Saturday, April 19, 2008

Red, White and Blue postgame notes

A rundown of the postgame topics:

  • Most of the postgame press conference centered around UConn's proposed series with Notre Dame. Randy Edsall defended the decision to play none of the 10 games with the Irish on Connecticut soil. Edsall even channeled his inner Don King with this quote, "The opportunity is here for us to play them, and give us a chance to elevate our program on more of a national spotlight. I thought that's what America is all about is opportunity. Gentlemen, isn't this an indictment of our American society? Well, you can do whatever you want to us, but I'm not going to stand here and listen to you all bad-mouth the United States of America!" Edsall boomed, before storming out of the interview room while humming the Star Spangled Banner. OK, the last part didn't happen. But I couldn't help but think of Eric "Otter" Stratton's speech defending Delta house.

  • You'll read plenty about this in the paper tomorrow. Essentially, Randy champions the fact that Notre Dame will get UConn on NBC at least once a season, will get the Boston and New York media on board, get UConn's alumni in those markets involved, and expand the school's recruiting base and exposure. It wasn't exactly a no-spin zone (apologies, Bill O'Reilly). Edsall and Jeff Hathaway know there's no chance of Notre Dame coming to East Hartford, so now it's time to sell the Connecticut public on why this is a good deal. Still, would just one game at the Runway be that much to ask of the Irish? Is Notre Dame that arrogant? We know now the answer is absolutely, they are.

  • Zach Frazer looked much better today than he has in practice. He overthrew a few times, he still tends to step one way and throw the opposite way. “The process of him processing what we do is not the issue,” Edsall said. “It’s the fundamentals of throwing the football that are the issue with Zach. He is a student of the game. He works feverishly at understanding everything we want to do. For him to develop into the complete quarterback, it’s the mechanics that he has to work very hard on this summer.” Still, 16-of-27 passing for 272 yards and a touchdown with one interception is a good day's work. Cody Endres has ability, but took four sacks. "That's inexperience," Edsall said. "Cody is still young. In the pocket, you'd like to see him step up and avoid some of those sacks. But it was good to see him handle the huddle."

  • Robbie Frey played very well, especially considering his entire high school football team made the four-plus hour trip from Leighton, Pa. After the game, he said he didn't want to be rude and say quick goodbyes, so he took them on a tour of the locker room. Edsall said this of Frey, "“One thing I liked today was that he caught the ball a little better than what he had in practices. He’s a hard runner, he’s got good vision. When he sees a hole, he’s got the ability to have that burst to get through the hole. He even showed some strength. He broke some tackles. A sign of a good running back is how many yards they get after being hit. I thought he had a couple of nice runs after contact today.”

  • Darius Butler lined up for one play on offense today. He burned Gary Wilburn for a 27-yard touchdown. Edsall reiterated that Butler is still a cornerback first, and will help out how the situation dictates at receiver. But he also said that if Butler dedicated all his time to learning the position, he'd be a better wide receiver than a cornerback.

  • Edsall said he expects UConn to be stronger and faster than a year ago. The one area in question is special teams, which may not be as explosive without Larry Taylor and Tyvon Branch returning kicks. Jasper Howard, even with only fair catches allowed Saturday, didn't impress Edsall. But Edsall has very high hopes for recruit Jordan Todman. "Jordan will have every chance to be a punt returner and a kick returner. Darius will be one of our kickoff returners, and right now Jordan will be the other. I coach that position, so a lot of the pressure will be on me to get him ready."

  • There are four captains, but many more leaders who won't have the title, Edsall said. Rob Lunn, Steve Brouse, Keith Gray, Scott Lutrus, Andre Dixon, Donald Brown and Terry Baltimore were all named as guys who don't need to be captains to lead like captains.

  • Edsall said he expects Cody Brown to really blossom now that he's been elected captain. Brown has a world of talent, and he flashed a sense of humor, too. Brown entered the interview room with his name tag held precociously under his chin, with a devilish grin. Guess you had to see it, but it was funny.

  • Jarrell Miller is still a defensive tackle. He played end today because the Huskies were a little thin at the position this spring.

  • Edsall's NFL Draft predictions: Tyvon Branch between rounds 2-4, Donald Thomas between rounds 4-6 and Danny Lansanah with a chance at the 7th round. This coming from a man who has spoken directly with plenty of NFL execs who are very interested in the trio.

  • Edsall mentioned UConn has only offered four Connecticut high school prospects a full scholarship for the class of 2009 .

We're being booted from the press box (no arguments from's three hours after the game ended and getting late), so I'll wrap it up. We still plan to have periodic updates on the Runway, so come back.


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