Saturday, October 05, 2002

MU goal: Keep up without Jones


Injured vs. Akron, LB doubtful vs. UC today

By Mark Schmetzer
Enquirer contributor

[img]
Kent State's David Alston gets clotheslined by Miami's Terrell Jones earlier this year.
(AP photo)
| ZOOM |
        The last thing Miami football coach Terry Hoeppner needed to see in the RedHawks' game at Akron last week — other than a loss — was one of his top defensive players limping off the field.

        But that's what happened when junior middle linebacker Terrell Jones, a first-team All-Mid-American Conference pick last season, suffered a sprained ankle that left him doubtful for today's 1 p.m. game against the University of Cincinnati Bearcats (2-2) at UC's Nippert Stadium.

        The absence of Jones, who is the second-leading tackler for 3-2 Miami, would make the difficult task of slowing down the high-powered Bearcats even more imposing. Jones was a preseason candidate for Nagurski Award, which honors the nation's top defensive player.

        “Losing Jones is significant — period,” said Hoeppner, who promoted redshirt freshman Derek Rehage, a former running back from Brookville, Ind., to No.1 at middle linebacker. “Regardless of who we play, having him around is like having another coach on the field. We're comfortable when we have him out there.

        “Derek only moved to middle linebacker in the spring. He hasn't had many snaps. He doesn't have the experience of Terrell. Not many people have the savvy of Terrell. We'll miss that with Terrell as much as anything.”

        The loss of Jones will place a greater burden on Matt Robillard, who is third on the team in tackles.

        “Matt will have to assume a greater role,” Hoeppner said.

        Robillard posted 14 tackles, including 11 solos, in Miami's 21-14 win over the Bearcats at Yager Stadium last season.

        Miami also will depend on a defense that has rediscovered the sack the past two weeks.

        The RedHawks have racked up a total of 10 sacks in their last two games, led by senior end Matt Edwards' 31/2, after posting a total of three in their first three games.

        Even with Jones, Miami would have had its hands full with the Bearcats and sophomore quarterback Gino Guidugli.

        UC is ranked 12th in the NCAA with an average of 299.5 passing yards a game.

        Miami's third-year sophomore quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, also is on a fast track. That's just one of the similarities shared by the two teams that makes this 107th matchup between them particularly intriguing.

        “Our offensive structures are similar,” Hoeppner said. “The quarterbacks are similar. The defensive structures are similar. The numbers are similar.

        “I thought while watching them (on videotape) this summer that they were very similar to us, and it's turned out like that. Their team doesn't make big mistakes and they force big mistakes. It should be a good football game.”

        Miami will be trying for its first back-to-back wins in the series since winning three in a row from 1990-1992. A win would allow the RedHawks to keep the coveted Victory Bell, which was housed in the reception area of Hoeppner's Yager Stadium office until this week, when Miami's seniors moved it to the locker room.

        “Throughout the year, it gets rung a lot,” said Hoeppner, whose win last year was his first in three games as Miami's coach.

        “When you're having a bad day and things aren't going right, you walk out and see that bell, and it perks you up.”

       



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