CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The University of Charleston earned a shiny new national ranking this week, coming in at No. 25 in the AFCA coaches' poll.
If the Golden Eagles want to keep a number to the left of their name, they're possibly going to need to play the best game they've played this season.
UC will travel to Glenville State for a homecoming game against the Pioneers at 1:30 p.m. today.
Glenville (4-4 overall, 4-1 West Virginia Conference) has won two in a row and three out of four and sits tied for second in the league with UC (7-1, 4-1), both teams a half-game behind Shepherd (6-2, 5-1).
The Eagles also enter today's contest hobbling after several players, including quarterback Maurice Leak, were injured in last week's 27-14 win at West Liberty.
"We've got some guys that are beat up," UC coach Pat Kirkland said. "We're going to have some young guys and new faces playing for us, but that's part of the game. We have 90 guys on our team and some of them are going to have to step up."
Backup quarterback John Knox has stepped up repeatedly this season, including in the second half last week as he ran for 48 yards and a touchdown and completed 6 of his 8 passes for 80 yards after Leak left the game. Kirkland said Knox will get the start if Leak can't go today.
Regardless who has been playing quarterback, the UC defense has stepped up all season. The Golden Eagles rank second in the WVC in scoring defense (17.1 points per game) and first in total defense (270 yards per game).
Kirkland believes the UC defense will need to dig even deeper against an explosive Glenville rushing attack that is second in the conference at 167.5 yards per game, ranking only behind UC (236.8).
"We've done a good job all year on playing disciplined, sound defense," Kirkland said. "We've got to continue to do the same thing. It starts up front. I've been extremely impressed with [senior defensive linemen] Jeff Green and Dylan March. They're our leaders on defense and they've done a tremendous job.
"We've got to do a good job against the spread on defense and making plays in space."