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Game Thread Game Three: #1 Ohio State 37, Cincinnati 7 (9/16/06)

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UC's QB picture incomplete
The quarterback situation at the University of Cincinnati should be coming into focus by now.
But with less than three weeks to go before the Sept. 2 opener against Eastern Kentucky, the picture remains so fuzzy that coach Mark Dantonio still hasn't decided who will run the Bearcats' offense this season.
When will he make that decision?
"When somebody establishes himself," Dantonio said Monday after the Bearcats' first practice at the Higher Ground Conference Center in West Harrison, Ind.
The UC coach clearly wasn't happy with what he had just seen on the field from his five quarterbacks.
"I don't really care who quarterbacks," he said. "They've got to be able to move the team. A lot of that is decision making. That's what's so frustrating. Sometimes you've got to get out of a play because of pressure. You've got to make the right decision down the field. When that becomes consistent, that guy will become the starter."
Dantonio said he wants to name a starter by early next week so whoever it is will have more reps in practice with the first-team offense.
All five quarterbacks - Dustin Grutza, David Wess, Nick Davila, Craig Carey and Tony Pike - remain in contention.
But they do so in the same way that so many teams in the National League remain in contention for the wild-card spot in the playoffs - because no one has stepped forward to take control.
Wess, Carey and Pike have never thrown a pass in a college game. Grutza, last year's starter, completed 56 percent of his passes for 1,799 yards with 11 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.
Davila, a senior in his second year at UC, was 26-of-45 for 344 yards and four touchdowns and was intercepted twice last season as Grutza's backup.
Grutza remains No. 1 on the depth chart based on his experience, but he hasn't done enough to solidify that status. And it seems as if Dantonio is getting tired of waiting.
"I'd like to see him throw the ball harder," Dantonio said. "I'd like to see him play with more authority. ... I don't want to be critical, but he's got more arm strength. He could put more on the ball in certain situations."
Grutza appeared surprised when he was told that Dantonio wanted him to throw the ball with more zip.
"My shoulder was sore today," he said, "so I wasn't really throwing it as hard as I could. We've been throwing for nine days now. It's wearing down a little bit. But I'm going to ice it and rest it up and I'll be ready to fire it again."
The sophomore from Maysville, Ky., said he understands why he's in such a dogfight for the starting job even though he's the incumbent at the position.
"We had a losing record last season," he said. "You've got to look at that and look at things that you might want to change. That's why I've got to come in here and compete. I've got to make plays, just make a difference on the team. I'm trying to do that out there, just keep making plays and make the team come together and be a leader."
Grutza wasn't the only one singled out for criticism by Dantonio.
"I'd like to see Wess make better decisions," he said. "I'd like to see Davila be more consistent and eliminate mistakes. I'd like to see Pike be more consistent in knowing what to do and the same can be said for Carey."
Dantonio said he remains confident there's a quarterback from among that group who's good enough to lead UC to a successful season.
Just who that might be remains a mystery.
"I think we have five guys that all have something going for them," he said. "We've got five guys that have ability. What they do with it is up to them.
"Everybody on this football team better be ready to reach out and grab somebody by the throat or the situation by the throat if we're going to be successful. I didn't see that today. ... Somebody's going to establish themselves or we're going to go in a different direction. I hate to be callous, but this is where it's at."
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Another Guidugli boosts UC
Ben follows in brother Gino's footsteps

From 2001 to 2004, Gino Guidugli was the face of University of Cincinnati football. He became the Bearcats' career passing leader and led them to three bowl appearances.
Now there's a new Guidugli on campus. Gino's younger brother, Ben, is just a few weeks into a college career he hopes will be every bit as fruitful as Gino's.
"Ben's going to be somebody you've got to keep your eye on," Gino said Tuesday. "He's an exciting player. I can't wait to see him play his first game against Eastern (Kentucky)."
Ben Guidugli, a 6-foot-2, 220-pound freshman, already has made an impact on the UC coaches, who have installed him as a combination tight end and fullback.
"He can move around and play a variety of places," said UC coach Mark Dantonio. "He can play a hybrid tight end. He can be flexed out. He can be in the backfield in power situations. He's starting to catch the ball like he did in high school. He's going to be a very good player for us."
Ben was a first-team all-state selection as a tight end as a senior at Highlands High School with 1,050 receiving yards and six touchdowns. As a junior, he was a second-team all-state selection as a linebacker on a team that won the state championship.
Now he starts all over again with a name that still resonates strongly at UC.
"Whenever somebody's talking about UC football, usually (Gino) comes up," Ben said. "I guess it's a good thing that he has a legacy here, but I'm trying to make my own here. It's cool, but I'm trying to do my own thing, too."
Ben said he considered the possibility that following his brother at UC could be difficult because of the expectations it would create, but that didn't prevent him from going where he felt he would fit the best.
"That's why maybe I was going to go to Colorado," he said.
"But the main thing that kept me here was Coach (Mark) Dantonio," Ben said. "It wasn't because (Gino) went here. I didn't feel like I was going to be a favorite or anything. I just felt like I trusted Coach Dantonio and I've been around the Cincinnati program so long, I just felt comfortable with the whole situation here."
The oldest of the four Guidugli boys, Gino didn't try to tell his brother which school to attend, but he didn't hesitate to share his experience at UC with Ben.
"I'm biased," Gino said. "I wanted him to go to UC. I told him he had to make the decision for himself. I told him what a great staff they had and the direction I thought the program was headed, what the university offered me while I was there. A lot of the same things could apply to him."
After Ben selected UC and as summer camp approached, Gino offered more advice. He told Ben to be patient, be prepared to hear an earful from the coaches when he made a mistake and to take things one play, one practice, one day at a time as he adjusts to major-college football.
During the first 10 days of practice, things have gone pretty much the way Gino said they would.
"You come in the first week and it's like information overload," Ben said. "You never knew football was so complicated. You think you'll never get it. But then you keep practicing and the week goes by and you start to learn it and feel more comfortable with it. That's where I am right now. I'm starting to feel more comfortable with it, so now I'm just going out there and playing."
While Ben attempts to carve out his own niche at UC, Gino continues to cling to his goal of playing in the NFL. He was not drafted after his senior year at UC and signed as a free agent last year with the Tennessee Titans, but he was cut before the regular season started.
He hasn't ruled out the possibility that he might end up on an NFL roster this season. He says his agent has received calls from several teams, which he finds encouraging, but so far nothing concrete has developed.
If nothing happens this season, he hopes to play in NFL Europe next spring.
"It's frustrating," Gino said. "I'm on the map in some places, but it's going to take somebody to get hurt or not performing."
Ben's pulling for him. "I know he can play," Ben said. "He just needs a chance."
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QB Wess injures shoulder
UC football notebook
<!--ARTICLE BODY TEXT--> David Wess' chances of nailing down the job as the University of Cincinnati's starting quarterback took a hit Tuesday night when he injured his left shoulder while he was swimming.
Wess, a sophomore who's making the transition from the defensive backfield to quarterback, the position he played in high school, did not practice Wednesday and is not expected to practice until at least this weekend.
He will not participate in today's scrimmage, which could go a long way toward determining who will start the season opener at quarterback.

But head coach Mark Dantonio said Wess still has time to claim the job.
"He'll still have two weeks to prepare," Dantonio said. "He is developing. When we moved him there, I told him it might take a full year before he'll know what to do and be on equal footing with these other guys, but he's coming. He's very conscientious about what he's doing."
Dantonio said Wess' shoulder popped out of place last week, but he didn't tell anyone.
"And then yesterday," Dantonio said, "he was swimming and he took two strokes and it came out."
IMPORTANT SCRIMMAGE: Dantonio and his staff are eagerly anticipating this morning's scrimmage at the Higher Ground Conference Center in West Harrison.
It's one of two game-condition scrimmages with officials scheduled before UC's Sept. 2 opener vs. Eastern Kentucky.
"Everything that we've done we've critiqued," Dantonio said. "The coaches have gone back over and revamped things. Tomorrow will be the first time since the spring that we've really tried to put it all together in different situations with four referees and where guys have to play 12 plays or so in a row. It'll be interesting to see how people do."
It's also the first opportunity the coaches will have to see what the freshmen will do in a game situation.
"We'll be able to see who has gotten the most information that will allow them to process it and allow them to play early in their careers," Dantonio said.
EXPERIMENT OVER: The Bearcats have been experimenting with moving fullback Doug Jones to the offensive line, but that experiment is over for now.
Jones, a junior from Dixie Heights High School who was named to the Conference USA all-freshman team in 2004, injured his knee earlier this week and has not been able to practice at full speed.
"We're moving him back because of the injury," Dantonio said. "To go back in there with all the different situations maybe isn't the healthiest thing for him."
Dantonio did not rule out moving Jones back to the line at some point.
"It was a chance to get our best 11 on the field," he said. "He's certainly big enough and powerful enough to do that, and he has two years left to play."
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O-line stars in scrimmage
<!--ARTICLE BODY TEXT--> It's obvious the University of Cincinnati football team is well-stocked with an array of talented running backs, wide receivers and tight ends.
But those players won't amount to much without a capable quarterback and an offensive line to protect him.
Those appear to be the two most crucial areas of concern for this team as the Sept. 2 regular-season opener against Eastern Kentucky approaches.

"I would agree with that," UC coach Mark Dantonio said after the first scrimmage of summer camp Thursday at the Higher Ground Conference Center in West Harrison, Ind. "We've got some skill players."
The UC offense dominated the first half of the 2½-hour scrimmage, with the defense rallying to take charge in the second half.
When it was over, the offense held a 60-59 advantage using a scoring system that awards points for achievements such as forcing a turnover or recording a first down.
"If you can protect your quarterback, which I think we did a pretty good job of until the very end there, and if you can run the football effectively, you're going to have a chance to win," Dantonio said. "I thought we played well today as a group. I saw a lot of good things."
Dantonio declined to handicap the quarterback derby any further until he had seen tape of the scrimmage.
He's expected to name the starter for the EKU game early next week.
Senior Nick Davila did the best job statistically, completing 12 of 18 passes for 161 yards. Sophomore Dustin Grutza, last year's starter, was 9-for-14 for 156 yards and two touchdowns, but he also was intercepted three times, including once near the end of the scrimmage when he threw the ball up for grabs under pressure.
Tony Pike was 5-for-11 for 39 yards and Craig Carey 2-for-6 for 9 yards. Sophomore David Wess, nursing a sore shoulder, did not play.
The highlight of the day was a 41-yard Dominick Goodman touchdown pass to Earnest Jackson off an end-around.
Perhaps the most encouraging development from the offensive standpoint was that the line held its own.
"I was excited about the offense," said tight end Brent Celek, who caught three passes for 44 yards and two touchdowns. "It seemed like we had a lot of energy.
"I think (the line) kind of proved today that they could protect the quarterback. I think they did a great job today."
So did Dantonio.
"We didn't see a lot of guys blowing protections," Dantonio said. "I think we're meshing together. We were able to run the football against the defense today. They had not been able to do that previously, so that's a good thing. That's as well as we've played offensively."
Butler Benton led the running backs with 50 yards on 12 carries, followed by Greg Moore (12-48), freshman John Goebel (5-40) and Mike Daniels (9-37).
Defensively, the Bearcats looked sluggish in the early going.
"For us to get the mental edge back and come back and play as hard as we did, that was very impressive," said junior free safety Haruki Nakamura. "It shows that the defense is going to have a lot of heart."
Nakamura also knows the Bearcats defense can't afford to come out flat against a schedule that includes road games against Ohio State, West Virginia, Louisville and Virginia Tech.
"We didn't start picking up our intensity until the second half of the scrimmage," Nakamura said. "When you come out dead, you're not going to beat any team."
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Wess gives UC another option
Adds running element at QB
<!--ARTICLE BODY TEXT--> David Wess has never thrown a pass in a college game. He has spent only 20 days in practice at quarterback, and the coaches say he doesn't fully understand the offense.
Because he has so many factors working against him, he will not be the University of Cincinnati's starting quarterback when the Bearcats open their season Sept. 2 against Eastern Kentucky.
But he should be.

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UC head coach Mark Dantonio made it clear after Tuesday's scrimmage at the Higher Ground Conference Center in West Harrison, Ind., that he would choose the starter from between senior Nick Davila, who now appears to have the edge, and sophomore Dustin Grutza, last year's starter.
But Wess, a 6-foot-2, 215-pound sophomore from Columbus, can do what neither Davila nor Grutza can. He has the speed and the acceleration to be as much of a running threat as he is a passing threat.
Wess, a high school quarterback before he was moved to the defensive secondary last year, is back at his natural position and playing as if he had never left it.
He completed five of seven passes Tuesday for 87 yards and one touchdown. He also ran for an apparent 40-yard touchdown that the coaches later took away from him because they ruled that he would have been down if the defense had been allowed full contact on a quarterback.
"It's a good situation," Dantonio said of UC's quarterback position. "I think we've got two guys that played pretty well and are game functional right now. Then we've got another guy who, maybe, as time goes on, maybe he can get in the mix.
"But the learning curve is there. It's pretty drastic. These guys understand. We'd have to change our offense around a little bit (for Wess)."
So change it.
This wasn't an offensive juggernaut last season under Grutza. UC finished seventh in the eight-team Big East Conference in total offense.
The Beacats averaged 323.4 yards and 17.4 points per game last season.
They were predictable and not very entertaining, producing only nine plays of 30 yards or more the entire season.
Wess has the potential to light up an offense that could use a little luster. Even without a thorough understanding of the offense, more often than not he moves his teammates down the field during practice.
Because of his athletic ability, his presence on a team with an unproven offensive line would allow UC to have one more weapon in its arsenal. It would force linebackers and defensive backs to concern themselves with Wess' running threat, creating openings in the passing game for the Bearcats' talented receivers.
And because Wess is only a sophomore, he has plenty of time to grow with the program.
If Davila is the starting quarterback - as it appears he will be - he'll have only one year to run the offense. That means the Bearcats would have to start over again next year with their third different starting quarterback in three years.
Why not let Wess get his feet wet this season so he's ready to go next year when the Bearcats will be a junior and senior-dominated team with a better chance to compete in the Big East?
Of course it would be a huge risk putting Wess at quarterback because of his inexperience and tenuous grasp of the offense. Davila and Grutza both are safer choices.
But this is a program screaming for attention in a market dominated by the NFL Bengals, a program that has to entertain as well as win if it's going to attract fans.
This is a program that needs to take a chance now and again.
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Davila tops QB race
UC notebook
<!--ARTICLE BODY TEXT--> The pendulum in the University of Cincinnati quarterback derby has swung over to Nick Davila.
The 6-foot-3 senior from Alta Loma, Calif., completed 10 of 18 passes for 94 yards and one touchdown Tuesday in the Bearcats' intrasquad scrimmage at the Higher Ground Conference Center in West Harrison, Ind. He was intercepted once.
"Nick Davila is much, much better than he was last year because he has a grasp of the offense," UC head coach Mark Dantonio said. "I think he's making better decisions. He knows where to go with the ball and he gets it there quickly."

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But sophomore Dustin Grutza, the incumbent starter, isn't conceding the position yet. Grutza completed 10 of 15 passes for 180 yards and one touchdown, a 73-yard strike to redshirt freshman Jared Martin in the two-minute drill near the end of the scrimmage. He was intercepted once.
Dantonio said he would make the decision by today or Thursday, but for now it appears Davila has the lead.
"I'm a lot more comfortable in the offense," Davila said. "Once you learn the offense and you know it like the back of your hand, you're just playing ball like you're in the backyard of your house. There's a lot of difference. Obviously, I can see it. The coaches can see it, too."
Freshman Jacob Ramsey was the Bearcats' leading rusher with 41 yards on six carries, followed by Butler Benton (seven carries, 39 yards), Bradley Glatthaar (10 for 37) and Greg Moore (six for 28).
Martin was the leading receiver with 93 yards on three catches, including the 73-yard touchdown. Dominick Goodman caught three passes for 43 yards and has impressed the coaches with his ability to catch the ball in traffic.
INJURY REPORT: Linebacker Corey Smith continues to be sidelined by a pulled hamstring he suffered Aug. 14. He did not play in the scrimmage.
"He practiced over the weekend," Dantonio said. "But his hamstring continues to bother him. We're trying to get him in shape to play.
"We'll see how he comes, but thus far he's been unable to make it through the whole practice and we don't want to re-pull it."
If Smith, a second-team all-Big East performer last year as a freshman, is out for an extended period of time, it would be a huge loss to the UC defense.
"We're moving people around, trying to get it figured out," Dantonio said.
Running back Mike Daniels left the scrimmage with a knee injury and watched the end of it on crutches. Defensive back Antoine Horton is out for about a week with an ankle injury.
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UC's Daniels lost for season
UC notebook


<!--ARTICLE BODY TEXT-->Moments after he left Tuesday's scrimmage with a knee injury, University of Cincinnati senior running back Mike Daniels, his right knee in a brace and extended across the top of a picnic table, said he would be fine.
A few hours later, he was told that his season was over before it even started.
Daniels was diagnosed with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee and is scheduled to undergo surgery Friday morning.
He'll have one year of eligibility remaining and said he plans to make the most of it next year.
"The good thing is I get a year," Daniels said Wednesday. "I'll be able to get my senior season over again."
The injury occurred while Daniels was running a sweep. He was hit by sophomore linebacker Nick DeFillippo.
"I just landed wrong," said Daniels, as he leaned on a pair of crutches.
Daniels tried to walk off the injury after he left the field and was optimistic that he would be OK, but he said trainers Bill Walker and Bob Mangine knew right away how severe his injury was.
"They didn't want to tell me on the field," Daniels said. "All I can do is stay positive and be a good teammate, be the rah-rah guy, be the No. 1 fan and cheerleader."
Daniels, the Ohio Division I player of the year as a senior at Princeton in 2002, was expected to be used as a change-of-pace back, a player with the versatility to run the ball, line up as a receiver, return punts and kicks.
He averaged 4.6 yards on 18 carries last season and caught 10 passes for 51 yards.
"He's a big loss in terms of attitude and team chemistry," said UC head coach Mark Dantonio. "He's a great team guy. He had a great summer camp."
Because he's only 5-feet-7, 185 pounds, UC has had trouble finding the most productive spot for Daniels. This year, he finally appeared to be settled and comfortable in his role.
"I felt real good," Daniels said. "I was doing a good job of making people miss. That was the emphasis for me being a small back and I think I was doing that well. But things happen. I've just got to have a stronger year next year."
Fortunately for UC, the Bearcats have plenty of options at running back with Bradley Glatthaar, Butler Benton and Greg Moore, along with John Goebel and Jacob Ramsey, two freshmen who have been impressive during their first UC camp.
But Daniels will be missed. Not only could he do a lot of things on the field, he was always smiling off it. He was still smiling Wednesday as he talked about the end of his season.
"If I just go in the tank, it'd be like, what for?" Daniels said. "I'm a strong individual. I've been through a lot in my life, this is another setback. I come from a single-parent home. I didn't have the most money growing up. I've faced adversity and I overcame it. I'm sure I can overcome, this too."
STILL NO QB CHOICE: Dantonio said he might name a starting quarterback after the Bearcats break camp today at Higher Ground. Then again, he might not.
In fact, he said, there's a chance the Bearcats could go into their Sept. 2 opener vs. Eastern Kentucky planning to use both Nick Davila and Dustin Grutza.
"I'm not going to put a timeline on our future when the guys are both doing what they're supposed to do," Dantonio said. "If we have to go into the game and play them both then that's what we'll do. . . . There's nothing like game pressure. We just want to be successful. We're going to play whatever player gives us the chance to be successful."
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<!-- ARTICLE HEADLINE & BYLINE --> 2-headed QB plan staying vs. Pitt
By C. Trent Rosecrans
Post staff reporter <!-- ARTICLE SIDEBAR --><!--ARTICLE BODY TEXT--> The University of Cincinnati's two quarterbacks system will continue for at least another week, head coach Mark Dantonio says.
"We will continue to do that and it will be based on practice and the situation of the game," Dantonio said on Monday's Big East teleconference.
Dantonio said sophomore Dustin Grutza will start against Pittsburgh (1-0) Friday, but senior Nick Davila will also play.
Grutza was 9 of 15 for 161 yards and a touchdown in Saturday's 31-0 victory over Eastern Kentucky. Davila was 10 of 19 for 121 and a touchdown. Neither quarterback threw an interception.
"Both players played well leading their respective offenses to touchdowns," Dantonio said. "Davila played well in a two-minute situation and Grutza played well, particularly in the third quarter."
Grutza led the UC (1-0) to two touchdowns in the third quarter, increasing the Bearcats' lead to 28-0 when Davila came into the game in the fourth quarter.
Dantonio said it's possible the Bearcats could continue to use two quarterbacks the rest of the season.
"I've only been a head coach for three years, so this is the first time I've been in this position," Dantonio said. "If players play well, they deserve the opportunity to play. If they've practiced well for 28 days and both go into the game and perform well, they deserve to play."
He said it would also give Pittsburgh something else to prepare for.
Pittsburgh coach Dave Wannstedt said it shouldn't be too big of a problem.
"Each player has a few tendencies, a few strengths and weakness that you'll zero in on," Wannstedt said. "You look more at their offensive philosophy. There's not enough practice time to run two different offenses. We're getting ready to defense an offense, not a quarterback."
Both Grutza and Davila played in the Bearcats' 38-20 loss to the Panthers at Heinz Field last season.
Grutza started the game and played the first quarter and completed just one of three passes before Davila entered the game. Davila didn't fare much better, going 4 of 19 for 19 yards and an interception. Grutza did play better when he came back in the game, finishing 9 of 19 for 180 yards and two touchdowns.
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