Thursday, April 05, 2007

Channeling Herb Brooks (or Kurt Russell?)

Tyler Lorenzen limped off the practice field early on Thursday (see previous blog entry), but it doesn't seem like a major injury. Lorenzen was spotted walking (however gingerly) to dinner not long after practice. I know most folks (myself included) were anxious to see him play in next weekend's spring game. If he can't go, I'd expect to see Dennis Brown and Matt Vollono (with, perhaps, D.J. Hernandez for a series or two at the most) quarterbacking the two squads next weekend.

Some practice highlights...

Jarrell Miller made a nice hit on Lou Allen during a skel-o drill, forcing a fumble. I spoke with Jarrell after practice, and he said the two biggest adjustments he's making are with the speed of the college game and the playbook. Randy Edsall says Jarrell has been humble and working hard, and you need to look no farther than Miller's frame to see just how much work he's done since arriving in Storrs three months ago. Miller was 270 pounds when he met the media on Jan. 19. He said Thursday he's down to 248, and hoping to land at around 240 for an ideal playing weight. More on Jarrell in tomorrow's Register.


Tyvon Branch made a nice interception during the same skel-o drill, and returned it for a touchdown. But he pulled a Deion Sanders and high-stepped it with his hand behind his neck on the return, drawing the ire of just about everyone on the team. Donald Thomas jogged toward Branch making the jesture of a ref tossing a penalty flag, while both Hank Hughes and Edsall told Branch that would have cost the team 15 yards.


Zach Hurd limped off the field favoring his right leg. Trainers worked on him for a few minutes, but he returned to the field.


Freshman Corey Stringer is the nephew of Rutgers women's basketball coach C. Vivian Stringer. In the words of Johnny Carson, I did not know that. Quite a gene pool in that Stringer family. His cousins include late Minnesota Vikings tackle Korey Stringer, former All-Big 10 cornerback and Indianapolis Colt Deryk Toles and Michigan linebacker (and projected first-round pick in two weeks) Prescott Burgess.


In lieu of a weight room session Wednesday afternoon, Edsall arranged a screening of "Miracle", the Kurt Russell movie about the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey team. The movie's "team first" message makes it a must-see for any athlete. Most of the team hadn't seen it before, which I didn't find all that shocking. But this surprised me a bit....

“Afterward the coaches sat with some of the guys at dinner and told them it was a true story,” Edsall said. “They couldn’t believe some of those things that happened that they showed in the movie in terms of the gas prices and all the things that were going on in the world at that point.”

Granted, none of the team was even born in 1980. In fact, even the fifth-year seniors were probably four years from this earth at the time. But not knowing about the Miracle on Ice? Man, I feel old.

Edsall told the team he remembered exactly where he when the U.S. beat the U.S.S.R. that day -- he was watching in his apartment at Syracuse. Hughes, Edsall said, actually attended the game (as well as the gold-medal game against Finland).

I was 7 at the time and didn't watch hockey at all back then, but watched it eagerly and remember exactly where I was when Al Michaels spouted off those famous words. It was a proud moment, and prefaced one of the thrills of my job -- meeting Herb Brooks just a few months before he died in an auto accident in 2003. He was head scout of the Pittsburgh Penguins at the time and was in Boston to watch the Yale-Harvard hockey game. I was standing beside him outside the Yale locker room before it hit me the man standing next to me was Herb Brooks. We chatted idly for a minute or two, but all I thought about the whole time was that I was talking to the guy who orchestrated the greatest upset in sports history and perhaps the most memorable sports event of the 20th century. It was one of those moments I'll never forget.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


Good job on the coverage. Hopefully Tyler is not hurt too bad and is able to play next week. My money says he does. Too important not too.

How about some feedback on Jarrell. Has he shown more than just a flash here and there? I get the feeling it was an awakening for him, especially coming in at 270.

April 05, 2007 8:42 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Awesome job Chip. Probably one of your best yet.

This is the kind of coverage we are yearning for.

April 06, 2007 7:28 AM 
Blogger Chip Malafronte said...

Anonymous No. 1 (anonymous guys, please, come up with some sort of name for me, i beg you. I don't care if it's fake)

Here's the link to my story on Jarrell from today's Register.

April 06, 2007 10:05 AM 

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