Sunday, November 29, 2009

Greg Lloyd out for season

Greg Lloyd will have knee surgery this week, and is out for the season. He tore his ACL and MCL in his left knee. It's a lengthy rehab, and Lloyd will likely miss the spring practice sessions. Randy Edsall is hoping Lloyd will be ready to resume practicing until August.

Scott Lutrus moves over to middle linebacker. Jory Johnson takes over Lutrus' spot at the Husky linebacker slot.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Summing up the Syracuse win

From the post game...
  • Randy Edsall will know more about Greg Lloyd's status Sunday. Lloyd was helped off the field in the fourth quarter.

  • The offense is running on all cylinders. That's due to the passing game. Marcus Easley is as dangerous a receiver as there is in the conference. Twice, when the Huskies needed a big play, he came through -- the 42-yarder setting up a huge score just before halftime and the touchdown late with the lead still 11. Edsall, for the first time, mentioned Easley has a chance to continue his career at the next level. He could be moving into the top half of the draft.

  • Speaking of that late Easley TD, which came on 4th-and-10 from the 27 with 47 seconds left, Edsall said the outcome was still in doubt there. It was 42-31, and in a crazy season that's seen enough last-minute meltdowns there was no reason to doubt Syracuse was still in the game. That's why they felt the need to go for it. I'm sure Doug Marrone wasn't thrilled, and he appeared to have a choice word for Edsall during the postgame handshake. But I don't think it was piling on.

  • Jordan Todman went over 1,000 yards today. Andre Dixon could get there next weekend. The coaching staff believed it could be done, Edsall said. "We've seen Andre do this before," Edsall said. "The unknown was could Jordan do what he's done and stay healthy. We knew Andre was durable. It still comes back to the offensive line."

  • Dixon's 45-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter, which put UConn ahead 42-24, was not the play offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead called. Frazer got the signal from the sideline mixed up, and essentially called his own play. "We said obviously we don't know what we're doing," Edsall said. "We might as well let Zach call all the plays."

  • Mike Lang's kickoff return made it three times in four games there's been a touchdown on a kickoff, and by three different players. UConn also has a punt return for a score, and has gotten tremendous punting from Desi Cullen as well.

  • While the offense is lighting up the scoreboard, the defense is allowing the opposition to do the same. This marked the third straight game UConn has allowed at least 30 points, and and the seventh its allowed at least 24. Quite an odd role reversal from previous years, when it was the defense constantly bailing out the offense. "They just aren't executing," Edsall said. "Sometimes the offense and special teams has to carry you. That's why it's a team. You look out for each other."

  • Another monster day by Lawrence Wilson. He had 13 tackles at halftime and finished with a career-high 17. Edsall wasn't totally impressed. He was on Wilson's case in practice earlier in the week, and wasn't exactly gushing about him after the game. "You want me to tell you about the (tackles) he missed?" Edsall said when asked about Wilson's 17 tackles. "He's shown up each week, but we know he can play better. There were too many mistakes (by the defense) and it's hard to single out anyone."

  • Getting to six wins is an achievement in itself, and the Huskies well almost certainly play in a third consecutive bowl game. Still hard not to think how close this team is to being 10-1, or even 11-0 right now. The offense is at a point where it can score points against anyone, and will be a handful for an SEC opponent (should they get to Birmingham, Ala. as is expected). The defense will need to sharpen up or else the next two games will be shootouts.

  • UConn's 56 points is the most its scored since a 59-0 win over Liberty in 2005, and is the most against a FBS opponent since it scored 63 in a win over Kent State on Nov. 9, 2002. Wilson has 130 tackles this season, and can pass Alfred Fincher's Division I-A school record of 140. John Dorsey's mark of 184 in a season is out of reach, unless Wilson pulls out a pair of 27 tackle games to end the year.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The picks, Turkey Day edition

Hope everyone is having a Happy Thanksgiving. I still haven't had a morsel of food because I have spent the day working. Covered the Foran vs. Law high school football game in the morning (Foran 44, Law37), then came home to bang out a quick game story and get on Randy Edsall's 2 p.m. conference call. Blog, another story, and then it's turkey time.

Here's what came out of the call...No new injuries or depth chart changes. Erik Kuraczea is probable, everyone else a full go. Dave Teggart has kicked well at practice this week, his mechanics are fine, Edsall said. The team practiced today, and some of the locals were allowed to go home for Thanksgiving. Edsall said it was like the Indianapolis 500 out of the practice facility today, which makes sense since the guys have to be back on campus by tonight for an 11 p.m. curfew.

And a few random observations and notes before we get to the picks.

  • My 2-year old is obsessed with Sesame Street. I made the mistake of picking up an Elmo Christmas DVD for five bucks in the bargain bin at Target last week. Every morning since, I've been awoken at 6 a.m. by him shoving the corner of the DVD case in my face, saying, "Elmo. Please. Elmo. Please. Elmo. Pleeeeeeeeeease." Thus, I went with the Big Bird Thanksgiving photo to lead off the blog today.

  • Nathan's makes a killing every Fourth of July with it's hot dog eating contest. So why hasn't someone come up with a Thanksgiving dinner eating contest? Boston Market could sponsor, and it'd be an instant hit. It wouldn't have to be speed eating, either. All the contestants would get a 20-pound turkey with all the trimmings. Then they get two hours to eat as much as possible. Just imagine the tryptophan kicking in around 90 minutes and Kobyashi passing out face first into a bowl of yams. Come on...tell me you wouldn't watch.

  • What a bizarre week in college football. And so much surrounding UConn and Notre Dame. Charlie Weis is done, and so are the Irish. If you saw the video of them half-hearted singing the Notre Dame alma mater after losing to UConn, you saw a team with zero left in the tank. No chance in hell they beat Stanford this weekend. Then, an irate fan punches out Jimmy Clausen outside a restaurant. ND's athletic director cancels Weis' planned recruiting trip out west following the Stanford game like a father taking the car keys away from his teen aged son because he failed Chemistry. And then, Weis gets a vote of confidence from, of all people, Brady Quinn. Who's next, Rick Mirer? Maybe Ryan Leaf can vouch for him, too.

  • Perhaps Tom Williams was buried knee-deep in Harvard game tape. But you'd have thought the Yale football coach must have heard at least a little of the endless discussions dissecting Bill Belichick's 4th-down call earlier that week. I was one of the few who didn't have a problem with Belichick going for the kill there on 4th-and-2. But it's impossible to defend Williams' decision to go for it on 4th-and-22 from his own 25 with a three-point lead over Harvard late in the fourth quarter. Sure, the Crimson could have wound up winning anyway. But make them work a little to get there. Yikes.

  • This video is pretty darn funny. Just give it a chance.

On to the picks. We began the year with around 20 competing each week, and the field has been trimmed to roughly 11 regulars. As a Thanksgiving Day treat, I'll provide an expanded menu of games to whet your appetite. Time to pull on my eatin' pants with the elastic waist band.

Game 1: North Carolina (-6) over NORTH CAROLINA STATE

Game 2: SOUTH CAROLINA (+3) over Clemson

Game 3: CONNECTICUT (-14) over Syracuse

Game 4: DUKE (+4.5) over Wake Forest

Game 5: Mississippi (-8) over MISSISSIPPI STATE

Game 6: Oklahoma State (+8) over OKLAHOMA

Game 7: New Mexico (+44.5) over TEXAS CHRISTIAN

Game 8: Boston College (-6) over MARYLAND

Game 9: KANSAS (+3) over Missouri

Game 10: Miami-Fl. (-6) over SOUTH FLORIDA

Game 11: FLORIDA (-24.5) over Florida State

Game 12: VIRGINIA (+16) over Virginia Tech

Game 13: Arizona (-3) over ARIZONA STATE

Game 14: BYU (-7.5) over Utah

Game 15: Georgia (+8) over GEORGIA TECH

Game 16: STANFORD (-10) over Notre Dame

Game 17: Ucla (+13) over SOUTHERN CAL

Game 18: Arkansas (+3.5) over LOUISIANA STATE

Game 19: Navy (-10) over HAWAII

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

Last week's results

1. rick C 8-4

2. uconnbob 7-5

gary 7-5

pete 7-5

5. chip 6-6

govphalen 6-6

caleb 6-6

wil 6-6

mcfred 6-6

10. vinny 4-8

11. sammy 3-9


1. calebmandrake 75

UConnbob 75

3. Wil 73

governorphalen 73

5. Chip 72

6. Pete 70

7. sammy 66

8. Vinny from East Haven 65

Rick C 65

10. SeanO63

Gary 63

12. mcfred 59

13. rich 39

14. JZ 20

15. Mike B 13

16. big donny 11

17. ian 9

G-Five 9

19. DanO 8

20. salami 6

21. joba 4

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Another Tuesday and lots of notes

Another Tuesday, another press conference (and another lunch...chili. never a good idea to feed chili to the media. luckily, it's a very small crowd down here in the Gampel hallway today).
  • Let's address the hot button issues first. Kansas coach Mark Mangino is on the hot seat. Kansas athletic director Lew Perkins hired Randy Edsall while at UConn in 1999, and the two seemed to like each other while in Storrs. So the least surprising rumors coming out of Lawrence, Kansas recently were that big Lew gave Edsall a call to put out a feeler for the job. Not true, Edsall said, who otherwise brushed off the question. "You guys know me," Edsall said. "Do you think I'm going to touch that (question) with a 10-foot pole? I just go about my business. I can't control what's being said or the rumors that have spread, those things. I haven't talked to anyone. I just want to get this team prepared for Syracuse. That's the only thing that's important to me. All that other stuff none of us can control, and there's no sense talking about it when there's nothing to talk about."

  • Edsall also wouldn't address UConn's chances of playing Notre Dame again, but said he'd be willing to do so once the season if finished. We know Edsall doesn't want to pursue the series if the Irish aren't willing to come to Rentschler. UConn fans can thank Tennessee and Michigan for the bargaining power. Beating Notre Dame on their turf helps a lot, too. It would seem that as long as the two sides can agree to play here, more games will occur. I think it will happen.

  • More on scheduling. Northeastern announced it will drop football immediately. That affects UConn, who was scheduled to play the other Huskies next fall. The athletic director is already on the phone looking to fill the slot. Edsall expects to get another FCS opponent, though it won't be easy as most schools are set for next season. Of course, there are a bunch of Colonial Athletic Association schools with an open date now, so odds that's where the replacement game will come from. The game was slated for Oct. 9, 2010.

  • Just looking ahead to 2010, very few Division I-A schools even have open dates. Only New Mexico State (Sept. 4) still has a game to fill and UConn is at Michigan that day. Other area I-AA teams like CCSU, Albany and Stony Brook have open dates, but they don't match up with UConn. Those teams aren't exactly appealing options, either. Among those with Oct. 9 open dates include Liberty and NC Central. My very early prediction is it will be either Delaware or Villanova simply because every other CAA schools already have games lined up with FBS teams. But money talks, and schedules can always be rearranged, so expect anything.

  • Edsall said the celebration of beating Notre Dame ended with the start of practice Sunday. "Last week doesn't matter this week," Edsall said. "All the focus and attention is on Syracuse."

  • Greg Lloyd's helmet-jarring hit of Armando Allen on the goal line made the front page of the Chicago Sun-Times, and was also in the Chicago Tribune. "I guarantee that one will be up in the hallway here soon," Edsall said. "The only reason Greg got that hit is because of what the linemen did in front. The defensive line made a new line of scrimmage on the other side of the ball, and Greg timed it perfect. I wish everything was a goal line because it seems he has a knack of making those plays."

  • Speaking of monster performances by UConn linebackers, Lawrence Wilson continues to post huge game after huge game. He had his second 16-tackle game of the season, and is now fourth in the country with 113 tackles this season. Wilson also has a chance to top Alfred Fincher's I-A school record of 140 tackles this season. "We definitely gained a lot of confidence as a defense (coming off the Notre Dame win," Wilson said. "Guys like Blidi, Jerome Junior and Gratz, they did a 180 from the previous game against Cincinnati. I thought they came out and played with confidence. They believed in themselves this week." Wilson is a man of few words who conducts himself with the maturity of a professional. He even looks like he's been in the pros for 10 years already. No doubt there are more than a few current NFL players who could take a lesson from Wilson, a guy who will certainly get his chance to play in the league in two years.

  • Blidi Wreh-Wilson continues to his development, which is fairly astonishing considering he played only one year of high school football. A soccer player in Pennsylvania, Wreh-Wilson went out for football as a senior and drew attention for his athleticism. Edsall said UConn coaches Matt Cersosimo and Todd Orlando went to see one of Wreh-Wilson's high school teammates play during a recruiting trip two years ago, only to come back with glowing reports about Wreh-Wilson. "He's been playing on a bum wheel all year," Edsall said. "He still has to get stronger. But he and Gratz have the chance to be pretty good football players."

  • Donald Brown ran for 2,083 yards last fall. Jordan Todman and Andre Dixon have combined for exactly 1,800 with two games and, perhaps, a bowl still to be played. Asked if UConn is better running the ball this year than last year, Edsall pumped the brakes. "If I say yes, that's an indictment of Donald Brown and I would never say that," Edsall said. "You guys know how I feel about Donald. I think because we've been more productive throwing the football we've been able to have as much productivity in the run game. I think we're getting more snaps this year too because of the pace we're playing at on offense. It goes to show you can't replace Donald Brown with one guy. It took two to replace him."

  • When Greg Paulus decided he wanted to play a year of college football following his basketball career at Duke, he contacted a few schools. UConn was not among them, Edsall said. But Edsall said he has great respect for Paulus being able to do what he's done after being away from the game for so long.

  • Running backs coach Terry Richardson missed the Notre Dame trip to attend the funeral of his mother Saturday. He was able to get back in time to watch the last few minutes of regulation and overtime. "He saw the best part," Edsall said.

  • I haven't given a lot of thought to the bowl scenario, but it's certainly looking better for the Huskies. The question may be is UConn better off at 6-6 than 7-5? Wins over Syracuse and USF in the final two would almost certainly set the Huskies up for a trip to Birmingham, Ala. If there's enough SEC teams eligible to get that conference to Alabama, it makes for a better matchup. Still, it's not the most desirable of locations and will be a tough sell for UConn fans. But should UConn lose one of the next two or, if Notre Dame stuns Stanford this weekend (which they won't...the Irish looked like a team beaten down in the moments after losing to UConn...and not just because Jimmy Clausen was about to get sucker-punched by an irate fan at a restaurant...the Irish are done), and somehow the cards fall so the Huskies get pushed to Washington, DC...the proximity and excitement potential of the nation's capitol might do wonders for ticket sales.

I'm starting to regret that chili about now. Ugh. Hey, no chat this week, but I pledge to have a Thanksgiving edition of the weekly picks up by Thursday night.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Huskies size up college football's big stage

Here are a few pictures from UConn's walk through at Notre Dame Stadium on Friday afternoon. Thanks to WTIC color man/photographer Wayne Norman for the images. Wayno must have missed the Randy Edsall/Gene Hackman tape measure scene, but much appreciated anyway. Enjoy.

Under the national championship banners from 60 years ago. Very intimidating.

Randy Edsall about to do his Norman Dale impression.

"I think you'll find it's the exact same dimensions as our football field back in East Hartford. OK. Let's get dressed for practice."

Erik Kuraczea ain't impressed.

Touchdown Jesus. Not the least bit blasphemous. I still love it.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Wake up the echoes

Couple of quick notes from Edsall's call today.

  • No new injuries, everyone is full-go aside from Bennett, Endres, Frey, Dabney and Yurek who are all done for the season.
  • Running backs coach Terry Richardson won't make the trip to Notre Dame. His mother lost her battle with cancer earlier this week, and the funeral is this weekend. Condolences to coach Richardson.
  • Edsall said Jordan Todman has been running much better and hinted that Todman has a foothold on getting the bulk of carries. "He's been very productive and is developing into a really nice running back," Edsall said. "What I mean by that is he's understanding what has to's patience to the line and speed to the hole. If he continues to do that, he'll be very productive as a running back.

Edsall said UConn leaves at 2 p.m. for South Bend Friday and will head directly to Notre Dame Stadium for 15 or so minutes to see the locker rooms, field and to get their bearings.

Here's how I envision the scenario. The UConn team buses pull in front of Notre Dame Stadium, and the players make their way into the belly of the park, eventually hitting the field through the locker room tunnel. Randy Edsall notices his players gazing around at the surroundings with jaws agape as they exit. The 80,000-plus seats. The Golden Dome. Touchdown Jesus.

He pulls a tape measure out of his jacket pocket.

"Desi," he says. "Put this end on the goal line."

Edsall, holding the other end, walks to the opposite end zone. (Hey, it's a long tape measure).

"What's it say?" Edsall asks.

"100 yards," Cullen says.

"100 yards!" Edsall repeats for all to hear.

He walks back to the opposite end zone.

"Mike Hicks, put Jordan on your shoulders," Edsall says. He hands Todman an end of the tape measure.

"Put this on the cross bar."

Edsall holds the other end on the turf beneath the goal post.

"How far?" Edsall asks.

"10 feet," Todman says.

"10 feet!" Edsall repeats. "I think you'll find they're the exact same measurements as our field back in East Hartford! OK. Let's get dressed for practice."

Who am I kidding? That would never happen. It'll probably unfold more like this.

The team walks past a yellowing photo of the Fighting Irish's 1929 national championship team. A few players stop to look.

"Undefeated?" someone says.

"Yep. They were unstoppable back then," Edsall replies. "Great teams year in and year out."

Edsall keeps walking. The players look a little longer.

"Notre Dame's biggest guy is 210 pounds," someone else says. "Our punter weighs 210."

"And what's with those leather helmets? Are they playing football or flying World War I bi-planes? They don't even have face masks."

"We'd beat those guys by 50. Maybe more."

They nod in agreement, and move on. Tradition doesn't win football games.

Oh yeah, and in the background, a burly groundskeeper can be heard yelling at a smallish, nerdy kid in a weather-worn Notre Dame jacket. "You're 5-foot nothing! You weigh 100 and nothing! You have nary a speck of athletic ability! And you hung in with the best college program in the land for two years!"

Only play Notre Dame to get it all out of my system. Deep breath...OK. On to the picks:

Game 1: BOSTON COLLEGE (-3.5) over North Carolina - Half of the ACC's 12 teams are dreadful this year. Five of the remaining six range from 'OK' to decent. Only Georgia Tech can say they legitimately belong in the top 25, and even then it looks like the Yellow Jackets will be an underdog in their BCS Bowl game. But no one on ESPN ever says the ACC doesn't deserve its auto bid.

Game 2: SOUTH FLORIDA (-11.5) over Louisville - Last week I compared the Louisville-Syracuse game to the chimp victim photos. It was an inaccurate analogy. Our twisted curiosity made us want to look at the chimp lady. No one (outside of said fan bases) wanted to watch the game, which, as predicted, was every bit as gruesome as those photos.

Game 3: Ohio State (-12.5) over MICHIGAN - Rich Rodriguez says his log problem is fixed, and everything is just fine now.

Game 4: TEXAS TECH (+6.5) over Oklahoma - Sooners score three against Nebraska, and then 65 against A&M the next week. Your guess here is as good as mine.

Game 5: Connecticut (+6) over NOTRE DAME - "Paul Hornung isn't walking though that door, Notre Dame fans. Johnny Lujack is not walking through that door. George Gipp is not walking through that door. If you expect them to come walking through that door, they're going to be old and gray. Or dead for, like, 84 years. What we are is young, exciting, hard-working, and not nearly as good as we should be considering the blue-chip talent we recruit every year."

Game 6: Louisiana State (+4) over OLE' MISS - Hate this spread, but just not buying into what Ole' Miss is selling.

Game 7: Rutgers (-10) over SYRACUSE - Considering the Orange haven't scored more than 10 points in a game in nearly a month, it seems this spread is a tad low.

Game 8: MICHIGAN STATE (+3) over Penn State - How long before Joe Paterno pulls a Bud Adams and jogs off the field wielding double birds? I applaud Adams, 86, for his two-fingered salute directed at Bills fans last weekend, if only because I look forward one day reaching an age where I don't give a damn anymore, either. I'll be icing down my middle fingers on a nightly basis.

Game 9: STANFORD (-7.5) over Cal -It's been 27 years since the great kickoff return. Oh, I could watch that tromboner get knocked over in the end zone all day. What's so funny? Do you have a problem with the word 'tromboner'? Anyway, here it is once again.

Game 10: TEXAS (-27.5) over Kansas - Swear I saw Mark Mangino at Stop & Shop last night, riding around on one of those electric grocery carts and yelling at the deli counter worker because she sliced his salami too thin. Then I realized I was in Milford, Connecticut and not Lawrence, Kansas. Besides, the real Mangino is much angrier.

Game 11: Oregon (-6) over ARIZONA - Talk about your overrated conferences. The Pac-10 is making the ACC look like the NFC East circa 1991.

Game 12: Harvard (-15) over YALE - It happens every other year around New Haven. Traffic for the Yale Bowl backs up on Route 34 for miles. A couple of years ago, people were parking on my street and walking to the game. I live in Orange, and my house is almost three miles from the bowl. But it's still "The Game", even if it's not a great matchup.

Last week's results:
1. Vinny from East haven 11-0 (first undefeated week we've seen in the blog's four-year history)
2. caleb mandrake 7-4
3. uconn bob 6-5
gary 6-5
govphalen 6-5
6. chip 5-6
sammy 5-6
8. pete 4-7
wil 4-7
rick c 4-7
mcfred 4-7

1. calebmandrake 69
2. UConnbob 68
3. Wil 67
governorphalen 67
5. Chip 66
6. SeanO63
Pete 63
Sammy 63
9. Vinny from East Haven 61
10. Rick C 57
11. Gary 56
12. mcfred 53
13. rich 39
14. JZ 20
15. Mike B 13
16. big donny 11
17. ian 9
G-Five 9
19. DanO 8
20. salami 6
21. joba 4

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

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Huskies prepare for the 10th game on the schedule (against some school in Indiana)

Some notes and observations from today's media luncheon.

  • UConn coach Randy Edsall and his players held firm that Saturday's game is nothing more than the 10th game on the schedule, and that the tradition and mystique surrounding Notre Dame is little more than fodder for the fans. It's hard to disagree. Aside from a contract with NBC and a large fan base, Notre Dame has been little more than another decent FBS team. Louisville has more wins this decade than the Irish. The most famous Notre Dame football player in the lives of anyone on the UConn team is Rudy Ruettiger, and if not for the movie I doubt most of the Huskies would even know the Fighting Irish were at one time pretty special. John Silver of the Manchester J-I was asking Notre Dame trivia questions to some UConn players. He got a lot of blank stares (although, to be fair, I can't name any of the Four Horsemen, either...). But you get the point. "We're not going out there for a tour of the campus or a history lesson," Scott Lutrus said. "We're going out thereto try and win a football game."

  • Much of the press conference, as expected, centered around quarterback Zach Frazer's return to his old team. Frazer, as you know, went to Notre Dame out of high school, fell down the depth chart in the spring of 2007 and transferred to UConn. "All of that stuff happened, but you can't look back," Frazer said. "I'm here at UConn now, I'm happy where I am. I'm excited to play the team I once was (a part of), but it's just another game."

  • Both Edsall and Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis recalled their recruitment of Frazer out of high school. Both agreed Frazer was phenomenal as a junior, but lost a lot of his offensive weapons which caused his production to fall of the next season. "He was kind of a one-man gang," Weis said of Frazer's senior year. "He came here and was a good player for us. We went through a spring where it just didn't work out on the depth chart for him, and he thought it would be in his best interest to go somewhere else. It was a very cordial way in which we handled it. I'm glad to see him playing, I just hope he doesn't play very well this week."

  • Here's Edsall on what it would mean to beat Notre Dame, "It would mean our record would get to 5-5. They all count the same. It has a lot to do with where our program is and where Notre Dame has been. But it would be a great moment for UConn football. Not for Randy Edsall, but for UConn football."

  • Andre Dixon, Meme Wylie and Sio Moore are all probable after injuries. Wylie will likely move into the third tailback slot with Robbie Frey hurt, but Edsall said Anthony Sherman and even Nick Williams could see action there should anything happen to Jordan Todman or Dixon.

  • Charlie Weis was asked about Bill Belichick's decision to go for it on 4th down Sunday night, which cost the Patriots a win. "It took a lot of pressure off me," Weis said with a laugh. "That's my take. We were only a story for a day rather than two days. But I can promise you here's what happened. That situation was discussed before the game. That decision didn't happen just then. Bill is so meticulous in what he does. I'm sure it was discussed with the coaching staff that if this situation presents itself, here's what we're going to do. He doesn't do things on a whim. Ever. I've been on that headset plenty of times, and that call didn't surprise me in the least."

  • By the way, both Edsall and Weis said they probably would have punted in that situation. Me? I would have gone for it, too. It was one yard and a chance to end the game right there. Who's to say Peyton Manning wouldn't have marched the Colts 75 yards to win the game? Of course, my football coaching extends only as far as manning a controller on X-box. Still, as much as I dislike Belichick as a cheater...I mean coach...I applaud the decision. I have more of a problem with the play call. OK, the running game stinks, but how about having a receiver run a pattern a little longer than 1.1 yards?

  • Anyone else find it interesting that a player who Weis felt couldn't hack it at Notre Dame could be the same one who puts the final nail in his career with the Irish? Weis' fate may already be sealed. But if losses to Navy and Pitt are followed loss to UConn? A school still perceived as nothing more than a basketball school by the old men of influence around old Notre Dame? In front of Touchdown Jesus and the Golden Dome? Pear Bryant very well won't be around for the finale against Stanford, another loss assuring the Irish a glorious trip to, what, the Waffle House Bowl? The Five Guys Burgers and Fries Bowl? Nope. Weis will be home for Thanksgiving.

  • UConn's defense continues to pedal backwards, and it's something that needs to tighten up with another very good offensive attack. Jimmy Clausen. Golden Tate. Michael Floyd. Armando Alen. The Irish have the ability to put up points quickly. "It's killing us giving up all these big plays," Lutrus said. "We can't win games giving up 700 yards. It goes back to giving up that last play against Rutgers and against West Virginia. Even against North Carolina, we gave up a first down (on a 3rd-and-long). It's frustrating."

  • The Staten Island (N.Y.) Advance reports UConn got a verbal commitment from Lyle McCombs, a running back, from St. Joseph by-the-Sea in Staten Island who had 26 TDs in nine games and over 1,600 yards rushing. Rhode Island had also offered a scholarship. Syracuse, Albany and Hofstra were also interested.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The picks

No conference call this week. Thus, no news. However, there's a live chat at 2 p.m. Zac Boyer of joins me to talk UConn football recruiting. Hope you can join us at

It may be a bye week, but there's no rest for the weekly picks. I watched Rocky II the other night for the first time in a while, so beware:

Game 1: OLE' MISS (-4.5) over Tennessee - Three Tennessee football players were arrested early Thursday and charged with attempted armed robbery. Police reports say the players, one wearing Vols' gear, pulled their Toyota Prius alongside another car in a convenience store parking lot and demanded money while brandishing a pellet gun. It marks the first time a Toyota Prius has ever been used as a getaway car. Apparently, they didn't feel the need to get away very quickly. But at least Lane Kiffin's boys are thinking of the environment.
Game 2: Syracuse (+8) over LOUISVILLE - Sometimes it's better to just not look at certain things. For example, I really wish I didn't see those photos of the chimp attack victim released yesterday. A little too graphic for my taste. You can't un-see something like that. Consider this game the football equivalent of the chimp victim's Oprah interview.
Game 3: WISCONSIN (-8.5) over Michigan - After 40 consecutive winning seasons and 33 straight bowl appearances, the Wolverines are on the verge of a losing record for the second time in two years since Rich Rodriguez took over. It's sort of like if the 2009 Yankees, with all the talent and money they spent, had to battle with Baltimore to the final day of the season to stay out of the cellar in the AL East -- for a second straight year. Still, Michigan's athletic director is asking fans to be patient with Rich-Rod. Hmm. I'm sure that directive will settle them down.
Game 4: OHIO STATE (-17) over Iowa - No Ricky Stanzi, no Rose Bowl.

Game 5: Florida (-15.5) over SOUTH CAROLINA - I read somewhere once that Steve Spurrier used to coach the Gators. Who knew?

Game 6: Utah (+19.5) over TEXAS CHRISTIAN - It's hard to get too excited about this one after seeing this week that the real action in the Mountain West Conference takes place on the women's soccer field. If soccer doesn't work out (and it won't) Elizabeth Lambert will be perfect for MTV's The Real World - Albuquerque.

Game 7: PITTSBURGH (-7) over Notre Dame - I watched Rocky II on cable for the 4,645th time a couple nights ago. As with most movies, there's always some new wrinkle you pick up, think about in real life terms and realize how ridiculous it really is. For example. Rocky, after nearly beating the heavyweight champ of the world, is down on his luck. Doctors advised him not to fight, endorsement deals dry up pretty quick, he can't find work in the real world. So Mickey, his beloved trainer, offers him a job at the gym...not working with young fighters, but as a janitor. A janitor! Gee, thanks Mickey. Let's see. You've got a gym full of kids with dreams of getting off the rough streets of Philadelphia. You've got one of the great underdogs in boxing history begging for work. Mickey feels Rocky can best serve his gym by emptying buckets of spit and mopping up puke. Brilliant use of resources!

Game 8: OKLAHOMA STATE (-4) over Texas Tech - Whatever. Here's a good analogy based on Rocky Balboa's trials and tribulations in Rocky II. Charlie Weis is finally canned at Notre Dame. He pays an unexpected visit to Bill Belichick's palatial estate in a swanky Boston suburb asking for work. Belichick says sure, then tells him he's going to be the guy picking up jock straps and handing out towels at the Patriots practice facility.

Game 9: Arizona (+2.5) over CAL - Love Zona. And I can't let this Weis/Rocky scenario go just yet. Charlie Weis is so hard-up for work he accepts Belichick's offer. I envision Weis holding a water bucket at a Patriots practice so Tom Brady can rinse his mouth out. Brady spits into the bucket, and catches Weis with some spittle shrapnel. Weis turns and bumps into Randy Moss. "Oops", Weis says, to which Brady responds, "Hey, can't you think of anything tougher to say than oops?" OK. We're done.

Game 10: Texas (-23.5) over BAYLOR - Such high hopes at Baylor this season, and they're going to finish last in the Big XII again.

Game 11: Yale (-3.5) over PRINCETON - Usually a great late-season Ivy League is now a matchup of two of the duller teams in the league. Ever notice the severe eye injury that takes up a sizeable portion of the Rocky II plot is never mentioned again in Rocky III, IV, V or VI? Sorry, guess I wasn't done.

Last week's results

1. SeanO 6-4

Pete 6-4

3. mcfred 5-5

wil 5-5

5. joba 4-6

chip 4-6

govphalen 4-6

caleb 4-6

vinny 4-6

uconn bob 4-6

11. sammy 3-7

12. gary 2-8

Season standings

1. Wil 63


3. UconnBob 62

caleb mandrake 62

5.Chip 61

Governorphalen 61

7. Pete 59

8. Sammy 58

9. Rick C 53

10. Gary 50

Vinny 50

12. mcfred 49

13. rich 39

14. JZ 20

15. Mike B 13

16. big donny 11

17. ian 9

G-Five 9

19. DanO 8

20. salami 6

21. joba 4

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Bye week blues? How 'bout a Zac Attack? UConn writer Zac Boyer will join me on the live chat to talk Huskies' recruiting on Thursday at 2 p.m. via Join us!

EDIT: Here's the transcript from today.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Following up Cincinnati loss

A couple of quickies from Edsall's call today, which was a little earlier than usual.

Robbie Vaughn has a swollen big toe. Andre Dixon has a lower leg injury. Moe Petrus an ankle injury. Trevardo Williams and Blidi Wreh-Wilson also have ankle injuries. It's a bye week, so there's no game status. Edsall said he believes all will be fine with the rest and should be ready a week from now.

It's a good time for a bye week, Edsall said. The team is emotionally and mentally spent from the events of the last three weeks. Getting away for a couple of days will do wonders. The team gets back to practice on Wednesday.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

The picks, week 10

Well done, Yankees. To be honest, I wasn't really all that excited. I'm glad they won, but it'll never feel like it did in 1978 and 1996. And I'm always thinking of the words Sonny LoSpecchio told young Calogero in "A Bronx Tale"; that he shouldn't care about Mickey Mantle because The Mick, if times ever got tough, wouldn't help pay his father's rent. "Mickey Mantle don't care about you, so why should you care about him? Nobody cares." Sheesh. I'm well on my way to being the grumpy old man I've always dreamed of becoming.

Still, a pretty good series to watch. Valiant effort by Pedro Martinez (pictured above) for the Phillies. My hat's off, even though I still can't forgive him for tossing 72-year old Don Zimmer to the ground like a greased pig a few years ago.

More on baseball later. First, UConn news. There isn't much today. Sio Moore is out, A.J. Portee is questionable with the flu, Mike Cox and Alex Molina will play this weekend. Edsall mentioned again how much Robbie Frey will be missed, not just for his kickoff returns but his coverage on punts and kickoffs. He played all four special teams well, and it will take several men to replace him.

On to the picks.

Game 1: PITTSBURGH (-21.5) over Syracuse - Can't wait to read "The Idiots' Guide to Ruining Your Promising Career", with foreword by Mike Williams. Cole Hamels and Larry Johnson will contribute as well. And then there's LeMoyne 82, Syracuse 79. LeMoyne plays at the University of New Haven later this month in a Northeast-10 Conference game. Great week at Syracuse.
Game 2: Connecticut (+16.5) over CINCINNATI - Over/under on mentions of Ohio State, UConn's basketball program and every other school in the top 10 by Brent Musberger and Kirk Herbstreit: 122.

Game 3: WEST VIRGINIA (-19) over Louisville - T-minus four games and counting on the Steve Kragthorpe era.

Game 4: NOTRE DAME (-11) over Navy - I'll take this opportunity to provide a public service message. Prepare yourselves for two weeks of "Zach Frazer returning to Notre Dame as UConn's starting quarterback" stories around the state. They'll begin around Monday. Not being judgemental. I'll be on the bandwagon leading the charge.

Game 5: ALABAMA (-7.5) over Louisiana State - Nick Saban plays himself in "The Blind Side", which hits theaters across the nation on Nov. 20. He fits in perfectly with the phony Hollywood crowd. Sandra Bullock even asked him for tips on the best brands of spray tan.

Game 6: Oklahoma (-6) over NEBRASKA - One of my buddies, a Phillies fan, sent me an email of congratulations this morning for the Yankees win. It's just nice to know people notice all the hard work we fans put into something like this. You know, staying up past 11:30 p.m. to watch the games on TV and all. I'm certain the team couldn't have done it without me.

Game 7: PENN STATE (-4) over Ohio State - I think the Phillies should have spent a little less time on their hair and more time preparing for the Yankees. It must take Jayson Werth at least 90 minutes to fluff out his hair every day. Check out his before and after photos and tell me he's not trying too hard to achieve a 'look':

Game 8: Houston (+1) over TULSA - More on the Phillies hairstyles, because it bugged me the whole series. When did Pedro Martinez become Monty Brewster? He looks just like the Richard Pryor character from "Brewster's Millions" now. And Chase Utley had a great series, but the motor oil he slicks his hair back with was apparently a little too thick before Game 6. It was seeping into his eyes, thus the 0-for-3. Utley looks like a combination of Tweeder from Varsity Blues and the Night Slasher from "Cobra", the underrated 80s cop flick starring Sly Stallone.

Game 9: Kansas (-3) over KANSAS STATE - Big XII football, feel the excitement. This game, one of the premier league matchups Saturday, by the way, won't be nearly as painful as Fox's Chris Rose doing his post-game interviews with the Yankees. And you thought Joe Buck tries a little too hard to be "hip".

Game 10: Trinity (+1) over AMHERST - Oh, you don't follow NESCAC football? Heh, Heh, Heh. In all fairness, if you don't live near Hartford, you know nothing of this great league and rivalry. Trinity's 15-game win streak came to an end last weekend against Middlebury, spoiling a meeting of unbeaten teams. Should be a good one.

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

Season standings
1. Wil 58
UconnBob 58
caleb mandrake 58
4.Chip 57
SeanO 57
Governorphalen 57
7. Sammy 55
8. pete 53
Rick C 53
10. Gary 48
11. Vinny 46
12. mcfred 44
13. rich 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 "comments" link below. See you on the chat at 2.

Chat today

At 2 p.m. at

Weekly picks and team update available today around 1:30.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Tuesday notes: McEntee, Reggie and "The Big Easley"

Got notes?

  • Edsall equated playing on ABC at 8 p.m. Saturday to a 3-hour advertisement for UConn and the football program. "You can't buy that type of advertising," Edsall said. It's true. Even Donald Trump can only muster an hour a week with "The Apprentice".

  • Brent Musburger and Kirk Herbstreit are calling the game Saturday. Expect to hear lots and lots and lots of talk about teams other than UConn and Cincinnati.

  • Johnny McEntee will back up Zach Frazer at quarterback this week, with Casey Turner in the three hole. Mike Box will keep his redshirt. "It wasn't a long discussion," Edsall said. "You're going into you're ninth game, we have a freshman we think is talented. At this point in the season you're not going to go and put him in. And we know if something did happen to Zach, Johnny could go in and get the job done."

  • Robbie Frey had shoulder surgery this morning. He is out for the year. Mike Lang joins Jordan Todman in returning kickoffs.

  • Zach Frazer said going from being injured, to his backup status, to being thrust into the game as an emergency replacement is a little like having cold water thrown on you. "It's unfortunate Cody was injured because he was playing well," Frazer said. "I wish him the best in recovery."

  • Robert McClain said despite the differences between Tony Pike and Zach Collaros, UConn's defensive mind set must remain the same. Pike is more of a pure passer and Collaros a better scrambler, the Huskies will look to be as physical as they were last season when the beat Cincinnati at the Runway. "We want to put a lot of pressure on these guys. They're pissed off they lost to us last year," McClain said. "But we're pissed off with the losses we had. It's going to be a very aggressive, physical game."

  • Robert McClain did his best to drill the message into his defensive teammates heads that the Rutgers game still wasn't over after UConn had taken the lead. He went up and down the sidelines preaching that it was up to the defense to end it there. Little mistakes wound up costing big. "Our coach called the perfect play, our safety just has to come down hill and make that play," McClain said. "Savage didn't look anyone off that play, he was staring at Tim Brown the whole time. I was in a trail technique where I was supposed to force the ball high. It went high. I turned late to react to the ball. But Savage threw a good ball. We just have to get him down on the ground there. ... I was devastated. I was shocked on the field, I was shocked running to the locker room. I was shocked that whole night. Going back and watching that tape, it was devastating. I poured my heart into that game."

  • As Edsall alluded to Sunday, Jerome Junior is now the every down strong safety.

  • Scott Lutrus said the Huskies know they're close to being a very good team. Thirteen points is all that separates a 4-4 team from an 8-0 team right now. "We might be 4-4, but there's still four games ahead of us," Lutrus said. "It's not in the character of this team to pack it in. We're going to keep working to get more wins."

  • Lutrus was asked what his reaction was when he saw the 2-point conversion pass to left tackle Mike Ryan on Saturday. "My initial thoughts were I didn't think we'd have the balls to run it," Lutrus said, getting big laughs. "They've been running that play since camp, and I always thought 'why are they running this? It's never going to get called. I said something to coach Moorehead, and he said we haven't have to run a 2-point play yet. But they called it."

  • New Haven native Chad Dawson fights Glenn Johnson for the WBC light heavyweight title on Friday, and it got me thinking (never good). Why doesn't college football just incorporate a championship belt? Every week would provide another title shot for someone. It's definitely more exciting than the current bowl format. In fact, they wouldn't even have to change the current set-up. But a late-season upset could result in a game like the Bowl actually meaning something.

  • What I'd really like is for college football coaches and players to take a cue from boxers with regard to interviews. Boxers are the best athletes to interview because they don't care about heaping praise and respect on their opponents like other sports. Boxers say what they mean. I once had a one guy, after knocking his opponent out in the first round, tell me he "was more dangerous than unprotected sex."

  • Speaking of boxing, a moment of silence for Referee Lou Filippo, who passed away Monday at 83. Referee Lou Filippo spent more than 30 years as one of boxing's best referee's, and, more importantly, reffed all of Rocky Balboa's biggest fights, including the Christmas Day bout in Moscow where Rocky not only beat Ivan Drago, but ended the Cold War with the "If I can change, and you can change, everybody can change" speech. Historic. And a little known fact, his given name is actually Referee Lou Filippo.

  • Here's another reason to tune in to the live chats every Thursday at 2 p.m. with me at Last week, a reader named Chris suggested "The Big Easley" as Marcus Easley's new nickname. I said "brilliant." When I bumped into Joe D'Ambrosio in the press box prior to the Rutgers game, he mentioned he saw the nickname on the chat and said he was planning to use it during the game's radio broadcast. Lo and behold, when the replay of Easley's TD catch was showed on the Jumbotron at the Runway Saturday, Joe D's call of "The Big Easley!" resonated across the stadium for 37,000-plus to hear. So...thank you, reader Chris. And just wait until the story you'll have when Chris Berman inevitably uses it on ESPN Prime Time in a few years.

  • Did I ever mention how I helped mainstream "Coco" Crisp's nickname while he was a minor leaguer playing Double-A ball in New Haven? He might still be known only as Covelli Crisp, the punch-dodging, failed Red Sox now living in obscurity with the Royals if not for me and a friend at the old New Haven Ravens. Ah, a story for another time.
That's it.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

More Sunday notes

A little more of what Edsall had to say.
  • Frey is likely out for the year with a torn labrum. At some point, he'll need surgery. He is meeting with doctors again soon.

  • Jerome Junior is expected to take over as the every down strong safety. Edsall had mentioned wanting to do this last week, but still used Aaron Bagsby against Rutgers. Bagsby had a costly error on Tim Brown's winning TD catch, and Edsall sounds like he has decided to go with Junior exclusively. "I think Jerome Junior played a good game yesterday," Edsall said. "It was one of his better games at the strong safety position. He's a young kid, just a redshirt freshman, but I see a young guy getting better. He's got ability. Sometimes the young guys might make mistakes, but it will all pay off in the long run."

  • Edsall thought Frazer's performance improved. "He was inconsistent to start and made some reads he shouldn't have. Then again, he came back and did a good job of leading the team back and finished strong. Now he's going to have to be the guy and do the things that he needs to do." The biggest thing he has to do is stay within himself and take what the defense gives him. When he doesn't do that, that's when he gets himself in trouble."

  • Here's what Edsall had to say on that 81-yard Brown touchdown. "It should have never come down to that. If we took advantage of all the other things we could have taken advantage of. On play 46 (of the game, Rutgers) ran the exact same play and we had the exact same coverage. We did what we had to do on that play, and the quarterback had to run the ball on that particular play. It was one of those things where they ran the same play, we ran the same defense and we executed. Fourteen plays later, they ran the same play, same defense, we didn't execute. But you move forward, and move on. That's all you can do."

  • Edsall still believes there wasn't conclusive evidence on the Mike Ryan 2-point conversion, and has submitted video to the league. In the grand scheme of the game, it didn't matter.

  • Asked about Mike Box's status, and if he'd consider burning his redshirt if something happens with Frazer, Edsall declined comment. He said he'd get into that on Tuesday when the two-deep is released. To me, at this point, I don't see it happening. With three conference losses, there's no chance UConn can win the league title. I wouldn't think using Box would be beneficial, and would guess Johnny McEntee is now the top backup to Frazer.

UConn-Cincinnati on ABC prime time, Frey done

UConn's game at Cincinnati on Saturday will be broadcast on ABC at 8 p.m. Two other games in that window are Nebraska-Oklahoma and USC-Arizona State. It's the first time a Big East conference game has been on ABC prime time since 2003. Word on the street is there will be good national distribution of this one.

Robbie Frey (shoulder) is out this week, and probably for the season, Edsall said. He has a labrum tear, and will need surgery at some point. Mike Cox, Meme Wylie and Alex Molina are probable. Sio Moore is questionable. And Endres' surgery went well. He has a separated shoulder, and is out.