Monday, December 31, 2007

Edsall looks ahead to 2008

Here's what Randy Edsall's New Year's Eve teleconference wrought:
  • The offensive line needs to be more physical, and Edsall likes his three soon-to-be redshirt freshmen. Gary Bardzak, Mo Petrus and Mike Ryan could well unseat one or two of this season's starters. "Those three guys bring toughness to the football program," Edsall said. "I mean physically. We need to come off the ball and be more physical. Some of our starters may be passed by the redshirt freshmen because they're tougher right now." No names were mentioned, but have to think Mike Hicks and Dan Ryan will need to step it up in the spring. Maybe even Will Beatty.

  • The UConn media watched Wake Forest's Kenny Moore and couldn't help but wonder how badly the Huskies could use a playmaker like that at wide receiver. The UConn receivers had a tough go this season because they couldn't get open or dropped too many passes. Quarterback Tyler Lorenzen rarely threw the deep ball this season, not because he doesn't have the arm strength (did you see him wing that one pass 70 yards in the air in the Meineke Car Care Bowl?) Edsall, who hinted at his disappointment in the receivers earlier in the month, finally said things need to get better at the position. "I don't think we've gotten the production out of the WR position," Edsall said. "We have to do things schematically to go vertically. We have to develop a vertical game." Kashif Moore is a guy who Edsall has noticed, and could surpass a regular in the spring.

  • Lorenzen is still the starter at quarterback, but has plenty to improve upon, Edsall said, or he won't hesitate to use another QB. His decision-making needs to quicken up, for one.

  • Edsall thinks the defense will be fine. Danny Lansanah, who's put in yeoman's work the past two seasons, leaves a hole. But it's a hole Edsall thinks can be adequately filled. Jarrell Miller is certainly a candidate. Greg Lloyd will help, too.Personally, I think the guy to keep an eye on is C.J. Marck. Kid looks like he can play the game. Edsall said he's also got some ideas on changes in the secondary he hasn't even mentioned to his staff yet.

  • Edsall isn't anticipating any incoming recruits who will enroll in January. He was also unsure on the number of scholarships still available. Guess there may be some changes coming.

  • No surprise, but Edsall said Tyvon Branch is the team's best pro prospect and is looking good to be drafted. He's been invited to the NFL Combines in February. Donald Thomas is a draft bubble guy who will certainly be a free agent signee. He's still a novice to this game, and has a lot to learn will plenty of upside (can't believe I just used that cliche.) Previous injuries will likely hold Dan Davis back, but Danny Lansanah may get a look despite his lack of overall speed. Larry Taylor could also make a club, though Canada might be an option, too.

I'll have some more updates this week. Until then, have a safe New Year, everyone.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Media Day in Charlotte

Quite frankly, it was pretty uneventful. Media days usually are. Especially the ones held in tiny pizza joints at 10 a.m. Is 10 a.m. too early for pizza? Yes. Here's my bullet-pointed rundown.
  • Media Day was held at a local joint called Fuel Pizza. They didn't put an address in the bowl media guide, and when I looked it up online I discovered there were five Fuel Pizza's in Charlotte. So I parked down by Charlotte Bobcats Arena and hoped I had picked the right one. Of course, I was wrong. Had to walk about a mile to find the actual restaurant, and along the way bumped into Kevin Nathan of Channel 30, who was also lost. Found out a little later that Wayne "Bowser" Norman, also couldn't find the place.

  • Not sure if I like "Bowser" or "Mr. July" as my new nickname for Wayne-O. "Fabian" is a good one, too. Write in and tell us what you think.

  • Riley Skinner, the Wake Forest quarterback, is a super nice kid. But he has a Beatle-esque mop-top, forcing me to resist the urge to start my questions for him, "So, Ringo..."

  • Wake coach Jim Grobe also seems like just a good guy.

  • Was asked by a few colleagues who read yesterday's blog if I was able to get dry today. Yep. They left me four full-sized bath towels today. Now if they can just get me a new battery for the remote control, I might be able to turn the channel without getting up every time.

  • Watching the B.C.-Michigan State Champs Sports Bowl. Boston College safety Jamie Silva may have the cheesiest hair-do in college football. He looks like Kip Winger, circa 1986. Wonder if he studies ballet like Winger, too. Tim Russert of NBC News gave the intros for B.C. Is there a sports team in America this guy isn't a "hu-yuge, hu-yuge fan" of? By the way, Darius Butler and Tyler Lorenzen taped the intros for the offense and defense for the ESPN broadcast this morning. Ricky Proehl will do it for Wake.

  • UConn fans seemed to be out in force this afternoon around the downtown Charlotte area. Lots of blue-and-white sweatshirts and caps. The rain put a damper on the street festival, however.

  • Checked out the UNC-Charlotte campus before heading back to the hotel. Very pretty campus, even if it was completely deserted. I saw one car drive past the entire 30 or so minutes I walked around campus, and of course they stopped to ask me directions to the admissions office. Never fails. Whenever I'm on the road walking somewhere, somebody will stop me and ask for directions. Guess I just always appear to be local.

  • Answered some questions for a Wake Forest student's blog today. Zach Smith does a nice job with his Old Gold & Blog. Here's the link, even though he doesn't know my cousin, a fellow Wake student.

See you pregame tomorrow!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Winding down a busy Thursday in Charlotte

Random thoughts and observations:

  • One of the traditions for UConn's final practice is for the seniors to trade jerseys. Donald Thomas, all 6-foot-3 and 300 pounds, switched with Larry Taylor, who is 10 inches and 133 pounds smaller. Taylor's shirt essentially covered Thomas' shoulders and chest. All accounts were that Thomas looked like the Incredible Hulk shortly after transforming from Dr. Bruce Banner, with the tiny clothes hanging off him.

  • A moment of silence for Stu Nahan, the sports play-by-play announcer who gained fame for his roles calling all of Rocky Balboa's fights in the movies. Nahan passed away Wednesday at age 81. My favorite Stu Nahan movie moment, however, wasn't from Rocky but "Fast Times at Ridgemont High", and the exchange he had with Jeff Spicoli in one of Spicoli's marijuana-induced dreams. NAHAN: Let me ask you. When you get out there, do you ever fear for your life? SPICOLI: Stu, surfing's not a sport. It's a way of life. It's no hobby. It's a way of looking at that wave and saying, "Hey, bud, let's party!" Where'd you get this jacket?!? NAHAN: Uh, from the network. Let me ask you, what's next for Jeff Spicoli? SPICOLI: Headed over to Australia and then the Hawaiian Internationals. Then me and Mick are gonna wing on over to London and jam with the Stones. You guys are invited too!!!....We'll miss 'ya Stu.

  • Speaking of stoned, did anyone catch Jake Plummer announcing Arizona State's starting lineups before the Holiday Bowl on ESPN tonight? Jake, wearing a Santa cap and Jerry Garcia's beard, looked like he was still holding onto the bong just out of the camera frame.

  • If you haven't seen Rob Lunn's blog on his experiences this week, you have to check it out. I already told Rob his blogging skills are making me look bad, but here's the link anyway.

  • More wackiness from the Holiday Bowl. Did you see the Texas assistant coach touch a loose ball, setting up a first and goal for ASU (which led to a TD?) I can only hope that ignites a furious ASU comeback. Coaches have to stay off the field!

  • That play reminds me of an incident with a good buddy of mine, who used to ref high school football in Connecticut. My friend, we called him "The Piper" because as a high school linebacker he used to blast bagpipe music to get himself pumped up before games, is a little nuts as it is. As a ref, he would enforce obscure penalties just for the arguments with the coaches that would ensue. One game, he was constantly warning coaches on one sideline to stay off the field. But they wouldn't listen. Finally, he'd had enough. He was trailing a play coming up the offending sideline, and one coach was directly in his path. Without slowing down, the Piper plowed forward and collided, absolutely leveling the coach from the blindside and sending him sprawling to the turf. Adding insult to, well, insult, the Piper dropped a penalty flag on top of the coach as he continued to sprint down the field. That flag also negated what would have been touchdown run. I'm happy to report, the Piper has retired from reffing.

  • My hotel room inexplicably had only one full-sized bath towel this morning. Even more baffling, it was hung from the rod inside the shower. Of course, I didn't notice it as I turned on the shower, and accidentally knocked it into the tub, which I also didn't realize at the time. After leaving for a moment to let the water heat up, I returned to see the towel completely soaked. I was forced to dry myself with a hand towel. Why am I telling you this? I have no idea.

Media Day for the Meineke Bowl is tomorrow. See you then.

Donald Thomas checks in

Donald Thomas is writing daily postcards for the print edition of the Register. Here's his first entry, which appears in Thursday's paper.
Hey guys,
The trip so far has been great! Let me get you caught up on things so far. On Monday, we arrived in Charlotte about 4 p.m. I flew on the team charter with the rest of my local Connecticut teammates. Everyone else flew in from their respective states. Coach Edsall put the seniors and a couple other players up in first class while the rest of the team, staff and families slept in coach. That was great because I had never been in first class before!

When we got here on Christmas Eve, almost everything was closed but we walked around and found an open restaurant. On Tuesday, we practiced and had Christmas dinner with the team staff and families. That night we went out to enjoy the Charlotte downtown area, which was more alive.

(Wednesday) we had practice and got our bowl gifts. We all got GPS navigation systems for our cars, a camcorder and a watch. I was pretty excited about that!

(Last night) we went to the Bobcats game against the Wizards. That was fun because they gave us a shout out at halftime, and we had a 3-on-3 shooting contest against Wake in which Darius Butler, Cody Brown and D.J. Hernandez played in and won.

See you all soon,


Shake and bake

The hardest part about driving back to the hotel after the Richard Petty Driving Experience this morning at Lowe's Motor Speedway was resisting the temptation to push my rented Pontiac GT into triple digits while weaving in and out of traffic.
Words really don't do justice to the feeling of racing around a 1.5-mile oval at speeds up to 165 miles-per-hour, but it was certainly one of the biggest thrills I've ever experienced. Of course, it was just as big a hit with the players and coaches, all of whom were taken for three all-to-quick laps in a NASCAR Sprint Cup style stock car by a professional driver. My car looked just like the one above.
Some highlights from a very fun day:
  • Watching the bigger players trying to get into and out of the cars. Race cars don't have doors. You enter and exit through an open window. 6-foot-8, 313-pound Dan Ryan and 6-foot-6, 338-pound Mike Hicks provided the most entertainment in this category. Ryan got his legs in just fine, then began to brag to his teammates about how nimble he was before he'd gotten the rest of his body into the car. He then proceeded to get stuck halfway to his seat with both arms above his head and sticking out of the car.

  • There were also jokes for the smaller players, namely Larry Taylor, the 5-foot-5 inch receiver who caught flak last week for being shorter than Gov. Jodi Rell when she visited practice. "LT can't do it!" cornerback Tyvon Branch yelled. "They don't have car seats in there!"

  • Cornerback Darius Butler liked it, but said the adrenaline rush wasn't quite as high as it was when he pulled off a Dominique Wilkins-esque windmill dunk in what was supposed to be a layup contest at halftime of the Bobcats-Wizards game last night.

  • Wake Forest players got their rides, then had lunch. UConn arrived later, ate first, then took their drives. Bad idea? Center Keith Gray, after exiting the car following his run, looked as if he might lose his pulled pork sandwich in a garbage can. Fortunately, no one ralphed. Or cried.

  • Quarterback Tyler Lorenzen made sure he was first in line to get a ride when it was UConn's turn. Others weren't quite as anxious. Desi Cullen and some others watched much of the rides from bleachers before the pack got up to get in line. "Are you finally going?" UConn radio man Joe D'Ambrosio asked as Cullen walked away. "I'm pretending I'm going to go," Cullen replied. I'm fairly sure the Kentucky Hammer got in a car, though at this time I can't confirm that.

  • Players were just as exited to get their free pictures, taken just before the drivers sped off for their laps. I got one too. The fear in my eyes is noticeable. I couldn't even muster the standard "thumbs up" pose. I was petrified. But the ride turned out to be much more enjoyable than the anticipation of the ride. I'd definitely do it again. As for my photo, well, I'd post it on the blog. But I don't have a scanner here in the hotel. Oh well.

  • Randy Edsall and his 16-year old son Corey took their rides at the same time. Edsall's car was the only one I witnessed pass another car all morning. At first, I thought he had passed Corey, but it turns out it was offensive coordinator Rob Ambrose's car. "I got passed in the pit lane," Ambrose said as he exited. "What was that all about?" Edsall claims he had nothing to do with it. He said they had a camera mounted in the car for his ride and it was done for visual effect. No one, by the way, was as amped up as Ambrose after the ride. He whooped it up like he had just won a Super Bowl. I think he's ready to climb Mount Everest in the offseason.

  • Edsall also captured the tire-changing contest, though Wake Forest Jim Grobe was a late scratch due to injury. Or so they said. One of Wake's assistants took Grobe's spot. Edsall was spotted doing some practice runs with the high-powered torque wrench.

There's a media session with players in about an hour downtown. I'll check in later.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Caught in Charlotte's web

Don't ask me what that title is supposed to mean. I'm a little bleary-eyed. Was on I-95 at 3:45 a.m. to catch a 6:20 flight out of JFK, which wound up leaving 90 minutes late due to a U.S. Air computer crash at the check-in gate. Got down here, had a quick lunch (Cobb salad from the Marriott, not bad) and headed over to Charlotte Latin Day School for UConn football practice. I haven't caught so much as a wink of sleep thanks to the chatty sisters next to me who didn't stop talking and giggling the entire flight. Still have to write something for tomorrow's Register, so pardon a blog that may not make much sense.
  • UConn arrived on Christmas Eve, all flying in from various hometowns across the country, and everyone made it on time. The players have meetings and practices, but the rest of their time is free to explore what Charlotte has to offer. Curfew was 1 a.m. Christmas Eve, and is gradually being cut back an hour each night until game time. They're here to have fun, but they are also here to win a game, Randy Edsall said.

  • Some players visited a children's hospital this morning, and tonight the team is attending the Bobcats-Wizards game, which features a matchup of UConn alums Emeka Okafor of Charlotte and Caron Butler of Washington. At halftime, members of UConn's and Wake Forest's football team will run a three-person relay where each will need to come down, make a shot, and race back. Darius Butler says he's contemplating a windmill dunk in hopes of getting Michael Jordan (a managing partner who attends most of the Bobcats home games) to notice.

  • It was pretty chilly and damp for practice at Charlotte Latin. Weather was in the mid-40s, and the field was slick from last night's rain. Players might be missing the indoor comfort of the Shenkman Center, but considering they could have been in Toronto or Birmingham, there were no complaints.

  • The players receive their NCAA-sanctioned gifts from the Meineke Bowl tonight...they all get Garmin GPS navigation systems. Nice.

  • The highlight for tomorrow morning will be the Richard Petty Driving Experience at Lowe's Motor Speedway. All of the players and coaches will be shotgun as a professional driver takes them for a few laps in a stock car, hitting speeds of around 160 mph. Seems kinda dangerous to me. Jeez. What am I saying? Drive a Subaru Outback wagon with the infant car seat in the back too long, and now I sound like a soccer mom.

  • Everyone seems to be looking forward to the other highlight at Lowe's Speedway tomorrow...the tire changing contest between Edsall and Wake coach Jim Grobe. Seems to be a couple schools of thought on how Edsall will fare on this one. Rob Lunn, for instance, said he assumed Edsall has spent the last few weeks in his garage at home fine-tuning the art of the tire change. But Tyler Lorenzen said Edsall doesn't seem like the tire-changing type. Who was right? "I call Triple-A," Edsall said. He may have an edge, however. Edsall's brother once worked in the pit crew for NASCAR driver Curtis Markham before becoming a college basketball official.

  • Lorenzen is featured in a photo on page 2 of today's Charlotte Observer, taken during the Huskies Christmas Day practice at Charlotte Latin. On closer inspection, it's not Lorenzen. It's receiver Erik Muchette wearing a No. 4 jersey for the scout team.

That's all for now. I'll be at Lowe's Motor Speedway tomorrow.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Just wanted to take a moment to wish all of you a happy and healthy holiday season, from my family to yours. The Runway will be back the day after Christmas, when yours truly, savvy traveler that I am, will be on the road by 4 a.m. in an attempt to catch a 6:20 flight out of JFK to Charlotte. But there should be a lot to update during the five days in North Carolina.
To tide you over, a few thoughts, links and pictures.
I Netflixed "Pumping Iron", the 1977 body building documentary that introduced us to Arnold Schwarzenegger, the charismatic, cocky and hysterical 5-time Mr. Olympia, and Lou Ferrigno, the young up-and-comer hoping to dethrone the champ in his final competition. It is a fascinating look at the world of body building through a cast of unique characters in the 70s and shows the lengths a then-unknown Schwarzenegger went to psyche out his opponents.

Great movie. But when I tried to talk about it to others, very few had seen it. It got me thinking. Now, everyone knows all about Hoosiers and Rocky, perhaps the two best sports flicks of all-time. But what about the top five most underrated sports movies? You know, the ones not that many folks have seen or haven't seen in ages because they're hardly ever on TV. Because I am only out for your best interests, here's my list of the five must-see sports movies you may not have seen or forgotten about.

1. "The Bad News Bears" (1976). One of my favorite movies of all-time, if only because it reminds me of my days playing Little League baseball. So many parallels...the coach (in my case, coaches) who show up to every practice and game with a cooler full of cheap beer, the tough-guy 12-year old who rides around on a Harley and is the best player in the league, the rival coach who takes everything a little too seriously and who everyone hates...I could go on and on. My league was missing the ace girl pitcher with the wicked deuce, however. This movie also has the greatest final line in movie history, recited by the incomparable Tanner Boyle. "Hey Yankees! You can take your apology, and your cruddy trophy, and shove 'em straight up your a**!"

2. "Pumping Iron" (1977). It's simply a must-see. Ah-nold delivers the best scenes, with both intentionally and unintentionally hysterical lines. But the best scenes may involve Lou Ferrigno's overbearing father trying to give him posing tips ("it's like you're saying to the judges 'get a load of this hunk of man.' OK? Now you try it,") or Arnold playing mind games at breakfast with the Ferrignos on the morning of the Mr. Olympia contest. "I already called my mother in Austria and told her I won," Arnold tells Lou. "She is so happy. Can you believe it? She is already telling her friends I am a six-time Mr. Olympia." "Of course, Arnold goes on to win the title over a completely psyched out Ferrigno.

3. "Victory" (1981). Set in World War II at a POW camp, a group of allied prisoners plays a soccer game against the German national team in Nazi-occupied Paris. While I could never buy the scene where the prisoners, who are set to escape through a tunnel in the locker room at halftime, decide they'd rather stay and finish the game, it's still a tremendous film, even if it is about soccer. Features Pele (who delivers one of his trademark bicycle kicks), Max Von Sydow (the Nazi who can't help but applaud Pele's heroics) and goaltender Sly Stallone (who hikes his shorts up to his chest).

4. "Mr. Baseball" (1992). Tom Selleck as an aging, primma donna baseball player who is forced to go to Japan to continue his career. I always liked Selleck as an actor (did it get any better than Magnum P.I.?) and he's believable as an athlete (since he did play college hoops at USC). It's the classic fish-out-of-water plot about the selfish jerk who needs to learn the concept of team ball (and how to hit the mythical Japanese pitch, the "shuto", which, much like Dice-K, doesn't live up to the hype). But it works well. Also stars the guy who played Pedro Cerrano in Major League.

5. "Breaking Away" (1979). When flipping through channels, I always stop to watch this "young buddies coming-of-age" film about teenagers from Bloomington, Ind. coming to grips with life after high school. If you can get past shirtless Dennis Quaid's ridiculous nut hugger cutoff shorts, you'll enjoy it. Also stars the great Jackie Earle Haley, a.k.a Kelly Leak from the Bad News Bears, and Daniel Stern ("Hi. What's your major? Soc? That's a good major."). The main character, the ultra-goofy looking Dave Stoller, is an aspiring cyclist who races 18-wheelers and pretends to be Italian. The movie is shot in and around Indiana University, and culminates with the "Little 500" bicycle race, one of the school's most well-known annual traditions.

And I'd be remiss without listing my five favorite Christmas movies/specials. 1) A Charlie Brown Christmas. 2) A Christmas Story..."you'll shoot your eye out, kid". 3) Home Alone. 4) Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. 5) National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.

Couple more quickies before I leave you to wrap Christmas presents. Donald Thomas will be writing daily post cards from Charlotte for the print edition of the New Haven Register, while Rob Lunn and Tony Ciaravino will both be blogging for Both should be interesting every day.

For those who enjoyed the link posted a few days ago to Carl from the "Aqua Teen Hunger Force", here's another one that will make you laugh out loud. He'd like to wish you all "a very Merry Christmas. Dummy." and also provides his bowl picks..."98-year old Bobby Bowden still has some tricks left in his colostomy bag." Watch it. Here it is.

And before we go, Wayne "Fabian" Norman was nice enough to provide the photo of himself from the Willimantic Boom Box parade that doubles as the Mr. July spread in the WILI-1400 wall calendar for 2008. I for one will be whistling my faves from the "Grease" soundtrack next summer.

Oh yeah. That's Gov. Rell posing with our Wayne-O. Almost makes me want to forgive him for being a Red Sox fan. Almost.

See you in Charlotte.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Campbell and Dillon will stay home

UConn announced on Friday that freshman defensive end Marcus Campbell of Bloomfield and sophomore defensive tackle Brandon Dillon of Rochester, N.Y. will not travel with the football team to the Meineke Car Care Bowl due to personal reasons.

It's not due to an arrest, they weren't kicked off a team and they haven't been suspended. It's simply a personal matter, and they aren't being allowed to travel to Charlotte, according to the UConn sports information department.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Governor Rell visits practice

Governor Jodi Rell stopped by UConn practice at the Shenkman Center this afternoon to wish the team well. It was a nice gesture, and the team seemed to appreciate it. The 45 minutes of practice after the Gov. left were, as Randy Edsall said afterward, the worst he's seen all year. "I don't think we practiced real well after that," Edsall said with a laugh. "It gives them a break, and then they want me to blow up practice right then and there. That's where their minds ended up."

Some highlights from Thursday:

  • Rell got a brief tour of the lobby in the Burton Complex, which included a viewing of the spanking new Big East championship trophy, before making her way to the practice field. As the team halted practice to come over and greet her, Rell said, "OK, take a knee boys. Here's what I want to see. You men in the secondary, if they throw a forward pass, when you see it, I want you to go and get it. And that's when we go on offense, and that's when we take it to 'em. We're going inside 'em, we going outside 'em. Inside 'em, outside 'em. We're going to get 'em on the run. And once we get 'em on the run, we're going to keep 'em on the run. We're going to get 'em on the run, and we're gonna GO GO GO GO! And we're not gonna stop, until we get across that goal line. Don't forget men, today's the day we're gonna win. They can't lick us. Go out there, and FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT! Whattaya say men?" I just happened to take video of Rell's speech. Here it is.
  • Rell issued a wager with North Carolina Governor Michael Easley, offering up a basket of Connecticut goodies that includes honey, maple syrup, tomato sauce, macaroni, cookies, jams, jellies and other local products if Wake Forest wins. If the Huskies win, it's barbecue for all the players and coaches. I think Wake is offering up an awful lot compared to what Rell's got on the table. At least she could have gotten a true Connecticut specialty. How about subs from the Subway World HQ in Milford, a bunch of pizzas from Sally's and Pepe's in New Haven and some Pez candy and dispensers from the Pez factory (headquartered and manufactured in my hometown of Orange, by the way.) Maybe toss in official Whiffle bats and balls from Shelton, too.

  • UConn presented Rell with a bag of UConn gear. Larry Taylor was chosen to make the presentation, then promptly caught flak from the team because Governor Rell has about a half inch on him. In LT's defense, I think the Gov's shoes had a small heel, boosting her up to just over 5-foot-5.

  • Desi Cullen wins the suck up award, complimenting Rell on her choice of sweaters and giving her a hug. He must have a career in politics in mind.

  • Rob Theoudele made the play of the day on a deep ball, getting a fortunate bounce on a pass that was deflected, making the grab on the run and scoring. Just happened to be the final play of practice. The team ran extended sprints afterward. And for those of you scoring at home, we also learned Theoudele pronounces his name "toe-DEAL" not "toe-dell", as UConn has been telling us for the last four years.

  • Did you know Tony Ciaravino kicks for his dinner at the end of each practice? Edsall has him line up a 52 yarder. If he nails it, he can eat. If he misses, he goes to bed hungry. Ciaravino is packing 232 pounds on his 6-foot-2 frame, so he's obviously been hitting them. Ciaravino's a great guy to chat with. Here's the link to a feature that ran in today's Register.

  • The official ticket count for the Meineke bowl has hit 12,000, according to UConn sports information director Mike Enright. The 12,500 quota looks like it will be met. Wake Forest has passed 20K, though that's to be expected considering its only 80 miles from Charlotte.

  • Edsall announced that 30 players received a GPA of at least 3.0 this semester.

  • Edsall said he's been frustrated at times with Terence Jeffers, who tends to lose concentration on certain plays (leading to a few to many dropped balls). "It can be very frustrating," Edsall said. "We as coaches need to find a way to get him focused on every play." Edsall mentioned he expects the competition at receiver to be even tougher next season, which means he might be able to afford benching Jeffers for a series or two. "He could be more dynamic is he concentrates on every play," Edsall said.

  • Please pick up a copy of the official WILI-1400 calendar for 2008, if only to see the July photo of Wayne Norman looking like a cross between Bowser from Sha-Na-Na and Uncle Sam. Perhaps I'll scan the picture and post it on the blog, but only if there's enough interest from Wayne's fan club. It's a tremendous photo. You won't be disappointed. Leave your comments if you want to see it.

  • Lots of chatter about the addition of Buffalo to the schedule for four years, as I reported on Tuesday. For the record, Edsall has said his ideal non-league schedule each year would feature a Division I-AA team, Army, a MAC team, Boston College and a BCS opponent. I also got confirmation that the Buffalo contract begins in 2010 at the Runway, heads to Buffalo in '11, back to the Runway in '12 and finishes at Buffalo in '13. The Bills overlap with Temple twice, throwing that out of kilter a bit. So here's the Huskies non-league schedule for the next few seasons.

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

TBA: Buffalo

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

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

TBA: at Buffalo

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

TBA: Buffalo

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

TBA: at Buffalo

Sept. 20: Iowa

Bowl season begins tonight. Enjoy.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Tuesday practice notes: Is Bob Slydell watching "Clash of the Choirs"?

Before we get to the news and notes of today's practice session, a brief story and a couple of links.

My wife forced me to watch "Clash of the Choirs" on NBC last night. It's a week-long reality show where five singers go back to their hometowns to recruit members for a choir, train them, then compete all week in New York City for charity. I watched only because New Haven native Michael Bolton had come back to the Elm City to drum up interest at the Milford Mall and held auditions at Toad's Place in New Haven. It was a fairly uneventful 10 minutes, though I did get a kick out of the fact that the New Haven choir chose Bon Jovi's "Living on a Prayer" as their song last night. Oh, they also have a 77-year old grandmother who was rocking out during the performance.

It's too easy to make jokes about Michael Bolton, but last night reminded me of a funny story from about 15 years ago. Bolton lived in Woodbridge during the height of his career (the "Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay" days) and his daughter went to my high school. Every spring, the big event at Amity High School was the Mr. Trident pageant. Sort of a mock beauty pageant for guys, where the entrants performed skits, made fun of teachers or rocked out with a band. It was pretty funny, trust me, and everyone went.

One year, a bunch of friends and myself didn't buy advance tickets and got to the auditorium late. We were told the tickets were sold out. Michael Bolton and his daughter just happened to be in line right behind us, and were also shut out. Rapscallions that we were, we decided to sneak in and stand in the back. No harm, we figured. Bolton even followed us in and stood in an opposite corner. About 10 minutes later, our crew-cut, no-nonsense assistant principal, Mr. Czuba, spotted our group. He came over and abruptly booted all the students. As he supervised us leaving, I noticed Bolton on the other side. "Oh sure," I said as exited past our assistant principal. "Kick us out, but you let Michael Bolton stay."

Now, I was 99.9 percent certain our assistant principal must have known Michael Bolton was one of the biggest names in music at the time. I mean, the guy had only sold like 50 million records and had Grammy's growing out of his ears. I figured our principal would have to let him stay. But to my surprise, he said "Where's Michael Bolton?", spotted him, walked over and made him leave! "Oh, man. He has no idea who Michael Bolton is," we whispered to each other in astonishment. "This might get ugly." But Bolton left without an argument, and stood in the hallway in stunned silence while looking in my general direction. I felt compelled to say something. All I could muster was, "Uh, sorry about that."

So that's my Michael Bolton story.

One link that had me laughing for a good half hour last night was sent to me by former New Haven Register sports writer Ned Griffen (now at the Day of New London). It's commentary on the Mitchell Report and Andy Pettitte from Carl of the "Aqua Teen Hunger Force". Just watch it. You won't be sorry.

Also, still a couple days to enter the Runway Challenge bowl pick'em. Here's the link. League ID # is: 26267. Password is: runway. We've got a lot of entries, even without the Ghost of I'm Too Good to Pick Games Without the Spread. He should change his screen name to the Valley Chicken.

Enough nonsense. Here's the practice notes.

  • Perhaps the most surprising note from practice for me was learning that most of the UConn players will be flying to Charlotte from wherever they call home. Edsall is allowing them to go home on Friday for the weekend, and UConn arranged travel for everyone to get to Charlotte on Christmas Eve from their respective hometowns. There's also a charter leaving from Hartford for the coaches and the Connecticut and Massachusetts residents. Pretty ambitious, and probably pretty costly. The real question is who, and how many will miss their flights on the 24th.

  • The time off since West Virginia has allowed everyone to heal. Edsall said only true freshmen Yianni the Greek and Isiah Moore will be unable to participate in practices.

  • Tyler Lorenzen is one of many who greatly benefited from the time off. Lorenzen was truly banged up after the West Virginia game, not only because the Mountaineers did everything but throw him up into the student section in the final game, but from a season's worth of punishment. He hobbled around much over the last two weeks, not doing much practicing, but was back in form today.

  • Edsall on Rich Rodriguez's departure, "I don't think it's a blow to the (West Virginia) program. He established something while he was there, and now someone will pick up where he left off. ... The thing we all have to remember is no one person is bigger than a program. Rich did a great job. Their win over Georgia really helped the league when a lot of people were questioning it. He always stood by the Big East and really liked it. But opportunities for he and his family came up with Michigan and he took it. You can't fault someone for that."

  • Edsall hasn't spoken to Rodriguez yet, but plans to. "Maybe I can pick his brain a bit about how to stop that spread offense," Edsall joked. "I'm glad he did leave because now I can pick his brain about what's given us the most problems."

  • Edsall was asked if rumors that Michigan contacted him about the position were true. "To me, that's a non-story," Edsall said, which was followed by about 15 seconds of awkward silence.

  • Here's another non-conference series to throw on the future schedule calendar. UConn has agreed to a four-year, home-and-home contract with Buffalo. It is expected to start in either 2009 or 2010. As I reported back in August, negotiations with Notre Dame are still on-going. Both sides are trying to get something done, but nothing has been finalized.

  • UConn sports info man Leigh Torbin is usually a fountain of knowledge, be it UConn or college-football related or on pop culture and other useless information that occupies most of my brain. The best way to describe Leigh is like a well-adjusted Rain Man (I mean that in the nicest way possible). But today, we found out Leigh has never seen the movie "Airplane". What?!? Who hasn't seen Airplane? Comedy Central shows it three times a day. Learning Leigh hasn's seen Airplane is like going to get your teeth cleaned and discovering the doctor never heard that 4 out of 5 dentists recommend Trident. In another development, later on Tuesday Leigh admitted to Joe Perez of the Norwich Bulletin that he wasn't aware Benedict Arnold was born in Norwich. I realize the majority of you don't know Leigh. But trust me. It's stunning.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Over 40K sold for Meineke Bowl so far

Press release from Meineke Bowl

CHARLOTTE - Less than 100 tickets remain in the lower level and club seats are sold out for the 2007 Meineke Car Care Bowl, it was announced today by bowl officials. To date, over 40,000 tickets have been sold to the sixth annual game.
The 2007 Meineke Car Care Bowl will take place on Saturday, December 29, at 1 p.m. and will be televised nationally on ESPN. The game is played at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C. The Wake Forest Demon Deacons, tied for second place in the Atlantic Coast Conference Atlantic Division, will face the Connecticut Huskies, the co-champions of the Big East Conference.
“Tickets sales for the Meineke Car Care Bowl have again been solid,” said executive director Will Webb. “The fact that we are over two weeks away and have basically sold out the entire lower bowl is very encouraging. Wake Forest and Connecticut have both been doing a great job with ticket sales and promoting the game. We hope to continue this momentum and make a strong push to the finish.”

Also, still a week to get into the Runway Bowl pick 'em.

Here's the link.

League ID # is: 26267. Password is: runway

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

10,500 and counting

From the bowl ticket sales department...

The University of Connecticut Division of Athletics has sold and allocated 10,500 tickets out of its allotment for the 2007 Meineke Car Care Bowl. UConn has a total allotment of 12,500 tickets for the game.

The Huskies will take on Wake Forest of the Atlantic Coast Conference in the game that will be played at Bank of America Stadium on Saturday, December 29, 2007 at 1:00 p.m.

"We are very pleased and thankful to all Husky fans who have bought tickets to the Meineke Car Care Bowl and are planning to their visit to Charlotte,", says UConn Director of Athletics Jeffrey Hathaway. "Our first priority is to get more Husky fans to buy tickets and attend the Meineke Car Care Bowl to cheer on our Huskies. The entire bowl experience in Charlotte promises to be one that every member of the UConn family will enjoy."

Monday, December 10, 2007

Second annual Runway Bowl Challenge

(UPDATED, 12/11, 4:23 p.m.)

Instead of picking the bowl games against the spread like last season, I figured I'd make it more interesting (and easier) by creating the challenge through a private group in the Yahoo! contest.

You only pick the winners (no spreads), but you're able to rank the games between 1-32 in order of how confident you are in each game. Points are earned based on the number you assign each pick. For example, if I'm supremely confident UConn will defeat Wake Forest in the Meineke bowl, I'd rank it 32. If UConn wins, I get 32 points. If UConn loses, I get zero. Simply pick a winner, and drag it to your assigned ranking. It's easy once you sign up (you need a Yahoo ID.)

Follow this link. Click "Join Public or Private Group". The click "Join Group".

Group ID# is 26267. Password is: runway.

I am the defending champ, and since regular season challenge winner SeanO's Ghost as gone double-or-nothing on his prize, the bowl challenge winner can still take over the blog for a day is entitled to several plates of wings with the Ghost and his posse of high school coaches from the valley.


UPDATE: To appease the angry, Shelton-based Ghost, here are the picks with spreads. Feel free to enter this way by clicking "comments" below and doing and cut-and-paste.

Chip's picks

Dec. 20: Pointsetta Bowl (San Diego, Calif.): Utah (-8) over Navy
Dec. 21: New Orleans Bowl (New Orleans, La.): Florida Atlantic (-2.5) over Memphis
Dec. 22: Bowl (Birmingham, Ala.): Cincinnati (-11.5) over Southern Miss
Dec. 22: New Mexico Bowl (Albuquerque, N.M.): Nevada (+3) over New Mexico
Dec. 22: Las Vegas Bowl (Las Vegas, Nev.): BYU (-7) over UCLA
Dec. 23: Hawaii Bowl (Honolulu, Hawaii): East Carolina (+10.5) over Boise State
Dec. 26: Motor City Bowl (Detroit, Mich.): Central Michigan (+8.5) over Purdue
Dec. 27: Holiday Bowl (San Diego, Calif.): Texas (-2) over Arizona State
Dec. 28: Champ Sports Bowl (Orlando, Fla.): Boston College (-3.5) over Michigan State
Dec. 28: Emerald Bowl (San Francisco, Calif.): Oregon State (-4) over Maryland
Dec. 28: Texas Bowl (Houston, Texas): Houston (+3.5) over Texas Christian
Dec. 29: Meineke Car Care Bowl (Charlotte, N.C.): UConn (+3) over Wake Forest
Dec. 29: Liberty Bowl (Memphis, Tenn.): Central Florida (-3) over Mississippi State
Dec. 29: Alamo Bowl (San Antonio, Texas): Texas A&M (+5.5) over Penn State
Dec. 30: Independence Bowl (Shreveport, La.): Alabama (-3.5) over Colorado
Dec. 31: Armed Forces Bowl (Fort Worth, Texas): California (-3.5) over Air Force
Dec. 31: Sun Bowl (El Paso, Texas): South Florida (-6.5) over Oregon
Dec. 31: Humanitarian Bowl (Boise, Idaho): Georgia Tech (-4) over Fresno State
Dec. 31: Music City Bowl (Nashville, Tenn.): Kentucky (-1) over Florida State
Dec. 31: Chick-fil-A Bowl (Atlanta, Ga.): Auburn (+2) over Clemson
Dec. 31: Insight Bowl (Tempe, Ariz.): Oklahoma State (-4) over Indiana
Jan. 1: Outback Bowl (Tampa, Fla.): Tennessee (-3.5) over Wisconsin
Jan. 1: Cotton Bowl (Dallas, Texas): Missouri (-3) over Arkansas
Jan. 1: Capital One Bowl (Orlando, Fla.): Michigan (+9.5) over Florida
Jan. 1: Gator Bowl (Jacksonville, Fla.): Virginia (+5.5) over Texas Tech
Jan. 1: Rose Bowl (Pasadena, Calif.): Illinois (+13.5) over Southern California
Jan. 1: Sugar Bowl (New Orleans, La.): Hawaii (+9) over Georgia
Jan. 2: Fiesta Bowl (Glendale, Ariz.): West Virginia (+7) over Oklahoma
Jan. 3: Orange Bowl (Miami, Fla.): Virginia Tech (-4) over Kansas
Jan. 5: International Bowl (Toronto, Ont.): Rutgers (-9.5) over Ball State
Jan. 6 GMAC Bowl (Mobile, Ala.): Tulsa (-4.5) over Bowling Green
Jan. 7: BCS championship game: LSU (-4.5) over Ohio State

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Some Saturday notes

Here's what I've got...
  • Lou Allen's suspension is over. He returned to practice on Friday. Randy Edsall said Allen takes over where he left off when the suspension was issued over a month ago. Allen will be a key part of special teams, and will work as the third-string tailback.

  • Dennis Brown took the snaps with the first team offense because Tyler Lorenzen had another day off. Lorenzen also mentioned how he and some players have been trading barbs (good fun) with Edsall regarding the Georgia Tech coaching situation last week. "I wish someone would give me a day off like I've given Tyler a couple days off," Edsall joked.

  • Note to those Christmas shopping for Donald Thomas and Tyvon Branch: Hawaiian shirts and bathing suits might come in handy. Both were selected to the Hula Bowl on Jan. 12 and will spend a week there in Honolulu. It's a prestigious senior all-star game and a fairly big deal for both.

  • The Hula Bowl will certainly help both in their pursuit of the NFL, as this game provides plenty of exposure to scouts. But it's the predraft workouts that will truly gauge how close Branch and Thomas are to being drafted. Branch is the team's top senior prospect right now, and is drawing some major interest. Thomas isn't far behind and will get a shot in someone's camp if his name isn't called on draft day. Danny Lansanah, Larry Taylor and Dan Davis could also get opportunities to make a practice squad.

  • Thomas, from West Haven, is one of my newspaper's local guys. So I need everyone reading this to drop everything you're doing and come up with a well-crafted and convincing outline telling the New Haven Register why it should spend roughly $3,000 to send me to Hawaii to cover the Hula Bowl. Oh yeah, offering donations would help, too. I don't ask for much, do I? I mean, you all would love some extra coverage chronicling Thomas' and Branch's week at the Hula Bowl, right? Right?

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

A ghost wins the Runway Challenge.

There will be some down time over the next two weeks. UConn has open practice on Saturday, but it's looking like that might be it until the week of the 16th because of exams. The Runway also has almost two weeks of vacation time to use before Jan. 1.

Fortunately, I am spending days off with my three-month old. That mainly calls for me to deal with his special brand of dirty bombs. I am also trying to master what I refer to as the booger gun. For those without kids, the hospital provides you with this rubber bulb-like device which, when squeezed and released, sucks them right out of his nose. It just takes a little practice. Problem is, once the boogers are in, they're trapped. The only was to clear it is to squeeze the bulb and shoot the contents out the open end. Needless to say, a burglar would be in for quite a surprise.

One other football-related note. I've had a few emails wondering whether UConn has already sold out its ticket allotment for the bowl game. Guess some folks heard that may have happened during one of the UConn basketball radio broadcasts or something. UConn has informed me this is NOT true. Tickets are still available, and there will likely be some form of press release when the allotment is sold out.

Here are the results of the final week of the Runway Challenge.
1. SeanO's Ghost: 9-3
2. SteveP 7-5
3. Kooch 6-6
4. Ian 5-7
Caleb 5-7
Sammy 5-7
Pete 5-7
8. Chip 4-8
Mitch 4-8
Will 4-8
11. Sturge-Rock 3-9
Dan 3-9

And the final standings:
1. SeanO's Ghost 97
2. Kooch 96
3. Sammy 94
4. Will L 86
Ian 86
6. Chip 83
7. Pete 81
8. Caleb Mandrake 73
9. Vinny from East Haven 72
10. Dan 69
11. Mitch Kumpstein 52
12. Sturge-Rock 51
13. DetroitTigersHater 47
14. P.J. 38
15. Kevin 37
16. Alex 16
17. Steve P 15
18. Jerry 12
19. Luc 7
Tonto Kowalski 7

Looks like a big final week has propelled SeanO's Ghost to a championship. True to my word, SeanO's Ghost gets control of the blog for a day. Any time over the next two weeks would work best, as there is down time. SeanO's Ghost has hinted he may not be willing to do this (he's busy devouring wings with an assortment of high school coaches at various bars in the valley), and may sell the privilege to the highest bidder.

The second annual Runway Bowl Challenge will be posted, probably next week.

See you Saturday.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Randy Edsall speaks

Randy Edsall's statement on his flirtation with Georgia Tech at 6 p.m. during his teleconference...

"I announced today at the football banquet, that I'm staying here at the University of Connecticut. I'll stay here as long as they'd like me to stay. I talked to Jeff (Hathaway). Jeff and Gary O'Hagen and Matt Baldwin, my representation over at IMG, will be getting together to hammer out a contract. It was based on my own family, my son, my wife and my daughter and considerations in terms of my family there and also considerations of my football family, most especially the players here in the program now at the University of Connecticut, and to understand that there's still quite a bit of work to be done, and I want to continue to do that. We're working very hard to accomplish that today, even now as I speak."

Edsall refused to take any questions other than those dealing with the upcoming bowl game, even breaking out the old Mark McGwire standby line "I just want bowl questions. I made the statement, and let's move forward. That's in the past," when asked if the job situation was a distraction to the team.

Edsall hasn't seen much of Wake aside from some of the Nebraska game and some of the Florida State game on TV this season.

Edsall and his coaches will be out recruiting most of this week and all next week. The Wake film should be arriving soon.

On the Big East championship, the team will get rings and a trophy for the case at the Burton Complex.

It's Wake Forest

Randy Edsall confirms...a rematch of game from the Runway at Meineke Car Care Bowl.

More to come.

Staying in Storrs

Randy Edsall announced at the team football banquet on Sunday afternoon that he has withdrawn his name from consideration at Georgia Tech and will remain at UConn. Edsall told the team that he looks forward to continuing to build the program.

The Huskies should soon expect to hear their opponent for the Meineke Car Care Bowl. It is expected to be Wake Forest.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

UConn Huskies. Co-Big East Champs.

Pitt 13, West Virginia 9. Final.

Un-frickin'-believable. I'm speechless after watching that one.

UConn will officially be recognized by the Big East as co-champions along with WVU.

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?