Cincinnati Rolling into Redemption Chance Against WVU - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Cincinnati Rolling into Redemption Chance Against WVU

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MORGANTOWN -

Cincinnati head coach Butch Jones said all the right things last year heading into his team's game against West Virginia.

A former assistant for the Mountaineers under Rich Rodriguez, Jones and his family were looking forward to the return to Morgantown and playing in front of familiar fans, but he downplayed the impact those emotions would have on the game.

It was just another game on the schedule, another chance to win in the Big East, and that's what Jones and the Bearcats intended to do.

But what transpired instead was perhaps WVU's best all-around performance of the season and a disappointing 37-10 thumping for Cincinnati.

Fast forward one year later and Jones is leading the only team undefeated in league play. His Bearcats currently hold a 7-1 overall record and are coming off a win against Pittsburgh and a number of Jones' former colleagues from his days at West Virginia.

The Bearcats are just days from an opportunity to rid themselves of the sour taste they walked off Mountaineer Field with a year ago, but Jones insists he and his players haven't called to mind those bad memories of 2010.

"We haven't used that at all," Jones said Monday. "The great thing is our team is focused on the task at hand and there's never looking back, it's always looking forward."

What they're looking forward to is a team that is underperforming compared to its preseason expectations and is looking for something positive after a loss full of so many negatives.

Despite a 2-2 record in the Big East, the Bearcats see what the Mountaineers have done well at times in the season and are beginning preparation for what's shown up on film with a Monday practice.

"Our players understand the respect level that we have for West Virginia and the talent of their football team and all that," says Jones. "They understand what's at stake, they understand the quality of opponent that we're playing. Last year is last year, our team's completely different, our identity, our personality is completely different."

There are, of course, just as many differences on West Virginia's team and the personality may be a bit changed as well. The defense Jones will face on Saturday is nothing like the dominant unit that showed up in his first year at Cincinnati.

Last year, it gave up just 10 points to the Bearcats, but in its past three games, WVU is averaging 36 points allowed.

"I still see a typical West Virginia defense," says Jones. "They're fast, they're physical, they're tough. They play with great effort. You're not going to find anyone in the country who has more respect for Jeff Casteel and that defensive staff than I do. I've seen it, I worked with them, he was a great colleague and I know what he's all about."

The WVU staff is also aware of what Jones is all about and that knowledge may be why many expected the Bearcats to outperform expectations in 2011. Year one was full of growing pains and plans for the future. Now it is the future, and the plans have certainly worked to this point.

"When you win, that brings confidence. So right now, we are playing with a lot of confidence," says Jones. "There is something to be said about passion and about energy and it's that mental energy that we talk about and the mental intensity that it takes. And not just on game day, but that's born throughout the course of the week and your preparation."

Jones is again saying all the right things, but this year, he has a team capable of backing up his words and producing far more on the field.

The chance at redemption from last season's poor outing in Morgantown, that redemption the Bearcats aren't thinking about at all this week, is just around the corner.

 

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