By Richard Scott
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - It would be easy to blame Cincinnati's 31-14 loss to UAB on Gino Guidugli's knee and Richard Hall's head, but that would be selling short both UAB and Cincinnati.
Cincinnati defender Jamar Enzor (46) flips Alabama-Birmingham quarterback Darrell Hackney (4) short of the end zone in Legion Field.
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After opening the season with three victories, the Bearcats (3-3, 1-2 Conference USA) have lost three consecutive games - for multiple reasons that go beyond two players or two positions. Those reasons were all too obvious against UAB (3-3, 2-1 C-USA).
It wasn't Guidugli, the junior quarterback with the injured left knee, or Hall, the junior running back with the concussion, who gave up UAB touchdown passes of 95 and 46 yards in the first half. It wasn't Guidugli or Hall who allowed a first-half punt to be blocked, leading to another UAB touchdown and the Blazers' 28-14 halftime lead.
It wasn't Guidugli or Hall dropping passes, missing tackles and blocks or wiping out a third-quarter touchdown run with a holding penalty.
"We offer no excuses and give all the credit in the world to UAB," Cincinnati coach Rick Minter said. "Watson Brown's team did a good job against us. . . . They forced us into some errors and we committed some crimes on the football field that you don't make against a good solid team and win."
Still, it's easy to assume the Bearcats would have been better off with a healthy Guidugli, a three-year starter and preseason all-conference quarterback, and Hall, who entered the week ranked second in C-USA with 108 rushing yards per game.
But Guidugli came in with a knee injury he suffered in last week's 22-20 home loss to Southern Miss and rarely looked sharp or completely at ease in completing 21 of 43 passes for 219 yards, with at least six dropped passes by his receivers.
"It limited my mobility and it's a little sore right now," Guidugli said of his knee, "but I was good enough to go."
Guidugli didn't throw any interceptions, but he did take UC out of field goal range by taking a sack instead of throwing the ball away on a critical third-quarter drive.
"He played like he didn't practice Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday," Minter said. "But our receivers have to step up, too. That's part of it. He's still around some youth and inexperience out there, and it keeps showing itself."
As for Hall, the continued effects of the head injury he sustained against Southern Miss forced him to miss the game. In his absence, Derrick Eddington made his first start and rushed for 60 yards on 13 carries.
Minter and his players agree this week's open date is important.
"The open date couldn't come at a more perfect time," receiver George Murray said.
Cin-FG Ervin 42, 11:47.
UAB-White, C. 1 run (Hayes kick), 5:30.
Cin-FG Ervin 36, 0:29.
UAB-White, R. 95 pass from Hackney (Hayes kick), 8:19.
Cin-Murray 3 run (Murray rush), 6:29.
UAB-White, C. 1 run (Hayes kick), 3:09.
UAB-White, R. 56 pass from Hackney (Hayes kick), 0:13.
UAB-FG Hayes 28, 10:54.
|Time of Possession||25:07||34:53|
RUSHING-Cincinnati, Eddington 13-60, Jones 6-31, Murray 5-14, Vann 1-2, Arnold 1-1, Team 1-(minus 1), Guidugli 3-(minus 7). UAB, Chaney 29-112, Dudley 3-12, Moncur 5-7, White 2-2, Team 1-(minus 2), Hackney 5-(minus 26).
PASSING-Cincinnati, Guidugli 21-43-0-219. UAB, Hackney 12-21-1-277.
RECEIVING-Cincinnati, Poland 5-72, Murray 4-34, Dawley 4-29, Eddington 4-17, Ross 2-38, Vann 1-16, Jones 1-13. UAB, White 4-171, Chavez 3-71, Chaney 2-13, Rhodes 1-12.
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