Tuesday, November 30, 2010

UConn preps for South Florida

The final Tuesday media luncheon of the season. I decided to follow the advice of the new signage around the football cafeteria, which, in large, bold letters, informs all who enter to "Eat to Win".

The news and notes of the day.
  • Last week's session with Edsall was beyond bland. When he's trying to keep the hype down, it's time to break out the coachspeak. It was a little better this time around, though the message was repeated over and over. Focus on the task at hand, take care of business. "This game is no different," Edsall said. "We've been playing one-game seasons for the last five games now. If we lost, we were out. It's playoff football for us now, because if we lost we were done."

  • No news on the injury front. The depth chart is unchanged, but that doesn't mean all is well. Linebacker Scott Lutrus was the lone captain not to appear to speak to the media today, and the reasoning is clear. He's hurt. So is Mike Ryan. So is Twyon Martin. We'll find out their official status on Thursday -- which may or may not clear things up. There's still three full days to heal, but the early odds are that all three will be out of the lineup.

  • One guy who may be nicked and bruised but who will be ready for a full workload is Jordan Todman. Edsall mentioned he was in for 40 snaps against Cincinnati, and had 32 touches (31 runs, one reception). "I hope he's got one more left in him," Edsall said, mentioning the team is careful with Todman in practice during the week. Todman gets just enough reps to stay loose and sharp, and has been running smart during games by going out of bounds when it looks like there are no more yards to be gained rather than cutting it up field and taking an unnecessary shot. "They told me yesterday he went in for treatment and said he felt better this week than he did a week ago," Edsall said.

  • Edsall's name continues to come up for any BCS job opening, as it has been for several years now. There was Georgia Tech in 2007, Syracuse in 2008 and Notre Dame in 2009. So far, it's been Minnesota that's supposedly hot after Edsall. Not so, Edsall said Monday and again today. "I have not talked to anybody and nobody's talked to me," Edsall said.

  • UConn has been in a position to win a conference championship and BCS bid before, going to West Virginia with that opportunity in 2007. The result was a 66-21 whupping. The seniors on this year's team were freshmen that year, some seeing heavy playing time. Does the team learn lesson's from that game? "Didn't learn a lot from that game, other than wiping the blood off the backside afterward," Edsall said. "We got spanked pretty good. A little raw. I think you learn a little something with every game you play, but that's a whole different team and scenario."

  • Lawrence Wilson picked up one lesson from the 2007 loss in Morgantown. "You learn that chances like this are very rare," Wilson said. "You have to take advantage of the opportunity. We have to be focused, not buy into the hype and keep our eyes on what's at stake."

  • Look to see more of D.J. Shoemate on special teams. He filled in there against Cincinnati and did a nice job.

  • Edsall talked openly about TCU and how its program will bolster the Big East in all sports (though football is why its here). Edsall said he talked with Gary Patterson, whom he considers a friend, to congratulate him and tell him how excited the league is about the school's admission. "We'll be able to go into Texas to recruit," Edsall said. "And I'm sure that will help their recruiting as well because they're part of a BCS conference with an automatic bid where they weren't before. We'll go down there and now there's some kids that might want to leave and come up."

  • Some of the concern has been over the added travel distance into Dallas and vice versa. Balderdash, Edsall said. "Everybody's always trying to make a big deal out of something," Edsall said. "What everyone has to do is make a big deal because they're in Texas. ... It is what it is. Everybody always wants to look at the negative and come up with something, how can we stab this and make it not look good. That's ridiculous. It's ludicrous. To me, what you try to do when you're in business, is you try to make the conference as strong as you can. Well, the Big East just made a move that makes the conference stronger, especially from a football standpoint. What's it take to get there by plane, three hours? Some people will bus to a place that takes three hours. What's the difference? There is no difference. You really get sick sometimes of all the negativity that surrounds things that end up being very good and positive. To me, it's a positive step."

  • Edsall has talked about how much he hated the uneven Big East schedule with eight teams, and he's happy every team will have four home and four away games now. Asked if he'd like to see a 10th team added with a Big East title game, Edsall said he'd rather see it go to 11 if there's more expansion to keep the schedule balanced.

  • Zach Frazer finds a way to win the big games. "I don't know if you can really say what it is," Edsall said. "It's the makeup of the person. You take a look, and he finds a way to win. He's a competitor. He might not look as pretty as what some people would like, but he gets the job done." Frazer also has a pretty good playoff beard that is finally through it's five-week transitional stage.

  • Frazer was asked about the backlash against the Big East champ getting a BCS berth in a down year for the league. "We have a right to be there," Frazer said, speaking about the league champ, whoever it might be.


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