Sunday, September 19, 2004

SU defense wakes up


UC notebook

By Bill Koch
Enquirer staff writer

SYRACUSE, N.Y. - A week ago against Miami, the University of Cincinnati offense dominated up front and moved the ball seemingly at will while rolling up 599 yards.

But the Syracuse defense the Bearcats faced Saturday in their 19-7 loss was a different animal than what they had seen from Miami.

UC had to scrap for virtually all of its 293 yards.

"I think we took a little more of a step forward this week," said Syracuse coach Paul Pasqualoni, whose defense entered the game allowing 401 yards per game.

Quarterback Gino Guidugli was sacked twice - the first two times he has been sacked this year - and the offensive line, which had been so dominant against Miami, had its hands full with the Syracuse defensive line.

"They were coming off the ball and getting good penetration," said UC coach Mark Dantonio. "If you were out on the field, you saw that they were physically solid. They had big guys that could run."

Welcome to the Big East.

POOR EXECUTION: There was more to UC's sloppy play than just the six turnovers. UC committed a face mask penalty after claiming an interception, hit a punt returner before he had a chance to catch the ball, and committed a late hit following a 24-yard run by Richard Hall.

"We have to have better execution and make better decisions with the ball in hand," Dantonio said. "We can't beat ourselves and beat a good football team."

CELEK'S FIRST: Tight end Brent Celek scored his first career touchdown in the fourth quarter when he reached back and snared a Gino Guidugli pass with one hand.

"I felt like I was getting held a little on that play," Celek said. "Gino placed the ball in the right spot. I was lucky enough to get my hand back and get it on the ball. It was a great throw by Gino. You couldn't ask for a better one with that kind of coverage."

Celek, a sophomore from La Salle High School, also caught a pass for 42 yards.

SPECIAL PLAYS: The Bearcats got two big plays from their special teams. Adam Roberts blocked a 47-yard field goal attempt in the second quarter and the Bearcats executed a fake field goal for a first down in the third quarter, with holder Collin Carey running three yards for the first down on UC's only touchdown drive of the game.

The Bearcats also had a punt blocked that went out of the end zone for a safety.

REYES HITS STRIDE: Running back Walter Reyes, who rushed for only 92 yards in Syracuse's first two games, gained 117 against UC. It was the 11th 100-yard game of his career, tying him for sixth on the school's career list with Jim Brown.

NO-SHOWS: The crowd of 32,893 was the smallest for a Syracuse home game since the Orange drew 27,466 in 1986.

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E-mail bkoch@enquirer.com




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