Saturday, September 29, 2007

Akron postgame briefs

Some quickies from the postgame press conference:
  • Donald Brown entered the media interview room on crutches, with his foot in a protective boot. He planted awkwardly on a run, and twisted it. Donald says it's just a sprain. From the looks of it, it's a pretty severe sprain. The rest and treatment during the bye week should help.

  • Tyvon Branch came out after dinging his shoulder. Branch had nothing on the shoulder postgame, and said he expects to be ready for Virginia in two weeks.

  • Also on the injury list are receiver Kevin Poles and defensive end Gary Mack.

  • Randy Edsall's 15-year old son, Corey, was the kid who was taken out on the sidelines on the final play of the first half. He got blasted pretty hard by Akron's Bryan Williams near the 5-yard line marker. Time ran out after the play, foiling a potential Akron score, because the referee ruled forward progress on Williams before he was knocked out of bounds. "You (strategically) put your people wherever you can," Randy Edsall joked. Corey is fine.

  • The students may be on to the next big promotion. Did you see the signs for Andre Dixon? One of them, "Shake them dreds", was on the big screen at the Runway for an extended period. Edsall suggested UConn give out dredlock wigs in time for the Louisville home game on Oct. 29. "Just in time for Halloween", Edsall said.

  • Dixon caught flak from Edsall for his celebration following a 9-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter (the first TD of Dixon's career). Dixon tossed the ball down and did a little shimmy-shake with both hands spread in the back of the end zone. "He just told me to act like I've been there before, and to hand the ball to the referee next time," Dixon said. After Dixon's next score, that's exactly what he did...a quick handoff to the referee.

  • Donald Thomas said the offense struggled in the first half mainly because it took some getting used to Akron's 3-3-5 defense. "That's the first time we've seen that," Thomas said. "We worked against it in practice, but it's not the same as game speed. It takes some getting used to. But once we settled down and took the game a little slower, things began to open up." Once UConn opened things up by throwing more in the second half, the offense took off. Edsall and Thomas both suggested the passes tired the Zips out a bit, as well. "We made some adjustments and said we felt we would throw the ball more to loosen the running game up."

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Runway Challenge Week 5

A friend of mine came up with this idea, but since this has truly been a historic seven days in terms of moronic behavior, I'm adopting it for the Runway blog. I present to you the nominees for sports dopes of the week.
  • Willie Williams, (former) LB, Louisville: Oft-arrested teen's criminal record cost him a scholarship to Miami. No other schools would touch him. Louisville gave him a second chance, under strict rules of conduct. But Williams, after being pulled over by police, attempted to hide his stash of weed in his mouth. Uh, Willie? Didn't you think the cops would eventually ask you a few questions?

  • Bud Black, manager, San Diego Padres: Ok, Milton Bradley is the most tempermental athlete since Albert (Joey) Belle. But lost in the whole Bradley vs. umpire Mike Winters (both dopes, mind you) confrontation is Black, who felt the need to yank and pull on Bradley so violently while attempting to restrain him he forced Bradley to tear his ACL. Here's a tip for Black and any future managers of Bradley. Just carry blow darts filled with horse tranquilizers and stash them in your back pocket. When Milton goes off on one of his inevitable tantrums against umps, fans, opposing pitchers, inanimate objects, etc., you slyly take out a dart and blow. Effective, and no one will be the wiser.

  • O.J. Simpson, criminal: The Juice, apparently taking a break from trying to find the real killers, was pinched in Vegas for trying to steal sports memorabilia he claimed was his. Do you realize O.J. makes $400,000/year from his NFL pension (which can't be touched by any lawsuits) and spends his days playing golf and chasing skirts? This nutcase simply needs to be in the spotlight, for better or worse.

  • Michael Vick, dog killer: Tested positive for marijuana while awaiting indictment for dog fighting and animal cruelty charges. No one is surprised. Remember when Vick refused to throw his "special" water bottle with the secret compartment away at an airport?

  • Hope Solo, GK, Team USA: Solo, no relation to Han Solo, threw her teammate and fellow keeper for the U.S. women's national soccer team under the bus after a loss to Brazil at the World Cup. Solo was riding a shutout streak before the U.S. coach decided to play the No. 2 keeper. Stange decision, for sure. The backup, a veteran getting on in years, hadn't played in three months and allowed four goals in the loss. Solo, ever the class act, publicly criticized the decision after the game. Solo claimed she would have saved all of the goals Brazil scored. Sure you would've, Hope Solo. Sure you would've. Now if the Yankees would have only put me in to face Luis Gonzalez in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series instead of Mariano Rivera...

  • Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State football coach, 40-year old man (in case you hadn't heard): The great orator decided not to acknowledge his team's big win over Texas Tech Saturday, instead spending over 3 minutes berating a female newspaper columnist before storming out like a scorned 6-year old just told he has to finish his milk or he can't watch Dora the Explorer. Whether you agree it was justified or not, Gundy came off sounding like the dumbest man in Oklahoma. He should have called the whole thing off after beginning his hissy fit with the opening line "this was given to me by a mother....of children." Instead, he went into an overly dramatic rant that sounded like a warped mix of Gunnery Sgt. Hartman from Full Metal Jacket and Andy Kauffman yelling at a Memphis pro wrestling crowd about being a real man just before challenging any woman in the audience to wrestle him for the intergender championship. The next day, Gundy said it was "unfortunate" his rant overshadowed his teams win. Was that the media's fault, too, Mike?

Enough of this. Let's get on to the picks.

Game 1: CONNECTICUT (-15) over Akron

Game 2: Air Force (+3) over NAVY

Game 3: Syracuse (-2) over MIAMI-OH

Game 4: Michigan State (+7.5) over WISCONSIN

Game 5: RUTGERS (-17) over Maryland

Game 6: Cal (+6) over OREGON

Game 7: Louisville (-9.5) over NC STATE

Game 8: Alabama (+3) over FLORIDA STATE

Game 9: UCLA (+2) over OREGON STATE

Game 10: VIRGINIA (-6) over Pittsburgh

Game 11: Cincinnati (-15) over SAN DIEGO STATE

Game 12: HOLY CROSS (-6) over Yale

Here are the results from Week 4:

1. kooch 9-2

2. Chip 7-4

3. SeanO's ghost 6-5

sturge-rock 6-5

seano 6-5

pete 6-5

ian 6-5

8. alex 5-6

Dan 5-6

Will L 5-6

11. Vinny 4-7

sammy 4-7

13. kevin 3-8

14. caleb 2-9

overall standings

1. Ian 27

SeanO's Ghost 27

Chip 27

Kooch 27

5. Sammy 23

Vinny from East Haven 23

7. DetroitTigersHater 21

8. sturge-rock 18

9. Kevin 17

10. Wil L 16

11. Alex 16

12. Pete 15

13. Caleb Mandrake 12

14. Dan 10

15. Steve P 8

Get your picks in by clicking "comments" below.

That's more like it

Made sure I was early for this week's teleconference with Randy Edsall. I joined 4 minutes late last week, and missed the entire call. Lasted a shade under 10 minutes today, with some good info provided by the coach.

Edsall quote: "The status of the offensive line is the same as last week."
Chip's loose translation: "Mike Hicks and Alex LaMagdelaine will start. Dan Ryan will not."

No one was injured during practice during the week.

Ryan Henegan is getting better each week, and can play if there's an emergency. He's also listed as a backup on special teams. Lawrence Wilson is still the starter. Edsall says he's had some good conversations with Henegan this week about where he is physically, and he's getting closer. It's been over a month since the injury to Henegan's knee, and it will take some time before he's into game shape and the knee is at full strength.

Ellis Gaulden is a possibility to play. He made the trip to Pittsburgh last week, so we could see No. 87 in there against Akron.

Lawrence Green is still out. He's meeting with a team doctor today, and Edsall expects to know more about his situation next week.

There are several thousand tickets still available for the game Saturday.

Picks coming later today.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Looking at Pittsburgh

Here's a few shots of the Pittsburgh trip...

A portion of the outfield wall of the old Forbes Field, home of the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1909-1970, still stand on the Pitt campus. Pretty spacious park. This is right-center field. Center field, which can be seen in the distance on the right was 457 feet.

Plaque commemorating Bill Mazeroski's homer, the one that made Mickey Mantle cry.

Home plate of Forbes Field is preserved under glass inside Posvar Hall. Didn't see this until I stepped on it.
Some of the retired numbers of Pitt football players. Tough to read, but it's 13-Marino; 33-Dorsett; 42-Goldberg (not the wrestler); 65-Schmidt. Never heard of the last two.

Pitt alum Tony Siragusa sharing a cheeseburger with the head linesman.

UConn warm-up field goal attempts.

Got to share a laugh with Dave Wannestedt's moustache, an avid Runway reader. Dave Wannestedt spent most of the pregame taking photos with anyone and everyone. After the outcome, maybe he should have spent a little more time working on the game plan.

Heinz Field. Those folks lining the end zone and sidelines were high school recruits and their families. This game probably didn't do a lot to sell them on Pitt's program.

More of Heinz Field, a stadium named after a ketchup (or is it catsup?) but colored mustard yellow.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Pregame from Heinz Field. Want a photo with Dave Wannestedt?

Arrived at Heinz Field around 5:00. Would have been here a little sooner, but I was cut off by the procession of police-escorted busses taking UConn to the game. No biggie. Got a freebie as I was walking to the stadium, a Geico visor featuring a patch of the famous caveman from their commercials. I'll never wear it in a million years. But I took it anyway. Lots of tailgaiting and pretty good atmosphere surrounding the stadium. Don't know how many of those folks had tickets, but if it's any indication there might be 40,000 for the game tonight.

Security getting up to the press box is a little, uh, tight. Most stadiums take a peek inside your bag, tag it, and send you on your way. Not here. Had to take out my lap top and turn it on. Had to turn on my cell phone, then punch a few keys. Thought that was it, but I was ordered to return to get patted down by an 18-year old security guard. I put my foot down at the stool sample, however.

Took a walk down to field level to get a glimpse of the stadium and the surroundings. It's a natural grass field. Didn't think they existed any more. Field looks to be in good shape. Tony Ciaravino and Dave Teggart were blasting field goals, with some Pitt students heckling from the stands behind the uprights. Also watched Dave Wannestedt shake hands and pose for photos with seemingly every one of the 2,000 recruits and their families on the sidelines. I can't picture Randy Edsall doing this 50 minutes before gametime. Maybe I'm wrong. Also saw Pitt alum, former NFLer and broadcasting disaster Tony Siragusa milling around on the field. And for all the security getting into the press box, I mistakenly wandered into the Pitt locker room trying to find my way back through the maze beneath the stadium. Got myself out of there in a hurry, but had to laugh at the irony. Endure a full body cavity search to get up to the press box, but the locker room is open to all. Nice job.

We're about 20 minutes from kickoff. Enjoy the game.

Rambling from the Steel City

I've been known to complain when things go poorly on a road trip, but I must say things have been turning up roses since arriving here in Pittsburgh Friday.

Had a cramped yet quick flight from Bradley to Pittsburgh. Have you ever seen, heard or watched anyone order tomato juice except on an airplane? I thought they only made tomato juice to soak in just in case you're ever sprayed by a skunk, as I learned on the Partridge Family. Apparently, people actually drink the stuff. Also had time to read a ridiculous magazine article ranking the top 4 places to see autumn leaves in New England. After country roads in Maine, New Hampshire and the Berkshires, they listed the Merritt Parkway in Fairfield County. Yeah, that's a serene drive. Try it around 3 p.m. on any weekday afternoon. You'll have plenty of time to look at leaves while stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic for four hours.

After the quickie flight, I went to rental car desk at Pittsburgh airport. Never used Hertz before, but I was pleasantly surprised. Got a sporty Mazda 6 (with Massachusetts plates, guess it's not all perfect) complete with a GPS Navigation system. I'd never used one before, but punched in my hotel information and got turn by turn directions. Another nice surprise was someone left a CD in the car's 6-disc changer...a Bill Cosby comedy album "Revenge" (recorded in 1967), which I owned as a kid but hadn't heard in about 25 years. The album is mainly Cos recollecting his youth growing up in Philly, and features a great bit in which Cosby describes playing a game called "Buck Buck" against a roughneck group of rival neighborhood kids. Cosby's group wins the Buck Buck championship of the world by uleashing their secret weapon, Fat Albert. Great stuff.

Had dinner at "Fatheads", a downtown Pittsburgh beer and wings joint that Hartford Courant writer Mike Anthony couldn't stop talking about last weekend, with six other UConn beat writers. I came away impressed. 40 beers on tap, about a dozen different flavors for wings, and some of the greatest sandwiches (called Hedwiches) you could ask for. Since I know everyone is always interested in what I'm eating, I had a Rogue Dead Guy Ale (not bad), a combination of sweet and sour wings along with the signature Fathead wings (very good) and a steak and egg sandwich that was absolutely fantastic. Unfortunately, I gained 15 pounds before the meal was through. The order of the evening, however, belonged to John Silver of the Manchester J-I. He indulged in an appetizer of wings before his entree -- more wings -- was delivered a short time later. John's drink order? Meatballs. OK, I made the last part up. But John did bring the wings he couldn't finish back to the hotel in a box, presumably for breakfast and to complete the wings-as-a-meal tri-fecta. Let's hope John survived the evening and will be at the game tonight.

After enjoying my first night of uninterrupted sleep since the night before the Maine game (no screaming baby) I checked out the Pitt campus this afternoon. I was here for the UConn-Pitt game in 2005, but only caught a quick glimpse of Pitt's campus. It's a fairly attractive place with lots of big, old buildings. I made a point to see W.W. Posvar Hall, which was built on the site of the old Forbes Field, home of the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1909 until the late 60s. A portion of the old outfield wall remains in tact, including a marker where Bill Mazerowski hit the walk-off home run that beat the Yankees in the 1960 World Series (and made Mickey Mantle cry). Inside Posvar, I searched for home plate, which is preserved under glass, and couldn't find it until I literally stepped on it. Pretty cool. I took some pictures, but can't post them til I get back home.

Just watching Syracuse about to pull off the upset of Louisville on TV. Good lord, Louisville's defense has more holes than Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. They can't tackle, defend or run. Good thing I took the Orange and the points. This misses being the biggest point-spread reversal by one (see my previous post).

See you in a couple hours at Heinz.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Runway Challenge Week 4

Guess there wasn't much meat to the Thursday teleconference with Randy Edsall. I was running a few minutes late, logged onto the call at approximately 1:05 p.m. (five minutes after its scheduled start) and it was already over. Granted, the Thursday call never goes very long: 15 minutes tops, but a four-minute call? That's quick. Checked in with Leigh Torbin in the UConn sports info office to see if I had the wrong number for the call or it was changed to a later time. Nope. It went that fast. About all the info was Ryan Henegan has been practicing with the second team. Nothing on Dan Ryan (no one asked, Leigh said) and no big changes for Saturday.

And with that, we move on to the Runway Challenge. I noticed Syracuse was a 37-point underdog to Louisville this week, and began wondering about big point spreads. What was the largest ever in a college game? Who was the biggest underdog to win outright? Has anyone ever won after being 37-point dogs?

I found this info isn't easy to research, but here's what I found. In 1985, Oregon State was a 38-point underdog (the lines ranged from 36-38) against Washington and pulled out a 21-20 victory for what is widely considered the biggest point-spread reversal ever: even bigger than Appalachian State-Michigan (which was 27-points on a certain Internet sports book).

Nothing concrete on the largest single point spread, but Southern Cal was recently favored by 46.5 over a Pac-10 opponent. And this week Hawaii is favored by 52 points (52!!!) over Division I-AA Charleston Southern. That's like spotting them seven touchdowns and a field goal. Sadly, Hawaii could have that covered by halftime. If anyone knows of a bigger spread in any game, let me know.

Game 1: Syracuse (+37) over LOUISVILLE: Cards defense has too many holes (they gave up 42 to Middle Tennessee State, for Pete's sake). Have to think 'Ville will need to score 60 to cover. And, again, it could very well happen. How sad is Syracuse?

Game 2: SOUTH FLORIDA (-13.5) over North Carolina: Bulls jump into AP top 25 despite not playing last week. Coach Jim "Mr. Excitement" Leavitt celebrated by switching from Sanka to decaf. He also indulged in a dish of unflavored ice cream (his favorite).

Game 3: WEST VIRGINIA (-24.5) over East Carolina: Noel Devine's stats against Maryland last week...five carries, 136 yards, no touchdowns. That's an average of 27.2 yards per carry, raising his season total to 15.1 yards per carry. With Slaton and White, that's scary.

Game 4: MICHIGAN (+3) over Penn State: Combined age of Joe Paterno and Lloyd Carr? 142.

Game 5: Kentucky (+7) over ARKANSAS: Kentucky's Andre Woodson quietly turning into one of the SEC's best quarterbacks. Arkansas quarterback Casey Dick still has the worst-selling team jersey in the nation.

Game 6: Connecticut (+10) over PITT: Huskies go from 31-point faves to 10-point dogs in a week. By the way, Dave Wannestedt's moustache posted on the blog a couple days ago and wanted to know why I've been mocking him. Got nothin' against you, Dave Wannestedt's moustache. In fact, I'm extending the olive branch by growing my own Wannestache, which I'll be sporting for the game in Pittsburgh Saturday night. Hope that squares us, Dave Wannestedt's moustache.

Game 7: CINCINNATI (-24) over Marshall: Bearcats and USF will give Big East five ranked teams very shortly.

Game 8: ALABAMA (-3.5) over Georgia: Tide will roll.

Game 9: WISCONSIN (-8) over Iowa: Hawkeyes had trouble with Northern Illinois and lost to Iowa State. Oh, they also pummelled Syracuse. Not exactly a promising start.

Game 10: Washington (+7) over UCLA: Huskies burned me last week. I'll give 'em one more chance.

Game 11: Central Connecticut State University (+26.5) over WESTERN MICHIGAN: My alma mater gets a taste of Division I-A competition. They might win this one outright.

Here are the results from last week
1. vinny from east haven 9-2-1
2. seano's ghost: 8-3-1
ian 8-3-1
4. chip 7-4-1
5. kooch 6-5-1
sturge-rock 6-5-1
will L: 6-5-1
alex 6-5-1
9. dan 5-6-1
detroittigershater 5-6-1
sean o: 5-6-1
sammy 5-6-1
13. caleb 4-7-1
14. kevin 3-8-1

overall standings through three weeks
1. DetroitTigersHater 21
Ian 21
SeanO's Ghost 21
4. Chip 20
5. Sammy 19
Vinny from East Haven 19
7. kooch 18
8. Kevin 14
9. sturge-rock 12
10. Wil L 11
11. Caleb Mandrake 10
12. Alex 10
13. pete 9
14. Steve P 8
15. dan 5

Get your picks in. Click on the "comments" icon below, then cut and paste the template inside.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Tuesday notes from the Shenk

The lowdown from Tuesday's media luncheon....

  • Randy Edsall opened things up by informing us that Father Daniel Sullivan, the team's unofficial chaplain, suffered a heart attack over the weekend. He is in recovery, and apparently informed his doctors he had to fly to Pitt this weekend for the UConn game. Doctors told him that wasn't going to happen. Thoughts and prayers for a speedy recovery.

  • Not much news on the injury front. Dan Ryan will be reevaluated during practice this week. If he can't play, expect Mike Hicks to start at right tackle and Alex LaMagdelaine to start at left guard. If Ryan is healthy enough, he'll likely go at right tackle with Hicks at left guard.

  • Ryan Henegan will participate in a full contact practice today for the first time since injuring his knee in the preseason. No gray area with him though, Lawrence Wilson is the starter against Pitt. Greg Lloyd Jr. will most likely back him up, playing on the home field of the Steelers team his father starred for so long (not the same stadium, but you get the idea).

  • Dave Wannstedt had an appointment for a moustache wax and trim, and thus was unavailable to speak via teleconference with Connecticut media this afternoon.

  • Tyler Lorenzen has perfected the art of speaking for extended periods of time without actually saying anything. He could be the White House press secretary. Asked if he's taking classes at UConn to perfect the art of style over substance, Tyler laughed and said a lot of his friends and family tell him he should go into politics because of this skill. Credit him for having a good, self-deprecating sense of humor.

  • Even after Tony Ciaravino's magnificent day kicking the football against Temple (he was named Big East special teams player of the week), Edsall mentioned Dave Teggart is still right on his tail for the job. Says a lot about both kids, but this quote was even more insightful, "This is the first time in my nine years here that I can go out to practice on Sundays and on Thursdays and not have to feel bad because guys are putting it through the uprights and being very consistent," Edsall said.

  • Since I know you're all interested, it was barbecue ribs, grilled chicken and leftover kielbasa being served in the team cafeteria for lunch. Sounded great in theory, but the execution left a lot to be desired. Kind of like the Temple game.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

"We didn't earn that win today"

That came from the mouth of Dan Davis. Randy Edsall told the media his team was lucky. Everyone who saw the video replays of Temple WR Bruce Francis snaring the deflection of Dy'Onne Crudup's pass in the back of the end zone knows the Huskies were lucky.

A whole lot of stuff from postgame. So here it is.

  • Temple coach Al Golden was crushed (and rightfully ornery) in his postgame press conference. "I just saw the video. He's in. I don't know what else to say. The kid (Francis) said he was in. Players on the field told me he was in. The coaches upstairs said he was in. Families are calling on their cell phones saying he was in."

  • For the record, the on-field officials were from the Mid-American Conference. The replay officials, headed by Jack Cramer, were from the Big East.

  • I watched a bunch of replays from the press box, but haven't seen any since and I'm still typing away at the Runway as I state this.......Someone needs to send the chunky security guard with the white hair and beard a bouquet of flowers or a candygram or something. On the best, most definitive angle to see if Francis' foot was in bounds, the camera pans across to see a guy in bright yellow security jacket blocking Francis' foot. All other replays just weren't conclusive enough to overturn the call. Sure, Francis was probably in. But, and I say this in all neutrality, it wasn't a given that his toe was on the ground. Unlikely as it may be, his toe might have been up in the air. It was like a first baseman coming off the bag for a high throw. Did he stay on the ground long enough? But the one angle that would have provided the proof to change the call was blocked by a Santa Claus lookalike (or was he a lookalike!!!!). Perhaps it was St. Nick himself. Talk about good omens. Christmas may have come in September for the Huskies.

  • Neil Ostrout of the Connecticut Post and myself staked out the officials locker room even after Randy Edsall's press conference started to get a comment from the referees. We figured they'd have something to say. You know, defend the call. Cripes, it was upheld after the game was delayed a good five minutes as replay officials watched it over and over. Larry McCabe, the referee, finally emerged. We asked him to comment, and he said, with a dumb smile on his face as he walked away with his suitcase, "I can't talk about it." Way to back up your crew, Larry. Sheesh.

  • Here's what Nick Carparelli, associate commissioner of the Big East Conference, had to say regarding the replay crew. “Jack Cramer didn’t feel there was enough evidence to overturn the call. The job of the officials in the replay booth is to overturn obvious mistakes, not to make calls. The officials’ decision was that this case was not an obvious mistake.”

  • New Haven's own Dy'Onne Crudup of Temple, who threw the pass on the double reverse that led to the controversial call, was a quarterback for Hyde's state championship teams a couple years back.

  • Randy Edsall said after the game that Robert Vaughn should have just batted that pass down, not tried to intercept it. But video showed Vaughn wasn't at fault. Even Vaughn said he went up for the ball along with the Temple receiver and they collided in midair. The ball tipped off the Temple players hands, not Vaughn's, so there wasn't much he could do about it.

  • Donald Brown is still the Huskies' starting tailback, Edsall said. He went to Dixon because he was churning out yardage in chunks while the Donald was struggling a tad. You go with the guy who's getting the job done, plain and simple. Be glad UConn has options as the position.

  • Dixon said he spent most of his team-issued suspension doing the conditioning drills and weight program the team went through this summer. He didn't participate in practices or contact drills, and it the rest may have done some good. He said he felt fresher in practice this week, and though he didn't expect to play much Saturday he was grateful for the chance. 21 carries for 129 yards in his game debut as a tailback? Not shabby.

  • Dan Ryan tweaked an ankle in practice during the week, and wasn't 100 percent. That's why Alex LaMagdelaine got the start at guard and Mike Hicks shifted over to fill in for Ryan at tackle. Lindsay Witten also hurt his ankle and was less than 100 percent, which is why he didn't play.

  • Sounds as if there was some slacking off in practice during the week. Edsall said some players missed treatments during the week, and some starters were late to a team meal Saturday morning. Then there's this quote..."They have to learn to play every game like it’s the last game they will ever play,” Edsall said. “You don’t listen to other people outside of your program. You listen to your coaches who have been doing this 25-30 years. I told them on Tuesday that Temple was going to come after you. I kept reiterating that, but they’re kids. They walk around campus and most people are patting them on the back for being 2-0 and not to worry about Temple, you'll be 3-0 going to Pittsburgh. They were 29 point favorites. They watched the film on Buffalo (a 42-7 Owls loss last weekend). We told them about the Navy game. We go up 10-0 and they think it's going to be easy. I told them last time I checked, it took 60 minutes to win a game. You don't win a game during the week.. …. We got lucky. We were fortunate, but I’d rather be on this end than the other end.”

  • Edsall is concerned about the play of the offensive line, which struggled to buy Lorenzen time and open up holes for Brown. Then there's the failed 4th-and-1's in the fourth quarter. The one Lou Allen was stopped on set up Temple's final drive. The one earlier in the fourth, where Lorenzen slipped and was short on UConn's own 32 really could have cost them dearly. I don't agree with taking a chance like that so deep in your own territory, but Edsall was confident his team could gain a few inches against Temple. Robert Vaughn made a huge interception to save UConn's bacon.

  • Wind certainly helped Tony Ciaravino, who would have been the hero if the big play didn't overshadow everything. Tony C made a 47-yarder in the first half and a 50-yarder in the third quarter. Edsall said the wind was so strong he wouldn't have attempted those kicks going the other direction. Still, it's good news for a beleaguered kicking game, none the less. Also, Edsall says Dave Teggart has been pushing Tony C in practice every day.

  • Let's just put into perspective how bad a loss would have been for UConn. Temple had lost 24 of its previous 25 games. It was waxed by BUFFALO a week ago, 42-7, a game the Owls were favored to win by the odds makers for the first time since 2003. Heck, Temple hadn't even led a football game at any point since Oct. 28 of 2006 before it grabbed a 14-13 lead in the third quarter on Saturday. UConn was 30-point faves before kickoff, and put up eight scoreless quarters of football before Temple got on the board in the second quarter. It would have been one gigantic step backward.

  • Chuck Banning of the Day has "Singing in the Rain" as his cell phone ring tone. He's also working on perfecting Gene Kelly's dance moves, complete with the umbrella, too. Just thought you'd like to know.

Got to go. I'll check in soon.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Runway Challenge Week 3: I'm tired

A quick break from the diapers and screaming to get week 3 of the Runway Challenge rolling. My soon-to-be newborn son was kind enough to wait for me to arrive home from the Maine game before deciding it was time to start the process of being born. I walked in the house around 12:30 a.m. after the drive home from the Runway, lay down in bed and about the instant my eyes closed, the wife sat up, looked at me and said "It's time." Twenty-two hours of labor later, there was a little boy. Wife and baby are home and doing fine. Daddy has slept a grand total of five hours since Saturday and nodded off in the waiting area at Walgreens this afternoon. One of the pharmacists had to wake me up. I think they thought a homeless man had taken residence next to the rectal thermometers display. Who could blame them? I certainly look the part (of homeless man, not rectal thermometer user).

Let's get right to the picks.

Game 1: UCONN (-30) over Temple: Owls were 3.5-point favorites over Buffalo last week, first time in four years they were favored to win a football game. Buffalo won a 42-7 squeaker. Temple back in the familiar role of being four touchdown underdogs every week.

Game 2: Pitt (+11.5) over MICHIGAN STATE: "Moustache Dave" Wannestadt beat D'Antonio's Cincinnati teams soundly the last two years. Not many others can say they did.

Game 3: Cincinnati (-7) over MIAMI-OH: Could be my 5-star, silver bullet special.

Game 4: NORTH CAROLINA (-3) over Virginia: What happened to the ACC? What is there, one, maybe two really strong teams?

Game 5: WASHINGTON (+3.5) over Ohio State: The "other" Huskies are no joke. This could be their coming out party.

Game 6: Illinois (-13) over SYRACUSE: Another poor showing, and Greg Robinson's house may get the same treatment as Coach Nickerson's in "All the Right Moves". Regular "Runway" reader Vinny Salvucci ready with a bag of garbage.

Game 7: FLORIDA (-8) over Tennessee: The annual "Ugly Uniform Bowl" is in Gainsville this year.

Game 8: MICHIGAN (-8) over Notre Dame: Yep. It's 0-2 Michigan vs. 0-2 Notre Dame, right here on NBC. This has WNBA-type ratings written all over it.

Game 9: ALABAMA (-3) over Arkansas: Nick Saban's first big test at 'Bama. Everyone outside of Tuscaloosa is hoping he flunks.

Game 10: Louisville (-6) over KENTUCKY: Two great quarterbacks, two fried defenses. Final score could be 77-70. Three words: Take the over.

Game 11: Boston College (+7) over GEORGIA TECH: Now that I know what BCU means, I wonder if there are folks in the south who refer to the Yellow Jackets as GTU or the University of Georgia Tech?

Game 12: Southern California (-10) over NEBRASKA: Tommy Lee spent a semester playing for the Nebraska marching band on a horrendously staged "reality" show two years ago and revealed what most knew since the mid-1980s: he sucks on drums. Seems he can't fight either. How embarrassing is it to get beat up by Kid Rock? I'd rank it an 8, just slightly less humiliating than taking a beating from Axl Rose but a little more embarrassing than getting punched out by a female tough rocker like Joan Jett or Pink.

I was going to start including Hawaii in the picks every week because I love watching their games. But it's impossible to try and predict lines like 'Hawaii (-17) at UNLV' every week. Instead, the first installment of the weekly Colt Brennan watch. Through two games, he's thrown for 964 yards and 10 touchdowns which puts him on pace for 5,784 and 60 TDs. Looking for him to hit 6,000 with 60 TDs this season.

Here are the results from Week 2:
1. DetroitTigershater 8-3
SeanO's ghost 8-3
Steve P 8-3
4. Chip 7-4
Sammy 7-4
6. Caleb 6-5
Surge-rock 6-5
8. Ian 5-6
kooch 5-6
kevin 5-6
wil I 5-6
12. vinny 4-7
Pete 4-7

The Race for the Runway (Overall standings after two weeks)
1. DetroitTigersHater 16
2. Sammy 14
3. Ian: 13
Chip 13
SeanO's Ghost 13
6. kooch 12
7. Kevin 11
8. Vinny 10
9. pete 9
10. Steve P 8
11. Caleb 6
Sturge-rock 6
13. Wil I 5
14. Alex 4

Get your picks in by clicking "comments" below, then using the template to cut and paste. Still not too late to join the overall competition.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Postgame updates

Some post game updates...

  • Danny Lansanah wore a protective boot in the interview room, but was walking around. He said X-rays were negative, and he plans to be back for Temple. Whether that's physically possible is another story, but the good news is the injury is not serious.

  • Randy Edsall was asked if he thought the play on which Lansanah was hurt was a cheap shot. "That's a tough one to answer, but yes it was in my opinion," Edsall said. "I saw it on the screen. We'll just leave it at that....When someone is hurt because of something that's not legal within the game of football, it's upsetting."

  • The field condition at the Runway was a complete and utter embarassment. Chunks of turf were coming up on every play, and certainly could have caused a major injury. Word is there was a fungus on the turf, and it couldn't be watered. No excuse. Rentschler management should be ashamed.

  • Edsall expressed his disappointment in Desi Cullen's punting. He's booming them in practice, but can't do the same in game situations. Edsall said it's something he plans to help Cullen with this week.

  • The offensive line hasn't been consistent enough, Edsall said.

In search of...the Husky Walk

Sitting here in the press box at the Runway, about an hour before game time. Looks like the Husky Walk was a flop. I was walking around for 10 minutes looking for it, along with a handful of parents with young kids, and when we got to Gate D at 5 p.m. sharp, we were told it was over. We'll cut them some slack since this was the first try, but there's some kinks that need to be worked out. What did you all think about the walk?

Figure out which UConn player the youngster was in this picture from on the previous post? It's none other than Rob Lunn at age 2 1/2. Thanks to Rob's dad, Bob, for the picture. The picture was taken at a Buffalo Bills event in upstate New York circa 1988, and the two guys alongside young Rob are star linebackers Cornelius Bennett and Shane Conlan. Apparently, the excitement knocked little Rob out and he passed out, ball in his clutches, on the ride home.

The photo was part of a feature I wrote on Rob that appeared in Friday's Register. Unfortunately, it didn't appear on our website, but I'm working on it. Rob's dad is a New York State Supreme Court justice, and Rob talked about an assortment of topics including growing up..."Needless to say, I didn't win many arguments," he said. ... his recruitment (he committed to William & Mary before visiting UConn, then changed his mind) and evolution into a starter for the Huskies .... and his future aspirations. Rob isn't thinking about following dad's footsteps into judgeship, but plans to attend law school to study contract law and become a sports agent. I am working to get the story online soon.

That's it for now. Maybe some postgame notes.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Runway Challenge Week 2: The "When they were young" version

We'll get to the weekly picks in a moment. But here's a couple of photos I couldn't resist sneaking onto the blog. Anyone care to guess which current member of the UConn football team this wide-eyed tyke grew into? Post your guesses. I'll reveal the answer later.

Priceless shots. Speaking of priceless, ACCSelect is giving refunds for the botched web cast of Saturday's games. Here's a copy of the email they sent out to subscribers:

It is with the utmost sincerity that we apologize for the unavailabilityof the first half of Saturday's Duke-Connecticut livefootball webcast. The problem was caused by an incorrect configurationsetting in our web server.

As sports fans ourselves, we know the extreme inconvenience andfrustration this caused. Therefore, we are issuing a full refund of$4.99 for your purchase of Saturday's game. Please allow five businessdays for the refund to be processed.

The full game is archived on-demand on The refund will not affect your 30 days access to the on-demand webcast from the date you made your purchase.

Should you decide to purchase an event in the future, weassure you that we've corrected the issue affecting Saturday's game.Again, please accept our apologies, and best of luck to your team this season.

Regards,PlayON! Sports Customer Relations

Good for them. Nice to see a company take responsibility for a screw up.

On to the weekly picks.

Game 1: West Virginia (-24.5) over MARSHALL: Bad Chad Pennington, Byron Leftwich and Randy Moss couldn't make a difference for the Thundering Herd this week.

Game 2: Nebraska (-9) over WAKE FOREST: Huskers tailback is named Lucky. How can they lose?

Game 3: Duke (+17) over VIRGINIA: Which UConn opponent stunk more this week? We'll find out Saturday.

Game 4: Boise State (-3) over WASHINGTON: U-Dub might be for real this season, but it's tough to tell after dumping Syracuse in a laugher.

Game 5: MICHIGAN (-8.5) over Oregon: Think the Wolverines won't take out their frustrations on the Ducks?

Game 6: GEORGIA (-5.5) over South Carolina: Register copy editor and Georgia alum Sean Look didn't trade me top pick in our fantasy league after I picked the Dawgs last weekend. Oh well. I grabbed Peyton Manning at No. 9.

Game 7: IOWA (-22) over Syracuse: Give Orange a break. Coach Robinson has a lot on his plate.

Game 8: South Florida (+7) over AUBURN: Bulls seem to thrive in the underdog role. Might they win outright?

Game 9: LSU (-13) over Virginia Tech: Hokies not so impressive in opener. LSU is for real.

Game 10: Buffalo (+3.5) over TEMPLE: This should be a pick 'em. Or a bring 'em both out to the pasture and shoot 'em. Call it the Misery Bowl.

Game 11: UCONN (-22) over Maine: There's usually no line for I-A vs. I-AA games, but Register colleague Brett Orzechowski said he saw this line somewhere on the internet. So I'll use it, too. Personally, I'd have made the spread 28 points.

Here are the standings after last week:

1. Ian: 8-2
detroittigershater: 8-2
3. Sammy 7-3
kooch 7-3
5. Chip 6-4
Vinny 6-4
kevin 6-4
8. SeanO's ghost: 5-5
pete 5-5
10. Alex 4-6

It's not too late to get in on the action. Post your picks by clicking "comments" below, then cutting and pasting the template.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

(Chicken) Nuggets from Tuesday media luncheon

Couple of laughs from the weekly media luncheon before the quick-hitter news and notes...

Ellis Gaulden says he's feeling better, and I have to agree from the way he swooped into the cafeteria, grabbed a bowl-full of chicken nuggets, loaded them up with ketchup, then exited in a flash. He was like a phantom. A phantom who likes ketchup on his chicken nuggets. Ellis was taped up for practice, and says he's close to a return. Could be great news for a talented wide receiver.

The UConn captains will initiate a "Husky Walk" at all home games starting with the Maine game. Similar to what many college programs do, the Huskies will exit the bus at the Runway and make an extended walk to the locker room where the band and fans can cheer and wish them well. Dan Davis was asked if he thought people would be there two hours before game time. Davis mentioned how a group of fans, including the Blue-White kid "and his followers" have greeted the team many times as the bus pulled up to the locker room entrance. Had to laugh at the vision of the Blue-White kid leading a cult of similarly-painted minions around Rentschler Field like Forest Gump and his legion of joggers.

Stupid Michael Vick. UConn DL Rob Lunn recently adopted a pit bull puppy -- more accurately, rescued it from someone in Arkansas -- but has been reluctant to reveal the breed because of the negative connotations. "It's the greatest dog in the world, but all of a sudden, all this goes down and you're telling people 'it's a Scottish Mud Terrier' or 'Swineherder', or some made up breed," he said with a laugh. It goes without saying that the dog is in good hands with Lunn.

  • Ryan Henegan is still (sing along now) day-by-day. But Randy Edsall was a bit more forthcoming. He said "Henegan is getting better, but he won't play this weekend. He's still listed as (sing it again) day-to-day, and won't play this weekend." Then he slipped in, quite slyly, "as a starter". Well-played, sir.

  • Lawrence Green is out indefinitely. That's that. Mike Hicks will start in his place at right guard (not left guard as it says on UConn's depth chart in the weekly press release. That's a typo.) Donald Thomas is still at left guard. Alex LaMagdelaine is top backup for both.

  • Lots of talk about the trap of a Division I-AA opponent, especially after Appalachian State pulled the Michigan upset on Saturday. Edsall says he prepares the team to play every opponent the same way. "I don't even care what the names are," he added. "We have to take care of us first and foremost.

  • Oh, it's no longer Division I-AA. It's now called the Football Championship Subdivision. And Division I-A is now known as the Football Bowl Subdivision. Catchy names. Much easier to distinguish between the two now, as opposed to that ever-so-confusing Division I-A and I-AA nonsense. Rumors from the NCAA is that Division II will soon be changed to Football Subdivision Non-Bowl and Partial Scholarship Division, while Division III will be called the Undersized Eggheads Who Pay $40,000 in Tuition Subdivision. Yes, I'm being sarcastic. And yes, I will still refer to it as I-A and I-AA (as will everyone else in the country). I was serious about the Division III name change, though. That's actually in the works.

  • Desi Cullen may have been trying too hard at Duke. He didn't punt the way he has been in practice. Edsall said that's likely emotions of the opening game. He's been killing the ball in practice, and Edsall hopes he settles down and we see more of that in game action.

  • Jasper Howard did play at Duke. He was listed that way on the game notes. Knew I saw him out there (not that the Duke radio tandem of Grampy and Little Earl were any help. They didn't bother to announce UConn players by name.)

  • Nice to hear from Maine coach Jack Cosgrove, the anti-Jim Leavitt. Had some nice things to say about Connecticut natives Bruno Dorismond of New Canaan and Lionel Nixon (brother of Brandon McLean and James Nixon) of New Haven, who will be starting for the Black Bears on Saturday.

  • To give credit where it's due...part of the media meal today was Fettucinne Alfredo. It was more Olive Garden than Tre Scalini (who'm I kidding, Chef Boyardee is better than Olive Garden), but a solid effort for sure. Nice job.

  • Need a good movie to Netflix? 300. The fictionalized retelling of the Battle of Thermoplae, in which 300 Spartans led by King Leonides fight to the last man against the Persian king Xerxes and his army of 1 million. Very cool. Loved it. Also saw Apocolypto over the weekend. All I can say is don't eat before or during the movie. You might regret it. Pretty graphic stuff.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Duke victory: video highlights

For those who missed the Internet broadcast.....

UConn highlight clips link.

Great job, as always, by Jared Nuss. Keep 'em coming, Jared.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Can I have my $4.99 back?

With less than a week to go until the due date of our first child, I decided not to take the risk of being at Duke for today’s game just in case my wife goes into labor a little early. Dave Solomon is on the job down in Durham while I stayed back here in New Haven on Defcon 4 baby alert.

Last year, knee surgery sidelined me for the opener against Rhode Island. I did make the trip to the Runway, and wrote a running diary of the game for the blog. It worked out well, and I had a lot of fun with it, so I figured I’d try the running diary again. But that idea was sidetracked. You see, I ordered the game on the Internet and spent 90 minutes waiting for the video feed to link up. Nice job, ACC Select. I'll be awaiting my $4.99 refund.

So the running diary was scrapped, but here’s a few observations from a Saturday away from the football field:

  • ACC Select, the independently operated website which streams some of the league's sporting events, really screwed the pooch on Saturday. The website airs mostly minor sports like field hockey, soccer and cross country. At the moment, this is the only football game on tap for the season. Apparently, the site wasn't prepared for the wave of UConn fans who were accessing today's game. The site's server crashed, and it took an hour and a half to get things straightened out. I missed the entire first half. There were no problems collecting the $4.99 fee, of course.

  • The bigger mystery was why no Connecticut stations made a move to pick up the game. I find it hard to believe that Channel 8, which has the TV package this year, couldn't make a deal to air the game. Fine, the game wasn't part of their package and the ACC had the rights. But where there's money to be made, deals can be worked out.

  • Once the broadcast got linked up, it was still frustrating. The program director never quite figured out the instant replays, and most were cued up after the play was finished if at all. There were also too many times the camera showed the sidelines while the game was happening on the field. Things like that happen, but if you're charging people for the service, it's inexcusable.

  • I was hoping to listen to the UConn broadcast team of Joe D'Ambrosio and Wayne Norman while watching the internet video feed. But the video was on a longer delay than the WTIC audio, so it was impossible. I did listen to Joe D and Wayne for the first half, and appreciated them even more after hearing the Duke broadcast team -- we'll call them Grampy and Little Earl -- for the internet feed. The "color" man for Duke, Grampy, subscribed to the annoying broadcast trend of being little more than a glorified cheerleader. He whooped it up when UConn committed penalties or Duke made nice plays, and groaned on everything that went against the Blue Devils. Grampy even complained that the referees were a Big East crew, and suggested they were biased with their calls. Please. I'd be a bit more shocked, but this happens quite a bit with home broadcasts in college and in the NFL. Joe D and Wayne are objective and professional in their approach, which is how it should be everywhere.

  • Feeling a little better about Tyler Lorenzen? I truly didn't know what to expect from the lefty transfer, even after watching plenty of spring and preseason practices. He missed the spring game, and we weren't allowed to see any of the team's intrasquad scrimmages. There's no substitute for game action. Lorenzen looks like he'll be an excellent field general.

  • Got to be happy with the defensive effort as well. Sounded like there were some jitters early, but they settled down and really stifled the Dookies. Lutrus will be a very nice player. Cody Brown might hit double-digit sacks.

  • Special teams. Yikes.

  • The official game stats list the following true freshman as having played: Kijuan Dabney, Marcus Campbell, Aaron Bagsby, Anthony Sherman and Greg Lloyd Jr. No mention of Jasper Howard, but I'm positive I saw No. 16 out there today. Someone missed him.

  • How about Appalachian State!!!!! I've talked about this with friends before, but a lot of Division I-AA teams would be very competitive in I-A conferences. Appalachian State is probably the best of the I-AA bunch (they are two-time defending champs, after all) and they went blow-for-blow with what was expected to be a national championship contender. Just in the Northeast, there are teams like New Hampshire, Delaware, UMass and Villanova who could easily give anyone in the country a pretty good fight.

  • Ian Kennedy>>>>>>Mike Mussina.

  • Here's a stat I should probably keep to myself. In three years on the beat, UConn is now 3-0 in games I haven't covered for the Register. Leigh Torbin may include that in next week's game notes. UConn fans are already asking I be removed from the beat.

  • No baby today. Have a feeling it will be this week. Anyone want to start a pool?