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.


Anonymous Vinny from East Haven said...

Notre Dame of West Haven could have beaten ND-South Bend last weekend. UConn still stinks.

November 24, 2009 3:49 PM 
Anonymous Sean O said...

If Notre Dame loses to Stanford....UConn's record doesn't matter, they'll be in a Big East game and probably in Birmingham.

I think that's the best bowl scenario since the SEC has enough teams to fill up their side...and a name team like Georgia or South Carolina could be sitting there at 6-6. And the game is January 2nd, a Saturday, on ESPN.

The other option is the St. Pete Bowl, which is against a lame Conference USA opponent and a terrible pre-Christmas date (12/19).

November 24, 2009 4:20 PM 

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