Saturday, November 29, 2008

Pitt at Noon

The regular-season finale against Pittsburgh Saturday will kickoff at noon, and be televised on ESPN, a UConn spokesman confirmed Saturday. Early forcasts call for temperatures in the 30s. That midday sun should boost it into the toasty upper 30s for kickoff. It'll still be frigid, but you can bet it will feel a lot better than low 30s for a night-time kickoff.

On a side note, methinks Pitt will be playing for a spot in the Sun Bowl with a win. UConn seems destined for Toronto win or lose.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Runway Challenge, Thanksgiving edition

Love to eat turkey........Love to eat tur-hur-key.

It's official. I'm jammed full of turkey. I also have Adam Sandler's "Thanksgiving Song" etched into my brain. Suppose that's better than the songs usually running through my head, like the theme from "Blues Clues" or some other mind-numbing kiddie show my one-year old watches between 6-8 a.m. every morning. Sorry. I'm losing you already with children's television references. Back to business.

Hope everyone out there had a nice holiday. I did the usual. Covered a high school football game in the morning (Foran 44, Law 28), banged out a story and headed to my sister's for an insanely large dinner with the family. The little guy even got to sample his first taste of turkey, along with peas, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie and anything else he could get his hands on. The kid can eat. You can't feed him fast enough. He grabs fist fulls of mashed potatoes with both hands to ram into his mouth in the downtime while the spoon is being reloaded. To be honest, I do the same thing at the weekly media luncheons at UConn.

A few more random thoughts:

  • There are tons of Christmas movies, but almost no Thanksgiving movies. Perhaps that's because "Trains, Planes and Automobiles" set the bar too high and is impossible to top. John Candy, Steve Martin and director John Hughes all in their primes. A formula for hilarity. "Those aren't pillows!"
  • Netflixed "Forgetting Sarah Marshall", another Judd Apatow movie. Aside from the scene with full-frontal male nudity (an Apatow trend even more disturbing and unfunny than the Farrelly Brothers' gross-out "humor"), it was OK. I mean, I wouldn't watch it again. But it provided a few laughs. I think. Maybe I should have been offended by the whole thing. Apparently, I need an absent third party to tell me what's humorous and what's morally reprehensible these days.

  • Not crazy about the new skin for the blog? Me neither. Don't fret. We'll get used to it.

  • I hate you, Toyota Motor Company.

Enough. There's a turkey sandwich calling my name. Here are the picks.

Game 1: North Carolina (-7.5) over DUKE

Game 2: Maryland (+6.5) over BOSTON COLLEGE

Game 3: VIRGINIA TECH (-7.5) over Virginia

Game 4: Syracuse (+22) over CINCINNATI

Game 5: TEXAS TECH (-21.5) over Baylor

Game 6: Oklahoma (-7) over OKLAHOMA STATE

Game 7: Georgia Tech (+7.5) over GEORGIA

Game 8: ALABAMA (-14.5) over Auburn

Game 9: Florida (-16.5) over FLORIDA STATE

Game 10: Oregon (+3) over OREGON STATE

Game 11: Notre Dame (+32) over SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

Last week's results

1. vinny from east haven 11-2

sammy 11-2

3. kevin 10-3

4. caleb 8-5

5. chip 7-6

gary 7-6

den 7-6

dougo 7-6

9. ian 6-7

wil 6-7

uconnhuskies86 6-7

12. JZ 5-8

sean o 5-8

rich 5-8

15. pete 4-9


1. Dougo 82

Caleb Mandrake 82

3. Vinny from East Haven 81

4. Chip 77

JZ 77

6. Ian 75

Kevin 75

8. Pete 74

9. Rich 73

10. Sammy 68

11. Sean O 64

12. Den of Stupidity 63

13. Wil 60

14. DanO 56

Gary 56

16. uconnhuskies 86 55

17. Big Donny Bertolotti 29

18. Stretch 21

19. HuskyBarker 5

Get your picks in by clicking "comments" below.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Toronto or Birmingham, anyone?

I updated my bowl projections in a story for Monday's Register. Here it is.

By Chip Malafronte, Register Staff
TAMPA , Fla. — A disappointing loss at South Florida on Sunday night destroyed the UConn football team's chance of a New Year's Day date at the Orange Bowl.The Huskies were eliminated from title contention in the Big East following their 17-13 loss at Raymond James Stadium, their dreams of a BCS bid put on hold until another season.

But having already reached the magic seven-win barrier, UConn will be playing in a bowl game somewhere in December or January. The question is ... where? If the final two weeks of the regular season shake out as expected in the Big East, the Huskies may be playing for a spot in the International Bowl in Toronto when they face Pittsburgh in the regular-season finale on Dec. 6 at Rentschler Field.

First, here's a look at bowl scenarios for other conference teams and Notre Dame, part of the Big East's bowl contract with the Gator and Sun Bowls.

Cincinnati can clinch a BCS spot by defeating last-place Syracuse on Saturday. Prediction: Orange Bowl for the Bearcats.

Notre Dame, should it pull off the upset over Southern California in its final game, will likely be selected for the Gator Bowl. But the chances of knocking off the far superior Trojans are remote. If the Irish lose, and Rutgers beats Louisville on Dec. 4, Notre Dame is ineligible to be taken for either the Gator or Sun over six Big East teams with seven wins. Prediction: The Irish finish 6-6 and wind up in a non-Big East affiliated bowl. The Gator opts for a Big XII team. The Sun takes West Virginia.

West Virginia has games left with Pittsburgh and South Florida and must win while hoping Syracuse upsets Cincinnati to gain the league's BCS bid. It's unlikely. Prediction: The Mountaineers, with perhaps the largest fan base in the league, will end up at the Sun Bowl in El Paso as long as it splits the final two games. They could get an invite even with two losses.

South Florida, having won its seventh game Sunday, is expected to be invited to the St. Petersburg Bowl on Dec. 20. The bowl, in its first year, would love the hometown Bulls to boost attendance. The league's other bowl games will comply. Prediction: St. Pete.

Rutgers faces Louisville in its final game Dec. 4 and needs a win to reach seven wins to assure it can be considered for any of the bowls with conference tie-ins and keep Notre Dame out of the Sun Bowl. If the Scarlet Knights win, as expected, it would be in consideration for the Meineke Car Care Bowl in Charlotte, the International Bowl and the Bowl in Birmingham, Ala. Prediction: The Meineke Bowl snags Rutgers, along with the New York television market and the Scarlet Knights' large traveling fan base.

Louisville needs to defeat Rutgers on the road to get to six wins and become bowl eligible. Since six-win teams can't be placed in conference-affiliated bowl games ahead of seven-win teams, the Cardinals would be sent to any game with an opening. Prediction: Struggling Louisville fails to get the sixth win and stays home for the holidays.

That leaves UConn and Pittsburgh, both with seven wins at the moment. The Panthers could get a leg up by upsetting West Virginia in the Backyard Brawl on Friday night, making Pitt a bit more appealing for the Meineke Bowl. More likely, Pitt will come to East Hartford on Dec. 6 with an identical record as the Huskies, both overall and in conference.The winner should be considered the favorite for Toronto on Jan. 3. And the loser, as long as Rutgers gets its seventh win, is likely headed to Birmingham.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Postgame from Ray Jay

Time is short, and most of you are probably in bed by now anyway. Here's a brief rundown of the postgame:
  • Edsall said Greg Lloyd, who is dealing with "personal issues", is "doubtful" to play against Pittsburgh on Dec. 6.
  • Lorenzen and Robbie Frey both took shots. Lorenzen got hit hard on the final play of the game, and came up woozy. "I was out of it," Lorenzen said. "Zach Hurd was trying to get me to stay down, and I was trying to regain my balance." Tyler seemed OK after the game.
  • Ellis Gaulden on his touchdown catch off the double-reverse flea-flicker, "It took forever for that ball to come down." Oh, yes. It did.
  • With the victory, USF all but assured itself a spot in the St. Petersburg Bowl. That's out of the mix. Notre Dame will likely take the Sun Bowl. The Meineke Bowl isn't going to pass up West Virginia. So UConn, Pittsburgh and Rutgers will slug it out for Toronto and Birmingham. Since Rutgers was in Toronto last year, I think they'll go to Birmingham (as long as it beats Louisville...if Rutgers loses and finishes 6-6, then it can't take Birmingham from a seven-win team). That means the winner of the UConn-Pitt game could be for Toronto, with the loser being shipped off to whatever available bowl slot there is. Still confusing. Still a crapshoot.
  • Penalties and problems in kickoff coverage certainly didn't help UConn. "We ended up making more mistakes and giving up the short field, and we couldn't gain the short field," Edsall said.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Lloyd left behind

Linebacker Greg Lloyd didn't make the trip due to personal reasons.

Sunday night football

Greeting from the Pirate Ship, also known as Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. It's one of the cooler NFL stadiums, complete with a pirate ship and faux Carribean village. Temperatures are in the mid-60s right now, but you'd think you were in northern Maine the way the natives are acting. Everyone is in winter jackets, collars up and hands stuffed into the pockets. It was 19 degrees when I left Hartford yesterday. That's cold.

Sunday night college football makes about as much sense playing golf in New England in December. I just don't see the point. But, we're here. Not sure if the fans will be, though. Expect a smattering in this expansive stadium.

Went out to get a bite to eat last night, and saw Hulk Hogan walking out of The Palm. The Hulkster looks, well, old. He can barely walk. But don't shed a tear. He had his teenage blonde girlfriend hanging all over him as he waited for the valet to bring him his bright yellow Mustang. I was excited to see him, though. I was pro wrestling freak when Hulkamania was at its peak in the mid-1980s. Saw him beat "Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff at the New Haven Coliseum in 1984, and it was one of the more exciting nights of my life at that point (hey, I was only 12).

He was the ultimate showman. Unfortunately, he's become a pretty pathetic figure with the way he's handled his family situation recently, most notably with his son.

Not much pregame news. Matt Grothe was warming up and will play. No quarterback controversy at UConn this week, so check back for the postgame notes.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Main course: notes and Runway Challenge picks

Thursday updates:
  • Steve Brouse won't play Sunday. He's practiced, but isn't ready to play in a game, Edsall said.
  • Mike Cox will make the trip. He's been practicing about two weeks, but will only be used in an emergency in nickle packages.
  • A third bye week has one advantage. The players will be able to spend Thanksgiving at home for the first time in several years. Edsall is giving his guys three days to see their families for the holiday.
  • Matt Grothe hasn't practiced this week, but all indications are he'll be on the field Sunday. "This is a copycat league," Edsall joked. "Jim (Leavitt) is trying to pull the same thing on me." Well, not quite. Edsall says he expects Grothe, a fierce competitor, to play. So do we.
On to the picks:

Game 1: RUTGERS (-19.5) over Army - I poked fun at a New Jersey writer who asked every coach on the Big East conference call last month if they felt a sleeping giant had been awoken after Rutgers' rather unimpressive 12-10 win over UConn. In hindsight, about all those condescending jokes I made at your the words of Rosanne RosannaDanna, "umm, never mind."

Game 2: Pittsburgh (+5) over CINCINNATI - UConn's slim BCS hopes hinge on Dave Wannestadt. Pack the parka and hunting socks. Toronto is a little chilly in January.

Game 3: Boston College (+2) over WAKE FOREST - Eagles need to win final two games to reach ACC championship game.

Game 4: OHIO STATE (-20.5) over Michigan - Rich Rodriguez says some Michigan fans need 'to get a life', citing bigger problems in this country, like the economy. This coming from a guy who cost the school $5 million this year to deliver the worst record in the 130-year history of the winningest college football program ever -- not to mention 106,000 paying customers who watch the Wolverines get buried every home game. Rich, either donate part of your salary back for the lousy job this year, or shut your yapper regarding the fans.

Game 5: Florida State (-1.5) over MARYLAND - Terps have home field advantage and control their own destiny in race to ACC title game. But the Brawlin' Seminoles are a little too good.

Game 6: NOTRE DAME (-20) over Syracuse - Syracuse athletic director Dr. Daryl Gross has narrowed his list of potential coaches to 450, with reasons why they'd be perfect for the Orange. It includes Lane Kiffin (transition from worst NFL organization to worst BCS program makes him a natural), Matthew McConaughey (did a nice job leading Marshall back after that tragic plane crash) and Ara Parseghian (he may be 85 and retired from coaching 34 years ago, but he's still only three years older than Joe, he can tell the inspirational story of that Rudy kid. Brings tears to the good doc's eyes every time.).

Game 7: Texas Tech (+6.5) over OKLAHOMA - Tech coach Mike Leach almost smiled after knocking off Texas a few weeks back. He may have to make another attempt Saturday.

Game 8: Michigan State (+14.5) over PENN STATE - Since I already made my weekly crack about JoePa, a few random thoughts. I was thoroughly disappointed in "That Metal Show" on VH1 Classic, although it's nice to know Lita Ford is still alive. She hasn't aged nearly as bad as I would have expected, either. Also, here's an addictive web page provided by our good friend Leigh Torbin. For all you rock fans out there, try it and let me know how you did. Leigh claims he scored an 85, which, for anyone but Leigh (who has a Rain Man-like knowledge of all things) is impossible. I got 59, and my brain nearly exploded in the process.

Game 9: Brigham Young (+7.5) over UTAH - Sugar Bowl has an interesting choice to make if the Utes win this one: pick the Big East champs or take Utah as an at-large. In any other year, the choice is easy. But Big East parity puts Utes in Sugar.

Game 10: Iowa (-6) over MINNESOTA - Three straight losses and they're back to watchin' Gopher hockey on Lake Wabasha.

Game 11: West Virginia (-7) over LOUISVILLE - The song that best sums up the Steve Kragthorpe era so far: Tom Petty's "Free Falling." We still think he can turn it around, however.

Game 12: Connecticut (+3) over SOUTH FLORIDA - Jim Leavitt on quarterback Matt Grothe, who's been in a protective boot the past couple of days, "Warrior. Competitor. Matt. One leg. Play. Sunday. Good."

Game 13: HARVARD (-5) over Yale - Think the BCS system leaves a lot to be desired? "The Game", as usual, has serious implications in the Ivy League standings as a four-way tie at the top looms. Of course, the league doesn't allow member schools to compete in the post-season.

Last week's results
1. JZ 12-3
2. Chip 11-4
ian 11-4
4. caleb 10-5
5. rich 9-6
sean o 9-6
dougo 9-6
8. uconnhuskies86 8-7
big donny b 8-7
dano 8-7
pete 8-7
12. gary 7-8
wil 7-8
kevin 7-8
15. vinny from east haven 6-9
16. sammy 5-10

1. Dougo 75
2. Caleb Mandrake 74
3. JZ 72
4. Vinny from East Haven 70
Pete 70
6. chip 69
ian 69
8. Rich 68
9. kevin 65
10. Sean O 59
11. Den of Stupidity 56
Sammy 56
DanO 56
14. Wil 54
15. Gary 49
uconnhuskies 86 49
17. Big Donny Bertolotti 29
18. Stretch 21
19. HuskyBarker 5

Get your picks in by clicking "comments" below.

A Thursday appetizer

The weekly picks and news from our Thursday call with Randy Edsall will be up between 1 and 2 p.m. To tide you over, here are my updated bowl projections.

Since Notre Dame will surely get to seven wins this weekend, the Gator and Sun Bowls are no longer an option for a Big East team. South Florida seems a natural to play in the St. Petersburg Bowl, but I don't think they'll beat UConn on Saturday, meaning they probably won't get seven wins. Rutgers, with seven wins seeming likely, moves into the St. Pete Bowl and USF gets sent to whatever opening there may be. Rutgers could also also be an option for Birmingham, but not Toronto since it was just there last season.

Spoke with Don Loding, a rep from the International Bowl this week. He said they like UConn a lot, but feels there's still a lot that can happen in the next few weeks. Also, Loding said the International Bowl and the Bowl work in conjunction with each other when selecting from the Big East to get the best matchups for both bowls. They pick fourth/fifth (after the BCS, Gator/Sun and Meineke). Hard to envision Meineke passing on West Virginia, if available, or even Cincinnati (barring a total meltdown). So, expect UConn and Pitt to wind up in Toronto and Birmingham in some way, shape or form. Unless Pitt wins the whole enchilada.

Maybe it is still too early for predictions. Ah, what the hell.

UCONN (7-3, 3-2)
11/23: at South Florida (W)
12/6: Pittsburgh (L)
Predicted record: 8-4 (4-3)

CINCINNATI (8-2, 4-1)
11/22: Pittsburgh (W)
11/29: Syracuse (W)
12/6: at Hawaii (W)
Predicted record: 11-2 (6-1)

PITTSBURGH (7-2, 3-1)
11/22: at Cincinnati (L)
11/28: West Virginia (L)
12/6: at UConn (W)
Predicted record: 8-4 (4-3)

SYRACUSE (2-8, 1-5)
11/22: at Notre Dame (L)
11/29: at Cincinnati (L)
Predicted record: 2-10 (1-6)

WEST VIRGINIA (6-3, 3-1)
11/22: at Louisville (W)
11/28: at Pittsburgh (W)
12/6: South Florida (W)
Predicted record: 9-3 (6-1)

SOUTH FLORIDA (6-4, 1-4)
11/23: UConn (L)
12/6: at West Virginia (L)
Predicted record: 6-6 (1-6)

LOUISVILLE (5-5, 1-4)
11/22: West Virginia (L)
12/4: at Rutgers (L)
Predicted record: 5-7 (1-6)

RUTGERS (5-5, 4-2)
11/22: Army (W)
12/4: Louisville (W)
Predicted record: 7-5 (5-2)

Which would make the Big East standings:
1. Cincinnati 11-2 (6-1)
2. West Virginia 9-3 (6-1)
3. Rutgers 7-5 (5-2)
4. Pitt 8-4 (4-3)
UConn 8-4 (4-3)
6. USF 6-6 (1-6)
Louisville 5-7 (1-6)
Syracuse 2-10 (1-6)

And the Big East bowl shake-out (this is also the order the bowls choose)
Orange Bowl: Cincinnati vs. Miami
Gator Bowl: Notre Dame vs. Maryland
Meineke Car Care Bowl: West Virginia vs. Georgia Tech
International Bowl: UConn vs. Western Michigan Bowl: Pittsburgh vs. Troy (SEC doesn't have enough to fill slot)
St. Petersburg Bowl: Rutgers vs. Southern Miss
Independence Bowl: South Florida vs. Bowling Green

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Tuesday lunch: the happiest place on Earth.

Your Tuesday media luncheon rundown:

  • At least Randy Edsall has a sense of humor (which we already knew). He opened today's press conference by saying, "Jiminy Cricket! There'a a lot of people here.", then ended by saying he had to go get his nose checked. That had a little something to do with him being referred to as Coach Pinocchio by Jeff Jacobs of the Hartford Courant in his column after Edsall's quarterback ruse on Saturday. Jacobs had a good laugh about Randy's comments, too. Personally, I think Edsall should have ended his session by saying, "Gepetto! I can't believe it! I'm a real boy at last!" That would have been comedy gold.

  • Later, Edsall said he didn't lie last week. "I never said Tyler was never going to play, so I didn't lie." He also said one of Syracuse's beat writers told him after the game Saturday that he asked Greg Robinson if he thought Lorenzen would play, and Robinson said no. Robinson said otherwise on the Big East conference call Monday (he said he figured Lorenzen would be in there as well). But, G-Rob's mind has been on other things the last two days, so maybe he's mistaken.

  • The Syracuse media maintains Edsall is still atop the short list to replace Greg Robinson, despite what Edsall and his agent said to the contrary yesterday. Edsall's statement and his agent's statement were both carefully worded. Edsall said he's not interested in being a candidate. He didn't say he wasn't interested in being coach. His agent told the New York Times "Randy isn't interested in returning to his alma mater to coach the football team at this particular time." So, Edsall was asked today if he is saying no to the Syracuse job, or if he meant he's simply saying no until after the season's over. "I made the statement yesterday. The statement says what it says, and that's it. I want to talk about South Florida. I dealt with all that yesterday."

  • Practicing outdoors in 40-degree weather won't do UConn much good this week. They'll be inside, where the temperature will be set at 75 to mimic the Tampa heat.

  • One true freshman Edsall mentioned today is Ryan Wirth, who will enter the mix at defensive tackle next season. Wirth, a New Jersey native who prepped at Cheshire Academy, is being redshirted.

  • Edsall said the Sunday game doesn't bother him, aside from the fact that the team gets back to Hartford at 4:30 a.m. Monday morning. UConn only agreed to play on Sunday because there are no classes Monday (UConn is on Thanksgiving break). "If we had classes the next day, I don't think we would have done it. But it's business as usual in terms of the preparation. The good thing is we get an extra day."

  • The Huskies won't be staying at the same hotel as they did in 2006, when a group of players purchased beer at the gas station next door and brought it back to the hotel room. But it's a different mentality with this group, Edsall said. "It's the attitude, and the commitment. We try to recruit guys with character. ... Who understand the team is above the individual. That's the big thing. Guys who want to do the right thing."

  • Edsall finally admitted Cody Brown is playing up to his expectations. Brown is being used in different capacities on the end. "He's a tremendous athlete, and he's playing very, very well. He's playing with the consistency I want him to play with, and I want him to finish out playing at that level because he's been a force for us on defense."

  • Steve Brouse is practicing this week, doing more things on special teams, not at tight end. He's in the mix to play special teams Saturday.

  • Darius Butler has a partial tear of a knee ligament. It's won't require surgery. In fact, Butler says he had the same injury on his right knee in 2005, though it happened late in the season and he didn't miss any games. He says he's targeting the Pitt game to return.

  • Jordan Todman is fast, but says Donald Brown is faster. Brown agrees. But the two are close enough that it might take a head-to-head race in the offseason to determine it for sure. I can bet there are a few UConn fans who'd like to see that.

  • Speaking of Todman, his 50-yard touchdown run on Saturday came on a reverse play that Edsall said went for a touchdown every single time in practice. Well, not quite every time, Lorenzen said. But close. "Some of the scout team guys knew it was coming, so they'd cheat," Lorenzen said. "So you'd think 'dang, I don't know if this will work'. But we actually ran it, and it worked." Lorenzen is required to make a block on the play. "I really didn't do much, the guy just kind of played paddy-cake with me. I looked over and Jordan was gone."

  • No Jim Leavitt for the Connecticut media today. Disappointing. I can't help it, I love listening to Leavitt speak. Well, speak is a bit generous. His one-word answers and cliches take interviews to unprecedented levels of awkwardness. And I'm being sincere when I say the man, whose press conferences rarely last more than a minute or two, is still fascinating to listen to.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Edsall not interested in Syracuse

Looks like Randy Edsall says he is not interested in being a candidate at Syracuse. Nice job by Chuck Banning of The Day.

Quite frankly, Edsall had to say something this week or else it would fester and become a distraction. Is this the end? No. Edsall's name will continue to be linked with job openings, probably for as long as he's having success at UConn.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Robinson out at Syracuse, interest in Edsall?

A Sunday update:
  • Greg Robinson was fired today by Syracuse athletic director Daryl Gross, according to a report in the Syracuse Post-Standard. The story says Robinson will stay on to coach the final two games.
  • Randy Edsall was watching film this afternoon, and heard the news of Greg Robinson's firing from the Connecticut media. The Syracuse Post-Standard claims sources in saying Edsall is "very interested" in the position. Here's what he had to say when asked about his interest in the job, "I don't talk about personnel issues, and never will. I'm just concerned about coaching this football team here and making them better and getting focused and ready for South Florida. That's it." Take that quote for what it's worth, but it's not exactly a ringing endorsement of his commitment to staying in Storrs.
  • No injuries from Saturday.
  • Twyon Martin and Kendall Reyes have both earned starting jobs at defensive tackle, moving ahead of Rob Lunn and Alex Polito on the depth chart for South Florida next week.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Postgame notes: Randy's ruse

Lots to cover from the postgame.
  • Randy wasn't exactly contrite for intentionally misleading the media in regard to Tyler Lorenzen this week. On Thursday, his response to whether Tyler was going to be in the mix was, "I don't know." He then said, "it's still Cody and Zach. Or Zach and Cody. However you want to put it." Lorenzen said by Thursday, he knew his foot was healthy enough that he'd be able to play. After Saturday's game, Edsall said, "“I guess I could apologize, but I’m not going to apologize. I knew he was going to play, but I didn’t want it out there. When you play Tyler your gameplan changes. I’m sorry, but it’s a competitive game and you’re judged on winds and losses. I’m not going to give up anything that might give up our competitive edge.”

  • Edsall's competitive edge went as far as having Frazer take snaps with the starting offense during pregame warm-ups. And after the coin toss, Lorenzen went to get his arm loose again. Frazer followed him and warmed up as well. I would not have been shocked if Edsall had all four quarterbacks in uniform tonight begin to jog out with the offense, before three stopped and broke off headed back to the sidelines.

  • Edsall said his misdirection was OK because there are no rules in the Big East regarding injury reports. Perhaps that's something that will be addressed in the off-season, he said. "I try to use every competitive advantage I can," Edsall said. "It's the nature of the business sometimes. If you were on my side, you'd do the same darn thing. If I was on your side, I'd do the same thing you're doing (questioning why Edsall couldn't be more honest)."

  • Lorenzen wasn't really called upon to do much against Syracuse. He was 7-for-15 passing for 70 yards, and ran seven times for 10 yards. But he didn't turn the ball over, and continued his winning ways. He's now 15-4 as a starter, and carries himself well in the huddle. "“It’s just the leadership he brings,” Donald Brown said. “He so calm, cool and collected in the huddle and he keeps everyone else grounded. We have confidence in all our quarterbacks, but Tyler is the most experienced of all of them. Experience is what separates you in this game.”

  • Lorenzen said he was "kinda" cleared medically last week, and knew he'd be in the mix heading into this week of practice. His foot held up, he was whipped back into shape by strength coach Jerry Martin, and could do everything needed of him. Tyler will be starting every game from here on out, Edsall said.

  • If Cody Brown isn't the best defensive end in the Big East, then there's an incredible player out there I haven't seen yet. He was the best player on the field. Again.

  • The Syracuse media pressed Edsall on the state of his alma mater, and tried to get him to say things he never would say about the sorry state of the once-proud Orange program. At least one question, asked by a video cameraman, was completely absurd. He asked Edsall what he said to Greg Robinson when they shook hands after the game, then followed up with something to the effect of, "Do you envision yourself on that sideline next season?" Edsall's answer was, "That's not appropriate. That's not appropriate at all." What did this guy really think Edsall would say in that situation?

  • The two weeks to prepare for Syracuse really benefitted UConn. On his interception and touchdown return, Robert McClain reacted like he had bugged Cameron Dantley in the huddle. "We've been studying film for two weeks," McClain said. "I knew (Dantley) ran a lot of three steps, and I knew to read the quarterback's high shoulder. I read the quarterback and I read the receiver running slant all as it was happening after the snap."

  • Donald Brown passed Terry Caulley as the all-time career rushing leader at UConn.

Your starting quarterback...

Tyler Lorenzen.

Pefect day for indoor football

Greetings from Syracuse University and Industrial Park, the gloomiest place in the continental U.S. -- well, at least whenever I'm here. It's been dark and rainy all day, and I don't think I've seen the sun shine in my many visits to the central New York region.

No worries. The weather is fantastic under the dome. There's no better press box view in college football than at the Carrier Dome, where we're 20 rows from field level in a fairly spacious, open-air facility. Beats the heck out of the standard vacuum-sealed press boxes about a half-mile up from the field.

No word on who the starting quarterback is yet. But Darius Butler is out on the field throwing the ball around. Maybe it's him. Butler is still hurt, but he doesn't have much of a limp and is zipping the ball pretty well. I see Cody Endres having a pass with Johnny McEntee, and Tyler Lorenzen was out earlier for a few minutes before heading back into the locker room. Haven't seen Zach Frazer yet. I'll let you know who it is when I find out. My gut feeling is that Zach is the guy.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Runway Challenge Week 12

To update from our Thursday call with Edsall: there's nothing to update. No injuries this week, the quarterback situation is the same. A game-time announcement. "It's still Cody and Zach. Or Zach and Cody. However you want to put it." Tyler Lorenzen likely isn't part of the equation, even though Edsall's answer was "I don't know" when asked.

Here's my updated bowl projections. Things have changed slightly, and I think Cincinnati will get the Big East's BCS bid. UConn is looking like a god bet for either Birmingham or Toronto. Toronto gets first crack, and I'm betting they'll take Pitt only because it should be the higher-ranked team. Obviously, the Huskies need to beat Syracuse Saturday, because if they finish 6-6 (2-5 in conference) they could be the team being shipped off to whatever non-Big East bowl has a vacancy.

A key game on Saturday is Notre Dame-Navy. If the Irish win, it gets them bowl eligible and, more importantly, puts them in line for the all-important seventh win against Syracuse the following week. Some things to keep in mind: there is nothing contractually to keep the Gator Bowl from taking Notre Dame as long as the Irish are bowl eligible. I've gotten emails stating there are conflicting reports about this, but I have confirmed that there is no two win rule, no clauses.

However, Gator Bowl president Rick Catlett said today in the Omaha World-Herald, "we'd never take a 6-6 Notre Dame team." But if the Irish get to 7-5, despite the Gator having never taken a five-loss team before, I think there's no doubt they go to Jacksonville. If Notre Dame loses to Navy, its looking at a 6-6 finish (as long as the Irish don't upset USC). This means the Gator passes on the Big East and grabs a Big 12 team (likely Nebraska), hoping for Notre Dame next season. In this scenario, the Sun Bowl would have to take a Big East team (likely West Virginia), per contract, and the Big East would have to play the Notre Dame game with the Gator all over again next season.

Here's how I see it playing out:

UCONN (6-3, 2-2)
11/15: at Syracuse (W)
11/23: at South Florida (L)
12/6: Pittsburgh (L)
Predicted record: 7-5 (3-4)

CINCINNATI (7-2, 3-1)
11/14: at Louisville (W)
11/22: Pittsburgh (W)
11/29: Syracuse (W)
12/6: at Hawaii (W)
Predicted record: 11-2 (6-1)

PITTSBURGH (7-2, 3-1)
11/22: at Cincinnati (L)
11/28: West Virginia (L)
12/6: at UConn (W)
Predicted record: 8-4 (4-3)

SYRACUSE (2-7, 1-4)
11/15: UConn (L)
11/22: at Notre Dame (L)
11/29: at Cincinnati (L)
Predicted record: 2-10 (1-6)

WEST VIRGINIA (6-3, 3-1)
11/22: at Louisville (W)
11/28: at Pittsburgh (W)
12/6: South Florida (W)
Predicted record: 9-3 (6-1)

SOUTH FLORIDA (6-3, 1-3)
11/15: Rutgers (W)
11/23: UConn (W)
12/6: at West Virginia (L)
Predicted record: 8-4 (3-4)

LOUISVILLE (5-4, 1-3)
11/14: Cincinnati (L)
11/22: West Virginia (L)
12/4: at Rutgers (L)
Predicted record: 5-7 (1-6)

RUTGERS (4-5, 3-2)
11/15: at South Florida (L)
11/22: Army (W)
12/4: Louisville (W)
Predicted record: 6-6 (4-3)

Which would make the Big East standings:
1. Cincinnati 11-2 (6-1)
2. West Virginia 9-3 (6-1)
3. Pitt 8-4 (4-3)
Rutgers 6-6 (4-3)
5. UConn 7-5 (3-4)
USF 8-4 (3-4)
7. Louisville 5-7 (1-6)
Syracuse 2-10 (1-6)

And the Big East bowl shake-out (this is also the order the bowls choose):

Orange Bowl: Cincinnati vs. Florida State
Gator Bowl: Notre Dame vs. Miami
Meineke Car Care Bowl: West Virginia vs. Wake Forest
International Bowl: Pitt vs. Western Michigan Bowl: UConn vs. Troy (SEC doesn't have enough to fill slot)
St. Petersburg Bowl: South Florida vs. UTEP
New Mexico Bowl: Rutgers vs. Air Force

On to the weekly picks.

Game 1: Notre Dame (-3.5) over NAVY - Charlie Weis will now be known across the land as Pear Bryant. Case closed. Thank you, Jason Whitlock.

Game 2: SYRACUSE (+10) over Connecticut - Unless Donald Brown tops 200 yards rushing or the Huskies force four or more turnovers, 10 points is too many. Of course, both of those are entirely attainable.

Game 3: OREGON STATE (-3) over California - Beavers tailback Jaquizz Rogers is electric. And, a little known fact, my middle name is Jaquizz.

Game 4: OREGON (-3.5) over Arizona - A duck against a wildcat? That's not even a fair fight. But I'm taking Oregon anyway.

Game 5: Georgia (-8.5) over AUBURN - My middle name isn't really Jaquizz. It's John. But, I'm going with Jaquizz for the next several months.

Game 6: Brigham Young (-5) over AIR FORCE - The Air Force hockey team is 8-0 and ranked 13th in the nation. This is amazing because the service academies don't accept Canadian students. U.S. hockey, alive and well.

Game 7: FLORIDA (-23) over South Carolina - The ol' ball coach is putting together a nice season. But the Gators might just be the best team in the country.

Game 8: Southern California (-23.5) over STANFORD -

Game 9: Rutgers (+8) over SOUTH FLORIDA -

Game 10: Boston College (+6) over FLORIDA STATE - Football players allegedly causing off-campus trouble at Florida State? Who could have seen that coming?

Game 11: Ohio State (-9.5) over ILLINOIS -

Game 12: Minnesota (+13.5) over WISCONSIN - The real question is, how many pounds of sausage will be consumed in the parking lot? 1,000? 10,000? 1 million? Get your defibrillators charged.

Game 13: North Carolina (-3) over MARYLAND - Kid Rock performed his god-awful new song "All Summer Long" at the Country Music Awards last night. Not that I watched the show (I'd rather chew on tinfoil), but I've heard the song several times over the last month or so. Look, the only person who should be allowed to rewrite lyrics to popular songs is Weird Al Yankovic.

Game 14: WEST CHESTER (-7) over Southern Connecticut State - Fourth straight NCAA Division II tournament appearance for Southern. Yes, college football tournaments are possible. Thanks, Division I-AA, Division II and Division III.

Game 15: YALE (-3.5) over Princeton - Bulldogs pulled the upset over Brown. Ivy hopes for Yale still hanging by a thread.

Last week's results
1. vinny from east haven 8-3
big donny bertolotti 8-3
pete 8-3
4. dougo 7-4
uconnhuskies 86 7-4
sammy 7-4
kevin 7-4
wil 7-4
9. gary 6-5
sean o 6-5
caleb mandrake 6-5
12. rich 5-6
den 5-6
JZ 5-6
15. chip 4-7
dano 4-7
ian 4-7

1. Dougo 66
2. Caleb Mandrake 64
Vinny from East Haven 64
4. Pete 62
5. JZ 60
6. Rich 59
7. ian 58
kevin 58
Chip 58
10. Den of Stupidity 56
11. Sammy 51
12. Sean O 50
13. DanO 48
14. Wil 47
15. Gary 42
16. uconnhuskies 86 41
17. Big Donny Bertolotti 21
Stretch 21
19. HuskyBarker 5

Get your picks in by clicking "comments" below.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tuesday notes: The puck drops at 7, hosers

I'm pulling the rare football-hockey double today in Storrs. Media lunch at 11, work, and then head over to the ice arena to cover Yale playing at UConn in hockey. There was a lot to cover from the press conference, so let's get to it, eh?
  • As of today (approximately 11:45 a.m.) Edsall expects his quarterback to be either Cody Endres or Zach Frazer. Tyler Lorenzen, as of pre-practice this afternoon, won't factor into the decision. But Edsall didn't rule him out completely, either. Lorenzen is practicing, but isn't quite ready. As of today. At 11:45 a.m.

  • Frazer's concussion wasn't as severe as the one he suffered back in August, and hasn't been nearly as debilitating. He's OK health-wise, Edsall said. He and Endres will compete for the gig. Fewest turnovers in practice will go a long way toward who gets the nod.

  • Lorenzen says he's feeling much better, and has been partially cleared by the medical staff at UConn. "I'm going day-by-day and seeing how my health feels," Lorenzen said. "It's getting better, for sure. But I'm still not 100 percent. I still have a big old screw in my foot." Edsall also said in his career, he's never had a doctor or trainer tell him it was a bad idea to play someone because the surface for the game was turf or grass.

  • Edsall was full of stories today. He turned into Tom Snyder somewhere around the 10-minute mark of his press conference. The coach was spinning yarns like Paul Harvey, which helped him break his personal record for longest press conference by a good 20 minutes. Good stuff.

  • One of his tales began with telling how defensive tackle Twyon Martin is in the process of putting weight back on because he lost too much in the off-season. Martin was around 300, dropped about 60 pounds, before putting some back on to get to his current 265. He needs to get into the 280s. "He did it to try and get a girlfriend," Edsall joked. "He's was in, you know, that mid-life crisis at 19. Like some people probably in here have, he lost all that weight to start dating younger ladies. What he did is he took too much off. Now he thinks he's suave and debonair. He thinks he's a model and a ladies man, and that he looks good there. But we told him he's a football player, when you're done playing football, you can go back to that."

  • Edsall's reasoning on why some players have been losing weight is that they spend meal time gazing at Blackberry's and texting friends. Then the food gets cold, they don't want to eat it, so they throw it all away without eating. So Edsall and the coaches are constantly telling players to stop texting because their food's getting cold. (Not sure if he used my mom's old standby when I wouldn't eat...something about starving children in China). So last night, Edsall was eating with a couple of players in the cafeteria when he happened to get a message on his Blackberry. He began texting back. Greg Robinson told Edsall he better stop texting because his food's getting cold. "At least they're listening."

  • I find it hard to believe these guys aren't eating. It's not like they're rock stars who need to stay thin or people will stop going to their concerts (Your rib cage looks great, Mick Jagger). Sounds to me like they're going incognito and hitting Subway or Dominoes after practice. It's like how Herschel Walker, when he was at Georgia, told everyone he'd never eaten fast food in his life and then one night, a teammate caught him sneaking into his room with a big bag of McDonalds. That story also torpedoed Herschel's story about not lifting weights, too. You don't get that physique doing nothing but pushups and situps. Unless you're Jack LaLanne.

  • Edsall isn't happy about all the bye weeks (three) this season, but declined to go into detail. He also took a pass on questions about potential Big East expansion and Notre Dame possibly stealing a Big East's spot in the Gator Bowl or Sun Bowl.

  • Robert McClain takes Darius Butler's spot as starting cornerback this week. Jordan Todman is now on kickoff returns. Greg Lloyd's role at middle linebacker shouldn't be as diminished this week because Syracuse runs a normal offensive attack.

  • Edsall doesn't get nostalgic at Syracuse anymore. "I have too much work to do," Edsall said. "I have a game to win." He also says he has no inklings at all to return to his alma mater to coach. "Not at all," he said.

  • Speaking of nostalgia, Donald Brown nearly busted his gut telling the story of how the running backs watched old game film of coach Terry Richardson during his playing days at Syracuse in the early 90s. Brown says Richardson scored a touchdown against Louisville, and, as his celebration, went and leaned up against the goal post with his arms crossed, like he was just hanging out on a street corner. Or, perhaps, doing his impersonation of Cool Moe Dee. Or Whodini. (Old school rap. I miss it). "I don't think that would fly today," Brown said of Richardson's celebration.

  • Edsall went on and on about Lorenzen's leadership ability, and said when Tyler is healthy, he'll be back out there because he knows how to win. He compared him to Billy Kilmer and Mark Brunnell in that neither looked pretty out on the field, but still won games with their ability manage a game and get the other 10 guys fired up and ready to play in the huddle. "Jeff George was as good a natural quarterback as there is, but he couldn't win in the NFL," Edsall said. "You can get a lot of people with a lot of talent that can throw the ball and everything else, but when they get to the huddle they don't have that chemistry. And some guys don't have as much talent, but they have the chemistry and the others really rally around that guy."

  • Edsall mentioned he heard a well-respected sports writer in the South said Lorenzen deserved the Heisman Trophy, and pointed to how UConn's struggles began after Lorenzen was injured showed how valuable he was to the Huskies. Joe D'Ambrosio quickly pointed out to me that the phrase "well-respected sports writer" was an oxymoron along the lines of jumbo shrimp and freezer burn. I could only nod my head in agreement.

  • More stories from Edsall regarding Lorenzen. He said he was attending a function with Jim Calhoun, and Calhoun said Edsall is being forced to defend Lorenzen much like Calhoun had to defend point guard Taliek Brown a few years back. "He told me you have to stand up for the kid, and all the kid does is win games," Edsall said. "Just because someone's not the flashiest or prettiest, you're judged on how you win or how you lose. The kid is 14-4 as a starter. There are those outside the program who under appreciate him. Inside this program, we all have respect and admiration toward what he's been able to do for us."

OK. That's it. Need to write my newspaper story and get ready for hockey. So take off, eh?

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Runway Challenge Week 11

The Runway Challenge continues during the UConn bye week. But first, let me update my bowl projections because little went according to plan last weekend.

UCONN (6-3, 2-2)
11/15: at Syracuse (W)
11/23: at South Florida (L)
12/6: Pittsburgh (W)
Predicted record: 8-4 (4-3)

CINCINNATI (6-2, 2-1)
11/8: at West Virginia (L)
11/14: at Louisville (L)
11/22: Pittsburgh (W)
11/29: Syracuse (W)
12/6: at Hawaii (W)
Predicted record: 9-4 (4-3)

PITTSBURGH (6-2, 2-1)
11/8: Louisville (W)
11/22: at Cincinnati (L)
11/28: West Virginia (L)
12/6: at UConn (L)
Predicted record: 7-5 (3-4)

SYRACUSE (2-6, 1-3)
11/8: at Rutgers (L)
11/15: UConn (L)
11/22: at Notre Dame (L)
11/29: at Cincinnati (L)
Predicted record: 2-10 (1-6)

WEST VIRGINIA (6-2, 3-0)
11/8: Cincinnati (W)
11/22: at Louisville (W)
11/28: at Pittsburgh (W)
12/6: South Florida (W)
Predicted record: 10-2 (7-0)

SOUTH FLORIDA (6-3, 1-3)
11/15: Rutgers (W)
11/23: UConn (W)
12/6: at West Virginia (L)
Predicted record: 8-4 (3-4)

LOUISVILLE (5-3, 1-2)
11/8: at Pittsburgh (L)
11/14: Cincinnati (W)
11/22: West Virginia (L)
12/4: at Rutgers (W)
Predicted record: 7-5 (3-4)

RUTGERS (3-5, 2-2)
11/8: Syracuse (W)
11/15: at South Florida (L)
11/22: Army (W)
12/4: Louisville (L)
Predicted record: 5-7 (3-4)

Which would make the Big East standings:
1. West Virginia 10-2 (7-0)
2. UConn 8-4 (4-3)
Cincinnati 9-4 (4-3)
4. Louisville 7-5 (3-4)
USF 8-4 (3-4)
Pitt 7-5 (3-4)
Rutgers 5-7 (3-4)
8. Syracuse 2-10 (1-6)

And the Big East bowl shake-out (this is also the order the bowls choose):
Orange Bowl: West Virginia vs. Georgia Tech
Gator Bowl: Notre Dame vs. Florida State
Meineke Car Care Bowl: Cincinnati vs. Wake Forest
International Bowl: UConn vs. Western Michigan Bowl: Louisville vs. Troy
St. Petersburg Bowl: South Florida vs. Marshall
Independence Bowl: Pitt vs. Arkansas State

A few random notes and observations from the past week.
  • My frustration has reached its point of no return with politicians, which is why I can't even bring myself to discuss politics anymore (especially on the blog). But I can't read another story about how Connecticut's U.S. Rep. Chris Shays (R) -- defeated while seeking his 11th-term -- was the victim of the sweeping change led by Barack Obama. No. Shays lost because he made a complete fool of himself in front of millions during the Roger Clemens-Brian McNamee Congressional hearing back in February. Shays embarrassed himself and the state with his vicious attack on McNamee and unabashed boot-licking of Clemens. Not that I condone what McNamee did, but Shays' rambling, head-scratching tirade was totally over the top. That, more than anything, forced him out. Good riddance.

  • Every once in a while, I stumble upon the A&E Network's re-runs of The Sopranos. The shows are edited for content. Allegedly. The language is edited...even the word "ass" is dubbed over. But, A&E has no problem showing things like Tony Soprano blowing his cousin away with a shotgun, or Christopher Moltisanti shooting up heroin in his car. Odd.

  • Speaking of the Soprano's, I was overruled in my idea for my son's Halloween costume. My plan was to dress him in a valour sweatsuit, with a pair of white shoes and his hair slicked back with white wings. The perfect Paulie Walnuts ensemble! But the wife wouldn't go for it. "We're not dressing our 1-year old up as a mobster!!" she said. So, he was Superman. Maybe next year.

Next Halloween, Mr. Gaultieri. I promise. And say hello to your mother for me.

On to the picks:

Game 1: Syracuse (+14) over RUTGERS

Game 2: Georgia Tech (+4) over NORTH CAROLINA

Game 3: TEXAS TECH (-3.5) over Oklahoma State

Game 4: BOSTON COLLEGE (-3.5) over Notre Dame

Game 5: Alabama (-3) over LSU

Game 6: WEST VIRGINIA (-7) over Cincinnati

Game 7: Louisville (+6) over PITTSBURGH

Game 8: SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA (-21) over California

Game 9: NORTHWESTERN (+10.5) over Ohio State

Game 10: Virginia (+3.5) over WAKE FOREST

Game 11: Southern Connecticut State (+3) over AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL: Always nice to schedule the same opponent twice in the regular season. AIC won back in September. Southern clinches fourth straight Division II playoff berth with a win.

Last week's results

1. JZ 10-2 (impressive)

2. dougo 9-3 (consistent)

3. Gary 7-5 (late to the party, showing his stuff)

Pete 7-5 (on the rebound)

SeanO 7-5 (over .500 again)

sammy 7-5 (that 1-10 week is a distant memory)

caleb 7-5 (making his move)

8. chip 6-6 (unimpressive once again)

rich 6-6 (figuring out the spreads nicely)

den 6-6 (miss his commentary)

vinny 6-6 (still near top despite recent struggles)

12. huskybarker 5-7 (making his debut)

ian 5-7 (a better blogger than prognosticator...not a bad thing)

uconnhuskies86 5-7 (working way out of basement)

15. dano 3-9 (had better weeks)

16. wil 2-10 (might need a hug)


1. Dougo 59

2. Caleb Mandrake 58

3. Vinny from East Haven 56

4. JZ 55

5. ian 54

Rich 54

Pete 54

8. Chip 53

9. Kevin 51

Den of Stupidity 51

11. DanO 44

Sammy 44

Sean O 44

14. Wil 40

15. Gary 36

16. uconnhuskies 86 34

17. Stretch 21

18. Big Donny Bertolotti 13

19. HuskyBarker 5

Get your picks in by clicking "comments" below.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

But has a knee

Just to expand a little on the news from today. As I said in the previous post, Edsall won't give specifics on Darius Butler's injury aside from it being a knee. The doctors don't want to release any more info about it, Edsall said.

We do know that Butler had an MRI, and Edsall said he didn't expect Darius' knee to require surgery. That almost certainly means it's a sprain. Ligament tears or cartilage tears almost always require surgery. Still, ligament sprains are painful and take time. Four to six weeks means there's a chance Darius could be back for the regular-season finale against Pitt, but that would be on the short end of the recovery period. No surgery means Darius should be at full strength once he begins his NFL testing in February.

Robert McClain and Terrance Baltimore will fill in for Butler at corner. Jordan Todman is the guy for kickoff returns.

“It will be easy to move on,” Edsall said. “I have the utmost respect and admiration for Darius, and so do his teammates. We wish him well as he recovers. Now other guys will have to step up. There’s nothing you can do. He’s not going to be out there. We’re not going to sit here and cry about it.”

Edsall didn't divulge much on Tyler Lorenzen's status for the week leading into Syracuse. "He's better and there's things he might be able to do," Edsall said. "We'll just wait and see what happens." Edsall wouldn't answer when asked if Cody Endres would be number one on the depth chart for Syracuse. I think Lorenzen may be back in the picture a week from now, and certainly by the South Florida week. He's been moving much better during the pregame, taking his drop steps and doing light running.

Butler out 4-6 weeks

Darius Butler's knee injury isn't going to require surgery, and will keep him out 4-6 weeks. Randy Edsall didn't elaborate, but that prognosis is usually consistent with an MCL sprain. An ACL tear, or any ligament tear, means a player would likely be out for the season. More to come soon. The injury occured because it was rolled from behind during a scrum after the kickoff.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Quickie postgame notes

The Cliffs' Notes version:
  • Darius Butler has a knee injury. Edsall said he'd know more tomorrow. Certainly appears like it could be long-term, like an ACL.
  • It didn't take a rocket scientist to know UConn had to avoid turnovers and cash in on scoring chances to beat a team with West Virginia's athleticism. Right away, there was a fumble by D.J. Hernandez on what would have been 1st-and-10 from the WVU 31. Dropped passes, including the big one by Kashif Moore on the first possession of the second half, engine stalls deep in West Virginia territory and, of course, the rash of turnovers in the second half were all killers. "You don't have as big a margin of error against a team like West Virginia," Edsall said. "We didn't make the plays we needed to make."
  • Inexperience, Edsall said, played a large factor in those interceptions thrown by Cody Endres. "He was throwing off his back foot, that's why those throws were high. He got a little flustered at the end."
  • Edsall said UConn still hasn't recruited "that dynamic wide receiver" yet. "Nothing against the kids we have here. But we got to find someone who wants to come here and be that dominant, go-to guy. It will be interesting to see how many dropped balls we had today."
  • Endres got the start today "because he was the best guy to give us an opportunity to win" according to Edsall.
  • Kashif Moore on the dropped long ball in the second half, "During the week, we thought it could possibly be a big play. I ran a post, and the safety bit on the play. I ran down at full speed, saw the ball in the air. I might have taken my eyes off it. I should have caught that ball. It's something that's going to eat me up inside. It went right through my hands."
  • The celebrations for making a tackle on special teams when you're down 15 points in the fourth quarter need to stop. As Mike Singletary said, it's not about you. Not sure if that was before or after Singletary dropped trow in front of his team. But it's still a good point.

Maybe some more later, after I get the newspaper stuff complete.

Game Day

Does anyone read the pre-game blog? Ah, I'll write anyway.

Cody Endres should get the start, if only because he is taking snaps from Keith Gray in the warm-up and Zach Frazer is taking them from backup Gary Bardzak. Look for a few wrinkles on defense today, too.

The pregame music running through Rentschler is unbearable. Too loud. And awful. Yes, I know that means I'm too old.

Half the state of West Virginia is in the press box today. Seventeen writers just from newspapers and websites. Add in the TV guys, production people and athletic department reps, and it's crowded.

Not a lot of NFL scouts, just the Dolphins and Colts.

Darius Butler is warming up as a cornerback.