's familiarity with the spread offense will help them when it comes to defending against the Bearcats on Friday night.

"If we come out and we set the tone from the beginning then we can set the tone for the game," said Neild. "They have a really high powered offense. As fast as they run, some players on our defense have faced that before from when Pat [White] used to be here. We used to face that in practice. It's a little bit different from what they run but the high tempo is something that we're used to."

With a dinged up defense trying to rally from injury and sub-par performances, the Cincinnati game will be a great test for a unit full of talent that just hasn't seemed to click this season. WVU hopes to have most of its injured players (Reed Williams, Scooter Berry, Sidney Glover, Josh Taylor) ready for action against the Bearcats, and the Mountaineers know they will likely need great performances from them all in order to spring the upset.

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