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.


Anonymous Sean O said...

I highly disagree with your assessment of ND. I'm a little biased since my whole family went to Notre Dame (I went elsewhere but I live in CT so I'm a UConn fan).

Notre Dame is still a big deal...and you can't say "aside from being on NBC every week and talked about nonstop on ESPN." Those are two really important things about Notre Dame than no other school, maybe Florida with Tebow, can say.

And we have short memories because the Brady Quinn teams in 2005 & 2006 were a very, very big deal and they did some monster TV ratings. Ditto for the Notre Dame team in 2002 under Ty Willingham that started out 8-0.

It's like the Yankees, Cowboys, etc...they just mean more, they get more coverage and heaven help the world if Urban Meyer or Bob Stoops takes ND to a title, ESPN would explode.

My point? This is UConn's 2nd biggest game ever, behind the 2007 game against WVU that would've gotten a BCS berth. You beat ND, you end up in the first 5-10 minutes of SportsCener, you get talked about and I think for the casual fan (and recruits) it gives UConn a legitimacy they don't have yet.

I'm so pumped to head out to ND, I can't even contain myself. Because UConn is going to win! Todman may have 200 yards rushing.

November 17, 2009 4:09 PM 
Blogger Chip Malafronte said...

Fair enough. It may have been a sweeping generalization. My point was more that ND has been a very mediocre program since 1994. TV and a national fan base are huge assets, but don't factor much with today's players who are on TV every week. They're used to it. They aren't intimidated by being on NBC, and certainly aren't intimidated by the storied history of a program that hasn't won a title in 21 years. But I do agree with everything in your posting, SeanO.

November 17, 2009 4:40 PM 
Anonymous MilfordMark said...


I know it is a long way from reality, but if UConn were able to beat ND (not completely inconceivable) and S. Florida (likely), are they going to be bowl bound?

Mark A.

November 18, 2009 9:22 AM 
Anonymous SeanO said...

Yea, it's almost unthinkable that Notre Dame hasn't played for a title in 20+ years with all of their advantages.

On the plus side...Notre Dame is one more horrible coaching hire from joining the Big East in football, haha.

November 18, 2009 10:42 AM 
Blogger Chip Malafronte said...


No question. Wins over ND and USF will make UConn bowl bound. Don't forget Syracuse, another likely win. At 6-6, there almost certainly will be a bowl available somewhere for UConn.

November 18, 2009 1:18 PM 
Anonymous Vinny from East Haven said...

You people are delerious. UConn can't beat ND, can't beat USF, and will be surprisingly tested by Syracuse. Sure, ND stinks, but they have at least SOME talent on their team. UConn is led by a guy who couldn't cut it there - Fraser.

I hate ND, but they win in a romp. Get realistic, folks.

November 19, 2009 9:34 AM 

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