West Virginia will try to stop Collaros, Cincinnati’s offense Saturday
Published: Thursday, November 10, 2011
Updated: Friday, November 11, 2011 02:11
A lot is riding on West Virginia's upcoming game against Cincinnati Saturday.
The Mountaineers (6-3, 2-2 Big East) are two games behind the Bearcats (7-1, 3-0 Big East) in conference play (in losses) and have lost two out of their last three games.
It is a critical game for West Virginia to get back to where the team feels it should be at this point in the season.
"Cincinnati is a team that has found ways to win," said West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen. "They've been in a bunch of close games, but the one thing that stands out about them more than anything is the amount of effort that they play with."
WVU will want to match that effort, as Holgorsen has called his team out this week, questioning some of the effort that was lacking against Louisville last week.
The defense will especially be looking to add more energy, as it has given up 443, 386 and 351 yards, respectively, in its last three games. In all three of those games, West Virginia's opponents have scored more than 30 points.
"In the beginning of the year, it seemed like when everything went wrong, at least we would force (opponents) to a field goal," said sophomore outside linebacker Doug Rigg. "Now, it's like everything is turning into a touchdown on us. I can't really say what it is – just plays are happening and people are making plays, people aren't making plays."
Rigg stressed the problems the defense has been having has been a mixture of being able to correct these mistakes, as well as the other teams just making good, strong plays.
Several younger players including freshmen linebackers Jared Barber, Jewone Snow and Rigg have been thrown in the mix over the last several games.
They're learning defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel's system every day and applying it into the game situations as best as they can.
"You have to have a good grasp of the system, even if you don't, you just have to play hard," Rigg said of the young players. "Coach Casteel won't get too mad at you even if you play hard. Something will happen if you hit somebody. If you play hard and get to the ball, you'll be fine."
They'll need to be up for the challenge this week, as they'll be facing an experienced and determined Cincinnati quarterback in senior Zach Collaros, as well as senior running back Isaiah Pead.
Collaros makes the Bearcats offense go and has complete control on that side of the ball. He has thrown for 1,784 yards, 14 touchdowns and has completed 63.4 percent of his passes.
Pead, the Bearcat's leading rusher, has gained 821 yards and has scored 8 touchdowns this season.
The Mountaineer defensive line will look to get pressure on Collaros, like it did against Teddy Bridgewater and Louisville last week.
"You beat the guy in front of you," Holgorsen said of the defense. "You have to cover people. If you cover people, he'll have a hard time getting it to (the receivers) on time."
"If you don't have too many missed tackles, and you attack the ball, (and) play with effort – which is what creates turnovers and gets them in third down situations where we can get after them – we'll have a shot at winning."