Monday, September 22, 2003

UC defensive stats suffer

But Bearcats take unbeaten record against high-powered RedHawks

By Bill Koch
The Cincinnati Enquirer

The University of Cincinnati Bearcats walked off the Nippert Stadium turf Saturday night with a swagger in their step despite their 30-24 triple-overtime victory over Temple.

"I think we got a little ahead of ourselves this week," UC running back Richard Hall said.

It was Hall's 25-yard touchdown run that nailed down the Bearcats' first 3-0 start since 1985. The triple-overtime game was the second in UC history. The Bearcats beat Miami in three overtimes in 1996.

But the UC pass defense was victimized by a Temple team that entered the game averaging only 229 yards per game. The Owls (0-3) passed for 415 against UC and rolled up 522 yards overall.

So much for the Bearcats' No. 5 national ranking in total defense. UC entered the game allowing 223 yards per game and left with its average having swelled to 323.

"They shot our stats to heck," said UC coach Rick Minter. "But we're not about stats. We're about trying to be the best that we can be."

It's hard to quibble with the Bearcats' fast start, even though their three wins have come against teams that have a combined 1-10 record. But there is some concern about how the newly vulnerable UC defense will fare this week against Miami and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in Oxford.

UC hasn't started a season with four straight victories since 1954, when Sid Gillman's final UC team won its first eight games.

"We're going to face another great thrower this week," Minter said. "We've got a lot of work to do on defense."

Fortunately for the Bearcats, quarterback Gino Guidugli rose to the occasion against Temple, engineering the seventh fourth-quarter comeback of his career after the Bearcats had fallen behind 24-10.

Guidugli was 29 for 43 for 321 yards. He also rushed for 81 yards on 14 carries, giving him 422 yards of total offense, 6,799 for his career. That broke the school record held by Deontey Kenner.

"Gino had a great night," Minter said. "We stumbled onto some calls that really got going in the second half and some of it called for him to run the football. We've got to be careful with him running the ball. He's the franchise quarterback. But he's a tough kid. He stuck it up in there running the ball for us."

For the second straight week, the Bearcats could have put the victory away earlier. They were stopped on fourth-and-goal at the one early in the fourth quarter, and had another field goal attempt foiled when holder Collin Carey was unable to handle the snap.

There were five missed field goals by both teams in the three overtime periods.

"I've never had one quite like this," Minter said. "Usually the drama that goes into overtimes is touchdowns, extra points, or field goals. Rarely is it that neither team scores. That was rare."

REDHAWKS IN HIGH GEAR: In its 41-21 thumping of Colorado State on Saturday, Miami's pass-oriented offense generated 206 yards rushing, helping the RedHawks build a healthy edge in time of possession, 35:48 to 24:12. Mike Smith ran for 118 yards and three touchdowns, and Roethlisberger completed 29 of 39 passes for 330 yards and two TDs. The RedHawks (2-1) generated 536 yards, compared to 388 for Colorado State.


Game 4: UC (3-0) at Miami (2-1)

Kickoff: 2 p.m.

TV: Channel 64



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