Saturday, October 31, 2009

Endres is done and other Rutgers postgame notes

Tough loss. Wow. Quick postgame notes.
  • Cody Endres will have surgery on his shoulder Sunday morning, and is expected to be out for the season. Edsall said he was told Endres' injury is similar to what sidelines Sam Bradford of Oklahoma. Bradford had a 45 minute surgery to repair ligaments in his AC joint, and is done for the year.

  • Marcus Easley had "a hip situation" after his TD reception, and wasn't on the field during the drive in which the Huskies took the lead. It isn't believed to be serious, as Easley came back and made a couple of receptions on the final drive of the game.

  • How about Tim Brown? One of Jasper Howard's best friends growing up in Miami -- they lived only a couple of houses apart, according to Brown -- he came through on two TD catches, including an 81-yarder with 22 seconds left on the play after the Huskies took the lead. He had referred to Howard as his best friend and brother, and had kind words on the field for several of Jazz's UConn pals on the field after the game.

  • Even more incredible on a day dedicated to Howard was that Kashif Moore and Michael Smith, the two who held a dying Howard that night outside the student center two weeks ago and took the death so hard Edsall questioned whether they'd even be able to play against West Virginia, came up huge on what would have been the winning drive. Smith, after dropping a pass, made a Willie Mays-like over-the-shoulder grab on a Frazer bomb. Four plays later, on 4th-and-5, Moore made a 32-yard catch and run to set up Jordan Todman's go-ahead TD with 38 seconds left. Moore dodged a tackler after making the catch, then faked another defender so badly he had to be helped off the field after the play.

  • Back to Brown's winning catch. Edsall said UConn had used the same coverage on Brown all game with some success. Robert McClain was on coverage, but Brown was able to slip behind to make the reception. Safety Aaron Basgby rotated over to help make the tackle, but took a poor angle and never got a hand on Brown, who outraced the defense 81 yards to paydirt. "It was a good throw and catch," Edsall said. "We had a young man who took a bad angle to the ball. We didn't make the tackle. We had our best guy on their best guy. The guy over the top has to come up and make the play. It was a coverage we used all day and had success with until the fourth quarter."

  • Edsall was asked if UConn should be 8-0 right now. "We're 4-4," he said. "We are what we are. Could we be 8-0? Yeah. But the reality is we're 4-4. The reality is we have to finish those off and make plays in order to win."

  • Teggart's problems revolve around him consistently planting his foot wrong, Edsall said.

  • Asked if his team is emotionally spent, Edsall said, "They're stunned. A lot of guys are very upset, and they should be." Said Todman, "It hurts. Over and over we've had the opportunity to win games. We're tired of losing. It's one of the worst feeling you can have."

  • The Mike Ryan 2-point conversion was called back because Frazer was ruled to have thrown a forward pass. Since Ryan lined up at tackle, he was only eligible for a lateral. Edsall apologized for his on-field blow-up, which put anything Earl Weaver ever did to shame. He also declined to get into whether or not he agreed with the call. The call came after a review. "The information I was getting was that people didn't think it was conclusive (enough to overturn)."

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Lutrus cleared, one more for Jazz and the picks

Scott Lutrus has been cleared, and will play Saturday against Rutgers. He got the OK from trainers on Tuesday, and has practiced since then. Lindsey Witten is probable, Alex Molina and Sio Moore are out.

On Tuesday, in the midst of patting myself on the back for predicting a huge year for Marcus Easley, I linked my post from Aug. 10, the first day of preseason camp. A reader saw another nice little note about Jasper Howard from that day's practice. So I did a back search for Jasper on the blog and came up with a few other nuggets. I'll post them again here:

8/23/07, Depth chart at a glance

CB: 1 Darius Butler (RJr., 5-11, 185) 16 Jasper Howard (Fr., 5-9, 162)
S: 33 Robert Vaughn (So., 6-0, 189) 27 Aaron Bagsby (Fr., 6-1, 180)
S: 36 Dahna Deleston (RJr., 6-0, 198) 15 Donnell Ford (RSr., 6-1, 202)
CB: 29 Tyvon Branch (Sr., 6-0, 193) 42 Robert McClain (So., 5-9, 198)

Chip sez: The starters were obvious. The backups, not so much. Someone asked me what happened to Terry Baltimore. He impressed Edsall during camp, but Howard, one of four true freshman in the two-deep, was a bit more impressive. Howard is small, but electric. He'll be a very solid cover corner who should inherit Larry Taylor's job as top return man next season. McClain has been there all along. UConn is set at corner for a while. Thought Glen Mourning might pull an upset over Bagsby, but the more I think about it, that probably wasn't realistic.

9/1/07: Can I have my $4.99 back?

  • The official game stats list the following true freshman as having played: Kijuan Dabney, Marcus Campbell, Aaron Bagsby, Anthony Sherman and Greg Lloyd Jr. No mention of Jasper Howard, but I'm positive I saw No. 16 out there today. Someone missed him.

9/4/07: (Chicken) Nuggets from Tuesday Media Lunch

  • Jasper Howard did play at Duke. He was listed that way on the game notes. Knew I saw him out there (not that the Duke radio tandem of Grampy and Little Earl were any help. They didn't bother to announce UConn players by name.)

Editor's note: Chip missed the game at Duke to be with his wife, nine months pregnant at the time. He was forced to listen to the Duke announcers on the disastrous webcast of the game that afternoon.

4/1/08: Three pounds makes all the difference

  • It also appears Jonathan Jean-Louis has passed Kijuan Dabney at strong safety, as he spent the whole practice with the first team, while Jasper Howard started opposite Darius Butler at cornerback while Robert McClain took snaps with the 2's.

8/12/08: Battle brewing at CB

  • 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.

8/16/08: Talkin' bout practice

  • 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."
8/28/08: Sizing up the depth chart

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.

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.

10/18/08: Rutgers post game

  • Special teams has been a major problem. Tony C missed 3 of 4 field goals, Robbie Frey made a mistake fielding the kickoff to start the second half. Jasper Howard should have picked up two punts in the third, and let the punt in the fourth go into the end zone. "Robbie, I think, just panicked,” UConn coach Randy Edsall said. “We would have had the ball at either the 20- or 40-(yard line). He’s a redshirt freshman in a situation he had never been in before."
  • Jasper said, "I made some misjudgments with the ball because of the wind. Coach got with me a little bit. The ball was shifting around because of the wind. I feel a little of it was my fault." Howard apparently didn't field one of the kicks because he felt one of his blockers was in his way. Edsall took blame because he personally coaches the return men in practice, but then said, "I tell them all the time, catch every ball you can back there. We don’t want the ball to hit the ground. Fair catch it. I said (Jasper), put your hand up there because they can’t hit you, and your own man should be able to avoid you."

10/20/08: Decision on Frazer won't come until Tuesday

  • Edsall also gave a vote of confidence for Jasper Howard on punt returns. "Jazz will be fine. He understands. When something happens one, then twice, you get gun shy. (The punt in the fourth quarter that Howard fielded around the 4 that likely would have went into the end zone) he was probably feeling 'I have to catch this'. He totally lost his composure. But I'm not worried about Jazz. He'll bounce back."

4/11/09: Early edition: Saturday scrimmage notes

  • Jasper Howard managed to get himself kicked out of practice for the day after an interception of Zach Frazer and 60 yard return for a touchdown. Getting a 15-yard penalty for excessive celebration will do that. Howard pulled an unnecessary leap over the goal line and tumbled into the end zone. Surprise, surprise. It didn't go over well with the head coach. The wide smile on Howard's face further infuriated Edsall. "You're done for the day, No. 6!" Edsall screamed. "Act like you've played the game before! Take your pads off and get out!" Howard, as he was jogging off toward the locker room, muttered, "They still can't touch me."
  • About 30 minutes later, Howard and Todman (also booted that day) returned to the field, where Edsall put his arm around each for a fatherly lecture. Both returned to their respective sidelines, but in sweats.

4/11/09: Discipline rules the day

  • Lesson learned. Both Jasper Howard and Jordan Todman understood why they were booted today. Howard said he's glad it happened so him so the younger corners like Dwayne Gratz and Blidi Wreh-Wilson could see that kind of thing isn't tolerated. Todman echoed those sentiments. Randy Edsall's take: treat the scrimmages as a game. Both plays were worth 15-yard penalties, and could have cost a victory (Todman's more than Howard's. Edsall's problem with Howard was that it was an individualistic showboat). It didn't help that several high school coaches and players were watching. "It was a good teaching moment," Edsall said.

8/10/09: No day at the beach

  • Gotta love the ‘welcome to college football’ moments. During a one-on-one drill between receivers and defensive backs, 5-foot-7 corner Jasper Howard jammed 6-foot-5 true freshman receiver Malik Generett hard at the line of scrimmage. Generett couldn’t go anywhere, then spun to late to the outside to catch a pass. He missed. “C’mon Malik!” Howard woofed. “You’re 6-5, cuz!”

8/20/09: Open practice updates

  • Those who were at practice got to see how exciting a player Dwayne Difton really is; the rest of you will be pleasantly surprised this season. Difton evoked images of Donald Brown by stiff-arming Jasper Howard to the turf on one play. Howard got up and drilled Difton, who was already out of bounds, with Difton laughing at his "big brother". Howard has taken Difton, a fellow south Floridian, under his wing, and the two have become close. "It's the same thing Darius Butler did with me," Howard said. "I want to make him feel at home." Still, the pair like to go at it in practices. Howard has been impressed with Difton's ability. "Whatever he was, 4-star, 5-star, he's living up to the billing," Howard said. "He's doing a tremendous job."
  • I, for one, keep forgetting Howard isn't a captain. He's such a natural leader, and has really been working with many of the younger players, not just Difton. He also wants to keep the UConn cornerback tradition of heading to the NFL alive. Bigger and stronger this fall, Howard also seems faster. "I can't slack off," Howard said, speaking about leadership as well as pro aspirations. "Tyvon did it, Darius did it. It's up to me and Reggie."

Still can't believe what happened to him.

Almost forgot about my live chat today. It's at

On to the picks, no-nonsense style for one more week.

Game 1: CONNECTICUT (-7.5) over Rutgers

Game 2: Cincinnati (-15.5) over SYRACUSE

Game 3: AUBURN (+4.5) over Mississippi

Game 4: Michigan (-7.5) over ILLINOIS

Game 5: LOUISVILLE (-3) over Arkansas State - A 2-4 team out of the Sun Belt Conference getting only three points on the road at Louisville? This spread alone is cause for Louisville to issue paper bags at the gate for fans to wear on their heads. Sorry, had to be done.

Game 6: BOSTON COLLEGE (-5.5) over Central Michigan

Game 7: Kansas (+6.5) over TEXAS TECH

Game 8: FLORIDA (-15) over Georgia

Game 9: Ucla (+10) over OREGON STATE

Game 10: South Carolina (+6) over TENNESSEE

Game 11: OREGON (+3) over Souther California

Game 12: Texas (-9) over OKLAHOMA STATE

Last week's results

1. McFred 13-6

caleb 13-6

3. govphalen 12-7

4. Sean O 11-8

big donny 11-8

6. gary 10-9


rick c 10-9

vinny 10-9

10. wil 9-10

11. chip 8-11

pete 8-11

13. sammy 7-12

Updated standings

1. SeanO 54

2. Wil 53

UconnBob 53

4. Sammy 51

5. Chip 49

governorphalen 49

caleb mandrake 49

8. pete 47

Rick C 47

10. Gary 45

11. Vinny 41

12. rich 39

McFred 39

14. JZ 20

15. Mike B 13

16. big donny 11

17. ian 9

G-Five 9

19. DanO 8

20. salami 6

Get your picks in by clicking the comments link below.

Chat with Chip

Transcript from today's chat....

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

UConn will remember Jazz Saturday

STORRS, Connecticut (October 28, 2009) – The University of Connecticut and its Division of Athletics will honor the memory of Jasper Howard as the team returns to Rentschler Field on Saturday for the first time since Howard passed away on October 18. UConn will take on Rutgers at noon in a BIG EAST Conference game.

All fans who attend Saturday’s game will receive a “6” card in honor of Jasper Howard’s jersey number. In addition, the first 15,000 fans who enter the gates will receive “Jazz Live 365” wristbands.

UConn students who attend the game will receive the same “eye-black” that the Husky team is wearing – one with a “6” and the other with a “JH”. All UConn students will also receive a “6” button.

Prior to the contest, the UConn Marching Band will come onto the field all wearing No. 6 jerseys and will display the formation of a “6” in the word “UCONN” during its pregame program.

Following the entrance of both teams on to the field for the game, there will be a “Moment of Respect” in honor of Howard with both teams lining up on their respective sidelines.

“We encourage all Husky fans to arrive at their seats in Rentschler Field by 11:30 a.m. on Saturday in order to see the pregame band show and to be present for the Moment of Respect,” says UConn Head Football Coach Randy Edsall. “There are a number of pregame activities and we would like to see every seat occupied as a sign of respect for Jazz.”

The Connecticut team will once again wear a “JH” sticker on its helmet while Rutgers will wear a “6”.

As fans enter Rentschler Field, they will have the opportunity to donate to both of the funds that have been set up in his memory.

"The Jasper T. Howard Endowed Scholarship" will be annually awarded to a UConn football student-athlete who plays at the cornerback position and who best displays the outstanding leadership qualities which Jasper embodied.

"The Jasper Howard Fund" will assist Jasper's family with expenses such as funeral costs, travel to attend the memorial service and support for Jasper's soon-to-be-born child, in a manner consistent with NCAA guidelines.

Fans are also reminded that they will be permitted to bring signs honoring Howard into Rentschler Field. This will be a one-time exception to the regular Rentschler policy prohibiting signs.

Signs cannot be on sticks or poles --- and signs cannot impair the enjoyment of the game for other fans.

"This is one more way that our fans can make a personal tribute to Jasper Howard," says UConn Director of Athletics Jeffrey Hathaway. "We thank our friends at Rentschler Field for relaxing the 'no signs' policy for this one game only and providing fans another opportunity to honor Jasper."

Prior to the game at approximately 9:40 a.m., the UConn football team will take part in their usual pregame “Husky Walk”. Fans can greet the Huskies from Gates D to C at Rentschler Field to welcome the team to the game.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Prepping for Rutgers

Couple football-related notes from today's press conference with Edsall.
  • Dave Teggart's job isn't in jeopardy. Edsall said the problem with his kicks was technique, his plant leg was angled wrong. "He's proven he can be a good kicker," Edsall said. "He just has to go out and kick." Desi Cullen is the backup, and he still kicks field goals in every practice. He's the punter only because Teggart shows he's the better kicker every week. Edsall also said there's no chance of burning freshman Chad Christen's redshirt.

  • Where has Marcus Easley been? I said back on Aug. 10 I thought Easley would lead the team in receptions (now patting myself on the back). The coaches didn't feel that way. "We knew he had the height, weight and speed, but he didn't have the consistent we wanted to see," Edsall said. Easley is looking more and more like an NFL-caliber receiver every game.

  • Spotted Sio Moore walking around the Shenkman Center in a protective boot.

  • Edsall was happy with both Dwayne Gratz and Blidi Wreh-Wilson on Saturday. "The play Gratz made early in the game when they tried to test him, that's as good a play we've seen made by a corner on a ball in the air," Edsall said. "For his first extended time playing, he passed. ... Blidi did a good job. He practiced, but was limited with that ankle. He went out and gutted it up and played well. Those two kids, as long as they, and I have no reason to think they wouldn't, keep their heads on straight and want to work, they got a chance to be good football players."

  • This question came up on the chat last week, and was addressed today by UConn director of sports communication Mike Enright. Rentschler Field will relax their policy on signs being brought into the stadium for Saturday's game against Rutgers.

Arrests made

It's everywhere now, but in case you hadn't heard, John W. Lomax of Bloomfield, age 21, was arrested this morning and charged with murder as well as conspiracy to commit assault in the first degree. He's being held on a $2 million bond. Hakim Muhammad, 20, also of Bloomfield, was arrested on conspiracy to commit assault in the first degree. His bond is $750,000. Both are scheduled to appear in court Wednesday in Rockville. Also, Jamal Todd, 21, of Hartford, was arrested for pulling the fire alarm that preceded the altercation. He's being held on a $5,000 bond and will appear in court Nov. 10.

More notes on Tuesday's press conference to come.

New developments today in Howard case

There's a press conference scheduled for 12:30 p.m. at the UConn Police Department to reveal "significant" developments in the Jasper Howard case. Expect an arrest to be announced.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Video stream of Jasper Howard funeral

UConn Athletic Communications – October 25, 2009

STORRS , Conn. (October 25, 2009) – The funeral of University of Connecticut football student-athlete Jasper Howard, who passed away on October 18, will be streamed live on the internet. The funeral will take place on at the New Birth Baptist Church in Miami, Fla., beginning at 11:00 a.m. The service will be streamed live at To view, select view live services and at the next page, select view the live broadcast via Streaming Faith.

Sunday notes: West Virginia wrap-up

Randy Edsall went over the game film with the team this morning. He showed them a number of plays in every facet that weren't made that could have helped win the game. Interceptions, fumbles, missed field goals and, of course, the opening kickoff were huge. "You feel empty because there was a chance to win," Edsall said. "We didn't make plays throughout that influenced the outcome of the game.
  • Dave Teggart is struggling, and Edsall is thinking about opening up the field goal job to create some competition for him. That competition would come in the form of Desi Cullen, who proved he's capable of crushing long field goals in spring and preseason camp. "I'm worried about what happened from last year to this year with him," Edsall said. "Maybe I have to create some competition for him, because when he had the competition he was a lot better. He's got to stop worrying about stuff and just kick the ball. He's got to focus on the little things. It's more mechanical and it's more between the ears with him. He hitched on the first one because he didn't have his hand in the right spot. He get get excited and nervous and jump before hand."

  • Lutrus remains out heading into practice this week. Lindey Witten is questionable with a right leg injury. Alex Molina is doubtful with a neck and head injury.

  • Marcus Easley's success starts with his precise routes. "He's running the routes he's supposed to be running, and the ball gets to go his way," Edsall said. "Some people might try to do things to him based on the games he's had, but the big thing is he's just trying to go out and run routes the way they're supposed to be run."

  • The team heads to Miami for Jasper Howard's funeral tomorrow, and it's going to be another emotional day. Edsall thinks it will bring a bit of closure. "I'm the last person who saw Jazz," Edsall said. "I'm sure there's going to be a wide range of emotions. I'm sure a lot of that depends on whether the casket is open or closed tomorrow as we go into the church. (The coaches and support staff) have to make sure we're around those kids. I'm not sure what's going to happen. I think it's going to be a difficult day for these young people. I think this is a lesson for them in life, that these are things you have to deal with in life. I think it brings some closure, but not from the standpoint that Jazz is not going to be remembered or thought of each and every day; but that it's time now for everyone to move forward and do what we have to do in our everyday lives."

Friday, October 23, 2009

Bad Chad to honor Jasper Howard

New Haven's "Bad" Chad Dawson, undefeated (28-0) and two-time light heavyweight boxing champion of the world, says he will honor the memory of Jasper Howard at his Nov. 7 WBC title fight with Glen Johnson at the XL Center in Hartford.

Dawson, coming off consecutive victories over Antonio Tarver, said this on Friday:

"I was deeply saddened by the news of the tragic passing of University of Connecticut football player Jasper Howard. My thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends, and the rest of the UConn community. I plan to remember him by wearing his No. 6 on my boxing trunks during my fight with Glen Johnson. I have also contacted UConn to request Howard’s jersey to wear in his honor as I enter the XL Center arena. From everything I’ve heard, Howard had a great love of Connecticut, and that’s something that is important to me."

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The picks, week 8

From Edsall's call today: Lutrus and Sio Moore are still out. Blidi Wreh-Wilson is probable. No decision yet on a punt returner, either McClain, Nick Williams or both. Edsall says he's still deciding at strong safety, too. He'd like to use only one guy there in all situations.

Practices went well the last two days. No troubles focusing. The guys Edsall said he was worried about emotionally, Kashif Moore and Michael Smith, both practiced both days and were fine. They told Edsall they were ready to go.

West Virginia quarterback Jarrett Brown is a game-time decision Saturday after a concussion. Geno Smith will play if Brown can't go. Edsall said the Mountaineer game plan won't change much. Both quarterbacks throw more than Pat White, and tailback Noel Devine and receiver Jock Sanders are the big-play threats.

Quickly, here are the picks for the week. None of my silly commentary, maybe next week. I tossed in a few extra games, though.

Game 1: Minnesota (+17) over OHIO STATE
Game 2: South Florida (+7) over PITT
Game 3: Connecticut (+7) over WEST VIRGINIA
Game 4: Arkansas (+6.5) over MISSISSIPPI
Game 5: CINCINNATI (-18) over Louisville
Game 6: Boston College (+8) over NOTRE DAME
Game 7: ALABAMA (-14) over Tennessee
Game 8: Akron (+10) over SYRACUSE
Game 9: MICHIGAN (+4.5) over Penn State
Game 10: KANSAS (+7.5) over Oklahoma
Game 11: MIAMI-FL. (-5.5) over Clemson
Game 12: TEXAS TECH (-21.5) over Texas A&M
Game 13: Iowa (-1) over MICHIGAN STATE
Game 14: Vanderbilt (+13) over SOUTH CAROLINA
Game 15: Texas Christian (-2.5) over BYU
Game 16: LSU (-7.5) over Auburn
Game 17: Florida (-22.5) over MISSISSIPPI STATE
Game 18: Oregon State (+21) over USC
Game 19: MISSOURI (+13) over Texas

Get your picks in by clicking "comments" link below. Hope to see you on the chat at 2 p.m. at

Last week's results
1. SeanO 8-3
2. wil 7-4
mcfred 7-4
4. rick c 6-5
rich 6-5
6. sammy 5-6
vinny 5-6
uconnbob 5-6
caleb 5-6
10. chip 4-7
pete 4-7
12. gary 3-8
13. govphelan 2-9

UConn's rock

Randy Edsall's conference call is in about a half hour. I'll get those up ASAP.

It's been a difficult week. A young man's life was senselessly taken away. I've felt the pain, and I barely knew Jasper Howard. I can only imagine how hard this has been for his family, friends, teammates and coaches. They say time heals wounds, but this won't get any easier for them any time soon.

Randy Edsall has been simply incredible through this; a rock. And he's been deeply hurt by this tragedy in ways many might not realize. I just read Joe Posnanski's excellent story about Joe Paterno in this week's Sports Illustrated. In it, Paterno is quoted as saying this to his son, Jay:

"Jay, you don't have any kids yet. ... You'll understand once you have kids, that life changes. You'll find that your happiness is defined by your least happy child. You'll understand. Every player we have, someone -- maybe a parent, a godparent, someone -- poured their life and soul into that young man. They are handing that young man off to us. They are giving us their treasure, and it's our job to make sure we give them back that young man intact and ready to face the world."

Edsall feels the same way Paterno does about every player he has ever brought into the UConn program. Or, as he calls it, the UConn family. And there's no question about it, Edsall's program is a family. I can't even begin to fathom how he felt making the call to Jasper's parents, and later picking them up at the airport in Hartford to bring them to see their son's body. The UConn players' understand. Seeing Kijuan Dabney embrace Edsall during last night's vigil proved that. What a moment. Wins and losses don't define a coach. Moments like these do.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Scenes from practice.

Took a stroll up to see the start of practice. The team huddled around Reggie McClain, who barked out that the day was "all business". He also said, "We're going to beat West Virginia! You know why? Because he's looking down on us!"

The team then broke into it's stretching lines. An open space at the front row, far left, in front of McClain, remained empty. That's where Jasper Howard usually stood for stretching.

Edsall spent extra time talking to Kashif Moore and Jerome Junior during stretches. It was Kashif who held Howard in his arms after the stabbing, and Junior who made the phone call to alert the UConn coaching staff of the situation. Both participated in practice fully Tuesday.

Brian Parker was also at practice, though not in pads. Edsall also kneeled down to speak with him during stretching. In his jersey and shorts, he rode a stationary bike. Injured Kijuan Dabney, who spoke very eloquently to the media today, spoke with Parker while wearing a sweatshirt emblazoned with Howard's photo image on front and back. The back of the shirt read R.I.P. Jazzy. Dabney also held a pair of rosary beads in his hands.

An odd sight, but Joss Tillard wore a blue No. 6 practice jersey today. Tillard is playing scout team, and wore No. 6 simply because he is emulating West Virginia's No. 6 (tight end Will Johnson) in practice today.

We saw drills run normally for about 45 minutes. They worked on punt return (McClain looks like he'll replace Howard as the return man), tackling and positional drills. It appeared business as usual.

Foundation for Howard planned

UConn will put Jasper's picture in the Shenkman Center lobby where the sledgehammer is, currently where Alfred Fincher's is. It's the photo of Howard that's currently on of Howard with his arms outstretched. It will be there forever.

Edsall will begin a Jasper Howard foundation. It will go to help kids from inner cities to get to college. Details will be worked out. Also, there will be one to help terminally ill children's families. It's a way to keep his name going for a long time.

UConn Tuesday notes part I

Early updates from Edsall's regular Tuesday press conference:
  • Prior to the game Saturday, West Virginia will have the No. 6 on the back of its helmets. There will be a moment of silence before the game, with the teams on the field, and the teams will have a handshake before the game. "It was decided by both schools, and I think it's an outstanding tribute to Jazz," Edsall said.
  • Blidi Wreh-Wilson is listed at the starting cornerback slot opposite Robert McClain at cornerback Saturday at West Virginia. But he is also questionable with an ankle injury. Gary Wilburn will back him up. Robert McClain and Nick Williams will get looks in practice as punt returners. Edsall said it could be one or both for Saturday.
  • Marcus Easley will start at wide receiver. Jory Johnson will start at Husky linebacker, as Scott Lutrus is out again. Jerome Junior will start at safety ahead of Aaron Bagsby. Sio Moore is also out.

More to come

Monday, October 19, 2009

Edsall updates situation

Randy Edsall just finished his 10 minutes on the Big East call. He has another tough day ahead. He'll be picking up Jasper Howard's parents at Bradley International later this afternoon. He's taking them to St. Francis Hospital to visit with Dr. William Marshall, the attending physician in the operating room Sunday morning, before heading over to the UConn Health Center, where Jasper Howard's body is now, and to meet with Dr. Karen Carnes.

The UConn captains decided to wear a JH sticker on the back of the helmet, Edsall said. The team will also take either Jasper's jersey or helmet with them on the road for the rest of the season.

Edsall said he will be monitoring at least two players, who he chose not to name, very closely this week. "One had Jasper in his arms," Edsall said. "The other was pressuring where the wound went in and had blood on his hands. Those two young men I know were pretty deeply affected. I've talked to both each day. I've got to see where at today and tomorrow. If they don't feel like mentally they're ready to play, that's their decision. I'll honor whatever decision that they want to make. I know that will be respected by each and every player on our team."

Also, the Rutgers game on Oct. 31 will be at noon, and is the Big East game of the week.

West Virginia coach on Howard

Bill Stewart had some great things to say. First, he said West Virginia is planning to honor Jasper Howard in some way, they just haven't made an official decision yet. Stewart said that will be announced at his 1 p.m. press conference tomorrow.

"The way Jasper Howard played is I'm sure the way he lived his life, which is full speed with a lot of fun, a lot of energy," Stewart said. "Every time we punted the ball, I had my fingers crossed. He led the Big East (in punt return yardage) because he was good, not because he was lucky. He was a joy to watch, and played the game the way it was supposed to be played."

Stewart said he opened his team meeting Sunday at 3:15 p.m. with the story of Jasper and his life. "The youngsters on our team from Miami who knew him took it very, very hard. I'd like to let it go at that. Our guys were quite shaken as they should be, and they liked that young man immensely."

Investigation continuing on Howard death

Maj. Ron Blicher of the UConn Police Department said he doesn't anticipate any announcements today in the investigation of Jasper Howard's murder. The investigation continues, and Blicher said police are pursuing active leads.

On the Big East Conference call today, most coaches are all sending condolences to Jasper's family and the UConn community before taking questions.

Louisville coach Steve Kragthorpe expressed shock and sympathy. Howard played a key role in the Huskies' win over Louisville just hours before. "Jasper played a great football game," Kragthorpe said. "I had a lot of respect for him going into the game and even more coming out of the game."

"At a time like this, a close conference like the Big East has to come together," Rutgers coach Greg Schiano said.

Randy Edsall is scheduled to come on at 11:40 a.m. I'll update after he speaks.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

This one's for Jasper

Jared Nuss' excellent video tribute to Jasper Howard.

What they said about Jasper Howard

Head Coach Randy Edsall:

Opening Statement:

“I got over to St. Francis Hospital at around 1:40 in the morning, and there were already some of Jasper’s friends and teammates there trying to get information on the health of their friend. The people at St. Francis were great, and I basically was just trying to comfort everyone there for Jasper. I stayed in contact with Jasper’s mother throughout the morning, keeping her informed as to what was going on.
“At around 4:30 I was called into the operating room to identify the body. Then I got on the phone with the Doctor and we had to make a phone call to Jasper’s family. I then went down and addressed the student athletes who were there, and needless to say, that was not a very enjoyable moment. That’s when the counseling began for the players who were there, to comfort them and guide them, as a coach and a father. I let them know what we were going to do to get through this terrible tragedy that happened to a great young man.”

On the team meeting held this morning:

“We scheduled a team meeting for 6:00 AM so the players and coaches would hear the news from me, and not through the grapevine. About 90% of the team was able to make it, and I told them how we had lost a brother, a teammate, a great person, a mentor, and somebody that you love to be around. I told them it was unfortunate, and that life isn’t always fair. I also told them that life is very precious and we have to be thankful each day we’re alive for who we are. Everyone’s going to grieve a different way for this, but I told them that we have to love and support one another, and help each other through this difficult time. The team was heartbroken and devastated, but I told them to remember what Jasper would have wanted us to do. They all know that Jasper would want us to take our time to grieve, but then move on and get ready for the next game.”

On Jasper’s development since coming to UConn:

“Jazz grew so much in the two and a half years that he was here. The strides that he made, not only as a player, but as a person, is just incredible. You could tell a huge difference this year in the way Jasper played; you could see how much his maturity level and willingness to play as part of a team had improved...They don’t come any better than Jazz.”

On things that will be done to honor Jasper’s memory:

“I told the men who were at the hospital that we will remember Jazz for the rest of the season, whether it be his initials on our helmet, his number on our helmet, or something else. Whatever the NCAA will allow us to do to honor his memory, we will do. We will also have something in (the Burton Family Football Complex) to remember what he has done and how tragic of a situation this is today. I also spoke to Jasper’s girlfriend down in Miami, and I let her know that her baby, Jasper’s baby, would be part of our family forever. I told her I’d make sure that the baby receives some memorabilia including yesterday’s game ball to remember him by.”

Senior Captain Desi Cullen (P)

Opening Statement:

“Speaking for the team, as part of the family, we’ve been grieving quite a bit. I came here thinking the tough part was over, but it’s not. That just goes to show you the bond that you create as a teammate. It shows you the impact he made, not only on me, but on every individual in the program. You may come here from a tougher background that doesn’t have the same level of support or family as everyone else, but when you come here and invest the time and effort, you create a bond that can never be broken. That’s one of the things Jazz achieved while he was here, a bond with us that will never be broken or forgotten.”

On Jasper’s family:

“Hearing the news that he’s a father breaks my heart. The idea that he will grow up without a father to raise him will be extremely tough for that child. Along with Jazz looking down on him, that child will have 105 uncles to look up to. As a team, we’re going to make sure that we don’t just get through these times, but that we grow from it and become better men because of Jazz.”

On the team’s relationship with Jasper:

“From a team standpoint, our prayers go out to his mother. Jazz grew up from childhood with a tough background, and the simple fact that he got to where he did is a miracle. He was able to overcome everything and come all the way up to Connecticut where his mother thought he was safe. Jazz is our brother—to some he was closer than others—but when this happened we all felt the same. There’s a saying in our locker room that if you shed this blood with me today, you shall forever be my brother. I promise you that this team will never forget him.”

Updating Howard stabbing

Randy Edsall said during his press conference this afternoon that he was informed that Howard was stabbed and arrived at St. Francis Hospital in Hartford around 1:30 a.m. Other members of the football team were also waiting in the emergency room's lobby. Around 4:30 a.m., Edsall was called in to identify the body.

He made the difficult call to Howard's mother, Joangila, to break the news. Edsall also learned Howard was going to be a father. His girlfriend is pregant.

The investigation is ongoing. Maj. Ronald Blicher of the UConn Police Department said there were over 300 at the dance, who all were forced to evacuate into the street when a fire alarm was pulled. An altercation occurred, where Howard and another were stabbed. Blicher said there is no indication the fire alarm predicated the murder, he believes it merely occurred prior to the altercation. Blicher said there is no weapon in custody at this time. He also said the university community should not feel threatened as this was not a random act.

ETA: There is a suspect, a male, who has yet to be identified.

Tragedy at UConn

Email alert from UConn to students:

UConn Police, with assistance from the CT State Police Major Crime Unit, are investigating a stabbing that occurred at approximately 12:33 AM on Sunday, October 18, 2009 at the Storrs campus.

At 12:33 AM, UConn Police found that two victims had been stabbed, both located in close proximity to the other along Hillside Rd. Both victims were transported from the scene by UConn ambulances to Windham Community Memorial Hospital.

UConn Police and CT State Police are actively investigating the incident which occurred subsequent to the evacuation of a sponsored dance at the UConn Student Union. A fire alarm pull station was activated at 12:26 AM and the altercation occurred outside the building between two groups of people after the evacuation. The stabbings occurred during the altercation.

One of the victims of the stabbing had been airlifted by Lifestar helicopter to St. Francis Hospital in Hartford, CT where he later succumbed to his injuries. The deceased is identified as:
Jasper T. Howard (UConn student) DOB 01-28-89
Miami, Florida

The second victim, who is not being identified, has been treated and released from the hospital.

UConn Police and CT State Police Major Crime Unit continue to actively investigate this incident and ask that anyone with information or who may have witnessed this incident contact UConn Police at 860-486-4800.

Jasper Howard killed

Jasper Howard, 20, was stabbed to death early this morning after an altercation on-campus. He was taken to St. Francis Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Howard had 11 tackles and forced a fumble in Saturday's win over Louisville. He was a starting cornerback and returned punts.

More information soon.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Louisville win: post-game notes

From the postgame...
  • Looks like UConn finally has a reliable, big-play receiver. Marcus Easley was somewhere between 8th and 10th on the depth chart heading into the Pitt game. Now, he's the clear No. 1 after a second straight game with at least 100-yards (first time in 10 years that's happened at UConn) and touchdown. Why did it take this long to get him on the field? "Obviously, I'm not real smart because he wasn't playing," Randy Edsall said. "I take the blame for that. We've seen the consistency out of him. ... He understands his time is dwindling, and he wants to make the most of it."

  • Easley said he spent most of the preseason and the first month of the season frustrated because he couldn't get onto the field. "(I kept thinking) what am I not doing? What can I improve on," Easley said. "Coach Edsall is a man that does the right thing and puts the best guys on the field. I just wanted to continue to improve and work hard." Easley, a senior, was motivated on his own, but Andre Dixon helped keep the fire lit. Dixon, who is Easley's roommate, said he could see Easley's ability and kept pushing him to stay hungry. "It's starting to pay off," Easley said.

  • Andre Dixon has been running like a man possessed all year, and the coaches decided to ride him all the way today. He had 33 carries for 153 yards and three touchdowns, while Jordan Todman only had eight carries (and an impressive 7.9 yards-per carry). Dixon has prepared all year for the big workload, and it paid off. "I don't even feel that banged up," Dixon said.

  • The Vegas line was 13 points most of the week. There may have been a few unsavory-looking characters out there who breathed a big sigh of relief when Louisville kicker Ryan Payne missed the extra-point kick after the Cardinals meaningless touchdown as time expired. Payne missed an earlier extra-point attempt, too. Maybe he should start wearing a shoe on his kicking foot.

  • UConn made huge plays on both sides of the ball when needed. Three forced turnovers on Louisville's first three possessions of the second half were converted into 17 points. A 14-13 Huskies' lead was quickly turned to 31-13 with 50 seconds left in the third quarter.

  • "Defensively, we still have things to work on," Edsall said. That's evident. Adam Froman (the sausage king of Louisville?) looked like one of the best quarterbacks in the country for big chunks of the game. He had 16 consecutive completions from the second into the third quarter, and finished 24-of-31 passing for 295 yards. The defense made plays when needed, but it must tighten up for West Virginia next week.

  • Edsall was running up and down the sideline like a man possessed in an attempt to fire up his team in the break before the fourth quarter began. UConn has seen big fourth-quarter leads disappear too often this year, and he said he was trying to contribute in his own way. He also said it wasn't rehearsed. "I'm a spur of the moment type guy," Edsall said. "I'm not real good if I have to rehearse. I'm more effective when it's from the heart. I was hoping it wouldn't get to that situation. When you turn 50, it all goes downhill. You can't sit there and scream and holler like you did when you were 35."

So much for the forecast

Temps in the 40s, steady rain, possible sleet or snow, high winds. That's what I wrote in my UConn football game capsule in the New Haven Register this morning. Thanks, weathermen of New England. It's gorgeous today. Not a cloud in the sky. It's brisk, probably in the mid 50s, but hardly cold. It is windy however, so they didn't completely screw the pooch on the forecast.

Nice Homecoming crowd expected, too, so it's good the weather will be nice.

Kickoff in about an hour and 15 minutes.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The picks, week 7

Couple of quick updates from Randy Edsall today. Scott Lutrus is out. Robbie Frey and Twyon Martin, listed as questionable Sunday, are both set to resume their duties. No decision yet on the starting strong safety. Might be one, might be both, Edsall said. Also, the forecast isn't pretty for Saturday. Mix or rain and snow with temperatures in the 40s. Edsall is glad the cold weather arrived already so the team could get a couple of days to adjust.

Late start to my day. My son recently turned two. About a week ago he saw a paper cup on the floor, picked it up and put it in the garbage pail without being asked for the first time. Genuinely excited, I cheered and told him what a good boy he was for throwing the trash in the pail. I guess I was a little too enthusiastic in commending his initiative. He began throwing random things away, running back into the living room applauding himself. The trend has yet to pass. Now, I'm constantly finding things in the trash that shouldn't be there. Brand new toys. DVDs. The TV remote. This morning, it was my car keys, wallet and cell phone. Unfortunately, I searched around the house for a good 20 minutes before realizing my son had probably thrown them away. On the bright side, he's gotten past the "throw everything in the toilet" phase. I have to admit, it is a step up.

On to the picks. I hate to pat myself on the back (ah, who am I kidding?) but not only did I pick 12 of 13 games last week, but won the weekly competition for the second time in three weeks. My theory of picking winners based on the best fodder for lame one-liners has become fool proof (get it? fool proof). Only took four years. Let's see how long it lasts.

Game 1: Oklahoma (+4) over TEXAS - The most searched topic on Google Wednesday? Rachel Glandorf. She's a hurdler at Baylor and also happens to be Colt McCoy's girlfriend. Rick Reilly mentioned she was "hot" in his last column, and the horn dogs did the rest. When your trophy girlfriend becomes the story, it never turns out well. Sooners win it outright.

Game 2: Missouri (+7) over OKLAHOMA STATE - Let me amend the previous comment. A trophy girlfriend becoming a story doesn't turn out well unless you're A-Rod (for now...let's see what happens against the Angels). Maybe Kate Hudson can make a career out of curing athletes who choke under pressure. Tony Romo is anxiously waiting for the inevitable break-up.

Game 3: Louisville (+13) over CONNECTICUT - Rumor has it Louisville has targeted Jon Gruden and is ready to throw millions at the current MNF analyst to take over for Steve Kragthorpe. Why stop there? Why not go after Tony Dungy. Bill Cowher. Bill Parcells. The ghost of Romeo Crennel? They'll all be equally disinterested.

Game 4: Iowa (+3) over WISCONSIN - Whatever. One good thing about the ALCS is our ears won't be subject to Chip Caray butchering every call. He's doing the NLCS. I've never heard him call a Braves regular season game (his full-time gig), so I don't know if he's like this all the time. Maybe he needs glasses. Maybe he just gets nervous in big games (maybe he should start dating Kate Hudson). The best way to describe Caray in the playoffs comes from Phil Mushnik of the New York Post, who likens Caray to "an interpreter who can speak with a French accent but doesn't know French."

Game 5: WEST VIRGINIA (-21) over Marshall - Thundering Herd haven't been the same since they let go of coach Matthew McConaughey. They don't get as many chicks, either.

Best coach Marshall's ever had. Alriiight, alriiiight, alriiiiiiiight.

Game 6: Southern California (-10) over NOTRE DAME - Notre Dame defense is bad. USC offense is decent. Irish haven't played a decent opponent yet, and are due to be blown off the field. This is the day.

Game 7: Virginia Tech (-3) over GEORGIA TECH -

Game 8: North Carolina State (+3) over BOSTON COLLEGE - Tom O'Brien returns. Boston College fails to rise to the challenge for the second straight week.

Game 9: ALABAMA (-17) over South Carolina - In tribute to the passing of Captain Lou Albano, Nick Saban and Steve Spurrier will walk the sidelines wearing Hawaiian shirts, hoop earrings and rubber bands stuck on their faces.

Game 10: Georgia (-7.5) over VANDERBILT - Georgia won't win because coach Mark Richt is too nice. At least that's what his critics are say. Would they rather have Tom Cable or Mike Locksley? And is punching out your assistant coach a new phenomenon or has this been going on for years? Cable and Locksley are doing it all wrong, anyway. Why throw hands behind closed doors at coaches' meetings? Forget the Knute Rockne speech. Why not rally your team at halftime by first berating the performance of said assistant coach, and then flooring him with a right cross? It might work, it might not. But I say if you're going to do it, make it count.

Game 11: Miami-Fla. (-14.5) over CENTRAL FLORIDA - Only a matter of time before UCF joins the Big East.

Last week's results
1. Chip 12-1
2. Rich 11-2
3. Sammy 10-3
4. G-Five 9-4
wil 9-4
uconnbob 9-4
caleb 9-4
govenorphalen 9-4
9. pete 8-5
vinny 8-5
11. Sean O 7-6
rick c 7-6
13. McFred 6-7
14. gary 5-8

Updated standings
1. Sammy 39
2. UConnBob 38
3. Chip 37
Wil 37
5. Sean O 35
pete 35
Govphalen 35
8. Rich 33
9. Gary 32
10. Rick C 31
caleb 31
12. Vinny 26
13. JZ 20
14. McFred 19
15. Mike B 13
16. ian 9
G-Five 9
18. DanO 8
19. salami 6

Get your picks in by clicking "comments" link below. See you on the chat.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Me and Joe D

UConn radio man Joe D'Ambrosio on the Thursday live chat at 2 p.m. Ask him questions about UConn football, basketball, major league baseball, broadcasting, physics of the perfect golf swing. Anything!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Cody Endres wins UConn QB job

More news and notes from Tuesday's media session.

  • Zach Frazer is miffed about losing the starting quarterback's job. He didn't come out and say it, but it was evident in his body language and with some of his answers. Or non-answers. He offered "no comment" when asked if he could see the decision coming as well as when he was asked about Endres' play. But, to be fair, there would be cause for real concern if he wasn't upset with the decision.

  • Frazer did say he understands his new role, and will respect the fact that he needs to be ready to play at any time. He also said he feels 100 percent healthy. "I feel great," Frazer said. "I can cut, run." Later, he said “Of course, every player wants to be on the field. “The injury, I had no control over that. Coming back, I understand my role. I’m still a leader of this team. I still want to be a part of this team. I love playing for UConn. But I have to respect my role and be ready to play in case something happens.”

  • Endres said the relationship between he and Frazer is "very business-like. We do the football stuff. Other than that, not really. But it's nothing that concerns me too much. He helps me on the field, and that's what's expected. And I helped him out as well when I was in his position. I think that's what it should be. I think he wants to win as much as me, and that's what we have to do."

  • Victor Anderson has slumped somewhat after a monster freshman season. After three strong games to start the year, he had 22 yards on 10 carries against Utah and 51 yards on 12 carries against Pitt. Last weekend against Southern Miss, he ran well before leaving the game with a minor injury. Louisville coach Steve Kragthorpe says he'd like Anderson to have around 30 touches per game. But Anderson has been "banged up" much of the year. "I wouldn't even call them injuries," Kragthorpe said. "He's not been able to do as much as we'd like. He's yet to finish a game for us. Hopefully, we can get that done this week."

  • Robbie Frey, listed as questionable with a neck and head problem, is OK and will return kickoffs this weekend, according to Edsall.

  • Dixon is listed as the starter, ahead of Jordan Todman this week. Edsall says he'll probably still use them the same way even if Dixon starts. I'm not convinced. Dixon has clearly been running more effectively of late, and should seep a little more into Todman's playing time this week.

  • Edsall certainly left no gray areas this week. We usually don't get definitive answers for some things, like injuries or depth chart concerns. But we left today knowing exactly where he stood on the offensive and defensive lines as well as quarterback. He was very up front on Lutrus' situation again. He also called on players like Lindsey Witten and Robert Vaughn to step up their play. Let's hope the trend continues.

  • One thing Edsall said he did was discuss with Witten how Pitt's Greg Romeus was able to make plays when needed in the fourth quarter. UConn had contained Romeus for three quarters, but he came through when needed. He also mentioned how Cody Brown and Julius Williams did the same things last season, and told Witten that's what UConn needed him to do. "We're in league play, and Lindsey has to step up. If you can get it done with the four up front, it makes everyone else better."

  • Marcus Easley has the size and speed necessary to be a stand out in the Big East at receiver. He's 6-foot-2, 216 pounds and said he recently ran the 40-yard dash in 4.38 seconds. His performance in the spring game and during a couple of open practices led me to speculate on this blog that he might be the break out player among the receivers this season. Instead, Easley barely saw the field until last week, when he broke off a 79-yard touchdown reception that displayed both his breakaway speed and ability to catch the ball in stride. Easley, a former walk-on, said he had a recent awakening. "Just knowing that these games, theres' only seven or eight left," Easley said. "It's an understanding of what do you want to come out of this, how do you want to end your career? It's trying to take advantage of every opportunity that's given my way. It was frustrating (not being in the rotation early) but you can either get better from it or worse. I feel its only pushed me to work harder to make a contribution to this team."

  • Give Robbie Vaughn credit. He wore his Red Sox cap to the media luncheon today, though he had it turned backward.

  • UConn radio man Joe D'Ambrosio joins me for the live chat this Thursday at 2 p.m. at Please join us.

Pre-luncheon update

A couple of quick notes. More to come.
  • Erik Kuraczea has passed Mathieu Olivier on the depth chart, and will start at left guard against Louisville. Mike Ryan started against Pitt, and is now officially listed ahead of Dan Ryan as the starter at left tackle.
  • Jory Johnson is back starting at Husky linebacker for Lutrus. Ryan Griffin returns to the starting spot at tight end. Aaron Bagsby and Jerome Junior are back in as an "OR" for the starting strong safety slot. Cody Endres retains the starting quarterback slot. Marcus Easley has worked his way into the rotation, and is now backing up Michael Smith at wide receiver, taking Mike Lang's spot. Isiah Moore is also starting over Kashif Moore, though they're still listed as "OR" on the depth chart.
  • More on the QBs. "We think Cody has played well," Edsall said. "Look at the numbers. He's performing very, very well. He's performed better than Zach has."
  • Lutrus is still doubtful. Edsall said he doesn't think he'll play at this point, but said the docs and trainers won't rule him as out yet. Lutrus came to Edsall and asked if he could play onl on 3rd downs in nickel situations. Edsall went to the trainers and they told him he's doubtful.
  • With Lutrus still doubtful, Edsall is looking for someone else to step up in a leadership role. He mentioned Lindsey Witten "we need more out of Lindsey", and Robert Vaughn "he's not tackling as well as he should."

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Finishing Pittsburgh loss

My condolences, Red Sox fans. Paplebon. It's a shame. Really.
  • Three injuries of concern. DT Twyon Martin is questionable with a lower leg injury. Robbie Frey is questionable with a neck and head "situation". Scott Lutrus is doubtful with another stinger. Edsall said the news isn't all bad on Lutrus. "The one thing they tell me is his strength is even better this Sunday that it was last Sunday," Edsall said. "He feels a lot better after last night on the plane and he can do more things than he could the last time out. He doesn't have the same discomfort." That said, don't expect Lutrus to be rushed back into anything. "The main thing you lose with Scott is leadership on the defensive side," Edsall said.
  • The fourth quarter has been disastrous for UConn. Outscored 40-10 (not including Rhode Island), the defense has been stuck on the field for extended periods in both losses while the offense simply couldn't make a play. It's not conditioning, Edsall said. It's execution.
  • The quarterback situation will be addressed on Tuesday. Same with left tackle. We'll know where Frazer stands and if Mike Ryan has passed Dan Ryan then. Bagsby and Jerome Junior, too.
  • Should UConn have let Pitt score a touchdown on the final drive? At least it would have saved some time and given itself a chance to not lose. Pitt effectively ran the clock down and kicked a chip shot field goal with no time remaining. "You roll the dice either way," Edsall said, who says he feels the same about the situation today as he did after the game. "If you go ahead and let them score, who's to say we're going to go down and score anyway? You can still get a turnover or block a field goal. We didn't drive the ball all day long for any length of distance. There's always a lot of factors that go into the decisions."\

Thursday, October 08, 2009

The picks, week 6

A few updates after today's call with Randy Edsall. Scott Lutrus will start at linebacker against Pitt. Zach Frazer will be the top backup to Cody Endres at quarterback. Aaron Bagsby will start at strong safety. Ryan Griffin won't start at tight end, but will play.

On to the picks.

Game 1: West Virginia (-10) over SYRACUSE - Matchup of ex-college basketball players turned quarterback. The real story should be this matchup of two of the most electrifying players in the Big East in WVU's Noel Devine and Syracuse's Mike Williams.

Game 2: VIRGINIA TECH (-13.5) over Boston College - Hoping the good news continues for Mark Herzlich.

Game 3: Connecticut (+8) over PITTSBURGH - Lutrus' return provides emotional lift to an already strong defense. Huskies will be tough to beat Saturday.

Game 4: Alabama (-5.5) over OLE MISS -

Game 5: TENNESSEE (-1.5) over Georgia -

Game 6: Georgia Tech (+3) over FLORIDA STATE - A Florida State trustee said he wanted Bobby Bowden removed as head coach at season's end. He must not pay much attention to the program. Bowden hasn't actually "coached" in five years.

Game 7: Oregon (-3.5) over UCLA - Everytime they show LeGarrette Blount's sucker punch of the Boise State player (now running on a continuous loop on ESPN) I think of the scene where McLovin gets KOed in "Superbad". Blount's recent letter of apology published in the Oregon student newspaper about as believable as Turtle hooking up with smoking UCLA co-eds on "Entourage".

Game 8: LOUISVILLE (pick'em) over Southern Miss - Two years ago, Louisville played in the Orange Bowl. Now, they aren't even favored at home against a middling Conference USA team. And the Southern Miss head coach should begin writing a newspaper column immediately. I'd read anything written by a reporter named Larry Fedora.

Game 9: Auburn (-3) over ARKANSAS -

Game 10: Florida (-7.5) over LSU - Did Tim Tebow get injured? Suprised ESPN isn't all over it. They always underplay stories like this. And LeGarrette Blount.

Game 11: OREGON STATE (-1) over Stanford -

Game 12: RUTGERS (-30) over Texas Southern - I believe Texas Southern is led by quarterback Paul Blake, defensive tackle Sinbad and kicker Kathy Ireland. Coach Ed "Straight Arrow" Gennaro has done a nice job rebuilding this once-proud program. Wait. I'm thinking of Texas State. Meh. Probably not much difference between them. And I am aware Texas State is a fictional program.
Game 13: YALE (-3) over Dartmouth - Bulldogs get back on track.

Last week's results
1. McFred 9-3
2. Gary 7-5
Rick C 7-5
4. Sean O 6-6
wil 6-6
Caleb 6-6
Pete 6-6
8. Govphalen 5-7
uconnbob 5-7
rich 5-7
11. chip 4-8
sammy 4-8
vinny 4-8

Get your picks in by clicking the "comments" link below. See you on the chat at 2.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Chat with Chip

Another weekly live chat Thursday at 2 p.m.

Follow this link.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Another Tuesday lunch in the books

Quite an interesting Tuesday. Members of the media were speculating that the outlook seemed grim on Scott Lutrus after hearing Edsall's early comments. "Scott's tired of talking about it," Edsall said. "I'm tired of talking about it. Until we know anything more, there's no sense even talking about it. It's a nerve, and nerves react differently. It could be the whole season. I don't know. Even our doctors don't know." Could he really be done for the season? It sounded possible. Then, as we were finishing up and getting ready to head out, Edsall came back and announced Lutrus had been upgraded to probable for this week's game. Quite a turn of events.

Some other notes from the day.
  • Lutrus is back at strongside linebacker, though it's not a given he will start. He hasn't participated in contact drills in a month. However, he has gone through all the conditioning drills, so he should be fine from that standpoint. I'd expect to see him starting, and that could go a long way toward him regaining his starting spot. It's big news considering the big-play potential of the Pittsburgh offense.

  • Aaron Bagsby said he felt like he let his coaches, teammates and family down with his preseason suspension for a team rules violation. If it wasn't tough enough not being able to play, Bagsby was also prohibited from all team activities. That meant no practice, no meetings. If he wanted to lift, watch film or eat dinner, he had to do it by himself. "It was very difficult," Bagsby said. "But there was nothing else I could do at that point. All I could do was train, work harder, watch film and keep myself in shape until the opportunity presented itself to step back onto the field."

  • Pittsburgh's offense averages 38 points per game, and UConn's task will be to keep the Panthers as far under that number as possible. The last thing the Huskies want is to be in a shootout. But, "We think we can score points," Edsall said. "But we can't shoot ourselves in the foot this week. Whether it's turnovers, whether it's kicking field goals as opposed to touchdowns, we can't afford to do that. We're going to have to score points."

  • The depth chart this week lists six wide receivers; Isiah and Kashif Moore, Dwayne Difton, Brad Kanuch, Michael Smith and Michael Lange. That will be the main rotation, though Edsall said Nick Williams could get in there as well.

  • Cody Endres grew up about 30 minutes from Pittsburgh, roughly halfway between the Steel City and Morgantown, W.Va. He says he considered himself a Pittsburgh kid more than a West Virginia kid, and rooted for the University of Pittsburgh as a kid. Asked whether he thought Endres would be a little anxious playing at home, Edsall said it probably wasn't necessary. "You guys know Cody," Edsall said. "You would never think he's from Pittsburgh, you'd think he's from California because there's nothing that bothers him. I don't think this will affect him. He's laid back, but he's a competitor."

Edsall quote

Here's what Edsall told the media a few minutes ago.

"(UConn trainer) Bob (Howard) just came up to see me. Scott met with the neurologist this morning. They're allowing him to practice today. He's probable to play in the game based on how he will do (at practice today). With stingers, you never know. You get one, you can get another one. But he's been cleared to practice and play this Saturday based on how he will do this week in practice. That's the update."

Another quote from linebacker Lawrence Wilson on Lutrus' return:

"It's real important. He's like a missing piece, and now we have the full puzzle. I'm sure he'll be pumped up, and I expect a big game from him."

Lutrus cleared

The day began with Randy Edsall not even wanting to talk about Scott Lutrus' injury anymore. The coach even mentioned it was possible he could be out for the season. Ninety minutes later, Edsall entered the cafeteria for an impromptu press conference, and announced Lutrus had just been cleared by doctors to practice, starting today, and was upgraded to probable for Saturday.

Just wanted to get this up. More to come...

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Endres will start at Pitt

Randy Edsall got a little annoyed and combative on the conference call today. He even used the word "frickin'". And on a Sunday, too. Not sure exactly why Randy was so perturbed. There were no questions asked that were out of line or over the top.

Zach Frazer and Ryan Griffin are both listed as questionable this week, but don't expect either to move into a significant role for the game on Saturday. Neither has done much work at practice since their injuries.

"Cody Endres is the starting quarterback," Edsall said emphatically after questions about Frazer's chances to win the starting job this week arose. "What else do I have to say? I said the guy is questionable; the guy hasn't taken a frickin' snap yet. No. There's no way he's going to be the starting quarterback this week. Don't try to create something that's not there."

Another harmless question about Frazer really got Edsall fired up.

"So what will (Zach) have to do," a reporter asked. "Will he have to compete next week maybe? After that week?"

"I can't tell you that. The guy is questionable," Edsall. "Don't try to make something that's not there. There's no quarterback controversy. There's nothing there. Cody Endres is the starting quarterback. Zach Frazer, according to my trainers, is listed as questionable, hasn't taken a snap. I'm hoping to see maybe he has a chance to be a backup quarterback this week. That's what I'm trying to see. He's got no chance to start this week. I'm not worried about any other week. I''m worried about this week."

Edsall continued the rant a little longer, and said, "I've been up front and honest with this whole injury situation, and that's the way it will stay. There's nothing more to it than that, so please don't try to create anything."

Sounds like we're clear.

Scott Lutrus is doubtful for the week even though trainers said he looked better. He has a test on Tuesday with doctors. He's had no work in contact drills. "It's a nerve situation, and when you have nerves, they're very touchy," Edsall said. "I don't have anything more to report on it."

Thursday, October 01, 2009

The picks, week 5

We just finished up the live chat with "Fat White Guy" Rob Lunn at It was fun and informative. The transcript is posted here.

On his blog, "The Fat White Guy", Rob recently posted that one of the detectives who helped solve the Anna Le murder at Yale was photographed wearing a UConn hat in a picture that ran in People magazine. (Rob is a lifelong subscriber to Business Week, The New Yorker and People).

If anyone knows who this is, please contact Rob at He'd like to send him a free T-shirt.

Here are the weekly picks:

Game 1: South Florida (-6.5) over SYRACUSE - Beating No. 18 Florida State on the road without their star quarterback wasn't enough to get the undefeated Bulls in the polls. Hmm. This one oughta convince those savvy voters. Riiiiiiiight.

Game 2: MICHIGAN STATE (-3) over Michigan - Policy change on the Runway. Whenever we see spreads that don't make sense, we do the opposite of what our instincts tell us. (See Pitt-NC State in last week's picks.) George Costanza is a genius.

Game 3: Cincinnati (-29) over MIAMI-OH - The preseason Heisman race between Sam Bradford, Colt McCoy and Tim Tebow is over. None are deserving, even if injuries played a role in knocking them out of contention (literally, in Tebow's case). Donald Brown never really got into the conversation last season. How serious will it get for Tony Pike?

Game 4: Florida State (-4.5) over BOSTON COLLEGE - After her (soon-to-be) failed attempt at winning one of Connecticut's spots in the U.S. Senate, Linda McMahon's next move will be campaigning to become offensive coordinator at BC. She's just as qualified for that job. Hiyoooooooo!

Game 5: GEORGIA (-3) over Louisiana State -

Game 6: INDIANA (+17) over Ohio State - Whatever. Did you happen to see Det. Frank Drebin from Police Squad was undercover and umpiring the Phillies-Astros game earlier this week? That video cracked me up for some reason.

Game 7: Oklahoma (-7) over MIAMI-FL - And this is under the assumption Sam Bradford won't play.

Game 8: Southern California (-5) over CAL - Where does Stafan Johnson rank on the list of sports-related injuries so gruesome and horrifying, you get queasy just thinking about it? Right between goaltender Clint Malarchuk getting his jugular sliced by a skate blade and Adrian Beltre's severely contused testicle (ugh, I could barely type that without squirming). Beltre loses a little sympathy because of his lifelong refusal to wear a cup despite playing third base in the major leagues. That's like playing Russian Roulette. In all seriousness, we're glad Stafan is doing OK after a very scary mishap.

Game 9: Central Michigan (-7.5) over BUFFALO - Dan LeFevour will follow in the footsteps of Ben Roethlisberger, Byron Leftwich and Chad Pennington to become the next starting NFL quarterback out of the MAC. Also, a little known fact, my real first name is Chippewa. That's right. Chippewa Malafronte.

Game 10: ILLINOIS (+7) over Penn State - Another little publicized fact: Penn State hired John Turturro to stand in for Joe Paterno as coach this season. JoePa's been home playing pinochle since June. Not only do they look exactly alike (despite a 30-year age gap), but the difference in coaching style is negligible.

Paterno? Turturro? Who can tell?

Game 11: STANFORD (-5) over California-Los Angeles (also known as UCLA) - Some interesting facts about Hollywood actor Mark Harmon. His father won the Heisman Trophy at Michigan in 1940. He started at quarterback at UCLA in 1972 and 1973. He engineered a stunning upset of two-time defending national champion Nebraska in 1972. He's been married to Pam Dawber (Mindy from "Mork and Mindy") for 22 years. At one time, he called Ricky Nelson and John DeLorean his brothers-in-law. His nephews, Matthew and Gunnar, formed one of the more embarrassing rock groups of all-time: Nelson. He starred in "Summer School", perhaps the most underrated comedy of the 1980s. He's in his seventh season starring in the CBS series NCIS. Still not enough to make me go with UCLA this week, but fascinating nonetheless.

Game 12: CENTRAL CONNECTICUT STATE (-22) over Sacred Heart - My alma mater has wins over perennial Division I-AA power Lehigh and Ivy League also-ran Columbia (now coached by Norries Wilson). They also played respectably against William & Mary, ranked 7th in the nation. The atmosphere is electric in New Britain these days. I may drive up to Elmer's for a Natural Light draft tonight, just for old time's sake.

Here are the results from last week:

1. Chip (finally!) 7-4

sammy 7-4

3. govphelan 5-6

Sean O 5-6

UconnBob 5-6

6. Pete 4-7

gary 4-7

Rick C 4-7

JZ 4-7

McFred 4-7

Vinny 4-7

12. Caleb 3-8

wil 3-8

Rich 3-8

Uconnhuskies86 3-8

And the updated season standings:

1. Sammy 25

2. UConnBob 24

3. Wil 22

Sean O 22

5. Chip 21

Pete 21

Gov.Phalen: 21

8. JZ 20

Gary 20

10. Rich 17

Rick C 17

12. caleb 16

13. Vinny 14

14. Mike B 13

15. ian 9

16. salami 6

17. Mc Fred 4

Get your picks in by clicking the "comments" key below.

Fat White Guy on the Runway today!

Get your questions ready for Rob Lunn today at 2 at