Sunday, November 23, 2014

Boyle gets his chance for UConn

While it was hardly a surprise to the members of the team, there were a few raised eyebrows when sophomore Tim Boyle trotted out with the starting offense on the first drive of the game instead of senior Chandler Whitmer, UConn's starting quarterback for the last eight games.
"We hadn't seen him do if he could start in a game, we hadn't seen it yet," Diaco said of his decision to start Boyle. "Nothing against Chandler but we wanted to see what Timmy would give us. He is going to get better and better and he needs to get better and better. The only way to get better and better is to play."
The final numbers were not pretty as Boyle finished 13 of 21 yards for 70 yards and had minus 25 yards rushing despite being sacked only twice. Whitmer was 1 of 5 with an interception and finished with 11 passing yards. At a team the Huskies managed 129 yards of total offense, matching the lowest output since the Huskies began playing at the Football Bowl Subdivision level in 2002.
"We had a good game plan I thought we were going to be able to execute," Boyle said. "Turnovers and execution were the culprit, I think once we start executing and handing onto the ball, we can do some good things."
Since Cochran's retirement Boyle has been limited to just one series while Whitmer received the bulk of the work. With an extra week to prepare the decision was made to insert Boyle as the starting quarterback as well as giving true freshman Ryan Crozier his first career start at left offensive guard.
"Once I saw my role increase in practice I thought I was going to play more and I was going to get the majority of the snaps, not necessarily the start," Boyle said. "Chandler and I have been rotating on and off and see what does from there but nothing predetermined. It is always good to get more snaps. I know this sounds bad but the more mistakes you can make, the game of football is about making mistakes and not trying to make them twice, trying to learn from them. I think the more snaps I get the more mistakes I am going to make. It is weird to say but down the road it is probably going to help me a little more.
"He (Whitmer) is right on my side, he has been positive. Like you guys say today, he is still battling through all the adversity he has had to go through. It is very tough and I respect him for it but he has been right there by my side the whole time."
Boyle made it clear that he is focusing on the remainder of this season and not about being the Huskies' quarterback of the future.
"It is more settling into the game," Boyle said. "You can ask any quarterback, it is tough in the beginning of the game to try to get into a rhythm especially when you are going 3 and out and have turnovers like that. More towards the end of the game I had more confidence in myself, I started seeing things a little easier. I am nowhere (near) where I need to be, where I want to be and that is going come down to film study and working hard in practice. I think the hardest thing for me is to just see the defense and make the right decision. I have a long way to go but I think it has increased my confidence level."
Diaco said that Crozier beat out Cruz for the starting left guard spot and another intriguing aspect in terms of playing time is that Arkeel Newsome, who had at least three carries in every game when he was healthy, did not get a carry.
"Things are starting to mount on these guys, they have finals, school every day, they are in football," Newsome said. "We are not having a great season and and and and it is just building on them. Arkeel, his class and company, they are doing a fantastic job but it is hard, you are young, you are homesick, some are working through it better than others. Arkeel is going to be a great player." 

Tough day all around for UConn

When the day began the biggest news was the departure of juniors Jefferson Ashiru and Kamal Abrams.

It wasn't long before that was replaced by 60 minutes of miscues and one of the worst losses in UConn football history.

Three of Cincinnati's scoring drives in a 41-0 win started in UConn territory meanwhile the Huskies were shut out at home for the first time since 1978 and the 129 yards of total offense matched the lowest total since UConn began playing at the FBS level.

"You can't do that," UConn coach Bob Diaco said. "They are going to move the ball, you have to make them move the length of the field. Short fields and turnovers, that is the hallmark of how you get beat."
UConn coach Bob Diaco shook things up by giving sophomore Tim Boyle the start at quarterback while true freshman Ryan Crozier got the call at left guard for his first career start. The only seniors to start on either offense or defense were receivers Davis, making his return after missing the last 2 1/2 games, and Deshon Foxx and defensive end/outside linebacker Reuben Frank.
The Huskies, coming off their two best rushing games of the season, were held to minus 10 yards on the ground in the first half and finished the first half with nine yards of total offense. Cincinnati had nine double-digit yardage plays in the first half and finished with 248 yards of offense in the first two quarters.
Before the game it was confirmed that junior receiver Kamal Abrams and junior linebacker Jefferson Ashiru have left the team continuing the attrition within the program.
Eight different players who started games and with remaining eligibility are no longer with the program. Going one step further, 12 other scholarship players with remaining eligibility who were on the roster at the end of the 2013 season are no longer with the program.
Quarterbacks Kivon Taylor and Scott McCummings, running backs Lyle McCombs and Joe Williams, defensive backs Ty-Meer Brown, Tyree Clark and David Stevenson, tight ends E.J. Norris and Quinn Thompson, offensive lineman Xavier Hemingway, defensive lineman Michael Boland and receiver Shakim Phillips join Abrams and Ashiru as the players on the roster for the 2013 season finale against Memphis who are no longer with the team. That doesn't include injured former starters Byron Jones, Casey Cochran, Dalton Gifford and Angelo Pruitt with Gifford the only one expected back for the 2015 season. Diaco said that 35 players from the last four recruiting classes are no longer a part of the program. Some of that is his doing but much of it happened before he arrived.
"Everybody's got their own reason why, we are just trying to grow and build our culture," Diaco said.
"We want to teach and develop. Do you have a picture of it? I am honored to coach this team. I am honored to be here. If I had to make this choice again 200 times, I would make it again 200 times. I love the guys that are in that locker room, I want to serve them. I also analyze the signing classes of 2010, '11, '12 and '13 and there are 35 players that showed up for active ready duty for UConn Husky football, be student-athletes at the university that are no longer here, that is a fact or no longer able to participate. I don't know the stories."
Sophomore fullback Matt Walsh did not play but he is not among the departed Huskies according to Diaco.
"We had some very slight corrective conversations here and tomorrow he is with the team," Diaco said. "He is a great kid, a great teammate and he is going to do a good job and fulfill his potential."

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Tough night for UConn commits

UConn commits Frank Battle and Nazir Williams were hoping to extend their senior seasons and move a step closer to helping their teams to state titles.

However, it wasn't to be.

Battle failed to catch a pass for the third consecutive game as Belen Jesuit fell to Killian 31-0 in the Florida 8A regional semifinals. In the last three games Belen completed just three passes including just one in the loss to Killian.

Meanwhile Williams had two catches for 14 yards and a 41-yard pass completion as Bridgeton fell 20-6 to Delsan in the South Jersey Group III semifinals. Williams did have a role in Bridgeton's lone score as he caught a pass and pitched it to Cappadonna Miller. Miller raced the final 35 yards for a touchdown late in the first half.

Also, Ian Campbell's Pequannock team lost to Waldwick/Midland Park 21-7 in the North Jersey Group 2 semifinals.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Tuberville: UConn much better team this year

When listening to coaches discuss the team they are getting ready to play, the comments need to be taken with a grain of salt. Lou Holtz was notorious for making the opposing team sound like the 1985 Chicago Bears even if they were 1-10. Still, with all of that being said, Cincinnati coach Tommy Tuberville was very complimentary when talking about the job Bob Diaco has done in his first season with the Huskies.

"They have a new coach, young coach who is very enthusiastic," Tuberville said. "You can tell he has made changes during the year to make the team better. They are a much better team this year then they were last year at this time. We beat them pretty good here and knowing that they played one of their best games (against Central Florida), they've got momentum going and I am sure they want to finish the year out on the right foot. I don't want to expect. I am sure he is going to make some changes going into the last few weeks knowing that he has some young guys he might want to start playing to try to win some more games and start working for spring practice and next year.
"Their guys on their team, last year when they came here they were in disarray after losing their coach but this group Bob has done a good job of putting his fingerprint on it. He knows the best years are down the road but he has done it his way. They are playing really hard  and that is what you want them to do."

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

UConn in the NFL: Week 11

There haven't been many positives for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this season but the play of former UConn linebacker Danny Lansanah has been a revelation. Lansanah had an interception in Sunday's 27-7 win over Washington. It was his third interception this season, the most for any linebacker in the league.

Blidi Wreh-Wilson had his best game of the season according to the Pro Football Focus site. He was targeted nine times and gave up just three catches for 22 yards. It was the second time this season Wreh-Wilson allowed less than 50 percent of the targets against him to be completed.

Robert McClain, who had just six tackles in the previous four games, moved back into a prominent role on the Atlanta Falcons' defense after Robert Alford was knocked out of Sunday's game against Carolina with a wrist injury. McClain had four tackles in the game and with Alford expected to miss 2-4 weeks, McClain is expected to start for the Falcons.

However, the former Husky making the most news this week is Dwayne Gratz. With the Jacksonville Jaguars have a bye Gratz was in Miami and his arrest for allegedly causing a disturbance after his attempt to pay for items with bubble gum was rebuffed made national headlines. According to multiple media reports, he was arrested after refusing to leave the store.

Will Beatty, OT New York Giants: Started in 16-10 loss to San Francisco
Donald Brown, RB San Diego: Had one carry for no yards and a 4-yard catch in 13-6 win over Oakland
Darius Butler, CB Indianapolis: Had two tackles in 42-20 loss to New England
Marcus Easley, WR Buffalo: Returned to action for first time in nearly two months but did not have catch or tackle in 22-9 loss to Miami
Dwayne Gratz, CB Jacksonville: Bye week
Ryan Griffin, TE Houston: Did not have catch in 23-7 win over Cleveland
Danny Lansanah, LB Tampa Bay: Had two tackles and interception in 27-7 win over Washington
Robert McClain, CB Atlanta: Had four tackles including tackle for loss in 19-17 win over Carolina
Sio Moore, LB Oakland: Had nine tackles in 13-6 loss to San Diego
Dan Orlovsky, QB, Detroit: Did not play in 14-6 loss to Arizona
Kendall Reyes, DT San Diego: Had one tackle in 13-6 win over Oakland
Anthony Sherman, FB Kansas City: Had a 13-yard catch and two tackles in 24-20 win over Seattle
Shamar Stephen, DT Minnesota: Had one tackle in 21-13 loss to Chicago
Jordan Todman, RB Jacksonville: Bye week
Blidi Wreh-Wilson, CB Tennessee: Had three tackles and two pass breakups in 27-24 loss to Pittsburgh

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Monday, November 17, 2014

UConn's Diaco reflects on memorable season at Cincinnati

Bob Diaco's time in Cincinnati was rather brief but the memories figure to last a lifetime.

Diaco was the defensive coordinator and inside linebackers coach for the Bearcats during the 2009 season. Diaco's defense allowed fewer than 21 points in each of the first eight games en route to a perfect 12-0 regular season and appearance in the Sugar Bowl against Florida.

On today's American Athletic Conference call Diaco was asked to look back on one of the best seasons in Cincinnati history. He was quick to point out "one of the" were unnecessary words in describing that magical season.

"Have you been 12-0 before or since," Diaco said.

"It was awesome. I loved it. I lived in this little town just northeast of the city. I loved living there, my family loved it. It was great food. I am a foodie so great food in Cincinnati, awesome restaurants, awesome culture. It was very convenient with proximity to that large airport. It was an easy city to live in, very friendly, big city but kind of a midwest feel and I really liked that. I liked the climate too, it was just south enough where we got a little bit of snow from time to time but not much. The guys were tough guys, great fan support, great following and the team was fun to work with. They were tough, loved to play football, mentally and physically tough, contact tough. It was a fun team to coach, a lot of fun."

Perhaps no one memory remains with Diaco more than the bus ride to the airport to head to the Sugar Bowl.

"I will never forget the Cincinnati crowd as we loaded the busses to go to play Florida in the Sugar Bowl that was in the street as far as the eye could see shaking, banging on the busses," Diaco said. "It was just a spectacular moment."

Diaco downplayed any extra emotions going against Cincinnati.

"Nothing extra," Diaco said. "I personally, I have affinity and affection for my time there. I am excited for the game because we get to play another game and we need to play another game, we need to practice and play."

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Big night for UConn commit

It was a pretty successful day for future Huskies on Friday.

Four UConn commits played in state playoff games and three of their teams emerged victorious.

Leading the way was Nazir Williams who had a season-high 124 receiving yards including a 23-yard touchdown as Bridgeton rolled to a 42-0 win over Manasquan in the South Jersey Group 3 quarterfinals as Bridgeton won a home playoff game for the first time since 1999. Bridgeton will meet Delsea in the second round.

Fellow receiver Frank Battle wasn't nearly as busy but his Belen Jesuit team kept its state title hopes alive. Belen Jesuit only attempted two passes and did not complete either one but ran 41 times for 269 yards in a 20-7 win over Southridge in a Florida Region 4-8A quarterfinal.

Ian Campbell's Pequannock team rallied to beat Elmwood Park 21-20 in the North Jersey Section 1 Group 2 playoffs to set up a meeting with Waldwick on Friday.

The news wasn't all good as Connor Freeborn's Salesianum squad lost to Sussex Tech in the Delaware Division I quarterfinals.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Busy day for UConn commits

Michael Tarbutt's Canisius High School team lived to play another day with a convincing 62-19 win over St. Francis in the Monsignor Martin Association semifinals on Thursday. Canisius can complete a perfect season with a win over Bishop Timon-St. Jude on Thursday.

There were be plenty of fellow UConn commits in action today.

Frank Battle's Belen Jesuit team plays Southridge in the Florida 8A playoffs, Ian Campbell and Pequannock faces Elmwood Park in the North Jersey Group 2 quarterfinals, Connor Freeborn's Salesianum squad meets Sussex Tech in Delaware's Division 1 quarterfinal, Nazir Williams' Bridgeton team plays Manasquan in the South Jersey Group III quarterfinals while Marshe Terry and Northern Burlington meet West Windsor-Plainsboro North in the NJSIAA consolation bracket.

Bryan Cespedes' New London team, current seventh in the CIAC Class M ratings, has a regular-season game against Killingly while Kevin Murphy's West Chester East plays its regular-season finale against Hatsboro-Horsham.