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."


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