Friday, August 29, 2008

Finishing off Hofstra

A few notes from Edsall's conference call today.
  • Some injury updates: Lindsey Witten (knee) is day-to-day. Alex LaMagdelaine (shoulder) is week-to-week. Andre Dixon is expected to practice either Saturday or Sunday. Brad Kanuch will begin working with the scout team Saturday to get back into game shape. Jordan Todman (shoulder) is still week-to-week. Running on four hours sleep today, I am listing myself as hour-to-hour.

  • No practice today, it's a day off for the team. But Tyler Lorenzen came in to visit Edsall this morning to talk about his performance. Edsall said he thought Lorenzen might have been trying too hard to make something big happen, especially after the two interceptions. "You can't start pressing to make things happen, and that's what happened a little bit with Tyler," Edsall said. "Subconsciously, I think he lost his composure, which is unusual for him."

  • Of UConn's 12 possessions on offense last night, five resulted in touchdowns, five in turnovers and two were punts. "The turnovers masked the positives, and there were a lot of positives," Edsall said. If there were missed assignments, Edsall said, he would be concerned heading into the Temple game. Since much of the mistakes were in fundamentals and technique, which resulted in those untimely penalties, it's easily corrected. In theory, that is.

  • Edsall made a request for an official review of Lindsey Witten's roughing the passer call. He said Witten's hand hit the Hofstra QB's shoulder pad, not head.

  • Edsall put a call in to the supervisor of officials regarding one of the holding calls that negated a touchdown (Edsall wouldn't specify at first, but he is obviously referring to Donald Brown's 19-yard run), and he got a response. Terry McCauley, who saw it on TV, told Edsall it was a good block and shouldn't have been a hold. Marcus Easley got the bum call for the hold. C.J. Marck was whistled for holding on Butler's kickoff return, and that was a situation where he stopped moving his feet and had his body in the wrong position.

  • Game balls went to Donald Brown on offense, Cody Brown on defense and Robbie Frey for special teams. Scout team players of the week were Ben Chapman, Dwayne Gratz and Sio Moore.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Hofstra post game notes

  • Andre Dixon expects to practice this week and be ready to play against Temple.
  • Lindsey Witten was injured, though Edsall wasn't sure what or how serious it was.
  • Lots of sloppy play on offense, led by a shaky ballgame from Lorenzen. Edsall summed up the three picks: the first, he shouldn't have thrown. The second, he stared down D.J. and allowed the safety to get into the play and make the pick. The third, he didn't get rid of the ball quick enough. They are issues the coaches have been hounding Lorenzen about.
  • Edsall: "I think we've had some inconsistencies in our passing game more so than the running game. We have to make quicker reads. We can't stare things down. We have to throw the ball on time. If we do those things, we're fine."
  • Tyler thought he may have been over thinking, but vowed he'll work to take better care of the ball from here on out.
  • Edsall spoke about how Donald Brown lost weight, which showed in his shiftiness and speed today. Donald downplayed it. "I only lost one or two pounds," he said.
  • Edsall like what he saw out of his receivers, one in particular. "I really like Michael Smith," Edsall said. "He's going to be a fine football player." For Edsall to say that about a true freshman? Let's just say it's very unusual.
  • Cody Endres got the nod to replace Lorenzen because of the score, not because Lorenzen was having a bad day. Endres passed Frazer on the depth chart this week, but, despite his good day, he'll have to earn the backup job again this week. It's even, and whoever has the better week of practice will be on the second team.
  • Ellis Gaulden could barely contain himself in the post game interview room. The kid is thrilled to be healthy and contributing. He said nerves played a part in his dropping his first ball "I was thinking about running up field before I had the ball in my hands," Gaulden said. "At least I got the drop out of the way early." Kashif and Smith had nice days too. And don't forget the Sherminator making catches out of the backfield. D.J. was scolded by Edsall for failing to play to the situation at the end of the first half. Twice he turned up field instead of heading out of bounds in the 2-minute drill, and nearly fumbled it away the second time. "That irritated me a little bit," Edsall said.
  • Good to see Aaron Bagsby make an interception less than a month after a knee scope.

Pregame: New season, how 'bout some new traditions?

We're about 90 minutes from kickoff here at the Runway. Both teams are out on the field warming up, and it (the turf) looks terrific. That's a first. The past few years the grass on the field has either been dead (thank you, Rolling Stones) or coming up in chunks.
Traffic seemed smooth on the ride in to the stadium, though I got here before 5. Let me know how your parking/tailgating experience went.
Andre Dixon isn't playing tonight. Number of people surprised: zero.

Since I don't have anything else to add (well, I could complain about the lack of good coffee here in the press box, but who'd listen?) here are my top 8 suggestions to spice up the game day atmosphere here at the ol' Runway.

1. A team of Husky dogs pulling a sled to lead UConn onto the field. You'd be able to join the great entrances in college football like the Ramblin' Wreck Car at Georgia Tech, the Florida State Seminole throwing the flaming spear and the Colorado Buffalo, to name a few.

2. If a team of Husky dogs isn't possible logistically, then dress someone up as the opposing team's mascot, put a couple of raw steaks in his pockets and let a hungry dog chase him across the field. What better way to whip the home crowd into a frenzy than witnessing a Husky tackle the enemy mascot at midfield and start tearing into his costume? PETA is planning a petition to have me lynched just reading that last suggestion.

3. Free clam chowder!

4. Play random songs off my iPod for the 90 minutes before game time rather than the canned stuff they play now.

5. Organize a national anthem fly-by with one of the state's aircraft manufacturers. How cool would it be to see a Sikorsky SuperHawk attack chopper buzz the press box tower as the band plays "And the home, of the...bravvvvvve"

What, this wouldn't be sick?

6. Eighty-six the guy with the microphone yelling at everyone at midfield.

7. Quit playing Thursday night games. (Actually, this is probably going to happen). Play more Saturday afternoon games. (This probably won't happen. Thanks, ESPN).

8. Desi Cullen. Miked up. Play highlights at halftime. Cody Brown would work, too.

I'd have done a top 10, but I'm out of ideas and we're close to game time. Any other ideas? Feel free to post 'em.

See you postgame.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Revenge of the Runway Challenge

Greetings from New Haven, home of La Liga Juvenil de Baseball, the most famous pickup youth baseball league in the world. I was here at the Register offices when Bill Cloutier, our assistant sports editor, was breaking the story of Jericho Scott -- the 9-year old told he couldn't pitch because he was "too good", according to league officials. Apparently, after the incident occurred last week, a gaggle of parents drove from the field straight to our building and set up shop outside to make their story public. Bill listened, made a few calls and followed up with a story the next day. No way I ever imagined it would churn a national debate. Everyone from ESPN to Mitch Albom to radio stations in California have been calling our sports department looking for interviews with reporters covering the saga. The whole thing is pretty sad, to be honest.

Of course, there are two sides to every story, and Register columnist Dave Solomon summarizes that nicely today in today's paper.

On to more pressing matters -- the Runway Challenge, year three. I make the picks, you're welcome to try and beat them. Again, I'll let the winner have free reign over the Runway blog for a day. You can post about UConn football, preview that Hollywood screenplay you're working on or use the forum to publicize your plan to overhaul the health care system. Fire away. I don't care. (As long as it won't get me fired). Oh yeah, any relatives of current UConn players are welcome to plaster the site with embarrassing childhood photos of said relative if they win (as I understand someone was hoping to do last fall).

The picks:

Game 1: CONNECTICUT (-28.5) over Hofstra: It's my understanding that Gio Carmazzi, Wayne Chrebet and Marques Colston will not be in uniform for Hofstra. Two quick points about Hofstra: First, I became a fan of Hofstra for a couple of seasons in the late 1990s, when their games were televised on MSG every week, mainly because of Carmazzi. True, I blindly root for Italians whenever flipping through channels and watching random sporting events. But Carmazzi was pretty unreal. Second, how could Hofstra have changed their name from the Flying Dutchmen to the Pride? They went from one of the great college nicknames to something even duller than the WNBA.

Game 2: Syracuse (+11.5) over NORTHWESTERN: The Big East doormat goes head-to-head with the Big 10's No. 10 team. On a positive note, both schools have killer communications programs. So maybe the players can aspire to one day report on good college football teams after graduation.

Game 3: PITTSBURGH (-13) over Bowling Green: Pitt has gotten plenty of mileage, including a national ranking in the AP poll, from beating a WVU team last December that was so tight they were turning lumps of coal into diamonds the hard way.

Game 4: VIRGINIA (+20) over Southern California: A battle of two coaches who were utter and complete failures in the NFL. Twenty points is too much for any team at Scott Stadium.

Game 5: Utah (+3.5) over MICHIGAN: I don't really think the Utes can pull it off, but the potential jubilation in West Virginia over seeing Rich Rodriguez fall on his face in his Maize and Blue debut has me giddy with anticipation.

Game 6: CLEMSON (-4.5) over Alabama: Nick Saban, the most powerful coach in all of sports (or so says Forbes magazine) led the Crimson Tide to a 7-6 record last season, including a loss to Louisiana-Monroe. He also went 15-17 in two years with the Miami Dolphins before deciding the NFL was too hard. Maybe he can take his next job with La Liga Juvenil de Baseball.

Game 7: MISSOURI (-9) over Illinois: Know this...Mizzou will bring the pain this season.

Game 8: Kentucky (+3.5) over LOUISVILLE: The Louisville administration, in anticipation of another humiliating season, is considering demoting Papa John's Stadium to It's Not Delivery, It's DiGiorno Frozen Pizza Stadium.

Game 9: Fresno State (+6) over RUTGERS: I won't lie, I don't know much about Fresno State. But they love offense in the WAC. If you can bet the over, bet the over.

Game 10: Tennessee (-7.5) over UCLA: UCLA took out a full page ad in the Los Angeles Times to proclaim, in large, bold letters, that "The Football Monopoly in Los Angeles is Over". Rick Neuheisel is betting on it.

Get your picks in by clicking the comments link below, then do a cut-and-paste with the template provided in there.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Andre Dixon may be out for Hofstra.

Some notes from Edsall's call with state media this afternoon:

Andre Dixon was injured in practice, an ankle, and is listed as day-to-day. Sounds as if he'll likely miss the game Thursday. Edsall wasn't giving up many details. Robbie Frey moves into the backup role behind Donald Brown.

Safety Aaron Bagsby is looking so good, he may play. He's been practicing every day.

Brad Kanuch and Jordan Todman could be close to a return. Neither will play against Hofstra, but Edsall said they're loking good. Todman was in pads, catching punts. Kanuch was sprinting on the side.

No decision on the backup QB of yet

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Sunday morning at the Shenk

The regular Tuesday media luncheon was pushed up two days because the game with Hofstra is on a Thursday. Here's the early news from Randy Edsall's session with media on Sunday.
  • Edsall said the only two players who won't see action that he expected to be in the two-deep for Thursday are Brad Kanuch and Jordan Todman.
  • Safety Aaron Bagsby (knee scope) is back practicing in full pads today. Jerome Junior's knee won't require surgery. Defensive end Mike Cox is being targeted for mid-October for his return from knee surgery.
  • We may not see Darius Butler on offense against Hofstra. Edsall says it's partly because he feels the wide receivers have come along nicely in the preseason. Butler is more valuable on defense and as a returner. "If there's an opportunity to get him on the field offensively, we'll look at that. If it's a situation we don't feel we need him, we won't."
  • Edsall's greatest concerns from a depth standpoint right now are at linebacker and safety. Injuries (Robinson, Bagsby) have played a part. It's a reason Kijuan Dabney has moved. Jonathan Jean-Louis has had a hip flexor issue, which has hampered his performance at safety, though Edsall said Manny Okomaro and Glen Mourning earned their jobs as backups at safety.
  • Field goals will be only Tony C on Thursday. Edsall praised Tony for his work ethic, and the fact that he's as good as anyone from 45 yards or in...Dave Teggart had been mentioned in the past as a possibility for the long ones, over 50, but that won't happen to start the season. "He's been as consistent over 50 yards as anyone," Edsall said of Ciaravino. Teggart suffered from a hip flexor last week.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Sizing up the depth chart

Yesterday was a little hectic, so I didn't get a chance to post the usual post-practice wrap up.

Aside from preparing for our first live video streaming "event", there were a few other tasks and obstacles that made for a trying afternoon.

First, I kicked off what will be a weekly radio spot with Jason Page of ESPN Radio every Wednesday at 4:45 p.m. You can listen on AM-1410 in Hartford and AM-1300 in New Haven, and, if the spirit moves you (Vinny from East Haven, I'm looking in your direction), call in to harass me every week.

The first spot was going smoothly. Until, while on the air in the middle of the live interview, I was practically accused of spying on practice by UConn's new director of football operations. He saw me speaking on my cell phone and staring in the general direction of the practice field and assumed the worst. Luckily, I was able to finish the interview uninterrputed and then convinced Tim Pendergast that I am indeed a credentialed member of the Connecticut media and had been invited to attend practice that afternoon. I'm exaggerating, of course, and teasing with Tim a little. But deep down, I think he truly wanted to believe I was working undercover for Greg Schiano or Dave Wannestedt.

Later, after nervously slogging my way through the stream, and fighting off the urge to make off-color jokes with Joe D'Ambrosio because anything said would have been audible on the live interweb broadcast, I was forced to sprint from Gampel Pavilion back to the practice field because I left my computer bag (with my laptop and car keys inside) on the practice field. That was fun.

You see, after the interviews were finished I had made my usual retreat to Gampel to write when I realized something was missing. What was it? Oh, yeah. My freaking computer! So I unleashed my best Usain Bolt impersonation (at 1/100th the speed, of course) and hightailed it back to the upper practice fields, gasping for air up the 4,000 wooden steps and hoping someone hadn't walked off with my computer (which, most likely, would have resulted in my unceremonious firing from the paper for losing a company-owned, $1,500 laptop).

When I reached the top of the hill, I spotted my bag. Whew. But the field had already been bolted shut and locked down. Luckily, coach Randy Edsall was still milling around in the parking lot. He didn't have a key for to the field, but had a solution. I proceeded to watch Edsall defy all laws of quantum physics by rolling his massive frame under a tiny opening in the fence to retrieve my bag, then rolling back through without breaking stride. It was so effortless, you'd think he enters the field like that every morning. He was like Plastic Man. Or a former Olympic gold medalist in the limbo. I only wish I was streaming that to a live audience. Maybe next time.

The moral here is, things were a little frantic yesterday. The blog was scrapped. I'm here to redeem myself. Here we go.

The depth chart is out for the Hofstra game. I might as well give my enlightened opinions (snicker) position-by-position. Starters listed first.

WR: 87 Ellis Gaulden (RSr., 6-2, 193) 80 Mike Smith (Fr., 6-0, 193)
WR: 82 Kashif Moore (RFr., 5-9, 174) 14 D.J. Hernandez (Sr., 6-0, 201)
Chip sez: Don't be sucked in by semantics. All four will play a lot, and be counted on to produce. Marcus Easley, Kevin Poles and Alex Molina round out the rotation. If and when Brad Kanuch returns, he'll roll somewhere into the top four.

LT: 64 William Beatty (RSr., 6-6, 310) 73 Dan Ryan (RJr., 6-8, 312)
LG: 57 Moe Petrus (RFr., 6-2, 276) 74 Alex LaMagelaine (RJr., 6-2, 302)
C: 68 Keith Gray (RSr., 6-2, 285) 69 Trey Tonsing (RSr., 6-2, 311)
RG: 78 Zach Hurd (RSo., 6-7, 294) 66 Mathieu Olivier (RSo., 6-4, 293)
RT: 79 Mike Hicks (RJr., 6-6, 321) 71 Mike Ryan (RFr., 6-5, 321)
Chip sez: The line is certainly big enough to get the job done. Donald Thomas will be missed (and how about him going from walk-on to rookie NFL starter? Wow.) Still, this is a promising, veteran crew. Petrus and Hurd are new starters, but "backups" Dan Ryan, Tonsing and LaMagdelaine have started a combined 38 games over the years. Mike Ryan is a monster.

TE: 90 Steve Brouse (RSr., 6-4, 250) 91 Martin Bedard (Sr., 6-3, 239)
Chip sez: Could Brouse be the team's most underrated player? He gets little fanfare, but his contributions may be immense.

QB: 4 Tyler Lorenzen (Sr., 6-4, 224) 10 Zach Frazer (RSo., 6-4, 231) or 12 Cody Endres (RFr., 6-3, 229)
Chip sez: Lorenzen is entrenched as the starter, but folks are itching to see what the future holds. Mop-up time will be analyzed intently by Husky nation.

TB: 34 Donald Brown (RJr., 5-10, 210) 2 Andre Dixon (RJr., 6-1, 208)
FB: 49 Anthony Sherman (So., 5-10, 231) 47 Anthony Davis (RSo, 5-10, 235)
Chip sez: Nothing more needs to be said about the tailbacks and what they can do. No worries if injuries pop-up. Robbie Frey, Screamin' Meme and, if healthy, Jordan Todman make five explosive backs. Odd, off-topic note: Anthony Sherman is a Yankees fan from Massachusetts. Rob Lunn is a Red Sox fan from New York. Always bizarre when that happens.


DE: 45 Julius Williams (RSr., 6-2, 258) 9 Lindsey Witten (Jr., 6-4, 251)
DT: 65 Rob Lunn (RSr., 6-3, 285) 4 Twyon Martin (RFr., 6-1, 265)
DT: 54 Alex Polito (RSo., 6-5, 280) 99 Kendall Reyes (RFr., 6-4, 262)
DE: 50 Cody Brown (Sr., 6-2, 248) 26 Marcus Campbell (So., 6-2, 232)
Chip sez: Expect big things from Polito. Brown and Julius can be two of the most dangerous pass rushers in the league. Witten is a excellent backup. Campbell is a gifted athlete. Anxious to see what he can do.

SLB: 32 Scott Lutrus (RSo., 6-2, 225) 10 Greg Robinson (RSo., 6-1, 228) or 19 Kijuan Dabney (So., 6-0, 206)
MLB: 95 Greg Lloyd (So., 6-1, 234) 31 C.J. Marck (RFr., 6-1, 230)
WLB: 8 Lawrence Wilson (RSo., 6-1, 221) 18 Aaron Bryant (RJr., 6-3, 226)
Chip sez: Lutrus and Wilson have raised the bar after outstanding freshmen seasons. Lloyd could be the breakout young linebacker this year. Bryant has a mean streak. Marck looks like a football player. Robinson's health may be a concern, prompting undersized Dabney's move from safety.

CB: 1 Darius Butler (RSr., 5-10, 187) 20 Terry Baltimore (RJr., 5-9, 174)
S: 33 Robert Vaughn (Jr., 6-0, 197) 7 Glenn Mourning (RJr., 6-0, 212)
S: 36 Dahna Deleston (RSr., 6-0, 211) 28 Emmanuel Omokaro (RFr., 5-10, 195)
CB: 6 Jasper Howard (So., 5-9, 174) 42 Robert McClain (Jr., 5-9, 201)
Chip sez: Howard is the only unproven starter. He's the anti-Tyvon Branch (smaller, not as fast) but may be better as a cover guy. Jonathan Jean-Louis was in a dog fight with Dabney to start at safety in the spring, suddenly, he's off the depth chart. Mourning has been a new man since Edsall challenged his toughness to play through the minor injuries in the spring of 2007. Omokaro is a walk-on who has seemingly come from nowhere to backup Deleston.

FG: 97 Tony Ciaravino (RSr., 6-2, 225) 38 David Teggart (RFr., 6-0, 214)
KO: 13 Desi Cullen (Jr., 6-0, 201) 38 David Teggart (RFr., 6-0, 214)
P: 13 Desi Cullen (Jr., 6-1, 201) 97 Tony Ciaravino (RSr., 6-2, 225)
H: 13 Desi Cullen (Jr., 6-1, 201) 10 Zach Frazer (So., 6-4, 231)
SN: 91 Martin Bedard (Sr., 6-3, 239) 65 Rob Lunn (RSr., 6-3, 285)
Chip sez: Only thing to worry about here is potential new hairstyles of the "Kick Squad"...which should be officially changed to "Kick Force". Just sounds tougher. Kicking game is solid, solid, solid.

KR: 1 Darius Butler (RSr., 5-10, 187) 44 Robbie Frey (RFr., 6-0, 191)
PR: 6 Jasper Howard (So., 5-9, 174) 42 Robert McClain
Chip sez: Kickoffs won't miss a beat, even with the loss of Branch to the NFL. Butler and Frey should provide plenty of excitement (and field position). Punt returns? It's the post-Larry Taylor era. In many ways, the biggest single loss since Orlovsky at QB for the Huskies. Could be a drop-off, here. Then again, maybe not. Jazz is not only athletic, but oozes confidence. You have to like him.

One final note...there was lots of interest from readers wanting to tune in to the live stream. But I haven't received any feedback as to the actual live feed. If you watched it, please let us know how it turned out. Any and all opinions are welcome. Click the comments link below.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Video from this afternoon's practice - 8/20

Here are some video clips that were streamed live. Edsall's interview is cut short, hopefully we can find the rest and post it later. Also, that's my notebook that gets in the way. I was trying to figure out a way to take notes and film at the same time. I found that's impossible. My arm is sore, but I hope those of you who tuned in for the live feed enjoyed it. Thanks to Brett, the Register online producer, for making this work.

Randy Edsall

Glenn Mourning

Donald Brown

Depth chart

The live feed is working, and we should be good to go sometime between 5:40-6 p.m., depending on how long practice goes. Just follow the link from the previous post.

Some quick notes: the depth chart for Hofstra is out. Couple surprises: Emmanuel Omokaro and Glenn Mourning are the backups at safety. Kijuan Dabney is backing up Scott Lutrus at Husky linebacker (with Greg Robinson). Marcus Campbell is top backup at defensive end. Ellis Gaulden and Kashif Moore are starting receivers, with D.J. and Mike Smith as backups. Dan Ryan now backing up William Beatty at left guard, with Mike Ryan backing up Mike Hicks at right guard. Darius and Robbie Frey are the kickoff returners, Jasper Howard the punt returner (backed up by Robert McClain).

Zach Frazer is working at practice, albeit with the red jersey. Jordan Todman is doing work on the side, nothing physical, with Jerry Martin. No sling, no ice. He looks OK. But he's also not listed on the depth chart, so we'll find out just what's up later.

See you in about an hour

Live feed link

Looks like everything is set up for our live feed. Click the link below around 5:45, give or take a few minutes depending on if practice ends on time. Hopefully, everything works.

Live feed

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Live streaming Wednesday

What if I told you we here at the Runway could provide a free, live feed from football practice. Is that something you might be interested in? A new gizmo will allow me to stream live from practice to the interweb on Wednesday afternoon. Since we're not allowed to film anything interesting, it will be post practice interviews. Did I mention you'll see it all live, as it's happening? Check in around 5:45. If I can figure out all this technology, it might be pretty neat.

If you plan to watch, or would like to see a live stream for free every week, leave a comment below.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Talkin' 'bout practice: notes from the public viewing

The weather was perfect for a morning practice open to the general public. I'd estimate there were around 300 who showed up to check it out at Memorial Stadium. For those who couldn't make it, a quick rundown.
  • Zach Frazer suffered a concussion during Wednesday's scrimmage, and was held out of practice again on Saturday. Cody Endres, bumped up to work with the second team, didn't have a great day. He pulled a couple of Drew Bledsoe's and held onto the ball too long instead of throwing it away, and was scolded for it.

  • Jordan Todman took a hit on a running play, and looked to be in severe pain. He left practice and didn't return. Randy Edsall said it was a shoulder injury, but didn't know how severe it was. From the initial looks of it, Todman might be out for a little while.

  • Some of the injured from earlier in the week, Greg Robinson, Lawrence Wilson and Robbie Frey, were practicing Saturday. Edsall also said Brad Kanuch is improving.

  • Jasper Howard has moved into a starting role opposite Darius Butler at cornerback. He says his biggest challenge, aside from perfecting technique, is keeping weight on during hot summer practice sessions. He's gained over 20 pounds since last summer, and reported to camp at 175 -- right where the coaches would like him. But he's down to about 170 after 17 practices. "I'm on my way to eat now," Howard said. "I never miss a meal, so hopefully I can put a few back on right now."

  • Donald Brown put on a show for the fans, breaking loose a couple of times. He easily outraced cornerback Khaliyl Lane to the end zone once. "There's no one in the country catching him," Lane muttered as he jogged back to the huddle after the play.

  • UConn recruit and Bridgeport resident Trevardo Williams was at the practice with Bridgeport Central assistant coach Peter Cox. Williams didn't qualify for UConn this year, and is heading to the Canterbury School this fall. He said he's still firm on his commitment to Edsall.

  • Poor Zach Hurd. For the second time in two weeks, he was victimized by Edsall for a false start during a red zone drill. If Edsall was finalizing work on a PhD in ball busting, Hurd would have been his doctoral thesis. "How dumb are you?" Edsall yelled, prodding Hurd to take off like a shot for his punishment lap. If Hurd was hoping to outrun Edsall's wrath, he was mistaken. "It was 1st-and-4, now it's 1st-and-9!" Edsall hollered, as Hurd sprinted like a 300-pound Tyson Gay down field in the direction of the newspaper reporters. "Why don't you give them an interview while you're down there!" OK. Edsall loses points because we've heard that one already, but earns a few back because it was fresh for the fans, and drew a few laughs from the crowd.

  • Nice job by the coaches resisting the urge to drop f-bombs with the family atmosphere watching. I heard a lot of "friggin's", though.

  • Edsall wasn't pleased with the practice, he told us. "As a matter of fact, I thought it stunk," he said. Cody Brown said it was the defense which really disappointed. "Some of (the defense) had the wrong attitude, and it showed because the offense torched us."

  • Sad news: Lindsey Witten missed practice to be with his ailing grandmother in Ohio, who requested to be with her grandchildren. He left this morning, and is scheduled to be back tomorrow night. Say an extra prayer tonight.

That's it. I'm heading home to take a dip in the old water cube.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Chip's "water cube" isn't quite up to Beijing Olympic standard. It's a kiddie pool he purchased for $19.99 at Target.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Practice notes: battle brewing at CB

A big crowd of injured Huskies not practicing today, all of them forced to walk up and down the steps of Memorial Stadium as part of the rehab. Some did it on crutches. Someone had a cane. I think I spotted a walker in there, too. From a distance, they looked like very large escapees from a geriatric home. But wearing football jerseys instead of cardigan sweaters.

  • Tyler Lorenzen and D.J. Hernandez didn't participate in any drills, but they weren't injured. Edsall just trying to get his other players at those positions a little seasoning. "You find out more things here than going into a game and needing them to play," he said.

  • Among the wounded from today: Jerome Junior (knee), Doc Goudreau (calf) and Lindsay Witten (migraines). Witten is expected to be back for tomorrow's scrimmage. Lawrence Wilson, Greg Robinson and Brad Kanuch remained out, as well.

  • Edsall anointed Robinson with a new nickname. Plaxico. "He only plays on game day," Edsall said. "His role will be as a backup at the Husky on short-yardage and goal line packages. But he has an ankle injury that's been chronic."

  • The kickoff return teams got some work. Jasper Howard and Darius Butler were the 'A' team, Jordan Todman and Donald Brown (you read that right) on the 'B' team.

  • Good day for Tony Ciaravino, who twice saved his teammates from sprints by nailing 55-yard field goals. The final attempt came as a tiebreaker because no one could decide whether the defense held the offense on a 4th-and-1 on the final play of practice. Edsall was willing to call it a tie, but the players wanted Tony C to break the tie.

  • Memorable plays of the day: Andre Dixon spotting a hole only to be flattened by Greg Lloyd, who came in fast and hard. Tight end John Delahunt making a one-handed grab over linebacker Jerome Williams on a toss from walk-on quarterback Jon McEntee, and racing in for the score. Not to be outdone, on one of the very next plays, starting TE Steve Brouse evoked images of Graig Nettles circa 1978 by making a full-extension, diving grab.

  • Marcus Easley caught Edsall's ire for too much dancing and not enough north to south running after a catch. It's never good to be referred to as the "No. 1 idiot". Unless you're Johnny Damon in Boston in 2004, that is.

  • Howard is suddenly looking at lots of playing time. Not only is he returning kicks, he's moved ahead of Robert "Reggie" McClain as a starting cornerback. The competition is by no means over, however. The scrimmage on Wednesday will weigh-in heavily."Jazz (Howard) has gotten stronger and quicker," Edsall said. "Reggie's stronger, too. But I think Jazz is a better cover guy right now." Not long ago, Howard weighed 154 pounds. He's a solid 174 now. McClain is 201, and benching 390.

  • Am I the only one who thinks most Olympic sports are just stupid? Synchronized diving? BMX and mountain biking? Blowdart target shooting? Lawn Jarts? Wait, those last two may not be official sports yet. How about two-person beach volleyball...which, apparently, you aren't allowed to compete in unless you're a nudist. But think about it. If you were a decent athlete in high school and dedicated your life to race walking...I mean you quit your job and trained year-round...would it really be that hard to qualify for the Olympics as a race-walker? I refuse to believe I couldn't have done it.

  • By the way, Ansonia native, 2004 Yale graduate and current Yale football radio play-by-play broadcaster Ron Vaccaro is calling race walking and modern pentathlon for NBC Sports in Beijing. I once served as Ron's color guy for Yale's student radio station when the Yale men's hockey team played two games out at the University of North Dakota. Back then, I thought doing play-by-play for hockey was tough because it's non-stop talking. Imaging having to call race walking and modern pentathlon. I don't even know what modern pentathlon entails, but I assume it's not terribly exciting. But if there's anyone who can make it interesting, it's Ron Vaccaro, who is simply tremendous as a broadcaster.

  • Best of luck to Leigh Torbin, whose final day at UConn is Friday. Leigh has been a tremendous help to me since I took over the football beat back in January 2005. He's also a pop culture guru, much like myself. We spent many hours discussing things like who belongs on the list of the top five rock drummers of all-time and the merits of being head of the international moustache institute (a real position). He has a new job at Central Florida. Best of luck, Leigh.

UConn is holding its open practice session on Saturday. Hope to meet see some of you there.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Wacky interviews

I was chatting with Mike DiMauro of The New London Day at yesterday's UConn media event, and told him every time I see Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Mike Cervenak on TV, I think of him and Steve Nalbandian, the Norwich Bulletin's old beat writer for the Norwich Navigators (now the Connecicut Defenders). When I was covering the now defunct New Haven Ravens for the Register, I'd head up to Norwich several times a year for games, and Cervenak was always in the lineup for the Navigators. He spent what seemed like a lifetime playing Double-A ball in Norwich, and was just a great guy.

DiMauro relayed the story of his first meeting with Cervenak, just after he had just joined the club. DiMauro and Nalbandian walked into the clubhouse to interview him postgame, and Cervie was sitting at his locker completely naked. When he saw the reporters approach, he jumped out of his seat, spent a while scratching his, uh, private area, and then, with a wide smile, offered a handshake. Now that's an icebreaker.

It got me thinking about some of the crazy interviews I've done since joining this business oh, so many years ago. Here are my top five most memorable interviews (though I'm sure I'll have more if I think a little harder):

5. Hablo sign language?

I got assigned the Ravens beat in 2000. They were the Double-A affiliate of the Seattle Mariners that year, but I got the assignment a little too late to make the trip to their spring training home in Arizona.

So I met the team the day of their first practice at Yale Field. I had studied up on the statistics from the previous season, and figured I'd talk to some of the top players. I approached third baseman Luis Figueroa, who was a .330 hitter in Class A, and asked if he had a minute to chat. He stared at me for a while, a rather awkward silence. I asked again. No response. Finally, Figgie grabbed Ramon Vazquez, the team's shortstop, to help.

"He doesn't speak English," Vazquez said. "And he's deaf."

Turns out Figgie had lost his hearing after a childhood disease in Puerto Rico. He read lips, but only in Spanish. So Vazquez served as translator for what turned out to be a great story.

4. Will we need a live chicken, too?

Also on the Ravens roster that season was a pitcher named Damaso Marte, the same guy recently traded to the Yankees. Marte had been injured pretty much all year, but came off the disabled list for the Ravens playoff run.

Chatting with him wasn't easy. Marte's English wasn't great at the time. After a few questions, I asked what the problem had been with his arm. He told the story of how he had gone through a messy divorce in the offseason, and he believed his disgruntled ex-wife had put a voodoo curse on his pitching arm.

Figuring he was kidding, I asked Ravens radio broadcaster Bill Schweizer about Marte. "He's serious," said Schweizer, who had interviewed him for the pregame radio show. "He told me the same thing."

3. Nothing's unusual after "The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou"

When you're a famous celebrity, you can do anything...including standing against the outfield wall on the field of play during a game.

When the Ravens left New Haven for Manchester, N.H., they were replaced by an independent league team. They decided to play a live scrimmage one afternoon a week prior to the season against a league rival, the Brockton Rox. It wasn't publicized, and I didn't even plan on attending until the radio guy called and told me I should get over there because a pretty cool guest had shown up.

Turns out Bill Murray was a part owner of Brockton, and drove up to Yale Field from his home in Westchester County, N.Y. to see the scrimmage.

"He's been here a while, and is getting ready to leave," the radio guy said.

"Where is he?" I asked.

"Out there," he said, pointing to the recognizable figure leaning against the left-center field wall while the game was being played.

So, we walked out there to meet him.

"Hi Bill," I said. "What are you doing out here?"

"Rox baseball!" Murray said, as if it was perfectly normal to stand on the field to watch a baseball game. We talked for a good 10 minutes while outfielders tracked down flyballs and base hits a few feet in front of us. Luckily, we didn't even have to dodge any gappers.

2. Quick change artist

I covered a high school football game about 10 years ago in the Valley. Can't remember if it was at Shelton or Derby, but you'll understand why the details remain fuzzy in a moment. I've successfully blocked them from my mind.

I interviewed the visiting coach on the field, and when I finished I searched around for the home coach. He had already left the field and was heading toward his office. I jogged after him, but couldn't catch him before he entered his office door.

Mind you, it couldn't have been more than 10 seconds before I walked into the office after him. But the coach was already completely nude and unwrapping a sandwich.

Able to hold off gasping in horror at the Montgomery Burns-esque figure standing before me (the coach was an older fellow), I wondered how someone could disrobe so quickly. The only reasonable explanation I could ascertain was that the coach had to be wearing a Velcro, tear-away coaching outfit, and must have reenacted the scene in "The Naked Gun" where Leslie Neilsen tears away his three-piece suit just before getting it on with Priscilla Presley wearing full-body condoms.

I can't even remember who the coach was, but it's probably because my eyes were bleeding so profusely.

1. Treehouse of Horror

I was covering a Yale men's hockey game at St. Lawrence University in upstate New York in 2003. The press box at the very old, very wooden rink isn't so much a media facility. It's more of a tree house. It's actually perched just above the arena lights, and to get up there you have to climb ladder steps nailed into the side of the wall. It's literally a vertical climb.

Normally, not a big problem. But I had broken my left arm about two weeks earlier, and had a cast that stretched from my hand up to just under my arm pit. Making the climb with a computer bag tossed over my shoulder was, to say the least, tricky.

After the game, I made the treacherous climb down and headed for the Yale locker room for the post-game interview. Problem: the door leading to the hallway to get there was locked. I walked all around the bowels of the arena trying to find a way to the locker room, but to no avail. I was lost in a labyrinth of ice-cooling pipes, vents and locked doors. Think of the scene from "Spinal Tap" (Hello, Cleveland! Hello, Cleveland!!). That was me.

Finally, I headed back up to the tree house and called Yale's assistant athletic director, who had made the trip upstate, on his cell phone to see if he could get me Yale coach Tim Taylor.

"He's already on the bus," he said. "I'll send him back to the locker room."

Before I could tell him I couldn't get to the locker room, he'd hung up. Wonderful. But about a minute later, I heard someone shouting my name from down below. It was Taylor.

"Timmy, I'd come down there, but it takes 10 minutes for me to get down these steps because of my arm," I yelled.

"Well, what do you want to know?" Taylor hollered back.

So I shouted questions down to him on the bench, and he shouted his answers back up to me, perched at least 100 feet above him and peering through the arena lights.

Definitely the most unusual interview I ever did.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Media Day fun

Here's a little taste of the afternoon:
  • Randy Edsall spoke first, and gave some news regarding the team. Brad Kanuch is week-to-week with a hamstring injury. Lawrence Wilson, Robbie Frey and Greg Robinson are all day-to-day with rolled ankles. In terms of vagueness, I've come to the conclusion that week-to-week is worse than day-to-day.

  • Tyler Lorenzen is back with the first team. As everyone expected, no big deal. His slow start and the fact that Zach Frazer is an injury away from being the starting QB and could use added reps all played a part in his being relegated to second team a few days ago.

  • With Kanuch out indefinitely, here's how the receivers shape up as of now: Kashif Moore, D.J. Hernandez and Ellis Gaulden are the starters; Alex Molina, Michael Smith and Marcus Easley are the second group and among those battling in the third group are Kevin Poles and Isaiah Moore. "There are others in there," Edsall said. "Some of them helped themselves, others who dropped balls and did not execute the things needed to be executed."

  • The coaching staff's biggest concern with D.J. is getting him to run forward after making the catch and avoid the juking, East-West stuff he did as a quarterback. "He gets the ball and thinks he's Barry Sanders," Edsall said. "But he's as far from Barry Sanders as you can get."

  • Receiver Alex Molina won the Iron Husky Award for going above and beyond expectations in the weight room. Molina got much stronger physically, and it's shown on the field.

  • We know Donald Brown will start at tailback, Andre Dixon will see time as the "No. 2". Edsall mentioned three other backs who could play roles. No. 3 Frey, No. 4 Screamin' Meme Wylie and No. 5 Jordan Todman.

  • Todman was a popular fellow today. Mentioned with Smith as two true freshmen who will likely play this year, he's gained attention in practice with his speed. He'll be a punt returner and quite possibly a kick returner with Darius Butler. Edsall may also find other ways to get him on the field. "We don't want to heap too many expectations on him," Edsall said. "We just want him to keep making progress."

  • Frey, Jasper Howard and Kanuch, when healthy, are also in the running to return kicks with Butler.

  • Todman said he hasn't been timed in the 40 since his junior year of high school, but expects to run around a 4.3 (UConn won't time players in the 40 during the fall). However, Cody Brown called Marcus Campbell the "fastest person I've ever seen in my life."

  • Brown is quite a character. He's quick with a joke, and spent much of the day trying to get teammates to laugh while doing TV interviews. When John Silver of the Journal-Inquirer began a question to Brown with, "You're a funny guy," I half expected Brown to pull a Joe Pesci and do the famous routine from Goodfellas. "How am I funny? Like I'm a clown? I'm here to amuse you? What's so funny about me?" He also has big expectations. "The defense will be a lot better than it was last year," Brown said.

  • No grand entrances or gimmicks from kick squad this year. I was hoping they'd repel to the field from the ceiling or be dressed in sharkskin suits with gold chains and their hair slicked back like mobsters or something. "We wanted to tone it down," kicker Tony Ciaravino said. "We didn't want to take away from the rest of the team." Tony then proceeded to drop and do push-ups to get his arms pumped up before the photos.

  • A group of players saw Donald Brown doing a TV interview and immediately ran over to try and distract him from behind. He remained stone-faced. "Mr. Serious!" Lorenzen said. Somehow, Brown wound up doing the rest of the interview with an orange pylon on his head. Kanuch got similar treatment. No plates full of shaving cream to the face, however. Guess that's just a baseball thing.

  • Clark Maturo turned down offers from Army and some pretty good Division I-AA teams (New Hampshire, the Ivy Leagues) because he wanted the challenge of trying to make it as a walk-on at UConn. Wake Forest, Iowa and Vanderbilt had also showed interest. Maturo was a lineman at Connecticut powerhouse Hand-Madison before moving on to The Hotchkiss School, a private school in Lakeville. Maturo, a 6-5, 309-pound offensive lineman, and his family have since moved to New Haven.

  • Michael Smith couldn't be more likable. He came to UConn from Houston because he thought he'd have a chance to play right away, and he's shown the coaches that he's capable. He said UConn and the Big East still aren't well-known as football schools in Texas -- everyone back home thought he was committing to play basketball when he told them he was going to UConn -- but that they are gaining recognition in the high-school football crazy Lone Star State.

  • Smith has a very unique voice. At first, I couldn't quite put my finger on just who Smith sounds like. After a long contemplation, I decided the best comparison is either Ed, the kid from "Good Burger", or Fred G. Sanford. It's somewhere in beween. But yes, Smith is only 18 and still wears braces on his teeth. Yet somehow, he's channeling Redd Foxx.

  • Highly-regarded offensive line recruit Jimmy Bennett says he's been "pretty much guaranteed" by the coaching staff that he'll be red-shirted this season. He's excited to gain the extra year of eligibility to do some damage in the weight room. "I'm not that strong right now," said Bennett, who, by the way, seems even bigger than his listed 6-foot-7 and 300 pounds.

  • Rob Lunn was working on some serious facial hair the first week of practice -- sideburn chops and a trailer-park mustache that could have guaranteed him a role on "My Name is Earl". The pre-game video introductions for home games at Rentschler are filmed on Media Day, and Lunn and his Hell's Angels' look had potential to draw a discernible buzz at the Runway that could have rivaled the infamous "Dancin' Geno" clips shown on the scoreboard at every Celtics game in the Fleet Center. Alas, the coaching staff guilt-tripped him into shaving this morning. "They told me 'would your mother want to see you looking like that?," Lunn said. "So I had to shave."

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Practice notes: Can I get a chair?

Welcome to post-practice down in the bowels of Gampel, where it's supply your own table and chairs today. Don't know if they were stolen or out for cleaning, but I was forced to sit Indian style on the floor to work for a moment until Ed from the Waterbury Republican and Chuck from the Day came downstairs. We lugged a couple of tables (estimated weight: 250 pounds each) and chairs from a back room. Everything's peachy now.

Busy day at practice. Here's the rundown.

  • Zach Frazer replaced Tyler Lorenzen as starting quarterback, at least for today. Zach ran the "1s" during a scrimmage and goal-line drills, with Tyler running the second string. Edsall joked about Tyler's bad practice on Friday, but it's four days later and he didn't seem too pleased. "It's practice, and you want to see what people can do," Randy Edsall said. "The one thing is if people aren't producing out here on the field, and executing things they're being taught in the meetings, or if situations come up and things aren't happening fast enough...then it's anyone's position. ... No position is etched in granite. ... It could be a one day thing, it could be a two-day thing, who knows how long it could be. It's in terms of what we see on the field and what people are doing."

  • Frazer looked pretty good out there.

  • At right tackle, Mike Hicks and Dan Ryan were also switched, with Hicks now on the first team and Ryan back with the second. Much like Lorenzen and Frazer, Ryan wasn't getting the job done. "You have to earn your position every day," Edsall said.

  • Brad Kanuch went down with a hamstring injury, and sat out most of practice with his thigh wrapped. The extent is unknown, but not great news for the receiving core. Edsall doesn't want to concern himself with those not practicing. "No disrespect to any of our players, but I'm not worried about the guys on the sideline. We have to get ready for Aug. 28. Someone gets hurt, it's someone else's obligation to step in and take over and do a job and maybe that person doesn't get his job back. That's the attitude I want from these guys."

  • Zach Hurd felt Edsall's wrath after a false start on 3rd-and-1 during the scrimmage, then turning to walk away before Edsall was finished yelling at him. "Focus!" Edsall screamed. "What are you thinking about? You want to walk toward the sidelines toward the reporters? You thinking about giving them an interview?" Glad we could help make a point, Randy.

  • Of course, a mere seconds after that incident Hurd's replacement, Alex LaMagdelaine, made a false start. "Get me another right guard!" Edsall yelled as LaMagdelaine trudged off to join Hurd for a punishment lap.

  • If I didn't know better, I'd swear Edsall has a special stash of one-liners to yell at his players for when the media is present. Brandon Dillon, all 300-plus pounds of him and fresh off a punishment lap for going offsides, was called in to defensive tackle for a series. "Let's go Dillon," Edsall said. "Get in there and shed some more of those pounds. Nutri-System is waiting." I envision Randy giggling to himself in his office before open practices as he thinks up new lines. Hey, I'm not complaining. It's always 'A' material.

  • Even the players got some laughs out of me today. Darius Butler let a sure interception slip through his fingers, and caught ribbing from Robert Vaughn. "Damn, 'But'," Vaughn told Butler. "I thought you were supposed to have hands. How you going to get on him (the WR) for not catching the ball when you can't catch the ball?" And you have to like this...on the very next play, Butler made a great interception on a jump ball in the end zone, stealing one from the clutches of D.J. Hernandez. "He took the ball right out of my hands!" Hernandez said.

  • Zach Frazer knows how to sell a joke, too. Aaron Bryant blocked a kick, which was returned all the way for a touchdown by Terry Baltimore. Bryant, heading downfield after the blocked kick, leveled Frazer with a clean block. Asked about it afterward, Frazer said with a straight face, "AB? He'll be alright. I wanted to run someone over, but didn't want to show him up."

  • Ellis Gaulden, coming off yet another surgery, said he's about 80 percent back to game shape but expects to be 100 percent by the opener. He knows the opportunity is there for playing time, and he plans to take full advantage. "I've been hurt so much, I'm ready for a breakout season," Gaulden said. "I'm eager to show people what I can do, that I'm not Mr. Glass, or whatever. The thing is, everyone of my teammates knows what I can do, I know what I can do. Everyone knows what I can do except the public. I want that to change."

  • Edsall isn't ready to comment on the freshmen yet. It's too soon. This was the first day in pads. As for the wide receivers, I didn't see any of the true frosh on the field with the first two teams much. Lots of D.J., Molina, Easley, Gaulden, Poles and Kashif. Don't read too much into that, however. At least not yet.

  • Two-a-days begin tomorrow. Gaulden, Tywon Martin and Greg Robinson will be participating in only one of the two due to injuries.

  • Is Seth Rogen the most overrated "comedy" actor in Hollywood? He's getting there. His act gets a little more stale in each film. Thought he was great in "The 40-Year Old Virgin", but it's worse each time out. "Knocked Up" was OK, but the rewatchability on that one is low (read: chick flick). He absolutely ruined "Super Bad"... just fast-forward any time he's on the screen in that movie. He was awful hosting Saturday Night Live, and the trailers for "Pineapple Express" make it seem as if it's in the running for worst comedy since "Dude, Where's My Car?" You're a cool, slacker slob. We get it. You like hitting the bong. Ha Ha. You have clever, new ways to use vulgar language. Hilarious. Now end it.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

You can't say that, Mortie.

We don't like to work blue here at the Runway, but this is too good to pass up. ESPN's Chris Mortensen forgets he's on the air while speaking on ESPNews about Brett Favre Sunday evening. The audio is rough, but around 40 seconds into the clip Mort says about Favre, "The (bleeping) guy is in pretty good shape, isn't he?" The anchor isn't sure what to say next, and the clip ends.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Typo. And a lesson learned at Target.

Got an email from UConn today letting me know there was a typo on the height and weight of Beau Brunelli on the rosters distributed yesterday. He's 6-2, 255. Apparently, there was an impostor posing as Beau who measured out at 5-9, 193. Not really, just a mix-up.
This story is non-football related, but I feel like it must be told. I went to Target today to pick up (what else?) diapers and baby butt wipes. Standing in line in front of me is a kid holding a couple of T-shirts. He was so proud of himself, as he told me and the cashier, that he was only 9 years old and buying his own clothes. I have no idea where his parents were, but he was going on and on, and was a riot. He was like McCaulay Caulkin in "Home Alone". Really cute kid. The cashier rang him up. The kid pulls all the money out of his wallet and hands it to her. She counts it, and winces. He was nine dollars short. "Oh, man," the kid said. "That's all the money I've got."

Unable to escape this kid's charm, I handed the cashier 10 bucks to cover his bill. She gave me the change, and the receipt. The kid inspects the bag, notices what happened and immediately asks me for the receipt. "Oh sure," I say with a smile. "Here you go, sir!"

He walked away (without thanking me for picking up his tab, by the way) and it dawned on me that he was a little quick to make sure he had the receipt. Odd, I think, but probably no big deal.
After paying for my stuff, I walk toward the exit and glance to my left to notice the little con-artist is in line at customer service returning the shirts! Nice little business, I think. This little punk pays 26 bucks on a 35 dollar bill, finds some schmuck (like me) to cover the rest, then makes a tidy profit on the doubt to invest on a bigger checkout and payoff the next time he's at Target.

Naturally, I had to do the right thing and teach him deceiving people like that is wrong, and he shouldn't do things like that. So I waited for him outside, jumped out from behind a pole and stole his wallet.

Well, that's what I wanted to do. Instead of causing a scene, I appreciated the fact that this kid had the cavones to pull off a scam like that and swallowed the nine dollar loss. The lesson? As Sly Stallone told Dearly Departing Dallas in the '80s prison flick "Lock Up", DTA. Don't Trust Anyone.

But know this. If had been 10 bucks, I would have swiped his wallet.

As Stallone learned the hard way in Lock Up: DTA, man. DTA.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Practice No. 1 is in the books

Football the way it ought to be. It's sunny, it's 90 degrees. Let's practice outside.

Didn't think this would turn into a deadline story, so the blog is gonna have to be quick.

  • Scott Lutrus is back at "Husky" linebacker, Dahna Deleston is back at strong safety, and your new starting middle linebacker is Greg Lloyd Jr. The move was made mainly because Edsall wanted Lloyd on the field as much as possible. Couple that with the fact that Lutrus and Deleston know the other positions much better than where they had been moved for the spring, and it's going to be a much quicker defense. "Everyone is familiar with their positions, so they are comfortable, and can play faster," Edsall said.

  • Lutrus and Deleston had no problems with the switches. To be honest, I think they were both relieved to be back even if they didn't say as much. Lloyd is thrilled and grateful for the opportunity. He's got some things to learn, but he isn't lacking in confidence. He knows he earned this promotion.

  • Jordan. Todman. Is. Fast.

  • The freshmen wide receivers made their share of mistakes, which is to say they didn't really have great days. Edsall wasn't worried. Freshmen tend to press to impress on the first day.

  • Tyler Lorenzen isn't much for first practices. Back in the spring of 2007, his first practice since the transfer, he had the media double-checking the roster to see if Lorenzen was wearing a different number. He wasn't much better for the opening of preseason practice. Today, well, Edsall said it best. "He was bad, but at least he was better than he was those last two first practices."

  • There were nine new walk-ons at practice today. Among the notable, Greenwich resident Beau Brunelli, a 5-foot-9, 193-pound defensive end; Clark Maturo, a 6-foot-4, 307-pound offensive lineman, Jon McEntee, a 6-2 quarterback from Fullerton, Calif., and Zac Zielinski, who is 6-7 and 354 pounds.

  • Among the walk-ons who won't be returning are Oliver Bernson, the son of Corbin Bernson who recently appeared on the celebrity edition of Family Feud.

  • Lawrence Green's playing days are over, but he took part in practice today snapping for the quarterbacks during a drill. He snapped the first one so hard, I thought Lorenzen broke his hand.

  • It was helmets and shirts today and for the next practice, then shells for two days, then full pads the rest of the way.

  • Edsall says he never has high expectations for the first day of practice. I would have believed that because he was relatively calm for about the first two hours. Then, for the final 20 minutes, he erupted like Mt. Vesuvius on the people of Pompeii. Heck, even the coach needs some time to get back into the swing of things. However, he may be trying to stave off donating to the swear jar. He ended his first scolding with "God bless America."

That's it for now. My apologies for the lack of detail, but I need to get to work on my story for the paper.