Saturday, December 01, 2007

Up for breakfast at the Shenk

Open practice bright and early at the Shenkman Center at 9 this morning. Arctic winds, temps in the mid-20s, some snow in Storrs. Gotta love the indoor facility. I found it somewhat inappropriate that The Clash's "Should I Stay or Should I Go" was blaring from the sound system during the entire practice.

Just kidding about that. But here's what did happen Saturday.

Randy Edsall was at practice, and true to his word he didn't speak to the media. When he first told us he wasn't going to be available today during the press conference for the Meineke bowl bid, I thought 'this is great. how considerate. he's letting us get a crack at the assistant coaches.' Now, I realize he knew what was about to unfold with Georgia Tech and needed an excuse to avoid the media this morning. A brilliant tactician.

Reactions were somewhat varied from player to player, meaning a few got a little uncomfortable and fidgety when the questions about Edsall arose. Others were more relaxed. But the message was the same: we're not letting anything affect our preparation for the bowl game.

Here's a sampling of what they're saying:

OL Donald Thomas - "No one's really worried about it. We're focused on the bowl game. I don't worry about it. He's a good coach, I can understand people wanting to talk to him. But I know he likes it here, and I think he's going to stay here.

Asked if the ongoing story has been a distraction, Thomas said "It's all business."

DT Dan Davis - "We're fine. We talked about it as a team, and we know what's going on. Coach Edsall is still our coach, and that's it. We're focused on the game. It's no distraction to us, I think it's more of a distraction to those outside the program."

DT Rob Lunn - "Every year when there's a coaching position open, you hear about it. Any time they talk about the Syracuse job, they throw coach Edsall's name out there. We take it as disrespect to our program, you know, why would he want to leave here? He obviously doesn't. So we don't think it's a distraction."

Asked if he is worried Edsall might leave, "I don't really want to comment on it. It's his decision."

Assistant head coach for defense and defensive line coach Hank Hughes - "(The assistant coaches are) totally focused on the bowl game and signing a good recruiting class."

Offensive coordinator and QB coach Rob Ambrose - "It really doesn't (have an affect on us). These kids don't care. They have one more game to play, and they're thrilled to death. The rest of the stuff is just passing fancy."

My opinion: Edsall already has an offer from the Yellow Jackets and is waiting for a counteroffer from UConn. When he determines which is better for him and his family, he'll make his decision. Don't expect it to take long, either. We might know as early as Monday. Maybe sooner. Take that for what it's worth, which, along with 7 bucks, will get you all you can eat at the Vernon Super Terrific No.1 Chinese Buffet.

Some other quick hit notes:

  • UConn is allowed 15 official practices leading into the Meineke Bowl. The good news is nothing counts toward that total until Sunday, as today is considered the final day of the regular season.

  • The regulars went through a fairly light practice that lasted just over an hour, mostly fundamentals and drills. The scout team went a little longer.

  • The entire team will travel to Charlotte (it's OK to bring your scout team to a bowl game), just like everyone went to Detroit for the Motor City Bowl in 2004. But only six Huskies actually participated in the Motor City Bowl. Can you name them? Answer a little later.

  • Among those not practicing Saturday: Tyler Lorenzen, Danny Lansanah and Cody Brown. Don't worry. They're all getting extra rest to recover from a long season.

  • Kicker Tony Ciaravino's hometown is listed as Boca Raton, Fla., but apparently his family moved to Charlotte when he graduated high school and that's where he heads for breaks and holidays. Leigh Torbin is trying to sell that one as a "local boy comes home" feature. Sorry, Leigh. But it sounds like I've spent more time banging away at the laptop in the bowels of Gampel Pavilion this fall than Tony's spent over the last four years in Charlotte.

  • Caught a glimpse of the new wall murals being constructed in the Burton Complex. Impressive. They have helmets of all 32 NFL teams, with the names of every UConn alum whose every played under each. Also tributes to the all-Big East players and, my favorite, a wall devoted to UConn's Arena Football and Canadian Football alums. But where's the arenafootball2 wall? The Albany Conquest won't be happy.

  • Several recruits watching practice today, including a two from Virginia Beach's Ocean Lakes High (Superman and King Randall, their identities revealed only from the nicknames on the back of their school-issued sweatshirts). Superman, otherwise known as Marcus Davis, a 6-4, 225-pound QB just looks like an athlete. He was throwing the ball a little with King Randall (Randall Dunn) on the sidelines.

  • Rob Ambrose said that Tyler Lorenzen and Dan Orlovsky are comparable in many ways. In fact, he says he talks with DanO all the time about it, and DanO loves him. "In his work ethic, and his incredible football intelligence," Ambrose says. "There is a tremendous comparison. Danny and I talk about it all the time, and it's what he likes about the kid. Along with the fact that he doesn't play football, he's a football player. And he is a quarterback, he doesn't play the position. That seeps out to the other players. His personal confidence, the 'I work hard at what I do, so maybe you ought to think about it, too.' It's not really said, it's just a fact. Danny was just like that."

  • Ambrose says the offense (obviously) won't change, but he has a wrinkle or two prepared for whoever the Huskies will play in the Meineke. "I watch enough college football to know the baseline defenses of all the schools we might play. All we're waiting for is for them to tell us who we're playing before we start implementing."

  • Wake Forest, Florida State, Georgia Tech and Maryland are all possibilities, but it's all but been determined that Wake will be the opponent. Things could happen (granted, it would have to be a lot) that may alter that, but expect UConn to get another crack at a team it should have beaten last season at the Runway.

  • No one I spoke with cared who the opponent was, though there was a little twinkle when Wake was mentioned. "I think the kids would like to play Wake just for a little bit of redemption," Ambrose said. "But truth be told, this year is so much different than last year, the kids are just like 'line 'em up'. It's just another color of the jersey."

  • Your trivia question answer: Larry Taylor, Danny Lansanah, Dan Davis, Tyvon Branch, Julius Williams and Ryan Henegan. Anyone who got all six gets a lifetime free subscription to the Runway blog.

OK. I'm hungry. Anone up for the Vernon Super Buffet?


Anonymous Steve P said...

Without cheating

Larry Taylor
Dan Davis
Tyvon Branch
Danny Lansanah
Donnell Ford?

December 01, 2007 2:18 PM 
Blogger Chip Malafronte said...

Almost, Steve. I'll give you the lifetime free subscription for coming close.

December 01, 2007 2:32 PM 

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