Saturday, September 04, 1999

Kent a good opportunity for UC


Bearcats need confidence boost

BY MIKE DeCOURCY
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        It wouldn't appear to be necessary for Cincinnati Bearcats coach Rick Minter to lecture his football team about overconfidence.

        UC may be riding a two-game winning streak, but those two wins came 10 months ago and followed nine consecutive defeats. This year's Bearcats were rated 90th out of 114 teams by The Sporting News and 102nd by Sports Illustrated.

THE MATCHUP
  • Kickoff: 7 tonight at Nippert Stadium (35,000), Cincinnati.
  • Records: UC 0-0, Kent 0-0.
  • TV: Channel 19.
  • Radio: WCKY-AM 1360.
  • Series: UC leads 4-0.
  • Line: UC by 191/2.
  • What to watch: Cincinnati junior QB Deontey Kenner, a full-time starter operating a revamped offense; WR Antonio Chatman, in his first game after starring in junior college; DT Mario Monds, trying to restore some punch to the defensive line; SS Tinker Keck, recovering from reconstructive knee surgery. Kent senior QB Jose Davis, who attempted 320 passes last season and produced nine touchdowns; sophomore H-back James Gamble, because how often do you get to see an H-back?; sophomore K Dave Pavich, who missed only three field goal attempts and was perfect on PATs; senior DE Brad Hartman, who had one of Kent's four sacks in 1998.
        But their first game of 1999, at 7 tonight at Nippert Stadium, is against Kent. Against the Bearcats, Kent is a 191/2-point underdog. Against everybody it played last year, Kent was over whelmed.

        “The fact we're playing a Mid-American Conference team that happened not to win a ballgame is in no way a light opponent for us,” Minter said.

        The Bearcats hope Minter is overselling the Golden Flashes to draw an optimum effort from his players. Because with what UC faces at the end of this month, it needs Kent and Division I-AA Troy State, which the Bearcats play in the second game, to be light opponents.

        On Sept.18, the Bearcats will try to contain No.9 Wisconsin and All-American running back Ron Dayne. A week after that, their challenge will be to visit No.13 Ohio State. Each of those teams won 11 games last season. That's a lot for UC to handle in consecutive weeks.

        “A quick start is very important,” Minter said. “We want to play them one at a time, but if you look at the schedule, we need to get off to a fast start in order to gain some confidence, some execution. We are going to be up against it.

        “We're going to be up against it in all four games this month, because I'm more scared of us than I am of Kent State, Troy State, Wisconsin or Ohio State. I haven't seen this team operate day in, day out, like a refined machine on both sides of the ball. I'm more concerned about us than who we're playing.”

        After a season like UC endured in 1998, the Bearcats need to get better at least as much as they need to win.

        Minter understands the need for progress in order to secure his job. He has a revamped staff and a large batch of junior-college recruits to try to make a quick recovery.

        “I'm sure Kent's feeling very confident where they sit today,” Minter said. “They're going to come in fired up. They're going to feel like we're prime for the picking.”

       



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- Kent a good opportunity for UC

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