Tuesday, October 15, 2002

Bearcats' quarterback situation unsettled


Guidugli injury clouds picture

By Dustin Dow
The Cincinnati Enquirer

University of Cincinnati football coach Rick Minter wants to know by Wednesday whether the Bearcats' starting quarterback will be Gino Guidugli or George Murray for Saturday's 2 p.m. game at Southern Miss.

If Guidugli hasn't recovered from bone bruises below his left knee suffered last Saturday against Tulane, Minter said he is prepared to go with Murray, an athletic, speed-style quarterback.

"(Guidugli) is doubtful for the next couple of days," Minter said. "We're just going to let him stay off of it. We're obviously better with Gino Guidugli on the field, but we might be dangerous to an opponent without him on the field. We're willing the first couple days (of practice) here to give the other kids some work and be prepared to go if that's the case."

Like Guidugli, Murray is a sophomore, but he has just four pass attempts and two completions this season. Last season, he completed 8 of 14 passes for 130 yards and one touchdown. Murray actually signed with UC several months before Guidugli, and Murray was pegged to compete for the starting job until Guidugli won it.

"We already had George (when Guidugli signed) and felt very good about his ability," Minter said. "Keep in mind the offense was tailored around, initially, a kid of George's ability. That's the way our offense was structured - razzle-dazzle, running quarterback."

Guidugli entered the picture late in the spring of 2001, became a starter his freshman year and earned Conference USA Freshman of the Year honors.

Meanwhile, Minter didn't want to waste Murray's athleticism, so he rotated Murray into the receiving corps, where he has 13 catches this season for 118 yards and one touchdown. But in practice, he has always remained a quarterback.

"(Murray) has been our second quarterback from Day One," Minter said. "He works at quarterback everyday in practice. He never works with the wide receiver coach."

If Murray does start at quarterback against Southern Miss Saturday, UC's offense could take on a different style, especially out of the shotgun. Murray showed his run-pass potential last season in the second half against East Carolina, when he came off of the bench to rush 21 times for 54 yards and complete six passes for 86 yards.

"If you operate in a shotgun offense, your quarterback carrying the ball, and the threat of your quarterback carrying the ball has to be present to the defense," Minter said.

That's something Murray gives the Bearcats that Guidugli doesn't.

"We don't want to make a ton of plays with (Guidugli) running the football," Minter said. "When (Guidugli) is back there, we don't want him doing those things. We don't need him doing those things. He gets hit enough as it is."

E-mail: ddow@enquirer.com



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