Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Tuesday notes: Free speech and the new media

It's Tuesday. That means a drive to Storrs and lots of news and notes.

  • We knew Zach Frazer wouldn't be available to the media this week. Randy Edsall got a little annoyed when someone asked for an explanation why. Visibly peeved for a moment, he wound up giving a reasonable and logical response. Then, he got a little huffy again for a few questions afterward (all of them unrelated to the Frazer situation), giving one word responses, before settling back down and finishing the extended media session strong.

  • Here's Randy's reasoning about Zach. "(Laughs) I tell you what. It's unbelievable. I'll deal with it because I know everyone wants to do a story about it and that'll be the big thing. Guys, what you've got to understand is this. The young man is making his first start this week. The only thing he needs to focus on is trying to get himself prepared for the game and to play the best game he can. It's my prerogative as a head coach to protect my players and allow them to prepare in the best way that I feel possible so they can be successful. And that's what I'm doing. And I told him that. And he appreciated that. Very much so. That's all it is. When the game is over, next week, you can talk to him all you want. This is what I feel is best for him and our program. Its not a slight to anyone. Just like you guys make decisions on what you want to write, you write it. I'm making the decision what's best for the young man and this program."

  • Asked if 10 minutes is too much to ask for a little Frazer time, Edsall said, "I know you're going to make a big thing of it no matter how I answer. But if I thought 10 minutes would be good, I would give you 10 minutes. I didn't think 10 minutes would be good, so I'm not doing it. But this will get blown out all over the newspapers tomorrow, the blogs, all that stuff. So good. I can take some of the attention off the starter this week. That's good. I like that."

  • I can't speak for everyone in the media, but I understand Edsall's logic of wanting to keep a player focused on a big game under extenuating circumstances. But Randy HAS to give us an explanation as to why he made the decision so we can relay to the reader. The new quarterback is the big story out of UConn camp this week. As reporters, we need to explain why there's no comments from Frazer this week. It's that simple.

And, I think Randy understands where we're coming from for the most part. He gets annoyed because he's anticipating getting slammed in the papers and blogs for not letting his quarterback speak when everyone wants to hear from him. Maybe it really is a no-win situation for him, and he'll be criticized no matter what. I, for one, can accept an explanation as long as it's logical and makes sense. If he was keeping Frazer quiet for the rest of the season, or something to that effect, maybe I feel differently. But we talked to Zach after the Louisville game, and we'll hear from him after the UNC game. I may be in the minority, but I can live with it. The irritated attitude from the coach for asking a question that has to be asked is a different story. To Randy's credit, as always, he didn't let his frustration with us linger.

  • The health of the defensive line is good. That's about the extent of the detail we got. But Polito, Lunn and Reyes are all on the depth chart.

  • Lorenzen is still out 6-8 weeks, but he'll travel with the team, watch film in practice and serve as a student-assistant coach during that span.

  • "(Frazer) can run if if he wants," Edsall said. "He's a better passer than Tyler was. He's an even-keel guy. He understands when you make a mistake, you let it go. That was evident on Friday night. He fumbled the snap, and had the turnover, but he never let it affect his play."

  • It wasn't decided until a few days ago that the UConn-North Carolina game would be televised on ESPN2. How much difference is it for a college football team to play on ESPN2 as opposed to ESPNU? About $150,000. "This game gives us a little extra money in our pocket," Edsall said. "Not mine, the university. It's about $150,000 for this game. To be on ESPNU you don't get anything."

  • The UConn coaches are constantly taping college football games, and scanning local newspapers and blogs of opposing teams to get any little information they can. "You get information off the TV you don't get on (game) film. Maybe something came up, maybe one of their guys said this. We tape every game, and go back and look to see if there's something we can pick up."

  • In the same regard, the coaches all give Edsall highlighted reports of various quotes from websites and blogs (both home and opposing) to keep him informed of what's being said. Among his recent decisions was telling Rob Lunn to take some things off his increasingly popular blog. "You have to be very careful what you say, how you say it and when you say it," Edsall said. "In 20 seconds, it could be up on the Internet, and it's there forever. Anyone can Google your name and find the blog. Maybe it's a potential employer, and there's some things on there that they might find offensive and prohibits you from getting a job someday. Plus, we don't want to provide bulletin board material down the road."

  • Nate Sherr will be making all the road trips from now on. Why? He's the only other long snapper. The Huskies were a Martin Bedard injury away from having no experienced long snapper at Louisville because Alex Polito didn't make the trip (ankle) and Rob Lunn got hurt. In fact, Lunn, who hurt an ankle, had been planning to take the pads off at halftime and watch from the sidelines in the second half Friday. Instead, the coaches forced him to keep them on just in case something happened.

  • Scott Lutrus faced a couple of NFL running backs in Ray Rice and Steve Slaton last year. He also tries to stop Donald Brown in practice everyday. How does the Donald compare with the NFL rookies? "He's right up there with them," Lutrus said. "Ray Rice is similar. He's a little bit bigger, but Don is faster. Strength-wise, they're about equal. Steve Slaton, I don't know if he got a little shiftier with his speed. Productivity-wise, they're about the same. All of those guys are hard to bring down, and he has a lot of the same qualities."

  • Lutrus was also asked what he thought about Lunn's blog. Lutrus is often a target of Lunn's comic barbs and one-liners (see his Meineke Car Care Bowl blog on uconnhuskies.com). "I think it's bull****," Lutrus said, selling mock anger for a second before breaking down and laughing. "No. I'm trying to get him back one of these days. Maybe I'll start my own blog, soon."


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