Thursday, November 30, 2006

Juco All-American visits this weekend

Looks like the Huskies will do their best to bring in a Juco quarterback for next season. Billy Bob Orsagh from Highland (Kansas) CC visited last weekend. Palomar (Calif.) College's Tyler Lorenzen is making a visit this weekend. It would seem Lorenzen would be quite a catch, and a candidate to start right away. He graduates in December, and would be available for spring practice this March.

At 6-foot-5, 220 pounds, Lorenzen, a native of Eddyville, Iowa, committed to Iowa State but decided to transfer when the Cyclones switched him to wide receiver. At Palomar, a strong Juco program that won three national titles in the 1990s, he was named first-team All-American after throwing for 2,960 yards and 26 touchdowns with only three interceptions in 11 games. He also rushed for 836 yards and eight TDs to lead the nation in total offense.

"He’s pretty dynamic," Palomar head coach Joe Early said on Thursday. "He’s a really good athlete and whoever ends up getting him will be very happy with him."

Palomar has sent dozens of players to major college football and the NFL (Tom Dempsey, who holds the record for longest NFL field goal at 63 yards, is its most famous alum). Lorenzen is the program's seventh All-American quarterback. Others to receive that honor went to play at programs like Arizona State, Oregon, North Carolina, Oklahoma State and Georgia Tech.

"Right now, he’s just weighing his options," Early said. "He knows all about UConn and their facilities. A lot of Southern California guys aren’t willing to go play where its cold, but he’s not that type. He grew up in Iowa, and isn’t afraid to move to the east coast."

Palomar runs a diverse offense that includes multiple offenses. Early described it as a quasi-West Coast offense that was conducive for a good, smart athlete like Lorenzen to flourish. Asked if Lorenzen is ready to step in and play right away at a major college, Early said yes.

"If he gets into the right type of offense, he should," Early said. "Our offense was pretty diverse and more progressive than other schools. He’s smart, knows how to read defenses and will continue to grow in that regard. He played Division I as a wide receiver, so he knows what it takes."

Early said Lorenzen doesn't have any other visits set up of yet. But he had just gotten off the phone with coaches at Baylor, who were inquiring about him, and has also sent tape to Houston and Mississippi State.

On to the picks. I went 5-4-1 last week. Manny and UConnHuskies86 also had 5-4-1 records to tie. My season record is now 63-65-6. This is the final week, but I will put together a bowl pool once we know all the matchups.

Game 1: UConn (+27.5) over LOUISVILLE. I think the Huskies can score 20 points on the Cards D. That means Brohm and Co. would need to score 48 points to cover. A distinct possibility, but I like UConn's chances to cover.

Game 2: Rutgers (+10) over WEST VIRGINIA. The 'Neers will win it on the field, but expect Rutgers to cover.

Game 3: Wake Forest (+2.5) over GEORGIA TECH. Hard to believe this is the same Wake team UConn should have beaten at the Runway back in September. Take away the 29-yard field goal miss and blown extra-point kick (not one of Matt Nuzie's finest moments), and that game is going to overtime at the very least. Now, the Deacons are a game away from winning the ACC title.

Game 4: NAVY (-20.5) over Army. Always one of the best games to watch on TV, at least until Navy pulls ahead by 40 at halftime.

Game 5: Southern California (-14) over UCLA. Who would have thought Pete Carroll would emerge as THE premier coach in college football back when he was bumbling his way to four forgettable seasons as head coach with the Jets and Pats?

Game 6: FLORIDA (-3) over Arkansas. Congrats to Darren McFadden, a finalist for the Walter Camp Football Foundation's player of the year along with Troy Smith, Colt Brennan, Steve Slaton and Brady Quinn. Too bad he won't win.

Game 7: OKLAHOMA (-4) over Nebraska. Is it just me or is every Big 12 team boring and bland?

Game 8: HAWAII (-7.5) over Oregon State. Colt Brennan hasn't thrown for less than 296 yards in a game this season, and has a streak of four straight with at least 400. He's also thrown for five or more touchdowns in SEVEN games so far. Unreal.

Game 9: CALIFORNIA (-28.5) over Stanford. What the hell happened to Stanford?

Get your picks in this week by clicking the "comments" button below.

Brief injury report

Some injury updates from Randy Edsall's Thursday teleconference with state media...

Larry Taylor (concussion) is out. He hasn't practiced at all the last two weeks. Andre Dixon and Robert McClain will handle kickoffs. Brandon Young will see more snaps at WR once again.

Deon Anderson (pinched nerve) is "Very doubtful". Anthony Barksdale will start.

Mike Hicks (knee, ankle) will make the trip, but probably won't play unless there's an injury. Edsall said if he's needed, he could play. Applebaum, Hutcherson, LaMagdelaine, Thomas and Ryan will start on the offensive line.

I'll have the weekend picks posted later today...

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Y'all wanted to talk to the Kentucky Hammer?

Desi Cullen is out of his mind. And I mean that in the nicest way possible. He's hilarious, even when he's not really trying to be funny. He's like a cross between Jeff Spicoli and Robin Williams; a shaggy-haired surfer dude with an endless supply of energy. A couple of reporters interviewed him today at the media luncheon to get his feelings on returning home to Louisville to play on Saturday. What we got was a refreshing change. A genuine kid who is thrilled to be a part of the program, doesn't take himself too seriously and isn't afraid to laugh (or make others laugh). I liked him the instant he walked into the interview room and said, with a Southern twang, "Y'all wanted to talk to the Kentucky Hammer?"

Cullen was a diehard Louisville fan growing up, and attended many games at Papa John Stadium. His first dream was to play soccer for the school, but once he started kicking as a sophomore in high school he decided he wanted to kick for the Louisville football team. Despite a successful high school career, Louisville never bothered to recruit Cullen. Granted, Cullen got a very late start in football. But he's looking forward to the day he can make them pay for overlooking him. Interestingly enough, Cullen became interested in UConn after seeing the student section on TV during last December's game with Louisville at the Runway. "I was the leader of the student section at our high school basketball games back home, and I wanted to go somewhere where the students went buck wild. So I sent them my tapes."

Read more about Desi in Wednesday's Register.

Some other notes from Tuesday....

  • Terry Caulley and Deon Anderson were selected to play in the Magnolia Gridiron Classic in Jackson, Miss., a senior showcase for non-bowl game participants.

  • Randy Edsall said Anderson is the team's best senior NFL prospect, maybe more for his ability to play special teams. He'll most likely take the free agent route. Speaking of UConn prospects, I know at least one NFL scout who has been salivating over William Beatty since last season.

  • Darius Butler says he's ready if need be at quarterback. He's spent the last two weeks learning to run a limited offense. He was a pretty dangerous option quarterback in high school in Florida. A few Division I-A colleges: Florida Atlantic, South Florida and Central Florida, all recruited Butler as a QB. Edsall said he's capable of running a limited offensive set. The third-string quarterback for Saturday? Yep. It's Terry Caulley. Freshman walk-on Matt Vollono wasn't considered for any of the back-up roles, Edsall said. Think he needs a lot more seasoning.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

D.J.'s done and a toasted secondary

University of Connecticut football coach Randy Edsall confirmed on Sunday that sophomore quarterback D.J. Hernandez of Bristol has a broken left wrist. He knew about it Saturday, but stopped short of saying there was a fracture.

Hernandez was fitted for a cast on Sunday, where it is expected to remain for the next six to eight weeks. He suffered a similar injury last season in a loss at Cincinnati.

“D.J. has a broken bone in the wrist that he broke before,” Edsall said. “Not in the same place, but in the same bone. He’s in a cast. He’s in a cast until it gets healed.”

Hernandez was injured in the fourth quarter of the Nov. 18 game with Syracuse. The seriousness of the injury was hidden by Edsall last week. Hernandez was originally listed as probable, then downgraded to questionable on Wednesday. It wasn’t until about an hour before the opening kickoff of Saturday’s 26-23 loss to Cincinnati at Rentschler Field that it was announced senior Matt Bonislawski would start.

“The decision was made when we knew it would be difficult for D.J. to take a snap,” Edsall said.

Cornerback Darius Butler worked as the Huskies third quarterback in practice last week, and was elevated to backup status behind Bonislawski for the season finale at No. 6 Louisville Saturday. If it comes to that, and let's hope it doesn't, expect Butler to do little more than hand off to his running backs and occasionally throw a simple, short pass.

Sophomore Dennis Brown is the only other scholarship quarterback in the program. But Edsall said last month that he will preserve Brown’s redshirt status and not play him at all this season.

So if anything happens to Bonislawski, who completed 13-of-24 passes for 172 yards and two touchdowns, the most important job on the field falls to Butler, a sophomore who was a star option quarterback in high school but hasn’t practiced at the position at UConn until last week.

At Coral Springs (Fla.) Charter School, Butler totaled nearly 2,500 yards of offense and 25 touchdowns. But he was recruited by the Huskies as a cornerback.

Toasted secondary

UConn cornerbacks Butler and Tyvon Branch were burned over the final minutes by Cincinnati receivers Derrick Stewart and Dominick Goodman on Saturday.

Stewart, grandson of former Olympic hurdler Willie Davenport, finished with nine catches for 166 yards and a touchdown. He beat Butler for 27 yards with 4 minutes to play and the Huskies still holding a 23-16 lead. Goodman made a 9-yard catch past Branch that resulted in the tying touchdown with 2:19 to play.

After Cincinnati got the ball back with just 1:01 remaining, UConn elected to remain in man coverage even though the Bearcats had the ball on their own 28. On the first play, Stewart blew past Butler to make a pretty 50-yard reception to set up the winning field goal.

“We were trying to get him one-on-one," Cincinnati offensive coordinator Don Treadwell said. "The quarterback has a choice there. But when Derrick's one-on-one, the ball's usually going to go to him."

Said Edsall, “They made a great throw and catch. We could have been in a little better position. (Stewart) reached out, was extended and stretching for it. They made the play, we didn’t.”

Edsall said he opted to stick with man coverage over a zone because it forced Cincinnati quarterback Nick Davila to throw into tight coverage rather than a more relaxed zone that would have opened up more space.

“We had confidence Tyvon and Darius could play that,” Edsall said. “It’s tough to play man to man. You’re on an island out there. Sometimes you win and sometimes you don’t. They made some plays and there were some plays they got beat on. That happens to a corner when you sit there and play man coverage.”

Extra points

Fullback Deon Anderson is doubtful for the Louisville game with a pinched nerve in his neck. Sophomore Anthony Barksdale, who caught an 8-yard touchdown Saturday, will start for UConn. … UConn’s game with Louisville will be played at noon and televised by ESPN.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Post mortem from the Runway

Ugh. Losses don't get much harder to take than that. The final 8 minutes was a microcosm of the entire season for UConn. Troubles on special teams. Offense firing blanks with a chance to put the game away. Defense allowing the big play at the wrong time. It's getting old. Here's a few postgame notes...
  • D.J. Hernandez's wrist injury will end his season. It's fractured. Edsall said he expects D.J. to have a cast put on Sunday, where it will remain for the next eight weeks. Matt Bonislawski will start against Louisville. Pray he doesn't get hurt. His backup next week? None other than cornerback Darius Butler.
  • Deon Anderson pinched a nerve and is questionable for next week. Anthony Barksdale will start if Deon is unavailable. There were no other injuries to report.
  • UConn has now missed three PAT's this season. The other seven teams in the Big East have combined to miss three.
  • Butler got burned on two crucial pass plays, but you have to give credit to Bearcats WR Derrick Stewart. That 50-yard reception which set up the winning field goal was impressive. He went full extension at full speed to haul in a ball that traveled 50 yards in the air.
  • Dumb question of the day went to the reporter who asked Stewart (nine catches, 166 yards, one TD) if UConn's defense frustrated him. Stewart's one word response? No.

Bones will start vs. Bearcats

Couple of lineup changes for UConn today.

Matt Bonislawski will start at quarterback. Donald Thomas will start at left guard.

Bones starts because of D.J. Hernandez's wrist. Thomas is starting because the coaches feel he's the stronger player.

Friday, November 24, 2006

A few things to mull over and the weekly picks

Are you jammed full of turkey, too? Here's 6 things to think about on the always uncomfortable Friday morning after Thanksgiving.

  • I saw the trailer for Rocky Balboa yesterday, the sixth installment of Stallone's Rocky franchise. A little math for you. Rocky came out in 1976. Stallone was 30 years old at the time. It's now 2006. Sly is 60. Sixty! And he's still playing Rocky. Burgess Meredith was 69 when he portrayed Mickey in the original, and he was "a broken down battle axe" trainer back then. This should be interesting. The movie isn't due out until Christmas time. However, early reviews are that this is the best film since the original. I'm still skeptical after the farce that was Rocky V. But I'll definitely drag my wife to go see it.

  • I really need to drop Cablevision for DirectTV or something. Greediest cable service in America. A few years ago they deprived me of an entire season of Yankees baseball because they couldn't come to terms with the YES Network. Now, it looks like the same thing is happening with the NFL Network, which is picking up some key Thursday and Saturday games down the stretch. I must say I'm probably more annoyed at the NFL for this move. How much longer before the four major networks are out of the NFL picture altogether?

  • Hall of Fame boxer Willie Pep passed away Thursday at the age of 84. Most folks in Connecticut may not realize Pep is one of the top 5 athletes to ever come out of this state. Ask any boxing expert and they'll tell you Pep was, pound-for-pound, one of the greatest fighters who ever lived. The former featherweight champ was 230-11-1 in his career, and once won 63 bouts in a row. He was born in Middletown and boxed thoughout the state, even at the height of his career.

  • I stopped for gas on the drive home from Syracuse last Sunday and filled up across the street from the Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, N.Y. I actually know two members - Gaspar Ortega, a world-class welterweight in the 1950s and 1960s, now trains young boxers in New Haven. Russell Peltz, a famous Philadelphia promoter, has up-and-coming New Haven middleweight Elvin Ayala on his client list. I was also thinking about Pep and a few other Connecticut fighters I wanted to check out. But I couldn't get in because they place was closed...on a Sunday. I did giggle at Graziano's Roadway Inn and Gelato shop, which was also across the street.

  • Among the potential recruits who will be attending Saturday's UConn-Cincinnati game at Storrs is junior college quarterback Billy Bob Orsagh of Highland (Kansas) CC. Orsagh is from Texas and is an athletic, if undersized (6-1, 180) passer. He was the Jayhawk Conference Offensive Player of the Year this fall after 2,100 yards passing and 13 TDs. He's also a strong student. Sounds like he could help the Huskies right away. And who doesn't want a quarterback named Billy Bob?

  • The Cowboys really have something in Tony Romo. I was impressed watching him pick apart the Buccaneers defense for 300 yards and five touchdowns yesterday. I'm even more impressed that he's already landing 'A' list dates. He's seeing Jessica Simpson.

  • The referee of the Oklahoma-Oregon game admitted he blew a call on a pivotal on-sides kick that allowed Oregon to score the winning TD in a 34-33 victory over the Sooners. Last I heard, Matt Nuzie was still waiting for his apology after his 45-yard field goal at Syracuse was ruled no good.

Ugly week for the picks. I went 4-7, falling below the Mendoza line again at 58-61-5 for the season. No one else did very well, either. Let's check out the picks for this weekend.

Game 1: CONNECTICUT (+4) over Cincinnati - I've said all along the Bearcats were a very good team who was especially proficient at covering the spread. But they haven't been favored on the road all season.

Game 2: South Florida (+21.5) over WEST VIRGINIA - Bulls should be able to stay within three touchdowns, but it won't be easy.

Game 3: RUTGERS (+14.5) over Syracuse - After his four interceptions against Cincinnati, Mike Teel has now tossed 23 picks in less than two seasons. But Rice and Leonard are still pretty good.

Game 4: Louisville (-11.5) over PITTSBURGH - Think the honeymoon is over for Dave Wannestadt in Pittsburgh? I think so.

Game 5: Oklahoma (-6) over OKLAHOMA STATE

Game 6: Georgia Tech (+2) over GEORGIA

Game 7: MARYLAND (-1.5) over Wake Forest

Game 8: Florida (-10) over FLORIDA STATE

Game 9: SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA (-7) over Notre Dame

Game 10: HAWAII (-18) over Purdue - The lesson? Never bet against Hawaii at home.

Get your picks in by clicking the 'comments' key below.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Some Pre-turkey practice nuggets

The real 2006 MVP

I'll spare you a 2,000-word monologue on why Derek Jeter got screwed out of the American League MVP Award. Since no one will even remember who won the MVP in six months - heck, I already have to think for a minute before remembering who won this year's rookie of the year and Cy Youngs, and it's only been a week since those were announced - let's get right to the UConn football news. Randy Edsall spoke to some media at 1 p.m. and had a few updates.

All the guys who were questionable on Monday, aside from OL Mike Hicks, seem like they will either be OK to play on Saturday or pretty darn close. S M.J. Estep and CB Darius Butler have both practiced and should be ready. TB Terry Caulley also practiced and had no ill effects from hand surgery. TE Dan Murray practiced and was able to do everything. CB Ernest Cole told Edsall he's ready, but couldn't practice yesterday. Hicks is getting a little more functional, but isn't ready to play in a game yet.

QB D.J. Hernandez's wrist injury isn't affecting his throws. The problem has been taking the snap from under center and the impact on the wrist from that. He was listed as probable Monday, but this might be something to keep an eye on. Seems to be a cause of some concern.

With Larry Taylor out with a concussion, Robert McClain should handle punt returns. Darius Butler may be in the fold as long as his hamstring is healthy enough. Minus Taylor, Brandon McLean and Rob Theoudele, all out, UConn will use only three wide receivers on Saturday (Terrence Jeffers, Brad Kanuch and Brandon Young). Matt D'Agata and Marcus Easley are taking reps in practice, but won't play unless there's an injury. Andre Dixon and McClain will handle kickoffs.

That's about it. Have a Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

More trouble for Stanback

Harold Stanback, kicked off the team last month along with four others for a violation of team rules, was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated in Storrs over the weekend.

According to the police report, Stanback was pulled over by campus police for driving erratically on Glenbrook Road Saturday at 3:47 a.m. Police suspected Stanback was driving under the influence of either drugs or alchohol and issued a series of field sobriety tests which Stanback failed. He was subsequently arrested, processed and released on a $500 bond.

A junior from Temple Hills , Md. , Stanback was in the middle of his fourth season with the UConn football team as a defensive end. He was used mainly on special teams and as a backup on the defensive line and had appeared in every game when he was dismissed along with four other players on Oct. 9 for a violation of team rules.

The group had purchased beer at a convenience store the night before a Big East game at South Florida and attempted to smuggled it into to the team hotel. Others dismissed for the incident were wide receiver Todd Dorcelus, linebacker Carl Teague, defensive back Ricky McCollum and wide receiver Nollis Dewar.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Injury news

Larry Taylor is out for the Cincinnati game with concussion symptoms. Taylor suffered similar symptoms after last week's game with Pitt, but still returned punts and played wide receiver against Syracuse yesterday. He was drilled immediately after making a catch on a high, booming Orange punt, which is the one that likely knocked him out of the Cincinnati game. No word on who will return punts, though Randy Edsall said Sunday he may use either Robert McClain or cornerback Darius Butler if he's healthy. Brandon Young is the third receiver and should see more time this week.

Cornerback Ernest Cole is probable for Saturday with a leg injury. Murray has a sprain of his A-C joint (shoulder) while D.J. Hernandez injured his wrist. Both are questionable for Cincinnati.

The Tuesday media luncheon has been moved up to Monday this week, so there should be some updates ready a day early.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Postgame from the Carrier Dome

A few quick notes before I scramble out to catch the end of the Ohio State-Michigan game...

  • D.J. Hernandez sprained a wrist in the third quarter, but it's not viewed as serious. He returned to finish out the game. Dan Murray suffered an A-C sprain (the joint in the shoulder that connects the arm to the rest of the skeleton) and his status is unknown. Same for cornerback Ernest Cole, who injured his knee and left the game in the third quarter.
  • Just about everyone on the UConn sideline thought Matt Nuzie's field goal was good, including the two who had the best view - Nuzie and holder Matt Bonislawski. Of course, everyone in America who watched the replays saw it was good, too. Unfortunately, the play is not reviewable according to NCAA rules. Nuzie, who hadn't seen a replay when he spoke to media afterward, was livid. Several of his friends had left text messages telling him the ref's blew it, and he was, to say the least, frustrated.

A few quotes to mull over...

Edsall on Larry Taylor: "I do wish our punt returner caught the ball more. It's a play he normally makes."

Edsall on the missed field goal: "I've always told our kickers that if they just put it down the middle, you don't put it in the hands of an official to make the call."

Hernandez on Syracuse's D: "They were doing a good job of chasing me around. I really couldn't spring loose on any of the scrambles. We had our chances, we just didn't capitalize on them."

Danny Lansanah on the defense: "I think there was a lack of focus. Today's game came down to playing responsible football. We weren't filling the gaps so they got seams and they took advantage of it. It was a collective problem on defense."

Donta Moore on the loss: "I am very surprised that we didn't come out with a win today because we all knew what was at stake with the bowl situation. We knew we had to come in here and get a win, but we didn't take care of that. I feel this loss was a big setback."

Greg Robinson on the secondary blitzes: "It was a mixture. The key is to never let the quarterback get a rhythm. That was our intent and I thought we had him out of rhythm for a good period of time, really, until the last drive and he made a couple of good throws."

Robinson on having a halftime lead: "That was great. It was timely and it was about time. All of a sudden now they are a little more one-dimensional. That is what you are striving to do is make them a one-dimensional team."

The beauty of indoor football and pregame roster moves

I'm making my first visit here at the Dome and I must say, the view from the press box is by far the best of any stadium I've been to in eight years of covering college football. There are only about 20 rows of bleachers from field level in front of us, and since we're inside and don't need to worry about weather, there are no windows. It's all open. The players are running through their pregame warmups, and we can hear everthing they say. Of course, the doors haven't opened to the public yet so I imagine it will get a little louder once this place has 40,000 people in it. But typically, being in the press box at most places, including the Runway, feels like you're watching the game from a blimp hovering over the stadium. They are usually set behind all the bleachers and are so high the players look like ants.

I've only seen one other indoor football game. Three years ago I was in Grand Forks, North Dakota to cover a two-game hockey series between Yale and North Dakota. To pass time before Saturday night's game, I headed over to the Alerus Center to see the Fighting Sioux football team play Nebraska-Omaha. The weather, as you might expect, is harsh in North Dakota. We were there on Oct. 31, but it was snowing pretty hard in Grand Forks that morning. Guess that's why the team plays indoors. It's a completely different feel watching the game indoors. You see things develop clearer and pick up little nuances of the game that are harder to see outdoors. You also hear everything -- at least I did at the Alerus Center, which has only about a quarter of the capacity of the Carrier Dome. I remember hearing every word clear as day when one of the Nebraska-Omaha coaches reamed out a player in an expletive-filled tirade that would have made a drill sergent blush. I looked to my left and right and saw a handful of elderly couples watching in horror.

I guess what I'm trying to say is I can't wait til kickoff, which is about 90 minutes away.

A few pre-game notes.

Darius Butler (hamstring) did not make the trip. Ernest Cole will start at cornerback. Also, the offensive line was shuffled a tad. Immanuel Hutcherson starts at right guard, Brian Kersmanc will start at left guard, Matt Applebaum will shift to right tackle and Andrew Presnell will serve as the backup at both tackle slots.

Larry Taylor is playing, but will not return kicks. Robert McClain and Andre Sixon will be the main return men.

Friday, November 17, 2006

The weekly picks

I've got a long drive to Syracuse staring me in the face. Road trips to upstate New York are nothing new for me. I spent six years covering Yale hockey and football and have been making the 4-7 hour drives to places like Cornell, Colgate, Union, RPI, St. Lawrence and Clarkson for a while. It's about as dull a drive there is, and hardly something to be excited about. But I've loaded up the car with CDs, have the Sirius radio hooked up, and am ready to keep an eye out for the New York State Troopers lurking on I-90. However, this will be my first trip to Syracuse, so I am looking forward to my first visit to the Carrier Dome. I'll hold off on a column for now and getting right to the picks to give eeryone a chance to get them in today.

I went 6-4 last week, beating everyone (and tying someone who didn't leave their name) to even my season record at 54-54-5.

Game 1: Connecticut (+1.5) over SYRACUSE. I was one of the few who predicted an upset for the Huskies over Pitt last week (thanks for noticing, Wayne Norman of WTIC). The Huskies will be the fashionable pick this week, so I'll predict the score. UConn 26, Syracuse 21.

Game 2: South Florida (+17) over LOUISVILLE. Nobody's beating the Bulls by 17 with Matt Grothe at quarterback. He'll keep up with Brian Brohm for three quarters before the Cardinals win in in the fourth.

Game 3: Rutgers (-7) over CINCINNATI. The odds-makers finally figured out the Bearcats are pretty good. Seven points is reasonable, and the Knights will cover. That said, this is a perfect game for Rutgers' dream season to end, especially considering Sports Illustrated ran a big photo and a column on the team this week.

Game 4: OHIO STATE (+7) over Michigan. This game is happening this weekend? Really? Didn't realize. There's hardly been any hype.

Game 5: ALABAMA (+3) over Auburn.

Game 6: WAKE FOREST (-1) over Virginia Tech. I've picked against the Demon Deacons every week and been wrong. I picked them this week, so you know they will lose.

Game 7: SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA (-6) over Cal. Trojans back in the title hunt, and can smell a date with Ohio State.

Game 8: San Jose State (+25) over HAWAII. Most ridiculous spread of the week. No way Hawaii covers. No way.

Game 9: MINNESOTA (-3) over Iowa. Nothing else to add, so I'll just say Laurence Maroney is killing my fantasy football team. He teased us all by running all over the Bengals a few weeks ago, and hasn't done a thing since.

Game 10: Tennessee (-7.5) over VANDERBILT.

Game 11: HARVARD (+2.5) over Yale. It's been a few years now since I last covered The Game, and I miss it. Always fun, usually a good game, too. Unfortunately, the last time Yale won at Harvard Stadium was in 2000, on a great catch by Bulldogs receiver and current 49ers tight end Eric Johnson (who made the greatest catch in Yale history to beat Harvard at the Bowl the year before). In fact, 2000 was the last time Yale beat its rival. The Crimson end Yale's title hopes on Saturday.

Get your picks in by clicking the "comments" link below. It's easy. So do it.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

A Must-see You Tube clip

Received a couple of emails on this already this morning, so just to clarify Randy Edsall has twice said Mike Hicks is definitely out for Syracuse (on the Sunday conference call and again at Tuesday's lunch). He also implied he didn't think it looked good for Hicks to get back by the season finale at Louisville. Here's the full story from today's Register. Guess there's a conflicting report out there somewhere.

Also, someone just sent me this You Tube link from Saturday's win against Pitt. It's a highlight clip set to a Rage Against the Machine song. Pretty good stuff. Check it out.

EDIT: The song title is "Guerilla Radio". Thanks to Leigh Torbin at UConn for that. Leigh is a music afficianado who spices up the weekly football media notes with a variety of song references that would make Casey Kasem proud.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Caffeine rush and Tuesday notes

Coffee is an essential part of my morning. I usually hit Dunkin' Donuts, but if I'm feeling sluggish I'll head to Starbucks because their coffee is a lot stronger. This morning I felt I needed a bit more to get me going before making the hour and a half trek to Storrs for the Tuesday media lunch, so I had the Starbucks barista pump a shot of espresso into my coffee. Talk about an eye-opener. I felt like Rodney Dangerfield in Back to School when he drinks straight coffee grinds before hitting the books and his eyes bulge out. Wow. It helped me make it to UConn in record time, that's for sure. So if you were on I-84 around 10:45 a.m., I was the guy in the Subaru flying up up your behind at 80 mph cranking Iron Maiden. Sorry about that. But for those mornings you need a little extra to wake up, get the espresso shot in a small coffee.

Some highlights from the press conference...

  • Looks like offensive lineman Mike Hicks is done for at least the regular season. Edsall didn't sound like he thought Hicks would recover from his high ankle sprain and knee sprain by the time the finale at Louisville rolled around. Andrew Presnell is now the starter at right tackle.

  • Terry Caulley had pins surgically inserted into his fractured hand Monday, and is wearing a cast. All went well, according to Edsall. Whether Caulley plays again this season is unknown. Edsall thought it might be a 2-3 week recovery period. He did say Caulley has a better shot of returning than Hicks. Andre Dixon will be the third string tailback while Lou Allen should get more work as Donnie Brown's backup.

  • Darius Butler (hamstring) and Larry Taylor (head) should be back in action for Syracuse on Saturday.

  • True freshman Zach Hurd is listed as backup at both right and left tackle, but don't expect him to play this season. Edsall said the Huskies will rotate their eight healthy offensive linemen and save the redshirt seasons for any freshman who hasn't played. If someone else gets hurt, a defensive lineman like Lawrence Green will be switched over to offense.

  • Don't expect another 43-carry from Brown, who's new nickname in the locker room is "Hollywood". Edsall didn't realize Brown had 25 carries at halftime on Saturday, and will most likely get Allen more involved to give Brown a rest. Brown has 71 carries for 404 yards in his two starts, but hasn't felt fatigued yet. Probably not a good idea to keep up that pace, however.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Caulley's career in jeopardy

Terry Caulley’s days as the featured running back for the University of Connecticut football team ended last week, when redshirt freshman Donald Brown was named the team’s starting tailback.

Now, Caulley’s career is in jeopardy after a broken bone in his hand suffered during the Huskies’ 46-45 double-overtime win against Pittsburgh on Saturday.

UConn coach Randy Edsall said Sunday that Caulley, a senior who saw action as Brown’s backup against the Panthers, will undergo surgery today. Asked if Caulley’s career might be over as a result, Edsall said it was possible. The Huskies (4-5, 1-3) have three games left in the regular season starting with Saturday’s game at Syracuse.

“It happened in the first quarter on a pass play,” Edsall said. “He caught a pass, put his hand down (and he was being tackled) and bent it back.”

The reception, which went for five yards, was the only time Caulley touched the ball. He did not have a carry.

In September, Caulley became UConn’s career leader in rushing yards when he passed Wilbur Gilliard’s old mark of 2,689 yards. Caulley went on to become the first Huskie to pass 3,000 yards before an ankle injury sidelined him for the Rutgers game on Oct. 29.

The ankle injury to Caulley turned out to be Brown’s big break as he rushed for 199 yards and two touchdowns and was named starter for the rest of the season prior to the Pittsburgh game. Caulley was expected to get situational carries and used as a slot receiver for the remainder of the season.

Caulley was a freshman All-American in 2002 when he ran for 1,247 yards and 15 touchdowns, and was leading the nation in rushing as a sophomore when a severe knee injury in the fifth game against Virginia Tech ended his season.

He missed the entire 2004 season recovering from surgery, returning last season to lead the team with 659 yards and six touchdowns.

Caulley has run for 623 yards and two touchdowns so far this season.

Hicks out for Syracuse

Seymour’s Mike Hicks suffered sprains of his ankle and knee against Pittsburgh, and has been ruled out for Saturday’s game at Syracuse.

Hicks, a 6-foot-7, 338-pound redshirt freshman, has started at right tackle all season. He was helped off the field in the third quarter after being injured. Initial diagnosis is a high ankle sprain and sprained medial collateral knee ligament.

Redshirt freshman Andrew Presnell filled in for Hicks Saturday and will start at Syracuse. Only senior Matt Applebaum remains from the Huskies original five offensive linemen. Center Keith Gray and left tackle William Beatty suffered season-ending injuries while guard Immanuel Hutcherson was replaced by Brian Kersmanc Saturday.

Extra points

Edsall awarded game balls to quarterback D.J. Hernandez and Brown on offense and tackle Rhema Fuller on defense. The special teams game ball went to holder Matt Bonislawski, who corralled a bad snap and got it in place for kicker Tony Ciaravino to boot a crucial extra point at the end of regulation that tied the game at 31-31 and sent it to overtime.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Rutgers is for real; and the weekly picks

I caught only glimpses of last night's Rutgers-Louisville game because I was in the office, answering a steady stream of phone calls from coaches reporting their high school state tournament games. The Scarlet Knights were down 18, then it seemed like I blinked, looked up and was watching Jeremy "Don't call me Lance" Ito kicking a field goal to tie it at 25.

But I did see most of the fourth quarter, and was quite impressed with what Rutgers pulled off. Like most who watched the Scarlet Knights struggle with UConn, I thought Louisville was at least a 10-point favorite. And after racing to a 25-7 first-half lead, it looked like a sure blowout. Yet Rutgers' defense tightened up and made Brian Brohm look ordinary, while the offense came alive once they started getting the ball to Ray Rice (19 of his 27 carries in the second half). I was baffled when Rutgers came out throwing the ball -- Mike Teel is without a doubt the weak link on the offense -- and it could have cost it the game. But a great win for the Knights, which likely cemented itself as a Big East football power for many years to come. There's enough talent coming out of New Jersey and New York alone to make it happen. The entire country was watching last night, which in and of itself will be a boon for Rutgers recruiting.

Jeremy Ito replaced Bon Jovi and the Boss as most popular man in New Jersey last night

Unfortunately, the Big East probably saw its chances of a national title opportunity go out the window. Louisville was in position where a win would have all but guaranteed a spot. Rutgers should jump into the top 10 in the AP poll and in the BCS standings. But the likelihood of passing Florida, Texas, Auburn, USC, Cal, Notre Dame, Arkansas and LSU in the next three games seems remote. Keep in mind Rutgers still has to defeat West Virginia (also ahead in the BCS standings) in Morgantown on Dec. 2 -- a tall order. If Rutgers does run the table and then gets shut out of a title game, maybe the New York media will make enough noise for the conference commissioners to finally get a playoff system in place. Then again, monkey's might fly out of my...oh, never mind. On to the picks.

It was a rough week against the spread, as no one finished above .500. I went 3-8, by far my worst week of the season, knocking my season record to 48-50-5. I can't finish below .500, and I feel a perfect week coming on!

Game 1: Syracuse (+10) over SOUTH FLORIDA: The winless streak in the Big East will continue for the Orange, but they'll find a way to stay within 10 points of a Bulls' team that I can't figure out at all. See them lose to Kansas. See them hang with Rutgers to the final play. See them get hammered by Cincinnati. See them hammer Pittsburgh. The most unpredicatable team in the Big East.

Game 2: Cincinnati (+18.5) over WEST VIRGINIA: Don't look now, but the Bearcats have won 4 of the last 5 and are a game away from becoming bowl eligible. They've allowed nine points in beating South Florida and Syracuse the last two weeks, and gave Louisville fits. Cincy won't win, but they'll easily cover this spread.

Game 3: CONNECTICUT (+8) over Pittsburgh: Anyone else feel the Huskies primed for a win this week? Donnie Brown may be the spark UConn needs to rejuvenate the offense. Pitt's own offense hasn't done much lately, while the Huskies defense more than held its own against Rutgers and West Virginia.

And for the non-Big East games...

Game 4: Notre Dame (-12) over AIR FORCE: Bet the over on this game. These teams will combine to score at least 70.

Game 5: SAN JOSE ST. (+14) over Boise State: Should be a classic WAC matchup. What do you think the rating would be if undefeated Boise State met undefeated Rutgers in the national championship game on Jan. 8? It would make the St. Louis-Detroit World Series look like the final episode of M*A*S*H. But I wouldn;t miss it for the world. Too bad it won't happen.

Game 6: Tennessee (+5.5) over ARKANSAS: I always root for the non-traditional football powers who are having great seasons. But the Razorbacks (8-1) see their BCS dreams come to a crashing halt. Off the top of your head, can you name a significant NFL player who played for the Razorbacks? I'm sure there are several, but I just spent a good 10 minutes trying to think of one, and I couldn't.

Game 7: FLORIDA STATE (+8.5) over Wake Forest: I keep picking against the Demon Deacons, and I've been wrong every time. Why break tradition?

Game 8: SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA (-8) over Oregon: The Trojans can thank Rutgers for breathing new life into their national championship hopes. ... I just realized that Pete Carroll and the entire USC team, most of whom probably couldn't tell you what state Rutgers was located in before last night, were sitting around the TV in Los Angeles watching Rutgers and Louisville, just like they were doing at Auburn, Florida, Texas, Cal and everywhere else. The Big East has arrived!

Game 9: AUBURN (-12.5) over Georgia: The Bulldogs now have losses to Kentucky and Vanderbilt this season. Bring back Vince Dooley!

Game 10: South Carolina (+13) over FLORIDA: Gamecocks are 0-4 against ranked opponents this season, but were within a touchdown in three of them.

And the local special...

Game 11: YALE (-2.5) over Princeton: The Bulldogs are rolling. A win clinches a share of the Ivy League title for the first time since 1999 and a potential meeting at Harvard next weekend for the outright crown. Should make for another classic edition of The Game.

OK. I just found a list of Arkansas alumnae who played in the NFL. Among the most prominent are Lance Allworth, Dan Hampton and Pat Summerall, all of whom retired decades ago.

Get your picks in by clicking the "comments" link below.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Vote Quimby

It's Election Day, and if there's anything to look forward to, it's the end of the annoying campaign commercials (at least for another 10 months or so). I would never use this forum to discuss my political views, but if I never hear the phrase "I'm Ned Lamont and I approve this message" again, well, I'll give that my stamp of approval. Nothing personal. But after 10 million times in six weeks I'm on the verge of snapping.

On to the Huskies. After a week off, Randy Edsall has named a new feature running back (Donald Brown) and a new safety (Robert Vaughn) to bring the total of freshmen starters to eight. It's as young a team as Edsall has ever coached. The good news is that this could be an outstanding team in another year or two. Just look at Wake Forest. The team UConn crushed 51-17 in Winston-Salem in the final game of the 2003 season featured a lot of the same. Those same Demon Deacons players are now fourth- or fifth-year players with an 8-1 record and a legitimate shot at winning the Atlantic Coast Conference. "That experience really helps you," Edsall said.

Edsall also said Donald Brown's performance against Rutgers was even more impressive after watching the tape. While the offensive line was OK, they weren't exactly opening acre-wide holes to waltz through like USC did for Reggie Bush. Most of what Brown accomplished was of his own making. Edsall said Brown's total yards after contact for the game was around 100. "On that 65-yard (TD run) he made three people miss," Edsall said. Nothing's changed in Brown's preparation. He's excited and confident. "It's such a rush of adreneline, I can't even describe it," Brown said of the feeling he had last Sunday.

UConn's game plan for Pitt? Lots of Donald Brown. D.J. Hernandez said as much on Tuesday. There's nothing wrong with that, but let's hope Hernandez gets the passing attack together. Pitt has been fairly tough against the run (save for Michigan State and Ray Rice) and has been hurt more through the air. If D.J. isn't at least a little better on throws and decisions Saturday, it could be a long afternoon for the Huskies.

Edsall made his case for a playoff system in college football, which, among other things, would help end the criticism of the Big East and get a true national champion. His plan, essentially, would be to put the eight conference champions in a national tournament and let everyone else play in the various bowls. Obviously, it makes sense. But why should that change the minds of the conference commissioners who only care about reaping the biggest imaginable profits? Edsall stuck up for the Big East, which is continually slammed around the nation despite two legitimate BCS teams and a third, Rutgers, making its case.

"I don't know what we have to do as a league," Edsall said. " West Virginia went down and beat Georgia (in the Sugar Bowl) and I thought that would silence people. Now everyone is still saying we're no good. Louisville beats West Virginia in a high scoring affair and people say they don't play any defense. The perception of people is that the Big East isn't a football conference, it's a basketball conference and the SEC, the Big Ten and the Pac-10 have been around longer. The Big East is a conference that has been through change, but I think we've gone out and proven our worth."

Edsall also slammed the writer (he didn't name names, but he was referring to Jason Whitlock of the Kansas City Star) who had been voting Louisville 11th because of his Big East bias. "How can you put a team that's undefeated 11th?," Edsall said. "That just blows my mind." Whitlock actually voted the Cardinals 9th this week after their big win over West Virginia. Still ridiculous, and a good reason why the polls shouldn't mean anything. It's too easy for voters, coaches included, to rank rivals lower than they should to help their own personal interests. No matter. We won't see changes to the system anytime soon.

Enjoy the next 10 months of campaign commercial-free television!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Hard Hittin' Lindsey Witten

The feature on Lindsey Witten from Sunday's Register.

STORRS – One of the first things his University of Connecticut teammates noticed about Lindsey Witten is the way he carries himself.

Witten, a true freshman defensive end from Cleveland, has a confidence that belies his 18 years. Junior Dan Davis, the Huskies other starting defensive end, noticed it immediately during Witten’s first start of the season against then-No. 4 West Virginia two weeks ago.

“I tell you, that kid isn’t scared of anyone,” Davis said. “He’s a real tough guy.”

Much of Witten’s poise and self-assured demeanor come from observing his older brother, Donte Whitner, now a rookie starting safety for the Buffalo Bills. The rest could be attributed to Witten’s playing at Glenville High in Cleveland, which saw 21 players from last fall’s team earn college football scholarships, 15 to Division I-A programs.

No matter the source of Witten’s conviction, the UConn coaching staff knows it has a defensive star in the making. At 6-foot-4, 217 pounds, Witten isn’t even close to a finished product. Coach Randy Edsall imagines Witten at around 250 pounds with his 4.7 speed and envisions a sack machine as good as anyone has seen in Storrs.

But for now, Edsall is simply looking for Witten to continue to improve at the position and get stronger in the offseason.

“He has a chance to be a very good football player,” Edsall said. “It all depends on how much he’s willing to work. He needs more weight, he needs more strength. But he has a chance to be one of the better defensive ends we’ve had if he works hard and is motivated to be the best he can be.”

Witten, three years younger than Whitner, spent his days growing up eastern Cleveland idolizing his older brother. Whitner was the best cornerback in the country at Glenville, where his teammates included current Ohio State stars Troy Smith and Ted Ginn Jr.

Whitner went on to an All-American career at Ohio State, then declared for the NFL draft after his junior season. The eighth overall pick in the first round, Whitner moved into a starting role with Buffalo early this season and is third on the team with 46 tackles.

“He was a big influence on me,” Witten said. “I went to all his games in high school and at Ohio State. I want to achieve all he did and more. The biggest thing is how he carries himself. Even if he was still in college and not a millionaire, he’d still be the same person. I want to be like that; confident in myself, but not too cocky.”

Witten’s transition to major college football was made easier because Glenville, coached by Ted Ginn Sr., was in many ways like playing for a college team. Last season’s senior class sent three players to Ohio State, two to Iowa and others to programs like Wisconsin, Purdue, Indiana, Cincinnati and Marshall. Many, like Witten, have seen time as true freshmen.

“Practice hasn’t changed since high school,” said Witten, who transferred to Glenville after three seasons at rival Collinwood High. “The speed was there, just like it is in college. It might be the same.”

Witten, a lanky 190 pounds in high school, earned all-state honors in Ohio after recording 98 tackles and 18 sacks as a senior.

“I watched him in a state playoff game at Browns Stadium,” Edsall said. “I was impressed with the way he came off the edge, his speed and acceleration. But it was his intensity that caught my eye.”

He originally gave a verbal commitment to attend Toledo, but changed his mind and decided to attend UConn. It was academics as much as football the prompted the switch says Witten, who wishes to fall back on a career in sports medicine if the NFL doesn’t pan out.

Edsall would have preferred to redshirt Witten to see him bulk up without losing a season of eligibility. But injuries and a lack of depth at defensive end forced him to use Witten right away. He’s hardly been a disappointment.

A reserve for six games until a season-ending injury to Cody Brown forced him into the starting lineup against West Virginia, Witten has impressed. He’s made 10 of his 17.5 tackles in the last two games --- both against nationally-ranked opponents in West Virginia and No. 15 Rutgers.

His intensity is also apparent, as Witten hasn’t backed down from anyone and isn’t afraid to exchange barbs with older, more experienced opponents.

“When you have a brother who was the No. 8 pick in the draft and you played for a high school program like Glenville, you’re not going to be intimidated by too many things,” Edsall said. “He has a nasty streak in him. I don’t think he’ll be shooting those pistols too many more times. We had a talk with him about that. But I like his enthusiasm.”

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The 'Ville, Van Halen and this week's picks

Impressive win by Louisville last night. West Virginia's defense had no answers for the Cardinals offense. Brian Brohm, who will be a starting quarterback in the NFL in a few years, just abused the Mountaineers -- bad thumb and all. Great camera work by ESPN showing how he had to cross his thumbs on every snap to lend extra support to his surgically-repaired digit. Brohm was calm, patient, accurate and tough as he played with discomfort. And where was Steve Slaton in the third quarter? How can you stand on the sideline in that situation? If your arm hurts, use the other one. Or both. Great job by Pat White to engineer a scoring drive anyway without Slaton. He throws a decent ball when he wants, too. Now it's on to Rutgers and another unbeaten for Louisville, which should all but wrap up the Big East title next Thursday. I don't think Rutgers will stay within two touchdowns.

It wouldn't be a Friday if I didn't go off topic before posting the picks for the weekend. Van Halen was nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this week. While that honor means absolutely nothing, it does provide an opportunity to discuss my favorite band. Musically gifted -- there's no better guitar player than Eddie Van Halen; on drums, well, Neal Peart and Mike Portnoy are in a class by themselves, but after that Alex Van Halen is as good as any other rock drummer -- Van Halen was fun to listen to and even more fun to watch (especially with Diamond Dave as the frontman).

One of my favorite Van Halen stories was from an outdoor concert in Southern California in the early 80s. Professional skydivers were hired to dress up like the band, complete with wigs and crazy outfits. When it was time for the show to start, the announcer told the crowd Van Halen was about to enter, and to look in the sky above the stadium. The skydivers leapt from the plane, landed in the parking lot and were whisked into a van which drove right into the stadium and up to the stage. The band, hiding in the van the whole time, emerged wearing parachutte pants, packs and skydiving glasses, ran up on stage and exploded into the opening song. The crowd went ballistic. I wanted to pull the same stunt for my wedding reception, but couldn't talk my wife into it. Point is, you don't see bands do stuff like that anymore.

I even like the Sammy Hagar version of Van Halen. The guy has great vocal range, much better than Dave, and that's the version I grew up on. I was in seventh grade when Sammy joined the band, and the 5150 tour was one of my first live concerts. The other thing that endeared me to Van Halen is that the band absolutely loved New Haven. A friend I've known since elementary school owns Yorkside Pizza on Broadway (well, his family does), and he was there one night when the guys (the Dave version) came in before a show at the New Haven Coliseum. They talked for a bit and the band told him they loved coming here because of the New Haven crowds and the girls at Toad's Place. It stands to reason because most of Van Halen's live video footage is shot at the Coliseum, including the old MTV video for Panama and a full-length live concert DVD from the 5150 tour (Live Without a Net) in which the band proclaims the city as "New Halen, Conn."

Best. Guitarist. Ever.

Hopefully, the band will reunite again with both Dave and Sammy for one last tour. Sounds like they are in discussions for something with Dave for next summer. I'll be there if it happens.

On to the picks. I went 6-4 last week and beat all comers. I'm now tearing it up at 45-42-5 for the season.

Game 1: SOUTH FLORIDA (-5) over Pittsburgh: I'm not sold on the Panthers yet. Besides, Grothe will keep USF in it to cover.

That's it for Big East games. The others...

Game 2: Missouri (+5) over NEBRASKA

Game 3: WISCONSIN (-7) over Penn State

Game 4: TENNESSEE (-3) over Louisiana State

Game 5: Boston College (-3.5) over WAKE FOREST

Game 6: NC STATE (+5.5) over Georgia Tech

Game 7: SOUTH CAROLINA (-2.5) over Arkansas

Game 8: Oklahoma (-2) over TEXAS A&M

Game 9: Virginia Tech (-3) over MIAMI

Game 10: CLEMSON (-20) over Maryland

And the local special...

Game 11: Yale (-5.5) over BROWN: Yale has won seven straight for the first time since 1999.

Don't forget to get your picks in this week. Enter by clicking the "comments" link below.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

No rest during the bye week

UConn opened today's practice to the media, so here are a few odds and ends picked up in discussions with Donald Brown, Terry Caulley, Randy Edsall and Lindsey Witten mixed in with a few of my own useless thoughts and observations.

  • Donald Brown is the complete package. He has speed (ran the 40 in 4.41 electric last spring), elusiveness (displayed against Rutgers) and runs with serious power. He squats over 600 pounds. That's triple his body weight, and pretty impressive for a running back.

  • Terry Caulley almost sounded like a proud father (or older brother) when talking about watching Brown's performance against Rutgers. "To see the things he did, I was very happy," Caulley said. "I've watched him develop and grow, and an very happy for him. I was his host when he came on his recruiting visit and we were roomates for his (true) freshman training camp. You can see in his blocks and the way he ran that he has a lot of talent."

  • UConn got a verbal commitment from quarterback Cody Endres over the summer. The Huskies will still likely have only two scholarship QBs for spring practice (unless Endres enrolls early). Asked if he would look at junior college quarterbacks to provide assistance at the position, Randy Edsall said he is looking to bring in one more quarterback for next season, though he couldn't be any more specific because of NCAA regulations on recruiting. The Huskies have been in contact with Bryan Savage, a Wisconsin transfer now at Coffeyville (Kans.) CC, and are likely looking at others.

  • Hard Hittin' Lindsey Witten was one of 21 players from Glenville High-Cleveland's class of 2006 to receive a football scholarship. Folks, there are only 22 football players who can be on the field at one time. Twelve teammates are now at Division I-A programs, including three at Ohio State, two at Iowa and one each at Cincinnati, Indiana, Wisconsin, Toledo, Purdue and Marshall. Nine others are at Division I-AA or Division II programs. Think that's amazing? Get this. Witten, who also played basketball and ran track at Glenville, says six of his basketball teammates from last winter are now playing college ball.

I can't include Louisville-West Virginia in the weekly pick'em contest because it's being played Thursday night. But I will give a prediction. The winner will finish the season undefeated and wind up in the national championship game against the winner of the Ohio State-Michigan game (yeah, I'm really going out on a limb there). West Virginia will squeak past the Cardinals 41-35 in a shootout (and a can't miss game). The Mountaineers will meet Ohio State in Glendale, Ariz. for the national championship on Jan. 8.