Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Tuesday notes by the campfire

Still getting over a cold and horrid cough that's plagued me since Thursday. I may have hacked up my spleen during Randy Edsall's conference call with state media on Saturday (yeah, that was me, guys), and spent all day Sunday and most of yesterday laying on the couch like an inanimate carbon rod. Feeling better today, just popped another Halls' menthol lyptus and there's lots of notes.

Just so you know, I'm typing this (as always) in the bowels of Gampel Pavilion, just outside the door to the women's basketball team players' lounge. And as always, it sounds like a slumber party is happening in there. Today there was an extended sing-a-long, followed by 10 minutes of giggling and stomping. And I think I smell s'mores. No wonder every female hoopster in the country wants to play here.

  • So much time has been devoted to Larry Taylor's "unfair catch" from last season's game, but few people (aside from the UConn faithful) seem to recall that the referee's evened the score that very night. Let me refresh your memory, rest of the college football world. UConn punted deep into Louisville territory, and the kick clearly grazed a Louisville player before hitting the turf. That made it a live ball. UConn fell on the ball in the end zone (late edit: It was the 1-yard line, still..), and it should have been a touchdown. But the refs' missed it, there was no official video review of the play, and Louisville retained possession. Seven gift points on one punt, seven (highly likely) stolen points on another. Perhaps that's why there was no "Justice" marketing campaign coming out of Louisville. Of course, we know the Cardinals' athletic department would never be that petty (looking at you, Temple).

  • There was a media swarm awaiting the wisdom of The Kentucky Hammer today. Television cameras and reporters gathered with baited breath for punter Desi Cullen, who returns to his hometown of Louisville for the final time as a college player. You'd have thought Barack Obama was scheduled to walk in to the cafeteria. In case you didn't know, Desi is a media fave. He's personable, funny and ever so slightly off his rocker. He can fill a reporters' notebook without even opening his mouth. But the media waited and waited. Desi, it turns out, had a class after his noon lift. And we're all a little less cheerful for it.

  • Andre Dixon is ready to play. Randy Edsall again wants to find ways to use Jordan Todman. Edsall also wants to preserve Donald Brown from another 34-carry day. But if the going gets tough, and there's no one else to rely on, expect him to carry the load once again.

  • We have another mystery injury. Someone has "an ankle". But Edsall said a sudden case of selective amnesia caused him to forget who it was. He did say the player should be OK.

  • Steve Kragthorpe called Tyler Lorenzen "The Tim Tebow of the Big East" because of all the designed runs in the UConn offense for the quarterback. "I really feel that way," Kragthorpe said of the comparison. "He's a big, strong physical runner. I saw him at Big East Media Day, and he looked like a dag gum linebacker. (UConn) does a lot of things like Florida does to put the ball in his hands and run things with him that you normally don't see, like quarterback power, quarterback wrap, quarterback counter. There's definitely a designed quarterback run package they use with Tyler, and they should because he's a very good runner." I had the pleasure of letting Lorenzen know what Kragthorpe said about him. Tyler laughed, "What? I don't know about that."

  • I believe that's the first time I've had to write the phrase 'dag gum' in my life. All I need now is something a grizzled 19th-century prospector might say, like "con sarn it", and my career as a journalist will be complete.

  • Offensive lineman Moe Petrus has been the breakout star of the offensive line. Edsall says he brings athleticism, aggressiveness and toughness to the line. It's been contagious. The line has been tremendous so far. More on Moe in the paper, but you should know a couple of things about him now. Born and raised near Montreal, he followed the Montreal Canadiens run in the playoffs last season but has only been on ice skates twice (and one of those was in Charlotte before the bowl game last season). Also, he was a defensive player his whole life and only switched to the o-line when an injury on his Canadian team forced him to fill in for a half season. Safe to say he's picked up the trade fairly quick.

  • Louisville isn't a bad team -- certainly better than the opening game stinker against Kentucky might have showed. Hunter Cantwell is a good passing quarterback (remember him filling in for Brian Brohm at the Runway back in December 2005?) with a strong running game to keep defenses honest. No longer a "substitute teacher", he's a full-time classroom guy now (Kragthorpe's metaphor, not mine) and he is continuing to improve.

  • Lorenzen received a box filled with sausage links produced from his family's company in Iowa. He then disappeared into the kitchen area of the cafeteria today with them. I thought he was going to pull on a chef's hat and cook them up for the players and media today (heck, the media luncheon is a sausage fest anyway). Alas, the sausage...or, saw-SEECH, as my paisans call it...was for some class project. Maybe next week.

  • Rob Lunn is easing off the gas pedal on his blog, "Thoughts from a Fat White Guy". Rob, of course, is blessed with a wicked sense of humor as well as a true gift for writing. His blog was mostly satire, but gained steam last week on fan message boards, including that of Baylor. Rob says his dad, the esteemed Judge Bob Lunn (who is up for re-election to the Supreme Court in upstate New York), provided some sound advice about making sure he's not supplying bulletin board material for opponents or distracting his own team. Rob agreed, as did Edsall, who didn't know about the blog until a few days ago. So Rob did some minor editing on a previous post or two, and says he's going to keep the focus on the Huskies for the rest of the year. Rob is also sticking to his story that the photo of a shirtless Matt Damon he posted on the blog is actually him from his senior year of high school.

On a side note, several scouts were at the Shenkman Center today, boning up of film of UConn's pro prospects, no doubt. Is it odd that scouts, be it football or baseball, insist on wearing clothing with the insignia of the team they work for everywhere they go? Just seems tacky to me. OK, that's all. I gotta go. Now where's my 1950's-style fedora with the "PRESS" placard in the brim band?

7 Comments:

Anonymous Sean O said...

I say kudos to the Temple marketing department! I've never enjoyed an awful victory so much. We just walked around the parking lot saying "Justice" to any Temple fan who booed us or threw a one-finger salute at us. We even stole a Justice sign...my friend has it proudly displayed in his basement.

September 23, 2008 3:36 PM 
Blogger TigerCard said...

"I believe that's the first time I've had to write the phrase 'dag gum' in my life."
You've obviously never had the opportunity to cover a Bobby Bowden press conference. Just about every other sentence has a "dadgum" in it.

September 23, 2008 11:03 PM 
Blogger Aficionado said...

Well, Kragthorpe essentially is saying that Louisville will key on the run and make Lorenzen beat them deep. Can UCONN pass its way to victory? Not likely, so can they run it down their throats anyway at this point in the program's development? Maybe.

"Close to the vest" football has been a necessary evil given that UCONN is still reaching up a bit in terms of athleticism, size, and speed (compared to Pac-10, Big 10, etc. schools). We are getting real close though and hopefully the game plan diversifies as the skill positions and roster depth gets to a par with a Virginia Tech or an Arizona State. If the current conservatism gives UCONN its best chance to go to the Sun Bowl or equivalent a few years in a row, then the strategy is working and more excellent athletes will enroll and get us to that next level (Citrus, Gator, or possibly BCS bowl), with the passing attack necessary to do so.

September 24, 2008 6:52 AM 
Anonymous Sean O said...

Aficionado - I think UConn has quality BCS-type talent everywhere except WR. The O-line has been tremendous, obviously the RBs are top notch and Tyler when he's not throwing picks is an above-average QB. I get the feeling Tyler is pressing because the WRs are just not getting open.

UConn's defense has always been the strong suit and if they can ever figure out how to stop a mobile QB, they'd be one of the top units in the country. They do great against traditonal passers, but guys like Grothe, White and the Baylor QB KILL UConn.

September 24, 2008 11:56 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sean O, I'd go along with your talent assessment (versus my "real close") if the big east overall wasn't so fragile. Would the O-line be so effective against an SEC or Pac 10 schedule? I agree with Aficionado. It seems to me that the "median team" in other BCS conferences (UCLA, Michgan State, Arkansas, Clemson) have three or four Darius Butlers athletically in their secondary, not one as most big east teams do. The same can be said about interior linemen on both sides of the ball in terms of the combination of size and speed. I'm full of praise as to UCONN's systematic progress and fully justify Edsal's game plan and non-conference scheduling strategy - "reduce the opportunities of exposing your physical disadvantages, keep working doggedly, build more risk and reward over time, be patient, fair to good results will happen now, and great things will happen by 2010 and beyond." See you at the Sun Bowl this year and at a BCS bowl in 3-5 years. By the time ND and Tennessee are on the schedule in the same year, we'll beat them both!

September 25, 2008 7:12 AM 
Anonymous Vinny from East Haven said...

"UConn has quality BCS-type talent everywhere except WR" ~ sean o.

Can someone please drug-test this guy?

September 25, 2008 9:13 AM 
Anonymous Vinny from East Haven said...

Wait a minute, let's drug test 'anonymous' too for this gem:

"By the time ND and Tennessee are on the schedule in the same year, we'll beat them both!"

September 25, 2008 4:09 PM 

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