Thursday, August 30, 2007

Runway Challenge Week 1: 70s style.

Some 1970s flashbacks I experienced this week before we begin week 1 of the Runway Challenge:

  • The Dunkin' Donuts around the corner from the New Haven Register has been closed for the last three weeks for renovations, throwing a monkey wrench into my daily coffee routine for most of the last month. It reopened today. High comedy, even if it was unintentional. It was like a time warp. They morphed this place from a run-of-the-mill Dunkin' Donuts into something straight out of 1979. The decor, the colors, the wall murals. Even the employees seemed to be wearing throwback uniforms. I thought I had stepped into a roller rink. All that was missing was a disco ball and a D.J. with a bad perm playing "Rapper's Delight" by the Sugar Hill Gang. If you're anywhere near the Dunkin' Donuts on Kimberly Ave. in West Haven, you have to check it out. I promise you won't be disappointed.

  • I was lukewarm on the ESPN mini series "The Bronx is Burning". The acting was pretty bad. Best part was that they used real highlight clips from the 1977 season instead of recreating the action. I was only 5 years old in '77, and don't remember much from the season aside from Reggie's three dongs in the World Series. But I loved how hard-nosed they played the game back then. If someone broke up a double play nowadays like they did back then, there'd be a congressional investigation and Joe Buck would cry real tears on air. I used Tivo to rewind three plays from the Yanks ALCS against Kansas City and watched them over and over: Willie Randolph getting leveled by Lee May while turning a double play; Greg Nettles not bothering to slide, just plowing head on into Freddy Patek at second on another DP; and the Nettles/George Brett brawl that started after Brett slid hard into third base. Phenomenal stuff.

  • My last post is referencing the 70s Broadway musical "Godspell" and its hit song "Day by Day", which I couldn't get out of my head after seeing the 2001 comedy flick "Wet Hot American Summer" on Comedy Central last week. Hearing Randy Edsall describe Ryan Henegan as day to day for the last three weeks didn't help the matter. At any rate, Godspell is a tremendous play. Wet Hot American Summer, which spoofs early '80s summer camp comedy movies, is pretty stupid, though it did have its moments.

  • Anybody else think Joba Chamberlain bears a striking resemblance to Babe Ruth? Loved the two pitches over Yook's head, by the way. Welcome to the Bronx, Joba.

On to the first week of the picks. Last year, a good number of readers posted their own picks with mine and I tallied up the results on a weekly basis. You're all welcome to pick again this year. I plan to keep running standings for the season with the winner getting full control of the Runway blog for a day. Is that something you might be interested in? Well, you can still post your picks every week. Let's go:

Game 1: DUKE (+4.5) over Connecticut: UConn wins, but only by three.

Game 2: WEST VIRGINIA (-24) over Western Michigan: Mountaineers will cover even if they ease off the gas pedal in the second half.

Game 3: PITTSBURGH (+20) over Eastern Michigan: Dave Wannestadt hasn't been mingling at with the locals in the Steel City watering holes over fish sandwiches and Iron City Lites much lately.

Game 4: Virginia (-3.5) over WYOMING: No good athletes at Wyoming since Fennis Dembo left

Game 5: BOSTON COLLEGE (-6) over Wake Forest: Can someone tell me what BCU means? Just curious.

Game 6: Georgia Tech (+1.5) over NOTRE DAME: This game would have been a lot more interesting last season.

Game 7: GEORGIA (-6) over Oklahoma State: Throwing a bone to Register copy editor and UGA grad Sean Look (perhaps he'll trade me the top pick in our fantasy draft on Monday).

Game 8: AKRON (-5.5) over Army: Keeping an eye on future UConn opponents. Otherwise...a big yawn.

Game 9: Tennessee (+6.5) over CAL: Bears lose Marshawn Lynch and still might have a crack at reaching BCS championship game.

Game 10: Florida State (-3.5) over CLEMSON: Monday night special.

Get your picks in. Click "comments" below, and do a simple cut and paste of the template posted in there.

Day by day. Oh, dear Lord, three things I pray.

Randy Edsall's teleconference with state media today yielded this blockbuster: "Ryan Henegan is still day-to-day", Edsall said. Has he practiced more since Tuesday? "He's day-to-day". No word on whether Edsall will star in the UConn Theater Group's upcoming production of "Godspell II: Henegan's knee".

No one else is on the injury report for the Duke game.

Edsall said he hasn't read anything about the investigation into the Toledo situation at the 2004 Motor City Bowl, and had no comment.

That about covers it. Check back later this evening for the week 1 college football picks.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Kreskin returns

Can't help myself. It's prediction time. We'll list my Big East predictions today, and year two of the weekly picks will be posted by tomorrow night. I plan to keep running standings this year fot those of you who enter your own picks, and we can crown a champion. Stay tuned, I know you're excited.

8/30: SE Missouri State (W)
9/6: Oregon State (L)
9/15: at Miami-OH (W)
9/22: Marshall (W)
9/29: at San Diego State (W)
10/6: at Rutgers (L)
10/13: Louisville (L)
10/20: at Pittsburgh (W)
11/3: at South Florida (L)
11/10: UConn (L)
11/17: West Virginia (L)
11/24: at Syracuse (L)

8/30: Murray State (W)
9/6: Middle Tennessee State (W)
9/15: at Kentucky (W)
9/22: Syracuse (W)
9/29: at North Carolina State (W)
10/5: Utah (W)
10/13: at Cincinnati (W)
10/19: at UConn (W)
10/27: Pittsburgh (W)
11/8: at West Virginia (L)
11/17: at South Florida (W)
11/29: Rutgers (W)

9/1: Eastern Michigan (W)
9/8: Grambling (W)
9/15: at Michigan State (L)
9/22: UConn (W)
9/29: at Virginia (W)
10/10: Navy (L)
10/20: Cincinnati (L)
10/27: at Louisville (L)
11/3: Syracuse (W)
11/17: at Rutgers (L)
11/24: South Florida (L)
12/1: at West Virginia (L)

8/30: Buffalo (W)
9/7: Navy (W)
9/15: Norfolk State (W)
9/29: Maryland (W)
10/6: Cincinnati (W)
10/13: at Syracuse (W)
10/18: South Florida (W)
10/27: West Virginia (L)
11/3: at UConn (W)
11/9: at Army (W)
11/17: Pittsburgh (W)
11/29: at Louisville (L)

8/30: Washington (W)
9/8: at Iowa (L)
9/15: Illinois (W)
9/22: at Louisville (L)
9/29: at Miami-OH (W)
10/6: West Virginia (L)
10/13: Rutgers (L)
11/3: at Pittsburgh (L)
11/10: South Florida (L)
11/17: at UConn (L)
11/24: Cincinnati (W)

9/1: Elon (W)
9/8: at Auburn (L)
9/22: North Carolina (W)
9/28: West Virginia (W)
10/6: at Florida Atlantic (W)
10/13: Central Florida (W)
10/18: at Rutgers (L)
10/27: at UConn (W)
11/3: Cincinnati (W)
11/10: at Syracuse (W)
11/17: Louisville (L)
11/24: at Pittsburgh (W)

9/1: Western Michigan (W)
9/8: at Marshall (W)
9/13: at Maryland (W)
9/22: East Carolina (W)
9/28: at South Florida (L)
10/6: at Syracuse (W)
10/20: Mississippi State (W)
10/27: at Rutgers (W)
11/8: Louisville (W)
11/17: at Cincinnati (W)
11/24: UConn (W)
12/1: Pittsburgh (W)

UCONN HUSKIES (7-5, 2-5)
9/1: at Duke (W)
9/8: Maine (W)
9/15: Temple (W)
9/22: at Pittsburgh (L)
9/29: Akron (W)
10/13: at Virginia (W)
10/19: Louisville (L)
10/27: South Florida (L)
11/3: Rutgers (L)
11/10: at Cincinnati (W)
11/17: Syracuse (W)
11/24: at West Virginia (L)

So there it is. Take it for what it's worth, which, with $7.00, will get you a beer at the Runway. I nearly picked West Virginia to go undefeated, but am having a hard time thinking it will happen. Have a feeling you might see Rutgers, Louisville and West Virginia all at 6-1, with South Florida pulling an upset in there. I think UConn can win all five OOC games, but it's also am unsure if the Huskies can pull it off.

More predictions and rankings to come.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

What? Duke had a losing record last year?

Did you know Duke went 0-12 last season and has lost 20 straight games? Figured at least the 0-12 part was fairly common knowledge. But talking to a bevy of UConn football players today, you might as well have asked them if they knew what Sonny Jurgensen's quarterback rating was from his days at Duke in the 1950s.

"Really, that’s the first time I’ve heard about that,” Keith Gray said. “I didn’t even know about their current losing streak until you just said it’s 20 in a row.”

Gray seemed sincere, and there's no reason to doubt he had no idea of Duke's recent misfortunes. But I don't think everyone was being completely up front about it. Then again, I do believe Randy Edsall when he says the streak hasn't been talked about at all by the UConn coaches. And really, there's no reason to bother discussing it. Randy Edsall wants his team to treat every game as a must-win situation. For the Huskies, games with Duke, along with Temple and Maine, are absolute must-win situations. More than any Big East game. Could there be a bigger blow than losing to a team in the dregs of Division I-A football (or a I-AA team)? For a team in a tenuous situation like UConn, the answer is a resounding no.

Duke hasn't won in 20 games. Haven't beaten a I-A team in the last 23 (the last win was against I-AA VMI in 2005). To the players, that doesn't need to be discussed. It's about their own preparation and grasp of the game plan. If they execute well, they'll at least be in a position to win.

“We don’t even look at that,” UConn tailback Donald Brown said. “Both teams are 0-0 right now, and that’s the mindset we need to have going in. We can’t worry about the past or what teams have done in the past.”

Makes a lot of sense.

Some other observations from Tuesday's media luncheon...

  • Zak Penwell was awarded a full athletic scholarship last week. No more paying to eat at the team training table. He's received plenty of media attention already, but on Wednesday he has a phone interview with his hometown paper, the Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News.

  • Randy Edsall continues to be vague regarding Ryan Henegan's status. "He's day-to-day" was his answer to whether Henegan will play against Duke as well as his answer to whether Henegan will even practice this week. I took a walk up to the practice fields at 3 p.m. to see for myself during the 45-second open window for media. Henegan does look better. He was in full pads with a less ominous knee brace, and even jogged through some of the warm-up drills and sprints. Still, he's walking gingerly. If the game was today, he wouldn't play at all.

  • Tony Ciaravino may be the top field goal kicker on the team, but he's a distant second in the punting department. The Heat Miser was booming his punts in practice today. Quite impressive.

  • I enjoyed the "Blazin' Redfish" that was part of the menu for the media this afternoon. Breaded fish kicked up a notch with some cajun seasoning and spices. Well done. Now if they can just learn to cook up a decent pot of sauce for the spaghetti, simmering with some meatballs and sausage (maybe even a little bracciole), all would be perfect. Call me. I have recipes.
  • Duke coach Ted Roof had this to say regarding suspended linebacker Michael Tauiliili, “No one player is bigger than the program. He made a mistake and embarrassed himself and the program. That cost him the chance to play in this game. We’re obligated to do what’s right for the university, the athletic department, the football program and for him (Tauiliili)."

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Depth chart at a glance

Not a lot of surprises. Here's my analysis after Randy Edsall's conference call earlier this evening.


WR: 80 Terence Jeffers (So., 6-2, 211) OR 24 Larry Taylor (Sr., 5-6, 167)
WR: 14 D.J. Hernandez (RJr., 6-1, 202) OR 3 Brad Kanuch (So., 6-0, 189)

Chip sez: All four will play a whole lot. Edsall added Kevin Poles, Kashif Moore and Marcus Easley to the equation, giving UConn a seven-man rotation. The latter three will be used a little less frequently.

LT: 64 William Beatty (RJr., 6-6, 306) 78 Zach Hurd (RFr., 6-7, 297)
LG: 62 Lawrence Green (RSo., 6-3, 321) 74 Alex LaMagdelaine (RSo., 6-3, 305)
C: 68 Keith Gray (RJr., 6-2, 294) 69 Trey Tonsing (RJr., 6-3, 278)
RG: 55 Donald Thomas (RSr., 6-3, 300) 66 Mathieu Olivier (RFr., 6-5, 279)
RT: 73 Dan Ryan (RSo., 6-8, 304) 79 Mike Hicks (RSo., 6-6, 336)

Chip sez: Hicks will be used more than the other understudies, and will likely spell Thomas at right guard on occasion as well as Ryan. Zach Hurd has a bright future, as do freshmen Muhammed Petrus, Mike Ryan and Gary Bardzak. Those three will redshirt, unless there's a freakish rash of injuries to the line.

TE: 90 Steve Brouse (RJr., 6-4, 257) 91 Martin Bedard (Jr., 6-3, 239)

Chip sez: Brouse is underrated as a pass catcher. Derek Rich will also see action with Bedard.

QB: 4 Tyler Lorenzen (Jr., 6-5, 226) 11 Dennis Brown (RSo., 6-3, 195)

TB: 34 Donald Brown (RSo., 5-10, 213) 5 Lou Allen (RJr., 6-2, 238)
FB: 47 Anthony Davis (RFr., 5-11, 237) 49 Anthony Sherman (Fr., 5-11, 225)

Chip sez: The Donald is the best tailback in the league not named Slaton or Rice. But you knew that. Lou Allen is a load who will break off one or two long gainers. Robbie Frey is third-string for Duke. Andre Dixon and linebacker Corey Stringer are still suspended, in case you were wondering. Will they be reinstated for Duke? Apparently, that's for Randy Edsall to know and everyone else to find out.


DE: 45 Julius Williams (RJr., 6-2, 261) 56 Mike Cox (RFr., 6-3, 235)
DT: 65 Rob Lunn (RJr., 6-4, 281) 52 Brandon Dillon (RSo., 6-3, 291)
DT: 6 Dan Davis (Sr., 6-1, 284) 54 Alex Polito (RFr., 6-6, 274)
DE: 50 Cody Brown (Jr., 6-3, 248) 9 Lindsey Witten (So., 6-5, 237)

Chip sez: How about that Rob Lunn? Quietly had a great spring and even better preseason camp. All he needs are the Arsenio Hall racing stripes again. Cox and Witten make two very good backups at end.

SLB: 32 Scott Lutrus (RFr., 6-3, 220) 10 Greg Robinson, Jr. (RFr., 6-2, 230)
MLB: 48 Danny Lansanah (RSr., 6-1, 244) 18 Aaron Bryant (RSo., 6-3, 219)
WLB: 43 Ryan Henegan (RSr., 6-1, 238) 8 Lawrence Wilson (RFr., 6-1, 220)

Chip sez: Henegan is listed at starter as long as he's listed as day-to-day. Unless he's been faking that limp, he'll need to get better real, real fast to be able to play at Duke. Methinks Greg Lloyd will work his way into the rotation before too long, though Edsall would love to get a redshirt year for him and C.J. Marck. Aaron Bryant, a walk-on from Southeastern Connecticut, has worked hard to get where he is. He'll be on scholarship by next summer, I would think.

CB: 1 Darius Butler (RJr., 5-11, 185) 16 Jasper Howard (Fr., 5-9, 162)
S: 33 Robert Vaughn (So., 6-0, 189) 27 Aaron Bagsby (Fr., 6-1, 180)
S: 36 Dahna Deleston (RJr., 6-0, 198) 15 Donnell Ford (RSr., 6-1, 202)
CB: 29 Tyvon Branch (Sr., 6-0, 193) 42 Robert McClain (So., 5-9, 198)

Chip sez: The starters were obvious. The backups, not so much. Someone asked me what happened to Terry Baltimore. He impressed Edsall during camp, but Howard, one of four true freshman in the two-deep, was a bit more impressive. Howard is small, but electric. He'll be a very solid cover corner who should inherit Larry Taylor's job as top return man next season. McClain has been there all along. UConn is set at corner for a while. Thought Glen Mourning might pull an upset over Bagsby, but the more I think about it, that probably wasn't realistic.


FG: 97 Tony Ciaravino (RJr., 6-2, 232) 38 David Teggart (Fr., 6-0, 206)
KO: 13 Desi Cullen (So., 6-1, 196)
P: 13 Desi Cullen (So., 6-1, 196) 97 Tony Ciaravino (RJr., 6-2, 232)
H: 13 Desi Cullen (So., 6-1, 201) 4 Tyler Lorenzen (Jr., 6-5, 226)
SN: 91 Martin Bedard (Jr., 6-3, 239) 89 Derek Rich (RFr., 6-4, 255)

Chip sez: I had Teggart pegged to edge out Tony C, but both have seemed very even in practices. Desi, I mean the Heat Miser, is locked in at punter. Unless he's kidnapped and smuggled to the Isle of Misfit Toys, you won't see Ciaravino punting at all. Let's hope the protection is better this year.

KR: 29 Tyvon Branch (Sr., 6-0, 193) 24 Larry Taylor (Sr., 5-6, 167)
PR: 24 Larry Taylor (Sr., 5-6, 167) 16 Jasper Howard (Fr., 5-9, 162)

Chip sez: Opponents might think about kicking out of bounds on punts. Kickoffs, too. The penalty is a much safer bet.

Depth chart for Duke is released

Depth chart for the Duke game:


WR: 80 Terence Jeffers (So., 6-2, 211) OR
24 Larry Taylor (Sr., 5-6, 167)
WR: 14 D.J. Hernandez (RJr., 6-1, 202) OR
3 Brad Kanuch (So., 6-0, 189)
LT: 64 William Beatty (RJr., 6-6, 306)
78 Zach Hurd (RFr., 6-7, 297)
LG: 62 Lawrence Green (RSo., 6-3, 321)
74 Alex LaMagdelaine (RSo., 6-3, 305)
C: 68 Keith Gray (RJr., 6-2, 294)
69 Trey Tonsing (RJr., 6-3, 278)
RG: 55 Donald Thomas (RSr., 6-3, 300)
66 Mathieu Olivier (RFr., 6-5, 279)
RT: 73 Dan Ryan (RSo., 6-8, 304)
79 Mike Hicks (RSo., 6-6, 336)
TE: 90 Steve Brouse (RJr., 6-4, 257)
91 Martin Bedard (Jr., 6-3, 239)
QB: 4 Tyler Lorenzen (Jr., 6-5, 226)
11 Dennis Brown (RSo., 6-3, 195)
TB: 34 Donald Brown (RSo., 5-10, 213)
5 Lou Allen (RJr., 6-2, 238)
FB: 47 Anthony Davis (RFr., 5-11, 237)
49 Anthony Sherman (Fr., 5-11, 225)


DE: 45 Julius Williams (RJr., 6-2, 261)
56 Mike Cox (RFr., 6-3, 235)
DT: 65 Rob Lunn (RJr., 6-4, 281)
52 Brandon   Dillon (RSo., 6-3, 291)
DT: 6 Dan Davis (Sr., 6-1, 284)
54 Alex Polito (RFr., 6-6, 274)
DE: 50 Cody Brown (Jr., 6-3, 248)
9 Lindsey Witten (So., 6-5, 237)
SLB: 32 Scott Lutrus (RFr., 6-3, 220)
10 Greg Robinson, Jr. (RFr., 6-2, 230)
MLB: 48 Danny Lansanah (RSr., 6-1, 244)
18 Aaron   Bryant (RSo., 6-3, 219)
WLB: 43 Ryan Henegan (RSr., 6-1, 238)
8 Lawrence Wilson (RFr., 6-1, 220)
CB: 1 Darius Butler (RJr., 5-11, 185)
16 Jasper Howard (Fr., 5-9, 162)
S: 33 Robert Vaughn (So., 6-0, 189)
27 Aaron Bagsby (Fr., 6-1, 180)
S: 36 Dahna Deleston (RJr., 6-0, 198)
15 Donnell Ford (RSr., 6-1, 202)
CB: 29 Tyvon Branch (Sr., 6-0, 193)
42 Robert McClain (So., 5-9, 198)


PK: 97 Tony Ciaravino (RJr., 6-2, 232)
38 David Teggart (Fr., 6-0, 206)
KO: 29 Tyvon Branch (Sr., 6-0, 193)
24 Larry Taylor (Sr., 5-6, 167)
PR: 24 Larry Taylor (Sr., 5-6, 167)
16 Jasper Howard (Fr., 5-9, 162)

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Oh, Thank God. I thought I had malaria.

A few minutes after entering the Shenkman Center this afternoon, I was hit with the feeling you get just before coming down with the flu or malaria or some other seven day-long illness that hits sometime around mid-January. I haven't been feeling well lately. But it was a chilly 59 degrees outside today and upon entering the Shenk, I started sweating like Jason Giambi before a grand jury hearing. (Actually, Jason Giambi always looks that way, sort of like the coked-out Ray Liotta in the second half of "Goodfellas", when he's on the lookout for FBI helicopters and forcing his crippled brother to spend all day stirring tomato sauce, but I digress).

After a few minutes, UConn sports info man Leigh Torbin informed me the furnace had been cranked up to 85 degrees, with a heat index of 90, because Randy Edsall wanted to simulate what it might be like in Durham, N.C. at 2 p.m. on a Saturday afternoon in very, very early September. That was a relief. I still sweat off about six pounds over the 2 hour session, and am still feeling a bit light-headed in the bowels of Gampel. But Zac Boyer of Rivals just hand-delivered me a tall Arizona iced tea (along with a diet Coke for Ed Daignault of the Waterbury Republican-American), earning himself a well-deserved media hard hat for the day in the process. Now, I'm ready to blog. Can you feel the static?
  • Randy Edsall says he's not going to talk much about injuries this year. That's why linebacker Ryan Henegan is still listed as day-to-day despite beginning his second week in a knee brace so big it may or may not have it's own motor and limping around the practice field like Barbaro at Pimlico. Edsall won't say it, but I have to think it's obvious. No chance Henegan is ready to play any time soon.

  • Lawrence Wilson has emerged as the leading candidate to replace Henegan, with Greg Lloyd serving as his backup.

  • Look for D.J. Hernandez, Brad Kanuch and Terrence Jeffers to play more on special teams, and not as return men. All three will be worked into the rotation on punt coverage, along with a few others you may not have seen there last season.

  • Edsall on Cody Brown, "He's taken his game to another level. If he keeps pushing himself, he has a lot of upside."

  • Mike Hicks has been bumped down to second team at right tackle behind Dan Ryan, but has been working at guard and will see time there if there are any injuries.

  • Lindsey Witten missed most of the day after an unspecified injury/illness. Fullback Anthony Sherman injured an ankle and had it on ice. Fullback Lou Allen got a day to rest.

  • Lots of extra up-downs and extra laps for certain players during a skelly drill at practice today. The lesson? Play until the whistle blows. As Edsall told Kashif Moore after making sure he sprinted all the way to the end zone after one play, "This is the big time, young man. This isn't high school any more."

  • The team will play its final scrimmage Wednesday. The coaches will then sit down and hammer out the final depth chart for the Duke game on Thursday (hopefully, it will be completed before the media conference call that afternoon).

  • Freshman defensive tackle Danny Russell looks just like Carl Spackler from "Caddyshack". All he needs is some plastic explosives and a gopher to chase around. At the end of practice, I even thought I overheard defensive line coach Hank Hughes telling Russell he was welcome to use the pond at his house. "We have a pond and a pool. The pond would be good for you, though. Natural springs, and what-not."

Friday, August 17, 2007

Scenes from Memorial Stadium

Here's a Friday practice report, held in the friendly confines of Memorial Stadium:

  • No surprise, but there was no elaboration on why Corey Stringer and Andre Dixon were suspended or for how long. They are suspended for an indefinite period, and Edsall says he doesn't know when that indefinite period will be up.

  • With Dixon out, Robbie Frey has moved past Dixon as the team's third-string tailback, behind "The Donald" and Lou Allen. Frey has impressed with his speed and smarts. Meme Wylie has also caught Edsall's attention.

  • LB Ryan Henegan again wore an ominous brace on his left knee and walked with a fairly severe limp. Randy Edsall only said he was still day-to-day, but it looks right now like an injury that may cost him a couple of weeks minimum.

  • Avoid Lloyd, Part II. LB Greg Lloyd played with the first string in Henegan's place. He has great speed, which is why he is where he is now. Whether Lloyd fully grasps everything that's happening around him on the field right now is unlikely. But he's a natural. Makes sense, considering his father was a monster for the Pittsburgh Steelers. "I wanted to get a look at him with the ones and see how he'd respond. I've been impressed with his football speed and ability," Edsall said. "I'm sure things are still a little scrambled in his mind, but I like his football savvy."

  • DE Cody Brown was given a rest after tweaking his ankle. Didn't sound serious, and he'll likely be back by Monday.

  • WR Isiah Moore will undergo season-ending shoulder surgery on Tuesday. It's been dislodged a couple of times, and surgery is the only way to keep it from happening continually. He's expected to be ready by January.

  • Tyvon Branch will return kickoffs alongside Larry Taylor. Edsall likes the experience of having two seniors, one in his fifth year (Branch), handling that aspect. Branch has great speed, evidenced by his continually winning practice-ending sprints. "He'll be good as long as he hangs onto the ball," Edsall said.

  • Edsall remarked how UConn's quarterback situation is as solid as it's been in a long time. Tyler Lorenzen won the job for several reasons, not the least of which is his poise and confidence in the huddle and on the sideline. More on the QBs in Saturday's Register.

  • Edsall would prefer not to have Desi Cullen, whoops, I mean The Heat Miser handle place kicking along with punting and kickoffs. For sure, he's the punter and kickoff man now. Dave Teggart had his best day of practice Friday, Edsall said, but the competition is still open for field goals between the three members of Kick Force.

  • Marcus Campbell has been moved from defensive end to outside linebacker, and he'll stay there for the year.

  • In my haste to post the Jeff Hathaway quotes last night, I missed a couple of typos. Hathaway didn't say UConn will be better five years ago than they are today. It was five years from now. Couple others. But they are fixed now.

That's it.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Suspensions and more on scheduling

Here's the two-sentence press release from UConn on the suspensions Thursday...

STORRS , Conn. -- University of Connecticut head football coach Randy Edsall announced on Thursday afternoon that sophomore tailback Andre Dixon (New Brunswick, N.J.) and freshman linebacker Corey Stringer (Warren, Ohio) have been suspended indefinitely for an unspecified team rules violation. There will be no further comments on this matter.

There was no campus arrest report for either, and nothing concerning academics. So that's good news, I guess. The school is saying it was an internal matter. More info when and if something turns up.

While I'm at it, here's what Jeff Hathaway had to say on the UConn football schedule and Notre Dame. Thanks to colleague Brett Orzechowski, owner of a sweet jump shot, for slipping in a few questions for me during his interview. Some interesting stuff.


“I think everyone in the country is looking to schedule Notre Dame. Everyone in the country would like to schedule Notre Dame.”

“I said it to reporters when I first got here in 1990. Scheduling isn’t definite until it’s a signed contract.”

“We’re having conversations with a wide range of people. That’s one of the things we’re committed to do. We have to be fair to our program in a certain stage of development. Where we played four years ago might be different from today and where we play five years from now will be better than today.”

“It’s interesting in football because you schedule so far out. Schools ask me what are you doing in '18 and '19?”

“We’re talking to the better teams in the Big Ten, ACC, Big 12. I don’t think going to the Pac-10 is in the future right now and that’s nothing against the Pac-10. Other people we can play are in closer proximity and deliver the same strength of schedule and national television exposure. It’s just a question of distance.”

“We’ll always play a I-AA. We play Hofstra. Down the road we’re going to play UMass. We want people to know we played on the I-AA level. I-AA plays the role in college football.”

“We’ll always look for a stretch game, a game that can be televised and some home and home games to work for us for geographic reasons or large pockets of alumni or for recruiting purposes.”


“Yes. I’m happy with it. I’m happy with the schedule from the standpoint of the program’s development. It fits us to where we are in the state of development. We just had our best recruiting class. Part of that is a new facility. We’re now banging heads with everyone on recruits. You get a couple of those classes on top of the current players, and you can change some things. But at the end of the day you have to be in contention to be competitive in the Big East and you also have to be realistic about benchmarks.”

“It also takes six wins to be bowl eligible. But you also have to know that it takes seven wins to give yourself extra cushion in case all of your conference-affiliated bowls are taken, before you can go to another bowl outside the conference affiliation.”

“With seven, it’s no secret it’s needed. Look at Pitt last year, which would have been in a bowl game. They had six wins and didn’t go. I’m using that as benchmark. This isn’t about Pitt.”

“One of the unique things in football about scheduling is that it helps recruiting beyond the regular-season games. You hear coaches saying we’ve been to four consecutive bowls. You don’t hear people saying we’ve been to bowl “A”, bowl “B”, bowl “C”, bowl “D”. People say we’ve been to four consecutive bowls. A bowl is a very significant part of the recruiting process. I think one of the most interesting things about making this transition from I-AA football to the Big East is that our schedule doesn't necessarily go out to '18 or '19. It allows us flexibility.”

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

A look into the future (schedules)

Rough day with the passing of Phil Rizzuto. Listening to the Scooter call Yankees games on Channel 11 growing up was like watching the game with another family member, especially coming from a large Italian family. He was more interested in discussing things other than the game, like the cannoli he just ate, traffic on the GW Bridge or the golf course he played that afternoon. Jeez, he might as well have been a member of my family. He drove others nuts, but Yankee fans loved him like one of their own, which he was. You'll be missed, Scooter.
Lots of chatter about schedules after Monday's Media Day. Part of it comes from Randy Edsall revealing his ideal non-conference schedule, which would consist of Boston College, Army, a top 25 caliber team, a MAC team and a Division I-AA team every year. Army is do-able. BC might take some work. Part of it comes from the Runway blog bit about the negotiations with Notre Dame for a game at either Gillette or Giants Stadium.

Scheduling can be tricky. Many games are put into effect six or eight years in advance. The Sept. 1 game at Duke is a return from a game in 2004. NC State comes to the Runway in 2012, nine years after the Huskies played in Raleigh. UConn plays Iowa in 2013 and 2014. It's a potentially huge series. But who's to say the Hawkeyes will still be a top 25-caliber team in seven years? If they fall into a couple of 4-8 seasons in a row leading into the series, you know there will be complaints from the less informed as to why Iowa was ever on the slate.

Any way, I thought I'd amp up the scheduling talk a bit. Here's a look at UConn's future football schedules. As always, these are tentative dates, and contracts can be dissolved (see Navy) so don't book that flight to Iowa just yet.

Aug. 30: Hofstra
Sept. 6: at Temple
Sept. 13: Virginia
Sept. 20: Baylor
Oct. 4: at North Carolina

Sept. 5: at Ohio
Sept. 12: North Carolina
Sept. 19: at Baylor

Sept. 11: Northeastern
Sept. 18: at Temple
Oct. 2: Vanderbilt

Sept. 10: at Vanderbilt
Sept. 17: Iowa State
TBA: at Northwestern

Sept. 1: Massachusetts
Sept. 8: North Carolina State
Sept. 15: at Maryland

Aug. 31: Northwestern
Sept. 7: Maryland
Sept. 21: at Iowa
Sept. 28: Temple

Sept. 20: Iowa

Series' expected to be added soon: Notre Dame, Buffalo

Starting at quarterback: Tyler Lorenzen

Randy Edsall announced Tyler Lorenzen will be the opening day starter, beating out Dennis Brown in the competition to be quarterback.

Edsall nor anyone else will be available for comment today, so we'll have to wait until Friday to get reaction. Until then, here's the canned quote from the UConn press release.

"We have decided to name Tyler as our starter for the 2007 season," Edsall said. "We feel that it was a good competition between Tyler and Dennis but that Tyler has clearly solidified himself as the number one quarterback at this point. Dennis will be a more than capable backup. I am confident in his abilities. I know that he will be a solid number two and will give us a great performance if needs be. I feel like it is time to go forward from here with Tyler as the number one and have the whole offensive unit working together."

Monday, August 13, 2007

Kick Squad, err, I mean Media Day

Lots to discuss after a fun and eventful Media Day at the Shenkman Center. Let's get to it.
  • Jarrell Miller isn't a freshman recruit. He's a transfer. He took a summer course at North Carolina and finished it (though he says he never received his final grade), which started his NCAA eligibility clock ticking. This year will count as the first of his "five years to complete four" phase. He'll still have four years of eligibility when he finally sees the field in 2008, Edsall announced later Monday, after media had left campus. "“It’s really disappointing,” Miller said. “I’ve been here since January, working hard and ready to play. Now I can’t play. I’m trying to look at it as a positive. It’s another year to get stronger and faster and learn the schemes. I’ll just be working even harder.”

  • Edsall lauded the talented freshman class as the best that's ever been at UConn. Many are making serious cases to play this year as backups. With two senior linebackers, expect at least two from the group of C.J. Marck, Corey Stringer and Greg Lloyd to play (if not all three). Same with kicker Dave Teggart. Edsall gushed about offensive linemen Gary Bardzak, Mike Ryan and Muhammad Petrus. "We haven't had three offensive linemen come into the program like those three," Edsall said.

  • Scott Lutrus responded to being chewed out during the morning practice Saturday by turning in two of the best he's had, Edsall said, on Saturday afternoon and Sunday.

  • Ryan Henegan limped around Media Day in a thick knee brace. Edsall said he was injured during Sunday's scrimmage, and is listed as day-to-day. "We hope it's nothing serious," Edsall said.

  • Mike Conroy talked about his baseball career (he's played with and against plenty of major leaguers, including at-bats against Rick Ankiel and Roger Clemens) and his adjustment to college football. Interestingly, it was a coach at Boston College who called Edsall to see if he'd be interested in Conroy. Seems the Eagles didn't have room for him this year, but were kind enough to offer him up to UConn. Conroy's story is very interesting. More on him in tomorrow's Register.

  • Desi Cullen is an exploratory major, but he should commit to a career in public relations right away. In an effort to draw interest to "The Kick Squad" on Media Day, Cullen dyed his hair bright yellow (he called the color "Irresistible Blonde") and spiked it out ala Billy Idol. UConn offensive coordinator Rob Ambrose asked Cullen the question on everyone's mind. "Why?" Ambrose said. "You look like the 'Heat Miser'." The Heat Miser, from the old Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer Christmas specials played every year, was probably the best analogy. I thought Cullen was more British punk, like Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols. But I could see him singing the Heat Miser song, for sure. At any rate, Cullen's PR campaign worked. Kick Squad was among the most photographed on Monday.

  • Found out today Randy Edsall is a big Orioles fan. "I grew up only about 35 minutes away," Edsall said. He's enjoyed rubbing it in to the abundance of Red Sox fans on the team, like Rob Lunn, as Eric Gagne's gag jobs have helped Boston's lead fall to four over the surging Yankees.

  • Receivers coach Matt Cersosimo's wife is expecting their first child. Due date? "Today," Cersosimo said. If you see Cersosimo sprinting to his car sometime soon, you'll know why. Be sure to get out of his way.

  • Oliver Bernson got his size from his mother's side of the family. Dad Corbin Bernson, the actor famous for TV ("LA Law") and movies ("Major League") is only 5-11. Oliver is 6-4 and 247 pounds, and at only 18 could still be growing. His mom is British actress Amanda Pays, whose first big break was starring as Rob Lowe's love interest in the 1984 movie "Oxford Blues", which is definitely worth Netflixing. I asked Oliver, who played football, basketball and ran track in high school in Studio City, Calif., which of his dad's movies he enjoys most. He said "Major League" (of course) and "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang", both of which are also Netflix worthy.

  • Note to Desi Cullen: I've been thinking about it, and Kick Squad sounds a little underpantsy...makes me think of cheerleaders or the Rockettes. I think "Kick Force" or "Power Trio" works better. Just a suggestion.

  • UConn has been in negotiations for a while with Notre Dame, and a contract for football is all but imminent. They won't play at the Runway, however. (Or Yale Bowl for that matter). It will be in South Bend and either Gillette Stadium in Foxborough or Giants Stadium. If all goes according to plan, the first game will be in 2009. Take it to the bank.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

There's a 6:30 in the morning now?

It's noon, and morning practice wrapped about an hour ago. I'm now sitting in Gampel Pavilion listening to the squeaking sneakers on the hardwood as Jim Calhoun runs a basketball camp for very tall, very good high schoolers. Some notes...
  • It was an early day for all. I was up by 6:30 a.m. and on the road an hour later to catch the beginning of the 8:30 practice. Amazing what kind of time you make on the state highways that early on a Saturday. With virtually no one else on the road, I went from Orange to the parking lot at the outdoor practice field in Storrs in exactly 1 hour flat. And that included a stop at the Dunkin' Donuts drive thru for a medium regular. However, I may have slightly exceeded the speed limit for brief stretches of I-91 and I-84.

  • Sports writers aren't usually up that early, and I'm no exception. At least I finished work early on Friday. Bleary-eyed Chuck Banning of the Day was in the office til' 1:45 a.m. putting the Saturday sports section to bed. He earned the media Hard Hat of the day.

  • Something I haven't seen in a while: five quarterbacks running drills. Zach Frazer and Cody Endres joined the mix, and both are pretty big dudes. Frazer looks like he's no stranger to the weight room, and throws a decent ball. I think he'll be alright here at UConn.

  • On the injury front, Martin Bedard, Yianni Apostolakos (he needs a nickname...maybe Yianni the Greek? ... Someone get to work on this.) and Ellis Gaulden all worked on the sidelines during practice. Bedard was in a walking boot. Donald Brown dressed and had his leg wrapped knee to ankle, but didn't practice after what Edsall described as a minor leg injury. Dan Davis will be working only once during two-a-days, and got the morning off. Robert Vaughn was home after the death of an uncle, but was planning to return for the afternoon session.

  • Behemoth Dan Ryan has moved past behemoth Mike Hicks at right tackle. Nothing Hicks has done wrong, says Edsall. Ryan has been very good thus far. But it ain't over yet.

  • The kickers went through an odd series of stretches and exercises that included tethering themselves to each other on a bungi cord while one remained stationary and the other ran up field. They then paired off, one hopping on another's shoulders, and ran at each other in a chicken fight. OK, the last part never happened.

  • Not a good day for the defense, which Edsall chewed out for dogging it much of the morning. Specifically, both Scott Lutrus and Danny Lansanah caught Edsall's wrath. Edsall told Lutrus to shape up or he won't be starting. Lansanah got it for having his eyes in the wrong place during a drill. "Quit going through the motions!" Edsall bellowed at the defense. "We're giving up too many big plays. That's why we get beat, we give up too many big plays." Greg Robinson is apparently pushing hard to unseat Lutrus at strong side linebacker. More on this in Sunday's Register.

  • True freshman Robbie Frey looks very good, but is a thin 187 pounds. Andre Dixon also looked outstanding. I thought the same thing last camp, too. If there's an injury at tailback, the Huskies have plenty of talent to fill in.

  • When he leans forward on his knee brace, Dennis Brown looks like he's has a prosthetic leg from the knee down. His lower leg juts out at an incredibly odd angle. Guess that's where the bow-legged Brown got the nickname "parenthesis".

  • I doubt the quarterback battle will be be decided any time soon. They are pretty even right now, though Tyler Lorenzen had a decent day. Expect Edsall to wait until the week before the Duke game to make his announcement.

  • We know Jeffers, Kanuch, Taylor and Hernandez will be on the field a lot at wide receiver. Edsall wants his rotation at six, and mentioned Kevin Poles, Rob Theoudele, Kashif Moore, walk-on Mike Conroy and Isiah Moore as those in the mix. That's rough news for Marcus Easley, Erik Muschette and Alex Molina.

  • How young is the linebacking crew? John Silver of the J.I. had to give Danny Lansanah a cheat sheet when he asked who else was looking strong at the position. (Danny picked Greg Lloyd and C.J. Marck off the roster sheet. He is also impressed with Greg Robinson, whose name he remembered). Edsall also mentioned Lloyd and Marck and added Matt Ashmeade, Aaron Bryant, Doc Goudreau, Corey Stringer and Lawrence Wilson as those in the hunt for the backup jobs. That about covered all the bases at linebacker. No, wait. New Haven's own Alex Folson missed the roll call.

Enjoy the evening practice.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Practice No. 1 is in the books

Day one of practice is in the books. Well, sort of. The freshmen didn't attend the morning session with everyone else because of orientation. They'll be out there later this afternoon. So no one got to see Zach Frazer, Dave Teggart, Cody Endres or any of the walk-ons. Among those walk-ons is Oliver Bernson, a defensive lineman from Studio City, Calif. who just happens to be the son of actor Corbin Bernson. Yep, Roger Dorn Jr. is a Husky. Oliver Bernson, by the way, is 6-foot-4 and 247 pounds. Also walking on is Mike Conroy from Scituate, Mass. Conroy was a supplemental first round draft pick of the Cleveland Indians (43rd overall) in 2001 and played six seasons in the minor leagues. He never advanced past Class A and was a .248 hitter (though he belted a career-high 12 homers last summer) with a handful of stolen bases. Conroy led BC High to the Massachusetts Division I Super Bowl as a quarterback, but he's listed as a wide receiver on the roster.

Some other news and observations:

  • Lindsey Witten, now 19 pounds heavier at 237, almost looks like a different person. He's much thicker in the neck and arms. He worked with the second team.

  • Others who've gotten bigger include Cody Brown (now 248), Will Beatty (up to 306 from 280) and Robert Vaughn, who's actually down from three pounds from 192 but looks like he hit the weight room hard. And though Endres wasn't out there, he's listed at 6-4 and 245 (up from the media guide weight of 219). Edsall said he was shocked when he saw the number, and that Endres carries it well. He passed all the physical tests, and will stay there if he can play there.

  • Dennis Brown perfected the completion that ricochets off the back of the unsuspecting offensive lineman's helmet to the receiver in a skell-o drill. A high degree of difficulty. Mike Hicks was the unlucky lineman. Sometimes being 6-6 has its disadvantages. Hicks made an exaggerated crouch on the next snap so Brown could have a clear throw.

  • It's only the first day, but Brown had a clear edge in play. His passes were crisp and on target for the most part. Lorenzen wasn't as accurate or pretty with his throws, for what ever that's worth, which probably isn't much. Lorenzen says he feels fine after his spring knee injury, but it was Dennis Brown who had the surgery following the Blue-White Game. Brown says he went under the knife for a meniscus tear in his right knee, which he called minor surgery that kept him out only four weeks.

  • Dahna Deleston was playing safety with the first team, as if he never left. Edsall said he hopes Deleston's academic issue helped him grow as a person. Deleston used the down time to not only work on his grades, but to buff up in the weight room. He's noticeably bigger.

  • Practice began outside until the rain got heavy. It moved indoors around 11 a.m.

  • There was supposed to be no contact Monday, but Aaron Bagsby got leveled by center Keith Gray during a return. Bagsby didn't say much after the hit, neither did Gray. But Tyvon Branch sprung to Bagsby's defense, and wound up dealing mostly with Lawrence Green. Nothing got physical, just some verbal sparring.

  • Rob Lunn lined up alongside Dan Davis at defensive tackle with the first team, as did Vaughn at safety. Donald Thomas worked at guard with the ones.

  • The ball sounds different coming off Desi Cullen's foot for field goals, as opposed to Tony Ciaravino. There were more misses than makes, however. We didn't see Teggart, but if he's accurate, he'll have a real shot.

As always, there will be full coverage in the print edition of the New Haven Register tomorrow. Will the stories be online? Don't know. It's not up to me. The paper provides only a sampling of stories online, and I have no control over which ones they use, which I've now explained for the 75th time in the past year.

In case you missed it, here's the link to the Donald Thomas story that ran in today's paper.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Precamp reading and the Runway summer photo album

Preseason camp opens bright and early on Monday morning, and I'm looking forward to it. I mean, there's no better season than football season, right? To tide you over until then, be sure to check out the Donald Thomas feature in Sunday's Register. Here's a sneak peak at the terrific photo taken by Register photographer Peter Hvizdak last week in the Shenkman Center weight room. UConn strength and conditioning coach Jerry Martin gave Thomas a hard time for not leaning on a heavier dumbbell for the photo, but it's still a great shot.

Donald is an interesting guy from a great family. Unfortunately, I was unable to secure the one photo I really wanted to use for the story. It seems Donald earned Eagle Scout honors in high school, unofficially making him the largest Boy Scout in history. We couldn't coordinate a photo exchange with Donald's parents in time, but the skills he learned in the scouts still serve him well. You can ready all about that and more Sunday. EDIT: Make that Monday. What are the odds Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez hit milestone homers on the same day? Thanks to Barry's steroid-aided 755th, the Donald Thomas story was a (very) late scratch on Saturday night and is not in Sunday's paper. It will run in Monday's editions.

There's been plenty of football news in the print edition of the Register this summer. As for the blog, it will be back at full strength starting now, so relax. Have a cream soda. There'll be a whole season to misinterpret my sarcasm and bad jokes and to scratch your head at irrelevant and obscure pop culture references. It all starts Monday. I promise you won't be disappointed. And please, for the love of God, stop emailing me about the lack of entries, people. Cabeesh?

Since I have some time to kill, I'll provide a quick summary of my summer (complete with photos). I traveled a bit, mostly to attend more weddings than I can even remember, and utilized my new digital camera. My approach to photography can best be described as unconventional. Rather than take the traditional posed (read: boring) pictures at weddings and such, I go for spontaneous shots. Is someone in mid-yawn or about to sneeze? Then let me get my camera. There's nothing better than sharing photos and watching people react in horror at pictures of them picking their nose. At any rate, my wife would kill me if I used any of those (especially considering most are of her). But here are some others from my summer.

Here's a 50-pound, 40-inch striper I caught about a mile offshore in Westbrook. Snagged it with a live bunker, and nearly broke both arms reeling her in. This thing was the size of a kindergardner. That's captain Keith Salisbury, the best in the biz, standing next to me. OK, I confess. This photo was taken three summers ago. But I loved that fish. He was delicious.

Here's a house I'm considering buying from Wayne Huizenga in Ft. Lauderdale. You know, just a little something the wife and I can retire to. I'm only about $17 million away from the $17 million price tag.

Here's a shot of my boat. She's a beauty, eh? The big one is kinda nice too. Editor's note: Chip Malafronte does not, has never and will never have enough money to own a boat.

Went to a wedding in Dallas and made sure I visited this landmark. It's the old Texas Schoolbook Depository. Lee Harvey Oswald fired the shots that killed John F. Kennedy from the sixth floor of this building, now a museum. The window Oswald fired from is on the far right of the near building, just above the tree line, second floor down from the top. Inside, this place is as fascinating as it is eerie. The area around the window is just as it was in November 1963.

Notice the 'x' on the center lane of the highway? That's where the JFK motorcade was when the second bullet struck Kennedy.

That's me on the grassy knoll. The place needs no explanation. It's where Roger McDowell spit on Cosmo Kramer not long after a crucial Keith Hernandez error cost the Mets a ballgame (ruining the afternoon for Kramer and Newman). Luckily, there were no second spitters on this afternoon.

American Idol misfit William Hung sang during a New Haven County Cutters baseball game at Yale Field which I was covering for the Register. He's been taking singing lessons. He's still awful. Nice guy, though.

That's all for now. Well, maybe I'll sneak in a few later. See you Monday.