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.


Anonymous thehotseat said...

Could someone please turn me on?

November 26, 2006 9:34 PM 

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