Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Bye week news

It was an informal media session at UConn today. A few players stopped in to chat. Here's some of the highlights from the afternoon.
  • Edsall has used injuries to spring quarterback surprises in the past (see Matt Bonislawski at Pitt in 2005 and Tyler Lorenzen at Syracuse last year). Will there be another ruse next week with Frazer's knee improving? Brad Kanuch brought up a good point in that Cody Endres and Frazer are both pocket passers, where Lorenzen was a threat to run.

  • Kanuch says Frazer is "making strides" in practice. "For tearing his MCL, or whatever he did to his MCL, he's already taking his drops. The only thing for him may be the lateral movement. But he is making strides."

  • Mike Hicks said the offensive line was upset that Rhode Island was able to hit the quarterback as much as they did Saturday. "It was little things, little mistakes," Hicks said. "Their style of defense, there was constant movement up front. They would bring guys three gaps over from the end spots. So if you hit them good, you would make them look bad but if you didn't pick it up, they'd make you look bad."

  • Lindsey Witten dropped "7 or 8 pounds" with his stomach virus, but says he's been able to put most of it back on. He took five or six bags of saline through IV, and is right back at his playing weight. After the Rhode Island game, Randy Edsall said it looked like it affected his play. Witten said it didn't affect him at all.

  • Robert McClain talked about the need for the Huskies' to improve their defense on 3rd-and-long situations. "Those situations are supposed to be easier," McClain said. "I think we're prepared to play that down. It's just tiny things guys are doing wrong. The routes they run, we've seen them on film and everything. It's just a matter of mentally staying focused."

  • Kanuch thinks the wide receivers have continued to progress in games one to four. The biggest test will come with the start of the conference schedule at Pitt a week from Saturday. Kanuch also wondered about Edsall's comments about trimming the receiver rotation down to six. "I don't know if that's going to happen yet," Kanuch said. "They have to ta about it more. We're playing 10 guys, and not one of the receivers had over 30 reps last game. It's good because we're always fresh. But if they bring that (number) down, it could be good for certain people and certain people might be geting mad. I guess we'll have to deal with it."

"Coach Edsall is all about productivity," Kanuch continued. "Whoever is producing, he wants out on the field. If certain guys aren't producing, they should know why (they aren't in the rotation). That's the thing about coach Edsall that's good. He doesn't base the fact that I'm a senior on why I'm playing. It's because I'm producing and doing a halfway decent job. So if he wants to bring it down to six, it's going to be the six most productive people."

  • The Runway live chats will continue in the bye week with a special guest chatter in former UConn defensive tackle Rob Lunn. Less than a year out of the program, Rob has a unique insight on everything from UConn football to blogging to his experience playing in Austria. Chat time is tomorrow (Thursday) at 2 p.m. Access the chat through

Monday, September 28, 2009

UConn-Pitt time is a "six-day pick".

Network officials at ABC have notified UConn and Pittsburgh that they will invoke the six-day option for the start time of their Oct. 10 game at Heinz Field.

According to a UConn official, the game will either be broadcast at noon as the Big East game of the week (MyTv9 and/or SNY) or at 3:30 p.m. as an ABC Regional telecast. Official word will come Sunday (Oct. 4).

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Dabney done, Wylie out 4-6 weeks

Kijuan Dabney will have shoulder surgery and is out for the year. It's an injury that's bothered him since the preseason. No replacement as of yet. The coaches will look at personnel this week, and have a decision by next Sunday.

Meme Wylie will miss 4-6 weeks with a fractured forearm. Zach Frazer and Scott Lutrus remain out as the Huskies begin practice this week.

UConn is in the process of setting up a day of media availability this week, likely Wednesday, so keep an eye out for that. Also, former UConn defesive tackle Rob Lunn, proprietor of, will be joining me for the live chat Thursday at 2 p.m. Please make a note of it. Thank you.

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Saturday, September 26, 2009

A win is a win

Hard to find fault in a 42-point win. The Huskies dominated, though there were some troubling mistakes. Seven fumbles, three lost, and some missed tackles, including a big one that led to Rhody's only touchdown. Among the good things: UConn's defense limited the Rams to 1-for-15 on third down and 0-for-2 on fourth down, the offense was 6-for-6 in the red zone and took only two penalties in the game. Great numbers, but there are no more URIs on the slate from here on out.

Some postgame notes.
  • Randy Edsall said the fumbles were the result of players trying too hard to make things happen. "There's things, like after any game, that you have to work on and get better," Edsall said. "I probably didn't do a good enough job of telling the guys this week to just go out and take care of their responsibilities and plays will come to them. I thought we had some guys pressing a little to make things happen rather than letting the game come to them. Jasper with the punt returns, Desi with the punts, Cody a couple times. I'll take the fault for not getting the point across."

  • Endres had a career day with highs in completions (23), passing yards (289), longest pass (50) and threw his first touchdown pass. Edsall said he did a good job aside from holding the ball a little long on some plays. "There's 1-on-1 coverage, and guys might not be wide open," Edsall said. "He has to have the confidence to throw the ball up and let guys make a play. But I think he's gaining more confidence."

  • A quarterback controversy? Edsall won't address anything yet. Zach Frazer may not be healthy enough to return for the Pitt game in two weeks, so it's a moot point right now, he said. "Until the trainers say (Frazer) is back, I'm not concerning myself with that situation," Edsall said.

  • Jerome Junior has had his problems though four games, and he may have played his way out of a starting job today. His big whiff on Tyquan Barnum led to a 65-yard touchdown, the Rams only one of the day. Aaron Bagsby came in to replace him on the next series, and did well enough that he could be there for a while. Bagsby played that position last fall in nickel packages, and was effective today. "We were in coverage where you should be forcing the receiver inside," Edsall said. "I'm not sure we forced him inside. I was told by the player he was forced inside. But sometimes what they tell me and what I see on film is two different stories. What happened is we didn't sink back enough, and our safety took a bad angle to the ball. If he takes the proper angle in that coverage...and wraps the guy rather than put his shoulder into him."

  • Junior said afterward he made the correct first read, but missed the tackle. Badly. "At least it wasn't against Louisville or Cincinnati," Junior said. "I'd rather get those out of the way now." Junior needs to wrap the receiver there, not lower his shoulder into him.

  • There was no tinkering with the offense today. Once Rhody began to pack the box, UConn, as it expected, needed to start throwing the ball more. They were able to do that with some success thanks to Endres and strong games from receivers Michael Smith, Isiah Moore and Michael Lang. Dwayne Difton got a lot of preseason hype, but Lang and Nick Williams have been better so far. Edsall said one of the things the coaches will settle in the bye week is a rotation of six receivers who will be featured. One man's guess: Smith, Kanuch, Lang, I. Moore, K. Moore and Difton.

  • Smith said he could have played at Baylor, but with his knee he wouldn't have been very effective. He remained in Storrs for treatment while, oddly, his family made the trip to Waco from Houston for the game. He felt fine today, and it was apparent with his most productive day as a Husky (eight catches, 82 yards).

  • Johnny McEntee at QB today, and nice day for Robbie Frey (five runs, 69 yards).

  • Lindsey Witten showed he wasn't fully recovered from the stomach bug that sidelined him earlier in the week. No other big injuries, aside from Meme Wylie.

  • One thing you don't have to worry about is UConn playing a stinker against a Division I-AA team. Since 2002, the Huskies are 8-0, winning by a combined score of 384-65, or an average score of 48-8.

Catch up with you tomorrow after the Sunday conference call.

Pre-game Rhody

It's a beautiful day for a game. Looks like the fans are taking advantage, too. Under an hour to kickoff, and there are roughly 35 people in the stands. Guess this is a good one to tailgate for.

Not much pregame news to report. Oh, there's the new heightened security precautions. Pretty stringent. I just got frisked by Fish from Barney Miller. Geez. I figured he'd be enjoying his retirement. And is there a more awkward moment than preparing to be patted down? I thought I'd gotten over all that in juvie.

The URI players are doing their stretching, and Michael Jackson's "Thriller" is playing over the P.A. I'd pay anything to see them break into the choreographed dance routine from the music video. How many hits would seeing 70 football players in full pads reenacting the dance routine from Thriller? A hundred million? A billion?

I'm heading down to do the "Reporter's Roundtable" with Neill from the Connecticut Post and Bob Joyce from WTIC-1080. I enjoy the segment. But I just realized it means having to go back out to the parking lot to the WTIC gazebo. I don't mind the long walk. It's a second meeting with Abe Vigoda at the press gate that's gnawing away at me. Ugh.

See you post game with some notes.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The picks, week 4

Injury updates...Scott Lutrus is out. Mike Smith, Kashif Moore, Sio Moore, Mike Ryan and Lindsey Witten are all probable. Witten is battling the 'GI' stomach bug, and needs to hydrate and eat better, Edsall said. Ryan dinged a shoulder, and Kashif had some back spasms, but are fine. Sio will play linebacker, but not special teams. No other changes to the depth chart.

Scout teams players of the week: Malik Generett (offense), Chris Lopes (defense) and Cole Wagner (special teams).

Allstate ran its annual field goal kick for charity this morning at Rentschler Field. They invite members of the local media up to the Runway to attempt field goals from 25 yards ($250) and then a bonus kick from 35 yards (for an additional $500), with proceeds going to charity. I made both, securing $750 for Connecticut Hospice, before they made me a special offer (guess it was a slow morning). Make a 45-yarder, and they'd donate a cool $1,000 on my behalf. I choked. But I'll blame it on the grounds crew member who yelled at me for setting up behind the yardage line he'd just painted. Still, a great promotion. Thanks to Allstate. And if you're at the Runway Saturday and notice a size 11 footprint on the paint along the 35-yard line? It's mine.

On to the picks:

Game 1: BOSTON COLLEGE (-1.5) over Wake Forest - Seen the new Dunkin' Donuts ad? It's the one featuring a Marky Mark look-alike with a thick (and fake) Boston accent who won't give a D&D coffee to the new guy until he proves he's a true New Englander by answering a bunch of questions involving topics like chow-dah and the Blizzard of '78? I could barely understand most of the questions, even after replaying it on the TiVo a couple times. I guess Dunkin Donuts feels the only true New Englanders are Gloucester longshoremen.

Game 2: Texas Christian (+2.5) over CLEMSON - I don't really think the Horned Frogs can do it, but you have to pull for non-traditional powers to go undefeated. It's boring when the same eight teams make the national championship game year after year.

Game 3: Rutgers (-1.5) over MARYLAND - Terps barely beat Division I-AA James Madison, then lost to mighty Middle Tennessee State. That Rutgers is only favored by 1.5 is unsettling. Not because it should be higher, but because the Scarlet Knights are that bad.

Game 4: Fresno State (+16.5) over CINCINNATI - Tony Pike for Heisman.

Game 5: California (-5.5) over OREGON - A fan who traveled from Oregon to Boise only to see the Ducks humiliated demanded Oregon coach Chip Kelly refund the money for travel expenses and ticket. So Kelly sent him a check for $439. Gotta respect that. Then again, we 'Chip's are a classy bunch.

Game 6: FLORIDA STATE (-14) over South Florida - Tough break for USF quarterback Matt Grothe, who suffered a career-ending ACL tear last weekend. Kid was tough as nails. So tough, in fact, he took Colt McCoy's lead and ate nothing but peanut butter and jelly while slugging Pedialyte to will himself back onto the field. Jim Leavitt even cut the crusts off the PB&Js himself. Alas, it didn't work.

Game 7: GEORGIA TECH (-3) over North Carolina - The College Football Hall of Fame is being relocated from South Bend to Atlanta due to lack of interest. And, frankly, is there a city in America more rabid about its sports teams than Atlanta? They haven't realized the Hawks are still in town.

Game 8: Pittsburgh (+1) over NC STATE - This one seems obvious. So much so that I spent five minutes debating whether or not to switch the pick. But I left it. Big mistake.

Game 9: UTAH (-13.5) over Louisville - Utes leading receiver is New Britain resident David Reed, with 20 catches for 282 yards and a TD.

Game 10: Texas Tech (pick'em) over HOUSTON - Case Keenum following in the tradition of Andre Ware and David Klinger as overrated Houston quarterbacks.

Game 11: CONNECTICUT (-36) over Rhode Island - No spread available from Vegas, so that's mine.

Hope to see you on the live chat at 2 (

Last week's results
1. Dano: 8-2-1
2. uconnhuskies86 7-3-1
Mike B 7-3-1
wil 7-3-1
5. Uconnbob 6-4-1
caleb 6-4-1
sammy 6-4-1
pete 6-4-1
9. chip 5-5-1
sean o 5-5-1
rich 5-5-1
gary 5-5-1
13. vinny 4-6-1
governorphelan 4-6-1
JZ 4-6-1
16. rick c 3-7-1

Enter your picks through the comments key below.

Live chat today

At 2 p.m. Log in through
Here's the transcript from today's chat

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Tuesday luncheon: How to retain that plump figure

Your weekly edition of Tuesday notes:
  • Scott Lutrus' situation hasn't changed. He's still practicing during non-contact drills only and is 50-50 for this week. Lutrus again said he hasn' t experienced any pain or limitations with his range of motion. It's simply the medical staff be cautious with what could turn into a serious injury. Considering the opponent this week, and the fact the Huskies are on bye the following week, don't expect to see Lutrus in the lineup against URI.
  • There's not a lot to complain about with UConn's defense. But the Huskies have failed to come through in a couple of 3rd-and-long situations, one of which played a big part in the loss to North Carolina. "It's just execution," Edsall said. "The biggest thing is we have to do a better job as coaches to get those kids to understand that when it's 3rd-and-20, you don't take a 5-yard drop. You get back deeper and make them throw the ball underneath and then you rally to it and make the tackle. We have to do a better job of emphasizing 'know the down and distance'; 'get deeper in your drops'. We've played zone, we brought four, we brought five; we haven't gone to an all-out blitz, but we have to do a better job of coaching them up."
  • The defensive calls were no different on those big third down plays. UConn has never played a prevent defense, Edsall said. "First of all, I don't know what a prevent defense is," he said. "I have no idea what a prevent defense it. All I know is, all the calls we made in the first three quarters, we were making the same calls in the fourth quarter." UConn has been in its nickel package making the same calls.
  • Cody Endres graded his performance Saturday as "average, maybe a little better than average." His biggest problem was trouble with reads early, but "that got better as the game went on." Edsall concurred, saying he needs to be a little more precise with his short passes. Edsall also addressed the lack of deep balls. "Everyone wants to see you chuck it and all that stuff," he said. "But the farther you throw it, the harder it is to complete it. It's not so much about about throwing deep, it's about throwing effective. If you throw effective, you create more opportunities. Yeah, we want the ball to go down the field, but there might be teams that take that away by the way they play." He also mentioned one play against Baylor that went down field, a completion called back because of an illegal formation penalty.
  • Edsall said there are 68 guys competing to make the travel roster, either on offense, defense or special teams. "I've never had that luxury with so many guys," Edsall said. "Part of it is guys understanding the importance of special teams."
  • Erik Kuraczea said the offensive line was very happy with it's performance against Baylor, and that it didn't think it would be as easy to create space and opportunities against the Bears. "It makes you realize how good (UConn defensive tackles) Kendall (Reyes) and Twyon (Martin) really are," Kuraczea said. "Going up against them in practice every day tells me how good they are compared to other defensive tackles."

  • Kuraczea and Mike Ryan worked their way into the rotation at Baylor, and Edsall said he'll keep it the same this week. The plan is every third series will go to the young linemen.
  • Andre Dixon on the offensive line, "Coach Foley is an amazing coach, but those guys really busted their humps in the weight room and during drills. They went out and did the work. You saw guys like Hurd, Dan Ryan, Mike Hicks, Olivier and Moe amping themselves up . It was a huge challenge in Waco, and they were up to it."

  • Where were you when Donald Brown scored his first NFL touchdown last night in the Colts slim victory over the Dolphins? It seemed to have caught some of the Huskies off-guard. Edsall said the game was on in his bedroom, but he was sound asleep "face down in the pillow". His son came in and woke him up just in time for the groggy coach to see the replay. Andre Dixon was watching the game, but happened to be in the bathroom when Brown scored. But, he said he didn't waste any time sending Donny a text message (no word on whether Dixon sent it from the throne. Let's hope he waited).
  • File this in the category "things you won't see anywhere on the planet aside from a football training table". In the UConn football dining room today, sitting on each table in a lovely plastic frame, was advice on how to make the best of "the training table experience". One section was devoted the best ways to avoid hunger. Another provided tips on how to prevent weight loss. And don't we all need help keeping those excess pounds on? Among the ingenious, play a game of billiards in the lounge, then come back for seconds. (I, for one, never would have thought of that). It also suggested peanut butter and jelly as an alternative to "a meat sandwich". (Such as bacon, which you might find in a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich). Another novel concept was to purchase food at a local store and then stow it in your room, preferably in a refrigerator. I can make copies for anyone looking to balloon up like Kevin Federline. As the great Thornton Melon, CEO of Tall and Fat Stores once said, "if you want to look thin, you hang out with fat people."

Hi there. Are you a large person? Pleasantly plump? A little on the hefty side, perhaps? Well, let's face it: Are you FAT? When you go jogging, do you leave pot-holes? When you make love, do you have to give directions? At the zoo, do the elephants throw YOU peanuts? Do you look at a menu and say 'OK'? The UConn training table can help you keep that rotund figure.

Hope to see you on the live chat Thursday at 2 p.m.

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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Wrapping up Baylor

Just a couple of brief notes from the Sunday conference call:

  • Michael Smith is probable this week. Scott Lutrus, Sio Moore and Kashif Moore are questionable. Beau Brunelli and Aaron Basgby return to practice from suspensions. Brunelli is out with an injury.
  • Game balls went to Andre Dixon (offense), Lawrence Wilson (defense) and Desi Cullen and Jasper Howard (special teams).
  • Mike Ryan and Erik Kuraczea were worked into the offensive line rotation, while Nick Williams and Mike Lang got in at at wide receiver. Edsall said the maneuvers were reward for improvement and hard work at practice, and that the Huskies will continue to do some of the same things this Saturday with Rhode Island.
  • The Huskies determined a nickle package on defense would work best with what Baylor was giving, which is why Kijuan Dabney one got in for one play. Edsall thought Blidi Wreh-Wilson played well, especially since Baylor saw him as a new guy in the lineup and tried to go at him.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The picks, week 3

Some notes from Randy Edsall's conference today: Cody Endres and Lindsey Witten practiced Wednesday and are fine. A few others got hit with the bug Tuesday, but it seems to have passed. Wide receiver Michael Smith is out with a knee injury. He was hurt last week in practice, but played through it for the UNC game. He doesn't need surgery, but will have to rest. Scott Lutrus is questionable still. He did a few things in practice, but it will be another game-time decision.
Pretty crazy morning here in the Register newsroom with an arrest being made in the murder of a Yale graduate student. There's a bulldog edition of the paper that just hit the press and should be hitting the streets soon.
As unimportant as these things seem, especially on days like this, the live chat is still on for 2 p.m. through You just won't see my face plastered across the top of the website for the chat promo like the last two weeks (a good thing, for sure).
On to the picks.
Game 1: NORTH CAROLINA (-7.5) over East Carolina - Tar Heels tight end Zach Pianalto may never want to sniff the end zone again. He's the guy who was carted off the Runway last Saturday with a dislocated foot after celebrating (mildly) catching the tying TD late in the fourth quarter. During the only other touchdown of his career, last November against Georgia Tech, Pianalto, in his zest to get to the end zone, caught a helmet that dislocated his fibula and ended his season. That's two touchdowns, two major injuries.
Game 2: KENTUCKY (-14) over Louisville - Louisville knocked off Indiana State by 20 points in their opener. That would be encouraging for the Cardinal fan base if that was basketball. And it was 1979.

Game 3: VIRGINIA TECH (-5.5) over Nebraska - Tyrod Taylor is the difference.

Game 4: Navy (+7) over PITTSBURGH - Pitt's Adam Gunn has five sacks in two games after missing last season with a broken neck. He was named Big East defensive player of the week following a three sack effort against Buffalo. Congrats. (Kanye West grabs microphone). "Yo, I'm really happy for you, Adam Gunn. But Lindsey Witten had one of the best defensive games of all time. One of the best games of all time!"
Game 5: SYRACUSE (+4.5) over Northwestern - Syracuse has a killer communications program. Ditto Northwestern with journalism. So while players on both sides may be stuck on bottom-feeders, at least the can one day look forward to covering good college football programs.

Game 6: AUBURN (-7.5) over West Virginia - Expect lots of offense.

Game 7: Connecticut (+7) over BAYLOR - Husky faithful making the trip to Waco, Texas can plan to celebrate at the Double Deuce over on Highway 17. The cooler there is the best in the business. Goes by the name of Dalton. Likes his coffee leaded, cigs unfiltered and does shirtless Tai chi in the meadow behind Brad Wesley's place.

Right boot.

Game 8: OREGON STATE (+1) over Cincinnati - Beavers. Bearcats. Next on Animal Planet.

Game 9: RUTGERS (-16) over Florida International - Just to continue with the "Roadhouse" theme, how could the owner of the Double Deuce afford to pay Dalton $5000 up front, $500 a night and all medical expenses? It would have taken a month, bare minimum, to clean up the seedy clientele at the place and at least another month to shake the unfavorable reputation. Dalton would have bankrupted the place quicker than Brad Wesley.

Game 10: California (-14) over MINNESOTA - No mentions of annoying human turnover machine Brett Favre more than enough reason for Vikings fans to switch allegiances to the Gophers this fall.

Game 11: Yale (-3.5) over GEORGETOWN - A new era at Yale. Tom Williams takes over as only the third coach the Bulldogs have had since the early 60s.

Last week's results:

1. uconnhuskies86: 7-4

2. Gary 6-5

pete 6-5

uconnbob 6-5

will 6-5

6. govphelan 5-6

JZ 5-6

sean O 5-6

sammy 5-6

rick c 5-6

11. vinny 4-7

ian 4-7

13. chip 3-8

rich 3-8

15. caleb 2-9

standings 2 weeks

1. UConnBob 13

2. Gov.Phalen: 12

Sean O 12

sammy 12

wil L 12

JZ 12

7. Pete 11

Gary 11

9. Rick C 10

10. Chip 9

Rich 9

ian 9

13. Caleb 7

Vinny 7

15. salami 6

Mike B 6

See you on the chat. Enter your picks by clicking the comments link below.

Live chat today

Another live chat session today at 2. Get your questions ready.

Here's the chat transcript.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Feeling queasy? Have a slice of Tuesday notes.

A rundown of Tuesday's media luncheon.

  • Lindsey Witten and Cody Endres both have a stomach virus, and won't be practicing today. Endres woke up at 4 a.m. vomiting, while Witten and long snapper Glenn Kolebrenner were throwing up in the trainer's room this morning. Brandon Dillon and Kendall Reyes had the same bug prior to the North Carolina game, but both were able to play. It's not swine flu, or anything major. Edsall says he expects both to be fine within 24 hours.

  • If Witten continues at his current pace, he'll have 42 sacks by the end of the regular season. "He's been very good," UConn cornerback Robert McClain said. "He's coming off the ball with strength and speed. It's crazy the things he's doing out there. And that's a big part of us getting interceptions in the defensive backfield. Without pressure on the quarterback, they can't make bad decisions."

  • Scott Lutrus remains questionable with post-stinger syndrome. He says he's not in pain, but the medical staff is more concerned with him being re-injured. "I have full range of motion now, it's just a matter of can I take the hits," Lutrus said. He'll participate in all non-contact drills this week, and it could be another game-time decision. (By the way, I don't know if post-stinger syndrome is an actual medical term, I just made it up...if it isn't, maybe they can name it after Scott. Lutrus Syndrome, anyone?)

  • The heat inside the Shenkman Center will be set on "Texas level" this week. It's expected to be mild in Waco on Saturday, but mild in Waco is still 82 degrees. "The game will be in the heat of the day (4 p.m. Texas time)," Edsall said. "I'm sure that's on purpose."

  • A mild controversy at the press conference with Edsall was eventually cleared up before the afternoon was finished. A reporter told Edsall that Cody Endres, in his postgame interview, "hinted he wasn't prepared to go in there" against North Carolina. It caught Edsall off-guard and really seemed to agitate him that his starting quarterback for this week would say anything like that. At one point, Edsall, slowly stewing over the perceived comment from his QB, seemed ready to bench Endres for freshman Michael Box right there during the press conference. "If Mike Box plays well in practice today, maybe we'll just have to go with Mike Box," Edsall said. "I don't know. We'll see what happens." Apparently, Edsall got Endres in his office a little later to discuss the comment. Edsall eventually brought Endres, still sick, in to see the remaining media members and clear things up. "I don't remember saying anything to this effect at all," Endres said. Chalk it up to misinterpretation.

  • Obviously, Edsall would like to keep Box's redshirt season in tact, but with Frazer out for at least two games, he said Box is next in line should Endres get hurt.

  • Edsall was asked if he ever calls any offensive plays. He said in 11 years, he hasn't called a single play. "That's why you hire coordinators," he said. Edsall said he may change a play if he wants, but he usually waits until a series is over before doing so. It's never vetoed before it gets to the huddle. Plays are called by Joe Moorehead, and Rob Ambrose before him, and Norries Wilson before him. (I'm leaving someone else out, but that's before my time on the beat).

  • The funny thing about the no huddle...if you're not making plays, what's the point? Edsall knows his team needs to execute on offense for the new scheme to be effective, or else it's just rushing the defense back onto the field in a hurry. That was the case against UNC, where the Huskies had four 3-and-outs in the second half. "We have to sustain drives," Edsall said.

  • Freshman receiver Nick Williams will be simulating Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin in practice this week. No word on whether Williams has been fitted for a jet pack. Griffin is an All-American hurdler with a cannon arm. He's not the same as former West Virginia QB Pat White because Baylor likes to throw more with Griffin, Edsall said. But McClain said there's no question Griffin "is a lot faster than Pat White." Anyone who watched White torch the Huskies over the last four seasons knows that's scary speed.

  • Anthony Sherman is a fullback, but turned into one of UConn's top offensive weapons last season with 26 receptions for 270 yards. Through two games, Sherman has no carries and no receptions. I asked Sherman (wearing a cool Worcester State baseball T-shirt) if he's been frustrated with the lack of touches. "I think the plays are coming," Sherman said. "It's not frustrating, especially with Andre and Jordan's success running the ball. ... Right now, the passing game has been mediocre. I think that's a good word. It's something we can improve upon greatly."

  • It sure seems like this is the summer the 1980s died. At least for me. Michael Jackson, John Hughes, now Patrick Swayze? Integral parts of the decade I grew up in. I wasn't a Jackson fan, per se. But from 1984-89, I'd arrive home from school, plop down on the couch and watch MTV for three hours. Mike was everywhere. And even if you didn't purchase his albums, you still watched his music videos. John Hughes' movies defined the decade. Fifty years from now, if my grand kids ever ask what it was like to be in high school in the 1980s, I'll tell them to watch 16 Candles. Or the Breakfast Club. Or Ferris Bueller's Day Off. That was it. Swayze had an amazing run of re-watchable movies from 1983-1991. They ran in a constant loop on cable, continuing to this day...I bet Roadhouse is on right now. Sad. Someone keep an eye on Huey Lewis, please.

  • Monster game for Tyvon Branch last night. The ex-UConn corner, now a strong safety for the Raiders, was everywhere in the opener against San Diego. Quite impressive. I also thought Darius Butler looked good for the Patriots against the Bills. Had to like the postgame, too, when EPSN's microphones picked up Tom Brady telling him, "Good game, Darius" before Brady tried -- unsuccessfully -- to blow off Suzy Kolber. That was quite a scene. He gave her a couple of cold shoulders, then said, "I'm going in," when Suzy asked a question. "No. I'm going in," he said again, now trying to trot away. Suzy, like a pilot fish honed in on a great white shark, wouldn't give up. Brady then pretended he couldn't hear her questions before finally giving in and giving a brief response. He should have just sprinted away, though Brady probably isn't fast enough to shake Suzy Kolber. At least he didn't ask to kiss her.

Don't forget the live chats. Next one is Thursday at 2.

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Sunday, September 13, 2009

At least two weeks for Frazer, Griffin

I arrived home last night to find a trail of bird feathers in my driveway, leading up the stairs to our deck. There, I discovered a bird carcass that had been picked clean, likely by one of our neighbors 15 cats. Fairly drained after 11 hours spent at Rentschler Field, I wasn't about to clean that up at 9 p.m. But as I hit the sofa for a little TV, it sat there in the back of my mind: I had an dirty job to take care of that I certainly wasn't looking forward to. (And you're welcome for that lovely visual).

Then I realized the UConn coaches probably had the same thoughts about reviewing the North Carolina game film. There was some ugly stuff to take care of, something they wish they could make disappear, but also something they had to do.

Luckily, I woke up and walked out on the deck to see something had snatched the carcass in the middle of the night and dragged it off into the woods (at least I hope...with my luck, it's probably tucked inside my grill or festering under the recycle bin). All I had to do was hose some feathers away. Was the game film as bad as Randy Edsall expected? Yes and no.
  • Zach Frazer is out this week, and probably next week with a right knee injury, Edsall said. Cody Endres starts and Mike Box is the backup. No surgery is necessary, and it's not season-ending. But that's all Edsall would divulge. "He got hurt on the one play he scrambled, he came back and threw one high and that was the worst he threw all day," Edsall said. "He threw some good balls and was doing good things. It's disappointing to see that happen to him."
  • Ryan Griffin will also miss this week and probably next week with a back injury. No specifics from Edsall, other than no surgery is needed and he's expected back before the year is through. Corey Manning moves up to backup with John Delahunt the starter.
  • Scott Lutrus enters the week as questionable. Everyone else should be OK.
  • Possible changes coming at wide receiver, with someone entering the rotation, though Edsall wouldn't say who. Gerrard Sheppard? Malik Generett? Marcus Easley? Only the Shadow knows.
  • Edsall echoed much of what he stated in his postgame press conference. UConn battled hard, but was unable to make plays in critical situations in the fourth quarter when North Carolina did. "What hurt us was we had five 3-and-outs," Edsall said. "And four of those were in the second half."

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Saturday, September 12, 2009

North Carolina post game notes

This loss will hurt. Here's some post-game notes.
  • No word on the nature of Zach Frazer's injured right knee. He got hurt on a third-quarter scramble, stayed in and threw an incompletion, then didn't come back for the next series. We'll get an update tomorrow. A few other guys were banged up, too. Updates tomorrow. Also, Lutrus wasn't cleared by the medical staff to play, it wasn't a coaches decision.

  • UNC's Zack Pianalto dislocated his fibula after catching the tying touchdown. He caught his cleats wrong on the turf as he celebrated.

  • The mistakes were plentiful in the fourth quarter. North Carolina converted a 3rd-and-17 from its own 16, setting up Pianalto's touchdown. Both Cody Endres and Moe Petrus said it was miscommunication on the bad snap. "Moe thought he heard something," Edsall said. The holding call in the end zone was a killer. North Carolina's Robert Quinn, who was held by Dan Ryan, said he thought it was a blatant hold. "I was just waiting for the flag," he said. Ryan wasn't sure, though he seemed resigned that he was probably wrong. "I don't know," Ryan said. "We both went down. It might have been a hold, it might not have been a hold. ... Everything happened so fast. We just got tangled up. I probably needed better technique."

  • The safety hurts, but here's something to consider. Even if there's no penalty on Ryan there, the Huskies still faced a 4th-and-6 from their own 24 after what would have been a 16-yard completion to Todman. Obvously, UConn punts there. It's entirely possible, especially the way they were moving the ball, that UNC could have driven into field goal range anyway. I know, I know. But I'm just saying...

  • Even after the on sides recovery by Alex Molina, UConn was in position to win the game, a point Edsall hammered home after the game, against a very good North Carolina club. "We can stand toe-to-toe with people," Edsall said. "We need to make plays when they count." He also said the Huskies aren't in this for moral victories, and this is still a loss.

  • More on the final UConn Endres to Isiah Moore completion of six yards gave the Huskies' 2nd-and-4 from the 50 with around 1:10 on the clock. Instead of calling a time out (they had all three remaining) and setting up a play on a crucial situation, the Huskies wasted about 25 seconds before getting a play off, an incomplete pass. Now its 3rd-and-4. But Edsall said he doesn't regret not taking a time out there. "Not at all," he said. "All we needed to to do was get a field goal there. Those are situations we practice every week." Another incomplete pass and a sack (by who else? Bruce Carter) and the game is over with 26 seconds on the clock. The Huskies still had two timeouts remaining.

  • Great days for Desi Cullen (47.3 average per punt) and Lindsey Witten (three more sacks) and the D as a whole.

  • Was the defense worn down in the fourth quarter? Aside from a 3-and-out, which chewed only 80 seconds off the clock early in the quarter, the defense was out the entire fourth quarter until the on-sides kick. "Not really," linebacker Greg Lloyd said. "We're made for these situations, so we don't really mind. Obviously, we were out there a lot, but we're here to hit people and make plays. Yeah, it was tough, but you have to work through those things."

  • Another tough, tough opponent next week at Baylor. Injuries won't make it any easier.

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Lutrus out, Dabney in

Lutrus will be replaced by Kijuan Dabney at strongside linebacker today.

Rainy Runway

We're here in the press box at the Runway, where the field is a little soggy. It's an intermittent drizzle this morning, expected to continue through the afternoon, so bring the umbrella.

Saw lots of Carolina blue making my way through the parking lots, and began to wonder if we might see an appearance from Michael Jordan on the sidelines. He was in Springfield, Mass. for his Hall of Fame induction last night, so it's possible. Of course, odds are he made a beeline for Mohegan Sun and has been in the high stakes poker room since 4 a.m.

Early word is receiver Michael Smith will be out of the lineup with an injury and Kendall Reyes is battling a bug. Scott Lutrus is on the sidelines in a sweatsuit, and is out of the lineup today.

EDIT: Looks like Smith will play.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The picks, week 2

Scott Lutrus is listed as questionable for Saturday, the only bit of news to come out of today. Edsall spent most of the call explaining his policy on injuries, which I won't bore you all with. We know Lutrus has practiced this week, and he declared himself ready to play on Tuesday. Unless he had a setback, expect to see him in there.

Don't forget the live chat at 2 at

On to the picks.

Game 1: BUFFALO (+10.5) over Pittsburgh - Do you realize a Google search on "Dave Wannstedt mustache" draws 23,500 results? Next up is a Broadway play.

Game 2: North Carolina (-4.5) over UCONN - Ironically, this is also the over/under on blocked punts by Bruce Carter (who had another last weekend).

Game 3: Syracuse (+28.5) over PENN STATE - "Games almost won" will count as an official stat at Syracuse this season. The season goal is 7. Last week was number one in the GAW column.

Game 4: Notre Dame (-3.5) over MICHIGAN - A pair of up-and-coming coaches with bright, bright futures in college football.

Game 5: WEST VIRGINIA (-6.5) over East Carolina - At least Skip Holtz took a pass on the spray-on tan that turned papa Lou's skin a lovely shade of orange.

Game 6: RUTGERS (-45) over Howard - Howard is coming off a 1-10 season, but maybe I'm not giving it enough respect. The Fighting Cunninghams pumped Savannah State last year.

Game 7: Ucla (+10) over TENNESSEE - Chow/Kiffin. The most anticipated teacher vs. student matchup since Daniel LaRusso stuck it to Terry Silver by beating bad boy Mike Barnes to defend his All-Valley Karate Tournament title in Karate Kid III.

Game 8: Southeast Missouri State (+48) over CINCINNATI - SE Mo. St. U pummelled some school named Quincy 72-3 in its opener last weekend. Cincinnati shows some mercy. Tony Pike will be on the bench by mid-third quarter.

Game 9: SOUTH FLORIDA (-37) over Western Kentucky - Enjoying the Big East spreads this week?

Game 10: Southern California (-7) over OHIO STATE - "Not everybody is a perfect person in this world. I mean, everyone does ... kills people, murders people, steals from you, steals from me," Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor defending Michael Vick after last week's Navy game. Pryor wore black eye strips that said "Mike" and "Vick" during the game. I don't know about you, Terrelle, but I gave up killing people. It was my New Year's resolution.

Game 11: New Haven (+7) over ASSUMPTION - Didn't think I'd go another week without including a local game, did you? I have great memories of New Haven football, one of the best Division II programs in the nation in the 1990s, and am excited they brought the program back after dropping it earlier in the decade. Here's a blog entry from three years ago I wrote about the Chargers.

Last week's results
1. Gov.Phalen: 7-3
UConn Bob 7-3
Sean O 7-3
sammy 7-3
JZ 7-3
6. Chip 6-4
Rich 6-4
salami 6-4
wil L 6-4
Mike B 6-4
11. Rick C 5-5
Pete 5-5
Gary 5-5
Caleb 5-5
ian 5-5
16. Vinny 3-7

Enter your picks by clicking the "comments" link below.

Also, a hearty congrats to Neill Ostrout from the Connecticut Post on the birth of his son Wednesday. His boy and mine now share the same birthday (albeit two years apart).

Week 2 chat transcript

Here's a transcript from the live chat today. Thanks to all who participated.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Chat with Chip Thursday

Just a reminder we'll be running another live chat Thursday (tomorrow) at 2 p.m. through Please tune in and ask questions about anything.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Tuesday notes: No. 19 Tar Heels on deck

I was running a little late driving up to Storrs for Randy Edsall's 11:30 a.m. press conference. I also needed gas badly but didn't have time to stop, so I got to play the always thrilling game of chicken with my gas gauge, which was actually below the last empty notch when I hit campus. But I made it. Whether I have enough left in the tank to make it from UConn to a gas station is another matter.

On to the Tuesday notes...

  • The bar has been raised for Trevardo Williams, who surprised the UConn coaching staff with his sparkling debut. Trevardo, who moved to Bridgeport from Jamaica at 9, is an interesting guy. Very soft spoken, he saw hit future in track and field until a friend convinced him to try out for the Bridgeport Central team as a freshman. In five years, he's come quite a ways. Still undersized (he's 6-1, 221), he's going to be too fast for many an offensive tackle. Once he puts on some more weight, he could be a true terror. More on Trevardo in Wednesday's Register.
  • One more note on Trevardo. As a junior in high school in 2007, he ran a 10.69 in the 100 at the CIAC Class LL Championships. At the State Open that year, he lost to Terrell Wilks of Hillhouse (who set a state record with an insanely fast 10.42), but easily beat former UConn defensive end Marcus Campbell. Williams ran 10.74; Campbell ran 11.02.

  • Even more telling as to how fast Williams is? At the New England Open that same year, Williams ran a 10.94 to finish in second place. Jordan Todman, running the same race while at North Dartmouth (Mass.) High, finished seventh with a 11.17. Williams says he's not as fast now as he was then because of the additional weight for football, but it's still close.
  • Lindsey Witten was the Big East defensive player of the week, and Edsall is expecting huge things from him this season. The first game was a good start. "Sometimes you just see the light go one with a kid," Edsall said. "With Lindsey in the preseason, you could see the light went on."
  • Edsall is only giving injury updates on Sundays and Thursdays now. So, he had nothing new on Scott Lutrus' condition other than he will be at practice today in full gear. Of course, Lutrus told us he's fine and will definitely be in the starting lineup for Saturday.
  • Cody Brown, on injured reserve with Arizona, sent a text to Edsall. He had watched the Ohio game, and told the coach to tell Lindsey to stop bull-rushing so much and to use his speed. "I guess Lindsey's performance still wasn't good enough for Cody," Edsall joked. Brown is going to try and finish his degree online now that his season is over.
  • Zach Frazer needs to see the big picture and do what the defense dictates him to do, Edsall said. His biggest problem Saturday was staying on certain routes too long and not seeing other things that would have been better options.
  • Edsall stressed balance in the offense is the main thing he's striving for, and that means more in terms of yardage rather than plays. It's no-huddle, it's multi-dimension. But this isn't a spread offense, a popular misconception. "In this (New England) climate, you have to be able to run the football," Edsall said. "You have to be able to throw the football (also), but first and foremost, you have to run the football." Expect Jordan Todman and Andre Dixon to continue to share the workload.
  • UConn will work to redshirt Marcus Aiken. He was listed as top backup at safety behind Robert Vaughn for Ohio, but the coaches determined he just wasn't ready yet. Gary Wilburn is in there now, and is the nickle back. Edsall also mentioned part of the decision with Aiken is that in a couple of weeks, the Huskies will be getting guys back at that position (Aaron Bagsby).
  • Keith Gray, Dahna Deleston and Tyler Lorenzen were all cut this NFL preseason (sorry, this National Football League preseason). But Five players from last year's squad are currently on NFL rosters: Donald Brown (Colts), Cody Brown (Cards), Will Beatty (Giants), Darius Butler (Pats) and Julius Williams (Jaguars). Danny Lansahah, released by Green Bay, hooked on with Miami and is reunited with Donald Thomas.
  • To illustrate how far in advance schedules are set, Jeff Hathaway said the North Carolina series was signed in Sept. 2000 and Baylor in March of 2001. Ohio was a return game originally slated for Sept. 2002, and was moved a year later after UConn entered the Big East a year sooner than expected. That's how UConn wound up with a rather tough home opener this season, contrary to the usual "easy" opponent we've seen the past several seasons. Hathaway also mentioned if a team has an open slot, the Big East as the right to come in and use that date for a conference game, which is why we saw Cincinnati and Rutgers on Labor Day (a game I'm sure Rutgers is wishing was a little later in the season now).
  • Hathaway was on hand to promote a new student initiative, the message to fans is essentially to come to the games and be loud, but do it in a way that's wholesome and fun for the whole family. "We want fans to come early, cheer the Huskies onto the field, and stay to the end," Hathaway said.
  • There are still around 4,000 tickets left for the North Carolina game. Hathaway carries some around in his pocket, and, apparently, he'll accept Visa, MasterCard and American Express if you want some.
  • Punt protection problems marred UConn last season, none more apparent than the North Carolina game when Bruce Carter blocked three himself. Edsall said changes have been made in that area. The objective? To simplify. The Huskies are running a new scheme called simply "The Shield". No word on whether Michael Chiklis helped develop the plan, but Edsall said it allows them to simplify the blocking schemes in an attempt to avoid missed assignments. No one bothered to pick up Carter last season, and it was a running theme. "It spreads guys out, and doesn't clog the middle," said Lutrus, who is on punt protection. "Last year we were twisted and king of tight in our protection."

  • You'll never convince me that the Chiklis from "The Commish" is the same guy as the Chiklis from "The Shield". Unless aliens are somehow involved. And why doesn't Hollywood test for performance-enhancing drugs like baseball? Chiklis' body transformation may have come naturally, but look at that head.

Think of Chiklis every time UConn gets into punt protection formation this season.

  • Punter Desi Cullen may still be waking up in a cold sweat, with visions of Carter jumping out from the closet dancing through his mind. He says he's done his best to put that game out of his mind, but would be lying if he said thoughts of the North Carolina game don't occasionally creep into his thoughts.
That's it. If you see a Jetta stranded on Route 150 between UConn and the I-84 entrance ramp, feel free to pull over and give me a lift to a gas station, would you?

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Sunday, September 06, 2009

Following up Ohio

Inconsistent was the theme of the afternoon from Randy Edsall, who used the word frequently to sum up last night's win. "What bothered me most was the lack of consistency I saw out of individuals," Edsall said. "You see them do things rights one play, and a couple of plays later you run the same play and you don't see the same technique or fundamentals...All issues are correctable."

Some notes from Sunday's call.
  • Scott Lutrus has a stinger, and his status for next week is unknown. It's a situation where they have to see how he progresses each day, but it seems like he'll be OK. Sio Moore has a hamstring injury, and is out for this weekend. Edsall said he is week-to-week. Later, Edsall went on to say both players probably could have avoided being hurt had they used proper technique to tackle.
  • Game balls went to Andre Dixon (offense), Lindsey Witten (defense) and Robbie Frey (special teams). From last week, scout team players of the week were Steve Green (offense), Jerome Williams (defense) and Matt Edwards (ST).
  • Edsall said the interceptions weren't all on Zach Frazer. The wide receivers had problems getting to the proper depth on routes. Asked to judge Frazer's performance, Edsall used the word of the day. "Inconsistent," he said. "He did some positive things, and there were some things he didn't do so well." Edsall wouldn't get into Frazer's mechanics, when asked. "I'm not beating a dead horse," he said. "He was just inconsistent."
  • Edsall mentioned Andre Dixon's hard work, and that he actually was on the field longer (39 plays to 35) than Todman, but said Dixon was also "inconsistent."
  • Getting burned for a TD aside, Edsall said Jerome Junior played "a pretty good game." He was also pleased with Jesse Joseph and Trevardo Williams (a spark with the pass rush) at defensive end as well as Ryan Griffin at tight end. As for Dwayne Difton "you could tell it was his first game as a true freshman. Now, he has it under his belt."

Thursday, September 03, 2009

The picks, week 1

From today's injuries to report. Team heads to Athens, Ohio tomorrow at noon. No true freshmen will play on special teams. That's about all the news that came out of it. By the way, Vegas has 450-1 odds that UConn makes a BCS bowl this season.

On to the first installment of the weekly picks. Feel free to post your own picks in the comments section. In the past, I've offered to give up the blog for a day to the winner of the season-long contest. No one has taken me up on that yet, but once again, it's there if anyone wants it. I feel good this season, though. I think this is my year.

Game 1: Minnesota (-7) over SYRACUSE: This hasn't been as highly-publicized as Greg Paulus playing quarterback, but the Orange will also be suiting up Bobby Hurley at corner, Christian Laettner at tight end with Danny Ferry as the new defensive coordinator. On a side note, New Haven's own Garrett Brown is now a senior defensive tackle for Minnesota. Brown attended Fairfield Prep originally to play hockey. At 6-2, 310 pounds, the Gophers hockey team should suit him up after football season ends. He'd be hip-checking people through the boards and into the stands.

Game 2: WAKE FOREST (-2.5) over Baylor: Ringo Starr returns for his senior season as Wake's quarterback. Baylor has an elite athlete at quarterback in Robert Griffin, but have you heard Ringo's vocals on Yellow Submarine? That's talent. Gotta go with the Demon Deacons.

Game 3: OKLAHOMA STATE (-5) over Georgia: Mike Gundy banished media access to his team for 10 days, a span during which one player was arrested for driving with a suspended license and another was the target of a restraining order issued by a woman. He also decided to ignore the American Football Coaches Association's call for pregame handshakes this weekend to promote good sportsmanship because he's worried that might begin a brawl. Sounds like the man (have you heard? He's 40!) really has control of his players.

Game 4: Connecticut (-3.5) over OHIO: Ed O'Neill, the actor who played Al Bundy on "Married ... With Children" played football at Ohio. He never scored four touchdowns in a single game like the beleaguered shoe salesman, but he was a star outside linebacker who was signed by the Pittsburgh Steelers. I had no idea. "Married ... With Children" was a show I liked as a kid, but you don't fully appreciate until you're married...with children. Oh yeah, Huskies win easily.

Polk High football rules!

Game 5: ALABAMA (-6.5) over Virginia Tech: Nick Saban recently signed a contract extension through 2017, claiming he doesn't want any other job. Unless someone else drives a dump truck full of money to his door step, that is.
Game 6: NOTRE DAME (-14.5) over Nevada:

As you can see, they're loving the Pear Bryant era in South Bend.

Game 7: MICHIGAN (-13.5) over Western Michigan: Let's wrap up the week for Rich Rodriguez. A few of his own players go to the media behind his back to report possible NCAA violations regarding practice time, the topic all but brings him to tears at his press conference, he gets sued by a bank for failing to repay a loan for millions on a condo project, claims he was the victim of a Ponzi scheme possibly organized by a banned Clemson booster. Rich-Rod's next maneuver is to move to Massachusetts and run against Curt Schilling and his fake bloody sock for Ted Kennedy's seat in the U.S. Senate.

Game 8: OHIO STATE (-22) over Navy: Since I have nothing to add to this...My first year in high school, the center for our JV basketball team, T.J., was 6-foot-4 but only weighed about 110 pounds. He had a tough time under the boards because he was so thin. To make up for what he lacked in strength, he decided to make it positively miserable for the poor sap guarding him that game. He refused to wash his uniform for the entire season. (By game 5, the dried sweat rendered his jersey stiffer than cement. He had to whack it against a row of lockers to loosen it enough to put it on). He also ate a healthy portion of garlic salt just before tip-off. His breath could have penetrated steel. That's thinking outside the box. Why am I telling you this? My fantasy football draft is Monday, and as usual, I've done no research. Taking a page from my old buddy T.J., my draft strategy is as follows. Step one: Bring a large, smelly cigar to the draft. Step two: Light up stogie around pick six of the first round. Step three: Refuse to extinguish cigar, no matter how incensed fellow owners become. Step four: Pray that the heavy smoke and pungent odor distracts fellow owners into making foolish picks. This can't fail. Hey, T.J. averaged a good 10 rebounds a game that season. I probably won't be invited back to the league, but I'll worry about that next season.

Game 9: Cincinnati (+5) over RUTGERS: I honestly don't know what to expect from the teams in this Labor Day special. Hopefully, those stogies from my draft won't make me too sick to watch the game.

Game 10: FLORIDA STATE (-6.5) over Miami: Bobby Bowden looks great. Did he lose a little weight, or is it just those 14 victories he had to shed due to academic fraud?

Enter your picks by clicking the "comments" link below. There's a template in there to help make it easier. Don't forget about the live chat at 2. We'll do it every week, as long as there's someone there for me to chat with.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Live chat Thursdays at the Runway

UPDATE: OK, I've toweled off (live chats are hard work). Here's the transcript from today.

One last plug for my live chats, which will be every Thursday at 2 p.m. and begin tomorrow. I'll answer as many questions as possible in an hour. Access the chat through

With a little luck, I'll have the weekly picks ready every Thursday starting tomorrow, too.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

A little more from Tuesday

Back in the dreary bowels of Gampel Pavilion, a place I've spent way too much time over the last five years. They need to brighten this place up a little for the media. A nice fern would do wonders. Maybe a fruit bowl or framed painting. Wait a minute...

That's a little better. Now I can write. First media luncheon is in the books. The teriyaki beef with broccoli was delightful, but I can't help but think things were a little dull today. Certainly, the lack of Rob Lunn plays a factor, as he so often ratcheted things up single-handedly. Listening to Ohio coach Frank Solich didn't exactly liven things. Solich, like so many coaches, have a gift for speaking for extended durations without actually telling you anything. Essentially, he said he feels that the team that scores the most points on Saturday is probably going to win the game.

I'm exaggerating, of course. Solich did say his teams have faced the no huddle several times over the last few seasons and are well prepared for the problems the up-tempo style can bring. He also said Ohio's game-planning included a mix of looking at what Joe Moorehead did at Akron last year along with UConn game film from last season.

A few other quick notes and observations.

  • Zach Frazer said he will wear a new helmet this season to help absorb the shock of being hit. Frazer had at least two concussions last season (one in preseason, one at Rutgers). I didn't get all the details of the helmet, but Frazer said it's a model being worn in college as well as the NFL.
  • Jordan Todman doesn't know how many touches he'll get this year, but feels if a particular game situation calls for him to carry 30 times or more, he's ready. "I definitely feel I'm ready for the workload," Todman said. "I think I do a good job not taking big hits, taking half of the man or getting hit on the side and being able to slide off. We're all in good shape. I think if it ever calls for 30 carries, I'll be fine. Get tackled, get back up, and if I ever am tired we have Dixon, Meme, Frey who can go in and produce also."

Be sure to participate in my live chat on Thursday afternoon, 2 p.m. at It's right after Edsall's final conference call before the Ohio game. I'll answer any and all of your questions.

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Four days to O-hi-o

Crosby, Still and Nash is bedded into my brain today, thanks to this week's opponent. Here's an early rundown from Tuesday's media luncheon. I'll update later after speaking to players.
  • Edsall is pleased with Zach Frazer, who he said has performed well in the preseason, including the third scrimmage. "He's completely ready to go out and run the show and be a leader," Edsall said. "He got a lot better as the preseason went on, some of that is shaking off the rust from the summer."

  • Jordan Todman is 190 pounds, roughly 10 pounds heavier than he was last fall. Edsall said the added weight makes him tougher to bring down and will help him run inside the tackles. "He also understands the system better being in it for a year," Edsall said.

  • No new injuries to report. Bennett had surgery last week, and reports are he came through it in good shape.

  • In anticipation of a question regarding practice time -- Michigan players have really taken to Rich Rod, haven't they? -- Edsall had a copy of UConn's weekly schedule to present once the topic was broached. The Huskies have 19 hours, 35 minutes of mandatory work every week. That number includes three hours of game-time on Saturdays, and mandatory weight room sessions a few days a week. "You can get it done in 20 hours," Edsall said. "I don't know how you get more time out of them with what they have to do academically." Edsall admitted players need to do other things on their own if they want to be the best they can be, and many do extra film sessions and weight room time. But Edsall stressed that stuff isn't required.

  • What kind of a guy is Jerome Junior? Edsall said he learned early when Junior, in high school at the time, took a bus, by himself, from Baltimore to attend UConn's summer football camp. "That tells you something about the young man," Edsall said.

  • Frazer has had problems with concussions, but has showed no signs of "fuzziness". He needs to be smart when running the ball, getting out-of-bounds when he can or sliding when he does take off out of the pocket. "It's tough because he's from central Pennsylvania," Edsall said, showing no bias for players from his neck of the woods. "He's not going to back down from people."

  • Having Joe Moorehead help prepare for Ohio, a team UConn hasn't faced before, is a help. While at Akron, Moorehead played Ohio every year and knows its tendencies. But that only goes so far. "It's the first game, and they might do things differently," Edsall said.