Cardinals struggling to find kicking game Print
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Wednesday, 01 October 2008 12:57
NCAAF Headline News

 Louisville coach Steve Kragthorpe joked recently that the kickers have a way of shortening a coach's life expectancy.
Yet you couldn't blame Kragthorpe for having a few extra gray hairs after Louisville's sub-par kicking game forced him to take chances he normally wouldn't during last week's 26-21 loss to Connecticut.
Twice against the Huskies, Kragthorpe decided against lengthy field goal attempts to gamble on fourth-and-long situations. Both times the Cardinals didn't convert.
Kragthorpe, however, said he didn't hesitate to go for it because he simply didn't think kickers Chris Philpott or Tim Dougherty could make it. Both attempts would have been in the 45-yard range. The longest field goal by either player this year is 36 yards.
``One was into the wind, one was with the wind behind us but at that point in time I thought our best chance was to go for it,'' Kragthorpe said. ``We had tried that same kick in practice and had not made it.''
The Cardinals turned it over on downs one final time while trailing by five with less than 2 minutes to play.
Cincinnati losing its top two quarterbacks to injury, the time seems right for Demetrius Jones to get a chance. Instead, the Bearcats are looking at two redshirt freshmen.
What happened to Jones?
The dual-threat quarterback started last season's opener for Notre Dame, lost his job and transferred to Cincinnati, where he seemed a good fit for coach Brian Kelly's spread offense. Jones can run or throw, giving the Bearcats an added dimension.
He had surgery to repair a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder last October, missed much of the offseason work as a result, and hasn't gotten many opportunities to work with the starting offense. That's why the sophomore is behind redshirt freshmen Zach Collaros and Chazz Anderson.
``Everyone keeps asking about Demetrius,'' Kelly said. ``It's not that he's not doing the job. He hasn't gotten as much work. If he got as much work as Chazz and Zach, he'd be right there with them.
``I thought by the middle of the season, week six or seven, that we could get him enough work so he can be in the same position as those two guys. Right now, for us to go to Demetrius, we'd have to scale back the package a little bit.''
BROWN EXPRESS: Connecticut tailback Donald Brown says he was once timed at 4.29 in the 40-yard dash - but even he doesn't believe he is that fast.
went out there and ran 4.29 hand-held, so that's a 4.4 electric. They didn't believe it. So they made me run it again, and I ran a 4.27.''
Brown has put up some more surprising numbers this year. The junior leads the nation in rushing, averaging over 181 yards per game.
NOT SO SPECIAL: West Virginia's Bill Stewart has maintained oversight of special teams since taking over for Rich Rodriguez, and the first-year coach is embarrassed by what's happened as the Mountaineers enter Big East play.
West Virginia suddenly is struggling to tackle kickoff returners with Rutgers coming to Morgantown on Saturday.
The Mountaineers rank 115th among 119 Bowl Subdivision teams, allowing more than 30 yards per kickoff return.
``We'll spend time the rest of the week on that,'' Stewart said. ``I don't know how to kick it. I haven't figured that out yet. We'll either squib it, sky it or we'll just go back to our pride and joy and say kick that ball deep and go get them. That's what I want to do.''
Stewart noted that of the 20 plays of 20 yards or longer allowed by the Mountaineers this season, 11 have come on kickoff returns.
COURTING MCCOURTY: Rutgers senior cornerback Jason McCourty was named a semifinalist for the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame's Draddy Trophy on Wednesday.
t for the award for academic excellence among college football players.
Scarlet Knights fullback Brian Leonard won the award in 2006 and linebacker Brandon Renkart was a finalist last year. Defensive end Ryan Neill was named a semifinalist in 2005.
McCourty, whose twin brother, Devin, starts at the other cornerback spot for Rutgers, has a 3.34 cumulative grade point average in Information Technology and Informatics. He has maintained a 3.3 cumulative GPA and recently earned a 4.0 in the summer 2008 semester.
HONORS: South Florida quarterback Matt Grothe picked up his second conference offensive player of the week award for his play during the Bulls' 41-10 rout of N.C. State last weekend. Grothe threw for 259 yards and a score and added 68 yards on the ground. He completed his first 11 passes of the game as the Bulls quickly built a 14-3 lead and cruised to victory.
Connecticut's Lawrence Wilson was the defensive player of the week for his heroics in a 26-21 win over Louisville. Wilson stepped in front of a Hunter Cantwell pass and raced 45 yards for the game-winning touchdown with 2:45 remaining. He also had six tackles and an 18-yard fumble return as the Huskies improved to 5-0.
utive extra points streak to 85 in the victory.
AP Sports Writers Joe Kay in Cincinnati, John Raby in Charleston, W.Va., Tom Canavan in Piscataway, N.J., and Associated Press writer Pat Eaton-Robb in Storrs, Conn., contributed to this report.

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