Sunday, October 31, 2010

Whatever gets you through the week

Bye week got you down? How about a little Carl to lift your spirits? Here's his thoughts about the World Series (or, as he puts it, the Yankees 2011 scouting trip).

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Frazer's redemption and please don't compliment Sio

A few more notes after speaking with the players.
  • You can bet Zach Frazer feels redemption after experiencing the humiliation of going from fifth-year senior starter to third string in the span of a few hours. The hours and days after his demotion back in late September were hard for Frazer to take, and he said he briefly considering quitting. But he credited his friends and family for keeping him focused and positive during a dark time. "I could have gone either way," Frazer said. "It was definitely a fork, where I could have gone down a bad road and called it quits. But I wasn't raised that way. My parents would have whooped me if I went down that path. Everyone had my back, and my teammates were there. It was tough, but I was in it for the team. I understood my role and that I had to keep working in case this moment happened, and it did."

  • Just how close did Frazer come to quitting? "I never quit on anything in my life, so I wasn't going to," Frazer said. "But, it was a tough position. I really pushed it into the back of my mind when it happened because I didn't want to think about it; I didn't want it to bring me down. But it feels good to come back and beat West Virginia. I love the guys on this team, the offense, the coaches. Whether I was on the sidelines three deep or on the field like I was tonight, I enjoy being with the team and that's what matters. At the end of the day people will look at your record, but not everyone is around during the week, and there's a lot of things that happen where a season can be great and the record not show it. I feel like we're moving forward."

  • Edsall is hard on Sio Moore, but it's clearly a motivational tactic. Moore understands, and speaking to him on several occasions over the last couple of years it's obvious that Moore has immense respect for Edsall and truly likes Edsall for who he is. Asked about Edsall's comments about how Moore can't handle praise, Moore said, "That's fine. It's not going to make me work less. It's going to make me work more. Just keep the food in front of my face and keep eating, keep working. I don't take it personally or as any kind of bashing."

  • Teggart has hit game-winners before -- namely the 42-yarder to beat South Florida at Rentschler Field last December. This one was even better, he said. “From the distance it was, it was like an extra point,” Teggart said. “I just wanted to have true form, and not over-kick it. All it needed to be was straight.”

Friday, October 29, 2010

Some postgame comments from Edsall

Quick Edsall postgame comments:

  • Edsall liked the tempo of UConn's 2-minute drill at the end of the first half, and decided to keep that for the second half. "We got into a good rhythm."
  • Sio Moore had a monster game - 17 tackles, three for losses and two fumble recoveries. But Edsall was reserved talking about him. "I don't want to give Sio too much credit," Edsall said. "I'm not praising him because he can't handle it, and I'd appreciate it if you guys did the same. He made a lot of plays, but he makes a lot of mistakes."
  • Edsall liked the way Zach Frazer played. "I give him a lot of credit for staying positive," Edsall said. "He understood his opportunity was going to come, and he's the quarterback who won the game for us. You can't beat experience, and he has it."
  • Is the job Frazer's now? "Give me some time to enjoy it," Edsall snapped. "We don't play again for 12 days. I'm going recruiting tomorrow."

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The picks, week 9

Big morning. The preschool Halloween parade and party was today. Once again, my suggestion of dressing the little guy in a mafia-related costume was vetoed. So simple to put together, too. A velour sweatsuit. White shoes. Slick the hair back. Add a couple of white streaks in the hair above the ears. Boom. Little Paulie Walnuts. But my wife, as usual, was adamantly against dressing our 3-year old as a Sopranos' mobster. Not much I can do, either. It's been two years but I still haven't lived down the fact that his first words (after mama and dada) were "Oh, (expletive deleted)!", and it was pretty much all my fault. But 2008 was a tough year to watch the Yankees.

At least I solved one mystery. The kids call the preschool teachers by their first names, but with a twist. Miss Suzie. Miss Jane. Miss Denise. Explains why he once called me Miss Daddy. I put an end to that quick, but he still forgets on occasion when he really wants something and is laying it on thick by trying to be extra polite. Kid might have a career in politics. Or as an infomercial pitchman.

Here are the picks. Don't forget to get them in before the UConn-West Virginia game Friday night at 8.

Game 1: West Virginia (-6.5) over CONNECTICUT
Game 2: CINCINNATI (-2.5) over Syracuse
Game 3: Louisville (+9) over PITTSBURGH
Game 4: Baylor (+7) over TEXAS
Game 5: Auburn (-7) over OLE MISS
Game 6: WASHINGTON (+7) over Stanford
Game 7: GEORGIA (-2.5) over Florida
Game 8: UCLA (+9.5) over Arizona
Game 9: Utah (-7) over AIR FORCE
Game 10: Michigan (-3) over PENN STATE
Game 11: SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA (+6.5) over Oregon

Last week's results
1. Pete 8-4
2. Gabe 7-5
Gary 7-5
Vinny 7-5
5. Chip 6-6
BStew 6-6
Weird Sal 6-6
Ian 6-6
9. Sammy 5-7
GovPhalen 5-7
11. Caleb 4-8
Walt 4-8

1. Pete 53-43-4
2. Ian 52-44-4
3. Chip 50-46-4
4. Caleb Mandrake 49-47-4
B-Stew 49-47-4
Gabe 49-47-4
Vinny from East Haven 49-47-4
8. Gary 47-49-4
9. governorphalen 43-51-4
10. sammy 40-54-4
11. Uconnbob 12-9-1
12. Walt 11-12-1
13. Opposite guy 8-4-1
14. SeanO 8-15-1
15. harper 6-6
16. Weird Sal 6-6
17. Rollo V. 5-6-1
18. Huskyraymond 5-8
19. BostonDan 3-7-1

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Box out. Frazer will start

Here's the injury report for West Virginia. So much for Mike Box being fine. He's out, Zach Frazer will start. Edsall said Box has been practicing, and Box was wearing the red jersey at practice. Guess it wasn't as minor as Box said.

Here's the rest of the injury report. Take it for what it's worth, which, combined with $14, will get you a popcorn and soda at the movies.

Jimmy Bennett (arm)
Mike Box (head)
Kajuan Dabney (head)
Joe Danielson (leg)
David Kenney (leg)
DJ Shoemate (head)
Nick Williams (upper extremity)

Robbie Frey (leg)
Mike Lang (upper extremity)
Brett Manning (leg)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Edsall: "I didn't get stupid overnight."

A few notes and observations from today's media lunch (Jamaican beef patties was a poor choice. I'm already paying the price on that one)...

  • It took about five minutes before Edsall was asked if he'd like to respond to the growing number of fans who would like to see him fired. "That's a question where it doesn't matter how you answer," Edsall said. "Maybe I'm better off not answering it at all." Of course, Edsall wasn't about to do that. "People can have opinions. There's a statement I would make, but if I made it I would be in trouble. If I was Geno I could probably say it and get away with it. I think you've already heard that saying when you talk about opinions they're a lot like some other things."

  • Edsall's essential response to the questions was, "I didn't get stupid overnight. Some years you have enough pieces of the puzzle. Some years you don't. ... Sometimes you spoil people. Maybe the level of expectations was higher than the people who made those expectations know anything about ... I'm the same guy I was last year when we beat Notre Dame, South Carolina, won the Big East championship."

  • Mike Box is fine from a health standpoint. Edsall said he practiced yesterday and will practice again today. Box himself said he's fine, and that the medical staff was being cautious with him Saturday.

  • Lots of talk about leadership, and the lack of an enforcer with this UConn team. There's no Ryan Krug, Alfred Fincher or Andre Dixon, Edsall said. "We don't have the one guy who's going to grab someone by the tail," Edsall said. "It's got to be natural. You can't be someone you're not. I talked to some guys, but they were underclassmen. I want to see some guys step out of their comfort zone and not worry."

  • Edsall mentioned Will Beatty, who may well have been a mute during his time at UConn -- I've had more interesting conversations with inanimate objects. That was simply Beatty's personality. He was quiet. Very, very quiet. But he was a terror on the field, and played with a word Edsall, in an effort to keep his press conference 'G' rated, didn't want to divulge. Edsall is searching high and low for someone unafraid to light into teammates or play with a word too risque for the local news. (And the word Edsall didn't want to use was 'balls'). "How he played and blocked people all the time," Edsall said. "That was the toughness part of it. I won't use the words I used with the team to express the type of person we have to have on the field. Who is that guy? Who are those guys who are going to step up and be the enforcers?"

  • Dixon was the guy who kept last year's team together, Edsall said. "He was the biggest leader we had, and he wasn't a captain." One underclassman Edsall is looking at is Gus Cruz, a guy Edsall spoke to and who stood up and said something to the team after an offensive meeting the other day. Cruz is a true freshman offensive lineman. "In a position of leadership, or f you want to be a leader, you can't worry about ticking people off," Edsall said. "If you’re in a position of leadership, or it you want to be a leader, who can’t worry about ticking people off. I’ve said this to the team on numerous occasions -- I could care less if anybody likes me. That’s not what it’s all about. It’s about respect. That’s the same thing as a captain or player. It’s not that you want your teammates to like you, you want them to respect you.”

  • Edsall, in his own effort to lead by example and take accountability of himself, says he's been getting up at 4:15 a.m. to to the 6 a.m. workouts now. "If that's what I've got to do, that's what I've got to do."

  • Noel Devine isn't 100 percent, but "he's very close", West Virginia coach Bill Stewart said. "He's been uncharacteristically tackled in the open field. I emphasize uncharacteristically. He's just had a little trouble pivoting, shiftiness, planting. The jump cut, as we like to call it. But he's so much better now than after the LSU game."

  • West Virginia was upset by Syracuse, and UConn turned in a miserable game at Louisville. "I think of UConn like I think of us," Stewart said. "We were picked above Syracuse and UConn was picked above Louisville. Well, on paper that was kind of how it was supposed to be. But that paper lion was just a book, it's not how the game's played. I'm sure Randy Edsall and the UConn Huskies have a whole lot more respect for Louisville after the game than they did before. I know for a fact that the West Virginia Mountaineers have a whole lot more respect for Syracuse than we did before."

  • Bill Stewart seemed genuinely disappointed when his teleconference with the UConn media ended. I pictured him sitting on a wicker rocking chair with a big glass of iced tea as he happily and enthusiastically answered our questions. It was like talking with one of the Bartles and Jaymes guys. If only Stewart ended the call by saying, "And we thank you for your support."

  • Randy Edsall feels Scott Lutrus has been playing tentatively since his stinger problem (even referring specifically to the injuries as extra 6 a.m. lap for that one?) Lutrus doesn't quite agree. "I don't think it's the injury at all," Lutrus said, explaining that he held up before hitting the quarterback on Louisville's first touchdown because he thought Froman might take off and run. "But that play is behind us."

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Another bad loss in the rear view mirror

Briefly from the conference call with Edsall
  • Anthony Sherman was limited with what he could do on Saturday because of lingering issues with his hamstring. Some of it, Edsall said, was game-planning, too.
  • There will be no reflecting on Louisville with the short week. (Probably a good thing). It's on to preparing for West Virginia.
  • Edsall said Mike Box did some good things, but also "played like it was his first game". He rushed some throws and was impatient, Edsall said.
  • Not much can be done to adjust on special teams aside from moving some people around. "It hurts not having Robbie Frey," Edsall said. Good day punting by Cole Wagner, the Huskies needed to be able to get off coverage and make tackles.
  • Hard not to notice Scott Lutrus slow up on the blitz right before Adam Froman's first touchdown pass for Louisville. Lutrus readjusted his feet a few steps before getting to the quarterback, allowing Froman enough time to get the pass off. Lutrus is battling stingers, and you have to wonder if it's gotten into his head on plays like that. "We have a blitz going, we have a guy that's coming scott free and he kind of pulls up a bit before he hits the quarterback," Edsall said. "If he comes hard right from the get-go...we had a guy that took his eye off his man and fell down and let him go. We had a blitz called. If we go hard, we probably sack the quarterback. But we don't sack the quarterback."

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The picks, week 8

The injury report for Louisville game: Robbie Frey (leg), Jimmy Bennett (arm), David Kenney (leg), Kijuan Dabney (head) are OUT.

Almost forgot the weekly picks. Here they are, and get yours in...

Game 1: Notre Dame (-7) over NAVY
Game 2: LOUISVILLE (-1.5) over Connecticut
Game 3: MIAMI (-6.5) over North Carolina
Game 4: Wisconsin (+5.5) over IOWA
Game 5: Michigan State (-5) over NORTHWESTERN
Game 6: PITTSBURGH (-12.5) over Rutgers
Game 7: WEST VIRGINIA (-14) over Syracuse
Game 8: Oklahoma (-3) over MISSOURI
Game 9: Nebraska (-5.5) over OKLAHOMA STATE
Game 10: Washington (+6.5) over ARIZONA
Game 11: Louisiana State (+6) over AUBURN
Game 12: KENTUCKY (+4.5) over Georgia

Last week's results
1. Ian 9-4
2. Chip 8-5
3. Pete 7-6
4. Gabe 6-7
govphalen 6-7
gary 6-7
caleb 6-7
sammy 6-7
B-Stew 6-7
Vinny 6-7
11. Huskyraymond 5-8
12. Sean O 4-9

1. Ian 46-38-4
2. Caleb Mandrake 45-39-4
Pete 45-39-4
4. Chip 44-40-4
5. B-Stew 43-41-4
6. Gabe 42-42-4
Vinny from East Haven 42-42-4
8. Gary 40-44-4
9. governorphalen 38-46-4
10. sammy 35-49-4
11. Uconnbob 12-9-1
12. Opposite guy 8-4-1
13. SeanO 8-15-1
14. Walt 7-4-1
15. harper 6-6
16. Rollo V. 5-6-1
17. Huskyraymond 5-8
18. BostonDan 3-7-1

Edsall on Endres, Box

So we have the basics. Mike Box will get the start on Saturday, Frazer will back up, and Cody Endres' career at UConn is officially finished.

Here's what Edsall had to say...
  • The decision for Endres not to return was mutual. Sort of. "I told him," Edsall said. "I mean he's on track to graduate, and that's what's most important. But I told him I wouldn't have him back here next year. And he made a comment he wasn't planning to come back, so..."

  • Mike Box was No. 2 on the depth chart, which is why he's starting now. "I have complete confidence in Mike," Edsall said. "Everything I do is based on what I think and my staff thinks who are the best people. We made that move before, and we feel Mike gives us the best opportunity to win. We have faith and confidence in him, he just doesn't have a lot of experience."

  • Box just has to do his job, Edsall said. "We just have to make sure we do our part as coaches to get him into a rhythm and gain some confidence as we start the ballgame. He prepares well, as a No. 2 and even as a No. 3. I like his leadership, what he brings to the table as a quarterback, his demeanor and how he interacts with all the members of the offense and defense as well."

  • Edsall doesn't expect the team to be effected negatively at all by the departures of Endres and Kuaczea over the last two days. "It's already behind them," Edsall said. "I had a team meeting yesterday, and addressed that. A lot of times you get addition by subtraction. It's just unfortunate people given another opportunity didn't take advantage of that opportunity and see they didn't want to be committed or in one situation someone was very selfish and didn't learn from past experiences."

  • UConn is getting healthier, and Edsall said that will be reflected when the injury report comes out later today.

Box to start

Mike Box will start at QB, Edsall said. He'll be backed up by Zach Frazer.

Endres is done at UConn. Not coming back.

More to come.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Endres' departure result of failed drug test

UConn starting quarterback Cody Endres has been suspended for the remainder of the academic year for a violation of school policy, the school announced in a brief press release Wednesday.

The Register has learned the suspension was the result of a failed drug test, the third time Endres has tested positive since he enrolled at UConn.

UConn coach Randy Edsall was not available for comment Wednesday. He is scheduled to speak today (Thursday) during his weekly teleconference with state media. In its press release, UConn stated it will have no further comment on the matter.

Endres was suspended for 30 days in August for violating the university substance abuse policy for the second time. Reinstated in September, he had started the past two games for the Huskies.

Michael Box, the No. 2 quarterback on the depth chart, is expected to make his first start on Saturday at Louisville (3:30 p.m., ESPNU). Box, a redshirt freshman from Suwanee, Ga, has thrown just five passes this season, all in mop-up duty against Texas Southern.

According to university policy, “a student-athlete who tests positively for street drug use for the third time during his or her career at the University will be barred from practice and competition for the remainder of the academic year in which the third positive test result was obtained”.

Student-athletes are also required to attend treatment by “the appropriate medical personnel”.
A fourth positive test by a student-athlete results in loss of scholarship and being permanently barred from participation in university-sponsored athletics.

Endres, a fourth-year junior from Washington, Pa., has played in 15 games including 10 starts in his career. On Sept. 25, his first after reinstatement, he relieved Zach Frazer midway through UConn’s win over Buffalo. Edsall immediately named Endres the starter, and he completed 38-of-64 passes for 332 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions as the Huskies split with Vanderbilt and Rutgers the last two games.

On Tuesday, Edsall announced Ansonia’s Erik Kuraczea had withdrawn from the university for “personal reasons”. Kuraczea was suspended for 30 days along with Endres in August. But the Register has learned Kuraczea’s recent departure is not in any way linked with Endres’.

Endres suspended again: done for year

Mike Box will start at quarterback at Louisville on Saturday.

UConn Athletic Communications – October 20, 2010 – Endres Suspended

STORRS, Conn. (October 20, 2010) --- University of Connecticut junior quarterback Cody Endres (Washington, Pa.) has been suspended from the football team for a violation of University policies. This suspension will be in effect for the rest of the 2010-11 academic year and thus Endres will miss the remainder of the 2010 football season. The University and the Division of Athletics will have no further comment on this issue.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Finishing a Tuesday: some player quotes

A little more from today's media session...
  • The players said they had only just learned of Kuraczea's decision to leave the team. "I just found out, like a minute ago, so I don’t have a lot of details yet,” Moe Petrus said. “It’s an unfortunate situation. He’ll be missed. It’ll be hard not having that depth and experience.”

  • Said Cody Endres, who did hard suspension time with Kuraczea, "I’m definitely surprised. “It’s tough because he’s a good player, and I really enjoyed playing with him. It’s disappointing to me.”

  • Endres is among those who don't feel entitled (I believe him, but I also get the feeling everyone on the team says they fall into that category). "I don't feel a sense of entitlement," Endres said. "If coach Edsall gets that kind of feeling from the guys, then that's his opinion." But he back tracks a little. "This program has been built on hard work. I think we work harder than most teams in the country, if I can say so. I think we get the idea, but sometimes we do lose the fact that we're not entitled to anything."

  • Third down's have been a problem with the UConn offense. Endres, asked what the problem has been, said the team has to sustain drives. He also mentioned he wouldn't mind a little more variety with the play-calling. "I think we'll come up with some good things on third down. Maybe not be so, know," Endres said, pausing to pick his words carefully. "I can't think of the word I'm looking for. Maybe not run it all the time on third down. I like to pass it more, but that's me."

  • UConn fullback Ruben Frank has been playing the part of Bilal Powell on the scout team this past week. Kendall Reyes, for one, thinks he has a future. "He is one tough dude," Reyes said. "He's running the ball hard."

  • Rough week for sitcoms. First June Cleaver, then Howard Cunningham. Tom Bosley and his natural, folksy Midwestern sense of humor worked perfectly well as Mr. C on "Happy Days". Of course, Barbara Billingsley's finest work was her role as an elderly woman who could interpret jive for a stewardess in "Airplane".

Early notes from Tuesday's press conference

The news and notes from Tuesday:
  • Edsall wouldn't elaborate on Kuraczea's decision. "I told the young man exactly what I was going to say in (today's) press conference, and I'm going to keep true to my word," Edsall said.

  • Edsall said he spoke with his team about his comments last week with regard to some players feeling a sense of entitlement. "Guys have to understand they aren't entitled to anything," Edsall said. "They have to earn it every day in practice."

  • There was one player -- Edsall didn't mention names -- who Edsall used as an example to us when speaking about the 'entitlement' issue. He mentioned leadership within the team. "We has a situation with one guy. He kind of got demoted, and he was wagging his tail like 'woe is me' instead of saying OK, I'm going to get my spot back and do the things I need to do," Edsall said. "You get some guys who might not be as mentally tough as they should be. They are weak mentally, and all of a sudden adversity sets in and instead of gearing it up, they're looking for the sympathy. They're looking for the easy way, something that's the path of least resistance. It comes down to those individuals, that they can't do that. We address it as coaches. It's the peers, and making sure they address it."

  • There's little room for error in the conference now for the Huskies, who could fall to 0-2 with a loss at Louisville Saturday. Historically, UConn hasn't played well in league games on the road. Asked if this was a sort of elimination game for them in the conference, Edsall said, "We need to get a win on the road, and we need to get a win in the Big East.

  • Lots of talk about the helmet-to-helmet hits in the NFL, and Edsall, the chairman of the NCAA football rules committee, mentioned the NCAA has the authority to suspend people if hits appear blatant. It can also be done after a booth review. The Big East has also reprimanded players to borderline dirty hits, to serve as a warning that they won't be tolerated. Edsall says he showed video of a recent hit where a conference player was reprimanded to let his players know what kinds of things they must avoid.

  • The football team painted the rock near one of the parking garages just after midnight on Sunday to commemorate the one-year anniversary of Jasper Howard's death. It's all while with "Live 365" painted in blue, the '6' in 365 dominating the image.

More to come soon...

Kuraczea leaves school

Offensive lineman Erik Kuraczea has withdrawn from the university "personal reasons", and is looking to enroll at another school in January, according to Randy Edsall. Mathieu Olivier will start at left guard and be backed up by Tyler Bullock.

Other depth chart changes on the offensive line: Adam Masters will start at right tackle, with Kevin Friend returning to backup status. Stephen Brown goes from backup right tackle to backup left tackle.

At tailback, D.J. Shoemate will backup Jordan Todman, meaning Robbie Frey is out. Blidi Wreh-Wilson is listed as the starter at cornerback, as is Jesse Joseph at defensive end. Also, the 'OR's are gone with the kickers. Chad Christen is backing up both Dave Teggart and Cole Wagner.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The picks, week 7

It's a bye week (in case you haven't heard), so no injury report or teleconference this week. Also, we're hoping to get a podcast done and posted here by tomorrow.

Edsall said yesterday during his meeting with the beat writers that he feels UConn is close to being a very good team. "We're eighth in the country in productivity in the red zone. We're not turning the ball over, we're plus 3. We're very close. That's the thing that's more discouraging than anything else."

The players haven't "given full attention to detail for 60 minutes", which has led to some big mistakes, Edsall said. But he also admitted the coaching hasn't been perfect, either. "There was a situation during the game where we ran a play the first time, great design, and they played it a certain way. We as coaches messed up because we should have made an adjustment. We came back and ran it later, we didn't make the adjustment where we should have had Kashif, instead of running a corner route, just give it a little bend to the corner and take it right down the pipe. That was coaching."

Often, one little mistake causes a chain reaction of errors as others try to adjust. "We talk about it all the time. I wish I had a dollar for every time we tell them 'just do your job," Edsall said. "Don't do anybody else's, just do your job. Until they understand it and do that, those are the things that will happen."

On to the picks...quickies this week. I should also point out that the reader who won the weekly contest last weekend was the guy who picked the exact opposite of my picks. Pretty good strategy.

Game 1: Pittsburgh (-1) over SYRACUSE
Game 2: Army (+7) over RUTGERS
Game 3: SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA (-2.5) over California
Game 4: Iowa (-3.5) over MICHIGAN
Game 5: TEXAS TECH (-3.5) over Oklahoma State
Game 6: Ohio State (-4) over WISCONSIN
Game 7: AUBURN (-4) over Arkansas
Game 8: North Carolina State (-7) over EAST CAROLINA
Game 9: South Carolina (-5) over KENTUCKY
Game 10: Baylor (-1) over COLORADO
Game 11: TEXAS A & M (-3) over Missouri
Game 12: DUKE (+19.5) over Miami
Game 13: New Haven (-1) over AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL: (Second-year Chargers could take first-place in the NE-10 outright with a win)...

Last week's results
1. opposite guy (nice) 8-4-1
2. caleb mandrake 7-5-1
govphalen 7-5-1
vinny 7-5-1
5. ian 6-6-1
gary 6-6-1
7. chip 4-8-1
B-stew 4-8-1
gabe 4-8-1
10. Pete 3-9-1
11. sammy 2-10-1

1. Caleb Mandrake 39-32-4
2. Pete 38-33-4
3. B-Stew 37-34-4
Ian 37-34-4
5. Chip 36-35-4
Gabe 36-35-4
Vinny from East Haven 36-35-4
8. Gary 34-37-4
9. governorphalen 32-39-4
10. sammy 29-42-4
11. Uconnbob 12-9-1
12. Opposite guy 8-4-1
13. Walt 7-4-1
14. harper 6-6
15. Rollo V. 5-6-1
16. seanO 4-6-1
17. BostonDan 3-7-1

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Edsall gets to the point

There was media availability on campus today. It was supposed to be just Todman, Reyes and Nick Williams for interviews. But Edsall surprised the beat writers by inviting us to his office for a 45-minute chat. It was candid, off-the-cuff and informative. Kind of state-of-the union address, without the teleprompters. Some highlights...

  • The team, obviously, misses Marcus Easley and his ability to break off a huge play at any time. Edsall admitted it today. "We don't have that big-play guy," Edsall said. "We're not getting some of the big plays we got a year ago. You take a look at some of the big plays (Marcus Easley) made last year. Right now, we don't have that. We're trying to get that. But we don't have that big-play situation we had a year ago. We're more balanced after six games than we were before, and when we get to the red area we've scored every time except for the two fumbles. What's happening his we're not possessing the ball long enough and we're not making those big plays."

  • Fan reaction, as you all know, was pretty fierce following the Rutgers loss. There's been plenty of criticism of Edsall in the wake of the loss and the failure to live up to expectations in general. Edsall was asked how he's dealing with it. He said, in a nutshell, he doesn't deal with it. "First of all, I don't know if anyone is criticizing me or not because I don't read anything," Edsall said. "I could care less what the outside world thinks. I really could. This is what I do for my job. Those people don't do my job, those people don't know my job. They're fans, and it's great that they're excited. They want us to win every game and that's great. But you know what? I'm not going to sit and criticize anyone else because I don't know what it entails. I'll criticize myself more than anyone else will every criticize me. ... Every coach in this building is trying to do everything they can to win. Yeah. We're disappointed we're 3-3 as well. ... But I don't hear the outside world, I don't deal with it because if you do you're going to drive yourself crazy."

  • Mental mistakes, attention to detail, lack of focus. It's been a big problem on both sides of the ball this year. "It's not like we're giving them a lot of things to do," Edsall said. "We're trying to keep it as simple as we can."

  • Edsall said that maybe some of the players in the program who've experienced nothing but success (read: bowl appearances the last three years, two of them wins, beating Notre Dame) are taking things for granted. He mentioned a conversation he had recently with Geno Auriemma. "Some of these guys, they think they have a sense of entitlement," Edsall said. "That we've done some pretty good things here the last few years, and maybe some of these guys haven't paid enough of the price that the people in front of them did. And instead of going out and doing it that way they think they know a little bit more than what they do when they don't. (Auriemma) said 'yeah, I had to deal with that for three years'. All of a sudden, you go to the bowl games, you do this, and they think I'm just entitled to this, I'm just going to show up and go. Bullcrap. There is no entitlement. You have to work for it and earn it every time."

  • A UConn source confirmed a deal to play Western Michigan at Rentschler next season and out in Kalamazoo in 2012 is signed and done. A contract to play Virginia in East Hartford in 2016 and at Virginia in 2017 is close to being finalized, as is a home-and-away deal with Wake Forest, possibly in 2014-15, but it may be a little farther down the road.

  • Jordan Todman is playing with pain, but expects the pain to cease at some point this season. He said doctors have told him his left elbow injury will heal before the season is finished. "Bob (Howard, UConn's head trainer) said its only a matter of time until I get back to full strength."

  • Todman said the team mood has been down after the Rutgers loss. "Especially it being our first Big East game and being so close to a victory," Todman said. "It's a shock, but it's reality. Now we have to wait another year to go back at this team. To this day, I feel we were the better team. But when you don't win, it sets you back. And what I say doesn't mean anything. It's what you show."

Monday, October 11, 2010

Surgery for Blidi

Randy Edsall announded Blidi Wreh-Wilson had surgery on his "hand" today, but did not specify the nature of the injury or how long Wreh-Wilson might be out. Asked if Wreh-Wilson would be out for the season, Edsall only reiterated he had surgery. Since being out for the season is part of the Monday injury report, it's safe to assume the coaches expect Wreh-Wilson to return. It's just a matter of when.

Wreh-Wilson's thumb was in a splint and wrapped, but he finished the Rutgers game.

"We need some time because we're banged up," Edsall said. "The injury report is as big as its been since I've been here."

UConn is practicing Wednesday and Thursday, then has Friday and Saturday off before returning to normal game-week preparation for Louisville. Edsall said he expects a lot of the banged up guys won't practice Wednesday and Thursday.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Rutgers wake: sorting through another bad loss.

Teleconference with Edsall just ended. Lots to digest. Let's take a look at what he discussed.
  • The film was tough to watch because it showed "the more opportunities we had that we didn't take advantage of." Edsall will take the week off to figure out how to avoid giving up the big plays on defense and get some productivity out of someone else on offense beside Todman and Kashif Moore. "It's the same old thing," Edsall said. "We can't get enough consistency during the game to get us a chance to win some of these games that we lost. That's the thing we're going to analyze."

  • Did someone say big plays allowed on defense? It's a running theme with this defense. Happens every week. On Friday, it was 10 plays that went for 289 yards, while the other 60 went for 164. Edsall was happy with the play on third down (3-for-15) "you take that every time" and fourth down (0-for-2). "It's the big plays," Edsall said.

  • So how do you eliminate this problem? "We have to make sure each day in practice we're coaching these guys to execute the technique the way we want it done," Edsall said. Opposing players will make plays, that's inevitable. But on the last Rutgers TD, "three guys didn't do their job"... two guys "didn't do their job" on Rutgers' first score, a 46-yard TD. Execution, focus, do your own job, Edsall says.

  • The offense wasn't being conservative late in the game, Edsall says. "Plays 62, 63 and 64, with 2:09 to go, we threw the ball all three times," Edsall said. "With 3:53 to go, we ran the first time and threw the next two times. The series before, when we got the ball on the (UConn) 13, we tried to run the ball there. On the third down play, if we get one block, Jordan might get a first down. They're looking for you to throw the ball, so we made the decision we were going to run there. Other than that drive, we were trying to throw the ball." UConn threw the ball 12 times compared to only six runs over the final 18 plays.

  • Later, asked again about being conservative on offense late, Edsall said, "I don't know what you were watching, but we were trying to score each time we had the ball. We never went into a 4-minute offense trying to milk the clock. I just told you, out of the last 18 plays we ran the ball six times and threw it 12. That's 66 percent throw to 33 percent run. That question's ludicrous to me."

  • The secondary is having big problems. Mistakes are being made by the front seven, too. Edsall says the coaches can only continue to work with them to iron out the kinks. "Those are the best people we have," Edsall said. "We have to keep working with them. It's not the same guy all the time, it's different guys. Maybe it's still youth, because we are very young on defense. For the most part, we mixed coverages. We had five sacks. We played man-to-man, the last one we got beat. The young man was a little too aggressive at the line of scrimmage, and he couldn't recover."

  • Part of UConn's game plan was to pressure on third downs, which happened. The exception was the 3rd-and-14 that led to Rutties first TD. "That one, we didn't pressure," Edsall said. "In hindsight, maybe we should have pressured. But if we play the coverage the way we were supposed to, they wouldn't have had the TD either. In some situations, maybe we could have (pressured) on second down. But you put a game plan together based on the personnel they're going to have in the game. The game plan was to pressure on third down. That's what we did because of the things we saw."

  • Someone asked Edsall if the defense was overconfident going into the fourth quarter with the lead. I think it might be the opposite, especially with the young players in a secondary with a less-than-stellar track record. Perhaps they're getting nervous and tight with the game on the line. "We tell them never to look at the scoreboard," Edsall said. "We tell them to take it one play at a time. If they're thinking that, I'm not doing a good enough job of getting that point across. My whole thing is never look at the scoreboard." Not looking at the scoreboard is fine and all. But players know the situation. They can feel what's going on with the crowd. Overconfidence would be a better problem. Being nervous and tight in close games is much more difficult to overcome.

  • There's a ton of work on the coaching staff's plate going into the break. "We're six games in, and we're 3-3," Edsall said. "That's who we are. We're a 3-3 team. The bye comes at a good time because we have a bunch of guys banged up, and it gives us a chance to really look at things for the second half of the season."

Rutgers has UConn's number again

A few quick postgame quotes from here in the swamps of Jersey before we hit the highway...
  • Edsall seemed to be holding back in his press conference, evidenced by the fact that he repeated the phrase "I'll need to look at the film" over and over. Asked why he thought the offense, which moved the ball so well in the second quarter, seemed to be stuck in neutral for the second half he said, "I don't know what it was. We made some yards, but we weren't scoring. ... Some guys got overpowered in the run game."
  • "We just didn't get it done," Edsall said. "A couple of times I thought we might be able to get a run here or there. We just didn't finish, didn't finish a block."
  • Rutgers' offense moved the ball at will. The damage may have been worse had the Knights' scrapped the wildcat and gimmicky stuff and just let Chas Dodd run the offense. Edsall didn't think his defense was gassed at the end. "We had the ability to make some plays and if we could have just made them and we didn't. That's the bottom line."

Thursday, October 07, 2010

The picks, week 6

With no teleconference scheduled for today -- the short week moved it up to yesterday -- we can focus on the weekly picks this morning. Since UConn is playing Friday night, you'll need to get your entries in a little earlier.
I suggested on Tuesday that UConn and Rutgers should be a trophy game, tossing out a few ideas. There was some positive response (specifically, one positive response coming out of Orlando, Fla.) to this one being an annual battle for the Golden EZ-Pass. And I have to concur.
Imagine the excitement pulsating throughout the stadium as the EZ-Pass is presented to the winning team at midfield. Shouts of "We gonna OWN the Jersey Turnpike, tonight" resonating from overjoyed players. Of course, the losing coach would be required to dig into his wallet to hand over the $29 activation fee. The visiting team will either have a (relatively) easy bus ride back home, zipping through turnpike traffic and enjoying the full wonder that is the EZ-Pass -- OR, should they lose, be stuck in misery waiting hours on end through the tolls.

Either that or just play for The Big Vat of Sunday Gravy With Sausage, Meatballs and a Little Pork for Added Flavor (too wordy?).
Game 1: Connecticut (-5) over RUTGERS - Huskies venture to the land of Gym, Tan and Laundry, jump on a few grenades and come away with the robbery. And if that sentence makes no sense, you probably don't own an Ed Hardy T-shirt.
Game 2: SOUTH FLORIDA (-7.5) over Syracuse - Orange smoked Maine and Colgate the past two games. I think have a real chance to make the Division I-AA playoff this year.
Game 3: Michigan State (+4.5) over MICHIGAN - Mark Dantonio will coach from the press box Saturday. Michigan considering letting Rich Rodriguez coach from the local Tim Horton's.
Game 4: LOUISVILLE (-17) over Memphis - Louisville struggling. But Memphis just isn't very good.
Game 5: Miami-Ohio (+17) over CINCINNATI - Cincinnati fans just hoping Reds manage to get a hit during their inevitable three-games-and-out to the Phillies.
Game 6: NORTH CAROLINA STATE (-10) over Boston College - BC just hoping to keep fans interested into the second half.
Game 7: Nevada-Las Vegas (+27) over WEST VIRGINIA - Kenny Mayne was once a backup quarterback for the Runnin' Rebels. Wonder why they haven't been relevant since...forever.
Game 8: Alabama (-6.5) over SOUTH CAROLINA -

Game 9: Louisiana State (+6.5) over FLORIDA - Good news. It's a 7:30 p.m. start. No major conflict with the Rays 5 p.m. game. That guy in Sarasota who follows the Rays is very excited.

Game 10: NOTRE DAME (-6) over Pittsburgh - Good to see Dave Wannstedt was able to check out the Ryder Cup last week. Like the Member's Only jacket, too.
Game 11: MIAMI (-6.5) over Florida State -

Game 12: STANFORD (-9.5) over Southern Cal -

Game 13: Southern Conn. State (-9) over NEW HAVEN - Winner gets pizza from Sally's. Loser gets it from Pizza Hut.
1. Caleb Mandrake 11-1
2. Gabe 10-2
Pete 10-2
4. B-Stew 9-3
5. Vinny 8-4
6. Govphalen 7-5
7. Chip 6-6
ian 6-6
sammy 6-6
harper 6-6
11. gary 4-8
1. Pete 35-24-3
2. B-Stew 33-26-3
3. caleb mandranke 32-27-3
4. Chip 31-28-3
Ian 31-28-3
Gabe 31-28-3
7. Gary 30-29-3
8. Vinny 29-30-3
9. sammy 27-32-3
10. GovernorPhalen 25-34-3
11. Uconnbob 12-9-1
12. Walt 7-4-1
13. harper 6-6
14. Rollo V. 5-6-1
15. seanO 4-6-1
16. BostonDan 3-7-1

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Injury report for Rutgers

OUT: Jimmy Bennett (hand), Robbie Frey (knee), David Kenney (leg).

QUESTIONABLE: Jesse Joseph (leg)

PROBABLE: Adam Masters (arm)

The UConn Report: Rutgers week

Another Wednesday, another podcast. Don Boyle of and I discuss the Vanderbilt win, this Friday night's game at Rutgers and UConn's emerging cornerback star Blidi Wreh-Wilson. Enjoy.

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Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Rutgers: Notes from a short week

Some news and notes from the Tuesday media luncheon with Randy Edsall -- I opted for the McRib sandwich. Hey, they only break 'em out once a year at McDonalds. By the way, I just lost an entire blog to a computer issue and am doing it over from scratch here, so forgive me if it sucks.

  • Edsall was a little more guarded today than last week, and seemed to be holding back. I think he wants to beat Rutgers so badly that he was consciously trying to keep himself in check. Or, perhaps, last week's Night at the Improv stand-up was too enjoyable for us, and he needed to keep things subdued. I'm guessing it was a little of both.

  • Edsall played plenty of things down today, including the natural rivalry with Rutgers.
    "Rivalries form on their own, not because the coaches say so," Edsall said. I think there's enough contempt from each side, from coaches and players on down to fans, that this can be considered a true (if new) rivalry. The proximity of the campuses helps a lot. UConn certainly has enough players from New Jersey to get them pumped up for this one. "The Jersey guys are going to be going nuts," UConn corner Blidi Wreh-Wilson said. "They're in another world. Guys are talking like 'I can't wait to just get on that field'."

  • I truly believe this rivalry is intense enough, it should be pushed back to that week in November when they play for all the cool trophies and stuff. And I think the schools should come up with something to play for...I mean, Cincinnati and Louisville have the Keg of Nails, Notre Dame and USC have the Jeweled Shillelagh, Michigan and Minnesota the Little Brown Jug...They go on and on. Neill from the CT Post just pointed out that Minnesota and Wisconsin played for something called the Slab of Bacon from 1930-45. That sounds exciting and delicious. How hard would it be for UConn and Rutgers to come up with their own trophy? I'll throw out a few ideas to get started. Traffic in both states is a nightmare, how about The Jersey Barrier? (Might be a little tough to hoist). The Steel Pez Dispenser? (All Pez in the U.S. is manufactured in my little hometown of Orange, Conn. It's true. The whole street smells like candy.) The Belt? (to be delivered in WWE style, perhaps by Senator Linda McMahon [shudder]) The Toupee of Trump? The Big Pot of Sunday Gravy (with sausage and meatballs)? The Golden EZ-Pass? Someone needs to get to work on this.

  • Dwayne Difton says his recent production on the field is the result of his maturation as a person. "When I was a freshman, and first came in, I wasn't working hard in practice at all," Difton said. "It shows on the field, the things I'm doing in practice. I feel I'm getting better and better. ... I was young, like a little kid still. I didn't know any better. He had to teach me, and the guys were teaching me too. Jasper Howard was teaching me, and then he passed so basically I was on my own. I wasn't doing too well off the field. Basically I know I'm progressing when coach Edsall is talking about me again."

  • Blidi Wreh-Wilson has an interesting back story. His parents and older brother came here from Liberia, and Blidi's the first in his family to be born in this country. His father earned his bachelor's degree from Boston College, then got a master's and PhD from Boston University. He's now a professor of philosophy at Edinboro University. School has always been priority No. 1, as Blidi's father was strict when it came to academics. Blidi didn't miss a single day of school from Kindergarten through his senior year of high school. "I always thought I was kind of a loser for that," Blidi joked. "But they gave me a standing ovation for it at graduation." He was a good soccer player who began to receive interest from some Division II schools in Pennsylvania before switching to football prior to his senior year. Now, he's becoming one of the better play-making cornerbacks in the Big East.

  • Here's a fact to fascinate your friends with (or, more likely, convince them you're a giant dweeb)...Blidi isn't the only current UConn player with an impressive school attendance streak. Alex Polito didn't miss a day of high school, a four-year streak that netted him a check for $200 from the school at graduation. And Blidi, who went 13 years without taking a day to be home with the chicken pox, flu or to catch up on "The Price is Right"? "I got a piece of paper," he said. Maybe Polito can spring to buy him lunch one day.

  • Is 37 carries to much for Jordan Todman? "I don't think so," Edsall said. "Jordan can withstand it. He's made himself stronger and will take care of himself. He knows when he gets tired we'll give him a blow." He'll also get some rest the the upcoming bye week.

  • We're heading into week six, and UConn still doesn't have a clear punter or place kicker. At least on paper. Dave Teggart and Chad Christen are listed as the starting kickers, Cole Wagner and Christen as punter. But it's more to keep everyone working. "Some people need to have competition to bring out the best in them," Edsall said. "It's the inconsistency that bothers me."

  • Jonathan Jean-Louis' positional tour continues. Last week, he was sent back to linebacker. This week, with Lutrus healthy, he's back to tailback. Martin Hyppolite, after one week back at tailback from his stint at linebacker, is now the backup to Todman. D.J. Shoemate's recent case of fumbleitis has pushed him to third on the depth chart.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Surgery for Frey, Bennett

Robbie Frey had his knee scoped today and will miss 2-3 weeks. Jimmy Bennett injured his thumb during pregame, and will need surgery. He also reinjured his knee during the game, which won't require surgery, but he's expected to miss up to five weeks.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Wrapping up Vanderbilt

Some notes from Sunday's call with Edsall
  • Vanderbilt had five big plays that went for 198 yards; the other 51 plays went for 124 yards. UConn needs to eliminate those big plays to become a better defense, Edsall said.
  • Nick Williams on kickoff return is because Robbie Frey is "banged up", and Edsall, happy with the job Williams did (he got the special teams game ball), anticipates that will remain the same.
  • Adam Masters (arm) could be in line to play for Rutgers, but Edsall didn't want to say anything definitive yet. He, and other injured guys, still need to see trainers and get treatment today and Monday. There could be some other changes on the depth chart.
  • D.J. Shoemate appears to have fallen behind Martin Hyppolite and even Anthony Sherman for Jordan Todman's scraps. "The biggest thing is you have to perform," Edsall said. "You get opportunities, and if you put the ball on the ground as a running back, you give others an opportunity. Same thing with a receiver. If a receiver doesn't catch the ball, he won't be in there. It's no different than any position."
  • Edsall was happy with the job Kevin Friend did after Saturday's game, and after watching tape Sunday his position hasn't changed. Depth on the line could become an issue, depending on the severity of Bennett's knee and Masters' arm, along with any other unknown ailments. But if more backups can step in and not miss a beat like Friend, UConn should survive.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Down go the game notes

Some notes from the post-game...

  • Jordan Todman said he played with no pain today, but also that there wasn't any contact on it -- impressive considering he carries 37 times. He said he may have been able to play last week against Buffalo, but his situation was still iffy last week. "There were safety issues," Todman said. "(It was a) do I miss one game or do I miss the season situation. I sacrificed to miss that one game."

  • Make no mistake -- 37 carries is a ton, especially for someone playing with a bad wing. But Todman is now the workhorse, and Edsall said he'll continue to get plenty of action. "We're smart with him," Edsall said. "We rest him up as much as we can, and we have the bye week coming up. We had a guy a couple of years ago who carried the ball that many times, Donald Brown.

  • Count Robbie Caldwell among those impressed by Todman, who ran for 190 yards for the second straight game and missed his career-high (set in his last game at Temple). Todman is now averaging 159.5 yards rushing per game. "He is as good as I have seen," Caldwell said. "I have not seen a better running back this season.

  • Edsall's mantra when things go wrong is that is was simply a matter of execution. He knows he sounds like a broken record, but said that was the case today. Mistakes made in the first half -- penalties, big plays allowed -- were corrected and it showed on the field. The third-down conversions is something the Huskies, 6-of-19, still need to work on. "We stunk on third down," Edsall said.

  • Vanderbilt is a run-heavy team, but must have studied lots of Uconn-Michigan film. Perhaps that's why Larry Smith looked a little like Denard Robinson in the first half. The Commodores came out throwing a lot, while Larry Smith broke off a couple of big runs. "We knew we had to stop the run, which we did," Edsall said. "We thought their running backs were pretty good."

  • Edsall didn't name names, but hinted that more than one player may have been lost of the season. Jimmy Bennett is one. He re-injured his knee. Kevin Friend replaced him and played on the right, with Mike Ryan moving to the left. Expect that same formation for the duration of the season. Not sure about the other, but my guess is Adam Masters, already out today, is finished. Unfortunately, we don't get much in the way of injury information.

  • Beating an SEC team helps in more ways than one. "At least we won't get hammered tonight on ESPN," Edsall said.

  • Lutrus joked around about his "upper extremity" injury. It's never been confirmed that the injury was indeed a stinger, but there's little question that's what it was.