QB Gino Guidugli

2003 Statistics

Coach: Mark Dantonio
1st year
2003 Record: 5-7
at West Virginia WON 15-13
TEMPLE WON 30-24 (3OT)
at Miami OH LOST 37-42
at UAB LOST 14-31
ARMY WON 33-29
at South Florida LOST 17-24 (2OT)
at TCU LOST 10-43
at Memphis LOST 16-21

2003 Final Rankings
AP-UR, Coaches-UR, BCS-UR

2004 Outlook

Despite three straight bowl trips (from 2000-02) and a Conference USA title in '02, Rick Minter never turned football into the top sport at UC. Even with a new coach and high hopes for '04, the top story screaming out of Cincy in the spring was head basketball coach Bob Huggins' DUI.

During a Cincinnati Enquirer Web chat in late January, a fan asked Dantonio how he could increase the fan base. Dantonio said that joining the Big East, playing a tough non-conference schedule and recruiting Ohio players are the keys. Actually, the Cats have been fairly consistent with the latter two. The first is the wild card.

Dantonio, a strong recruiter, will well-mine the talent-rich state to compete in a conference that loses its top teams. He'll get an indication of what's in store Sept. 18 when his team visits Syracuse. Regardless of how the Cats fare in the Carrier Dome, the goal this fall should be a Conference USA title, which would provide the ideal momentum for next campaign, the school's first in the Big East.

While Cincy was 5-7 and 2-6 in the conference in Minter's last season, the program wasn't in left in disarray for Dantonio. Five of those seven losses were by a TD or less, and four of those were via fourth-quarter comebacks by opposing teams - an obvious reason for Minter's exit. Dantonio will keep that from reoccurring. The offense returns intact, with a line that could even keep Marge Schott safe. The defense, which was 27th in the nation, has fixable holes on the interior line and in the secondary. It was only two years ago that this team won a conference title, so it's not as if Dantonio has to build a winning mindset, too. If/when this team finds consistency, they will win with regularity.

As promised, the non-conference schedule is a doozy. Dantonio debuts in Columbus against his old team before playing host to Miami of Ohio. Then comes Syracuse. Oh-and-three isn't out of the question. But this is how kids this age realize their potential - to have their worth tested, broken down, and then rebuilt to ultimately be stronger. Things are relatively easier once the conference schedule begins. With what Minter left behind, don't be surprised to see Cincy leave Conference USA as champions, with Dantonio amongst coach-of-the-year candidates.

Projected 2004 record: 6-5
CB Daven Holly
QB - 4.5 DL - 3.5
RB - 3.5 LB - 4
WR - 3.5 DB - 3
OL - 3 ..

Passing: Gino Guidugli, 425-227-10, 2704 yds., 14 TD

Rushing: Richard Hall, 185 att., 777 yds., 8 TD

Receiving: George Murray, 30 rec., 270 yds., 0 TD

Scoring: Richard Hall, 10 TD, 60 pts.

Punting: Chet Ervin, 63 punts, 38.9 avg.

Kicking: Chris Manfredini, 10-11 FG, 27-29 PAT, 57 pts.

Tackles: Jamar Enzor, 137 tot., 79 solo

Sacks: Trent Cole, 14 sacks

Interceptions: Daven Holly, 6 for 58 yds., 1 TD

Kickoff returns: Tedric Harwell, 16 ret., 16.8 avg., 0 TD

Punt returns: Carl Jones, 9 ret., 15.0 avg., 0 TD


OFFENSE: Josh Shneyderov-C, Thaddeus Lewis-WR, Booker Vann-FB, Anthony Colton-OT
DEFENSE: KaSon Love-DT, John Feaster-DT, Zach Norton-CB, Franklin Callicott-FS

The key to this offense is senior Gino Guidugli, a strong-armed pocket passer entering his fourth year as starter. He's a solid 6-3 and has some quickness, which should get him several NFL looks. But Gino must be more accurate. He regressed in his third year as starter, throwing (an acceptable) 10 picks, but with just 14 TDs. Some things will give to these ends - Cincy's receivers look to be stronger this year, and the offense will be more creative under new head coach Mark Dantonio. Still, the pressure's on Gino, and after three years as the Man, he should be used to it. Expect better numbers. If Gino goes down, there will be an enormous experience gap. Backup George Murray, the team's second fastest player (4.41-40), has seen plenty of time ... catching Gino's passes. He's an undeniable athlete, but as a QB, he's mostly been used (deceptively) as a runner. The future is redshirt freshman Todd Spitzer, a 6-5 dropback bomber who was the scout team co-offensive player of the year last fall. The unit is strong, but performance is unpredictable.

Running Back
Like the passing game, expect better numbers here. Richard Hall (like Dantonio, an OSU transfer) might have been a 1,000-yard rusher in '03 had he stayed healthy. He has 4.6-speed and is a worthy receiving target. Durability is a concern, but he has a more experienced line. Hall rarely loses yards, always a coaches' desire. Moreover, Dantonio is striving for balance with his offense, so Hall will have to be effective and should expect plenty of work. If he can't handle it, there's backup Carl Jones, another fast former receiver who averaged a team-best 5.0 yards per carry and got plenty of reps in Hall's absence. There's loads of speed here, but any real power will come from junior Kyle Koester, a 240-pounder who excels in short-yardage situations, and fullback Ken Smith, a converted LB. Hall's the closest thing to a total-package back, but as a unit these guys have enough to provide a consistent ground attack.

There's talent here, but that was hard to believe last fall as inexperience took its toll. Dantonio will soon realize the "year older-year better" cliché holds true with this group. The diamond in the rough is 6-3 senior Hannibal Thomas, a JUCO-transfer who didn't start getting looks until midway through the season. He has the sure hands, size and strength of a possession guy, and the speed to be a substantial deep threat. Despite not getting a catch until game seven, he wound up fourth in grabs (22), tied for first in TD catches (three) while averaging 18.8 yards per reception. Murray, the backup QB and leading receiver in '03 (30 catches), is a possession guy who's quick enough to spread defenses. Derick Ross is also (proven) quick enough to go deep. There are plenty of weapons here for Guidugli, especially when these guys start playing to their potential.

Tight End
Though he's been in the lineup as long as Guidugli, don't expect senior A.J. Lucious to get many balls tossed his way -- he's had just three receptions in each of the past two seasons. But Lucious is a physical presence up front who has added 25 pounds of bulk since arriving on campus four years ago. Brent Celek, a 6-4 soph, played in every game as a freshman and is more of a receiving threat, though he had only two catches.

Offensive Line
Big and experienced, this group's talent level means they could be (one of, if not) Conference USA's best O-line(s). A physical front will be needed to spark this fast, power-light backfield. Senior guard Kyle Takavitz, an all-conference selection in '03, is the leader. A former starter at tackle, he's strong, versatile and considered one of the nation's best pass-blockers (great news for Gino). Senior starting tackles Steve Eastlake and Clint Stickdorn secure the outsides well, in both running and passing situations. Center (junior) Matt Webster has the edge over Joel Yakovac (at the end of spring ball). Cincy allowed just 20 sacks and was fifth in the conference in rushing offense, trends that will continue.

Dantonio's new offense, now under the direction of (former Miami of Ohio) offensive coordinator Don Treadwell, will be more exciting than that of former coach Rick Minter, though that's not saying much. Insider info - Cincy fans and media actually got excited when the offense opened the spring game with a pass. Don't expect the Fun-and-Gun, but, with nine starters back, the pieces are here for a nice, balanced offense. After working with Ben Roethlisberger, Treadwell has another NFL possibility in Guidugli, who will benefit from a seasoned line, improving WR corps, and a talented tailback in Hall. As much heat as it got, last year's offense under Minter was fifth in the conference and 44th in all of I-A. There's no reason why this one shouldn't be better.


OG Kyle Takavitz


Returning Starters in bold
QB Gino Guidugli-Sr (6-3, 220) George Murray-Sr (6-1, 194)
FB Ken Smith-So (5-11, 234) Evan Sparks-So (6-0, 205)
RB Richard Hall-Sr (5-11, 208) Carl Jones-Jr (5-9, 187)
Derrick Eddington-So (5-7, 192)
WR Derick Ross-Jr (5-10, 186) Cedric Dawley-Sr (6-1, 210)
WR George Murray-Sr (6-1, 193) Bill Poland-So (6-3, 180)
WR Hannibal Thomas-Sr (6-3, 205) Mike Daniels-So (5-7, 185)
TE A.J. Lucius-Sr (6-3, 250) Brent Celek-So (6-4, 240)
OT Steve Eastlake-Sr (6-5, 280) Frank Straub-So (6-6, 305)
OG Kyle Takavitz-Sr (6-4, 303) Adam Shorter-Sr (6-6, 291)
C Joel Yakovac-Jr (6-2, 283) Matt Webster-Jr (6-3, 284)
OG Matt Mercer-Sr (6-3, 300) Jeff Reinstatler-So (6-2, 283)
OT Clint Stickdorn-Sr (6-6, 308) Jeremy Schlicher-Sr (6-6, 283)
K Chet Ervin-Jr (6-3, 175) Chris Manfredini-So (5-9, 165)



Defensive Line
After the spring game, Dantonio said, "Our good players are our front seven." Well, he has probably the conference's best DE-duo in seniors Trent Cole and Andre Frazier. Both are tough pass rushers, and both are bigger, though only increasing their weights to modestly respectable levels of around 250. Cole, an all-CUSA pick, is more athletic and the better all-around player. The middle is softer, literally. New starters Mike Wright and Lonnie Simmons are a pair of 300-pound seniors who need to step up. Wright's career has been stymied by injuries up to this point. Simmons, a Michigan State-transfer, is one of the team's biggest linemen but was easy to miss last fall. When Wright and Simmons struggle to tie up linemen and fill holes, the front seven will take a step back.

The experienced, though not huge, senior LB trio that returns should be tough to run against. Jamar Enzor, Tyjuan Hagler and Jason Russell combined for nearly 300 tackles last season, with 137 coming from Enzor in the middle. Russell is the most athletic of the three and is also the trio's best pass-rusher and -defender. Hagler can hit like Marvelous Marvin from the SAM spot, but, like Enzor, he's mostly a run-stopper. With ends like Cole and Frazier, these guys can afford to sit back - until the middle need help. Steady is the key word here. Once spread thin, these guys are human again, something we will often see.

Defensive Back
This is the biggest question mark for the new staff. Adequate strong safety Doug Monaghan is back for his fourth year as starter, and big-play corner Daven Holly (team-best 4.39-40) returns. Everyone else here is pretty green. After being moved from position-to-position, Tedric Harwell will try to fill in at corner. In terms of depth, it doesn't look like there are any Ronnie Lotts waiting in the wings, though soph CB Brian Dodd looked good in picking off a pair of spring game passes. Success was found by this crew in '03, so some of that will carry over. Just how much will define the entire defensive effort and, ultimately, how far the team itself goes.

As Ohio State's defensive coordinator the previous three seasons, Dantonio knows where solid 'D' can take a team. That side of the ball dominated Cincy's spring game, holding the offenses to a combined 14 points and 399 yards in four 10-minute quarters. Of those yards, 289 were through the air, an indication of the Achilles of this defense, and possibly this entire team. Monaghan and Holly will be stars, and the front seven will have to put more pressure on the QB. The Cats will consistently get beat in the air. The issues really are how bad and how often? The answers determine the outcome of the season.


DE Trent Cole


Returning Starters in bold
DE Trent Cole-Sr (6-4, 250) Adam Roberts-Jr (6-3, 240)
DT Lonnie Simmons-Sr (6-4, 300) Jamie Wimmer-So (6-4, 280)
Jordan Roth-Fr (6-2, 270)
NT Mike Wright-Sr (6-5, 291) Jon Newton-Fr (6-3, 270)
DE Andre Frazier-Sr (6-5, 250) Angelo Craig-Fr (6-5, 205)
OLB Jason Russell-Sr (6-2, 210) Dominic Ross-So (6-0, 177)
MLB Jamar Enzor-Sr (6-1, 222) Jermaine Wilson-Sr (6-0, 219)
OLB Tyjuan Hagler-Sr (6-2, 222) Jamey Murphy-Sr (6-2, 234)
CB Tedric Harwell-Sr (5-11, 188) Brian Dodd-So (5-9, 185)
CB Daven Holly-Sr (5-11, 184) John Bowie-So (5-11, 186)
SS Doug Monaghan-Sr (6-3, 210) Anthony Williams-Fr (6-1, 190)
FS JaJuan Hall-So (6-0, 185) Antoine Horton-Sr (5-10, 178)
P Chet Ervin-Jr (6-3, 175) Jordan Lear-Fr (6-7, 225)




Among the many returnees is junior Chet Ervin, who takes care of punting, long field goals and kickoffs. He has to be better. Ervin was 10th in the conference and had four kicks blocked. Ervin also had three field goals blocked. Dantonio had his special teams practice "live" (at game speed) all spring in hopes of improving. His kickers, including usually accurate short-range guy Chris Manfredini, were 0-for-3 in field goals in the spring game. But at least nothing was blocked.

Return Game
Another area that needs work. Cincy was middle of the pack in both punt and kick returns. The Cats failed to get a TD via either. After averaging 15.0 yards per return on punts, Carl Jones should get the nod. On kicks, look for Jones and the multi-talented Murray to get looks. With the (team) speed here, this area shouldn't have been as mediocre.