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.


Blogger Gary said...

Chip...I'm excited about Friday's game, are you going to be there covering it? Hope so.

As for the rivalry thing, I think it takes an intrepid young newspaper reporter like yourself to just start talking about the rivalry trophy in articles leading up to the game and after. For example.

PISCATAWAY, NJ -- The University of Connecticut football team won its Big East opener on Friday 34-28 against its rivals, the Rutgers University Scarlet Knights.

Connecticut running back Jordan Todman carried the ball 23 times for 174 yards and three touchdowns, helping his Huskies bring the storied "The Situation Six-Pack Plaque" back to Storrs.

When asked after the game what the "The Situation Six-Pack Plaque" means to him a visibly emotional Todman said, "You can't underestimate what something like this does for a team. You have a bunch of guys, working hard all week, hell, all year for this, and to be able to take this home to Connecticut, man, it's tough to put into words."

Quarterback Cody Endres was solid in his first road start of the 2010 season. The junior from Pennsylvania completed 15 of 21 passes for 184 yards including an 18-yard touchdown pass to sophomore wide receiver Dwayne Difton.

After the touchdown, Difton jogged to the Husky sideline pointing to his abdomen, an homage to Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino, after whom the "The Situation Six-pack Plaque" is named.

Connecticut head coach Randy Edsall gave credit to his team for being prepared for everything Rutgers was going to throw its way.

"We watched film all week," Edsall said through a wry grin. "G-T-L, game tape lovers."

Edsall also added that on the six-hour bus ride from Storrs, the team watched the complete first season of Jersey Shore, for extra motivation.

"Being able to watch someone as successful as 'The Situation' on the ride down definitely helped us get motivated," Senior captain and linebacker Scott Lutrus said.

Lutrus had six tackles in the win, including a key stop on a third down late in the second quarter that stalled a Rutgers drive.

"If I said I wasn't thinking of 'The Situation's' abs when I made that stop, I'd be lying to you," said Lutrus.

The Connecticut football team was in high spirits in the locker room after the game, passing the "The Situation Six-pack Plaque" around for all to bask in the golden glory.

The Huskies next game is in 14 days on the road against the Louisville Cardinals.

October 06, 2010 8:24 AM 
Blogger Gary said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

October 06, 2010 8:25 AM 
Blogger Chip Malafronte said...

Nice, Gary. Though The Situation's 15 minutes of fame are just about up.

October 06, 2010 9:20 AM 

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