Monday, December 20, 2010

Notes from UConn's Fiesta media day

Some news and notes from Randy Edsall's morning press conference with state media...

  • Edsall began by congratulating Geno Auriemma and delivered an impassioned speech regarding the UConn women's basketball team and their 88-game win streak. "I hope people really appreciate what they've done," Edsall said. "They play the game the way it's supposed to be played. Great fundamentals; good techniques; they play the game hard all the time. People can say what they want to say, but what they're doing is unprecedented. They should get the credit they deserve. That's something special. ... People talk about John Wooden. You have to talk about Geno Auriemma in the same vain; best coach in the history of basketball, men's or women's."

  • Oklahoma's offensive tempo is impressive, Edsall said. "We can't really simulate the speed with which their offense gets lined up."

  • UConn has finally shed the stigma of being "an up-and-coming program", at least in Edsall's eyes. Two conference titles, five bowl games, one BCS bowl should do the trick. "There are teams in our conference who have been in the Big East since the beginning and haven't won a conference championship." (Hello, Rutgers).

  • Edsall was asked if he's disappointed with UConn's low ticket sales for the Fiesta Bowl. "That's a loaded question," Edsall said. "I can't win answering that question. No matter how I address it, how I say it and how it comes out, 50 percent won't like it. I just hope as many people that can get there will get there and support the Huskies."

  • There were nine recruits on campus making visits this weekend. Edsall said when he talks to recruits individually, they tell him they can see why UConn wins. "People see us on TV, then they see us here and they can see why we win," Edsall said. "Because of how we practice, how close our kids our and the bond between players and coaches. They see that family atmosphere."

  • UConn is healthy. Mike Ryan and Twyon Martin have been cleared and are practicing in full. Aside from the five players listed as out for the year (Smallwood, Kinnard, Wylie, Campbell and Davis), only freshman long snapper Adam Mueller (mono) is in doubt.

  • No academic casualties yet, but not all the grades are in yet. Edsall doesn't expect to hear from anyone who intends to transfer until after the Fiesta Bowl. Got to get that trip and all the free stuff, first, after all.

  • UConn is establishing a reputation for churning out excellent running backs. Terry Caulley's potential was slowed by injury, but Donald Brown, Andre Dixon and Jordan Todman have been All-Big East, with Brown and Todman winning Big East Offensive Player of the Year Awards and All-America status. Edsall hopes that recruits understand this is a place where top high school backs can come to excell. "You would hope so," Edsall said. "I think people understand our philosophy here is we're going to run the ball. Yeah, we want to be balanced, but we're going to run." Edsall said he was speaking with an NFL general manager recently who told him "you understand who you are, because you have two seasons. You have a fall and a winter you have to play in, so you better be able to run the ball because when it gets cold, if you can't run in those elements, you've really got no chance. And those are the things we try to sell to those young men out there who are running backs. It's a philosophy that works for us." Not quite sure how that pitch will help the recruitment of quarterbacks and receivers, though.

  • After hitting the game-winning 52-yard field goal at South Florida to clinch UConn's BCS berth, Dave Teggart turned on his cell phone and waited several minutes for the buzzing that indicates an awaiting text message to finally cease. "I had 85 new text messages," Teggart said. "I got back to my Facebook and had 100 new friend requests and people poking me. I don't even know what a poke is."

  • The "UConn doesn't deserve to be in the BCS" argument is, um, angering the players a bit. Some of them said they try to ignore it, most said it's impossible to get away from it. "It's motivation," Todman said. "It makes me smile like a 'who are they to say that?' type thing. We won, we beat them teams, we won out fair and square and we belong to be where we're at. This is our rewards. For someone to say we don't deserve it, to be honest, is kind of a smack in the face. We'll let them say what they want to say. But whoever you put on the field against us, we're going to compete and work hard. We still have to earn the respect of the other side, but we're not going to stop and do whatever it takes to get our place."

  • Cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson isn't overly concerned with the quick pace of Oklahoma's offense. "When we played Michigan, it was all about during camp going quick tempo and conditioning ourselves for that," Wreh-Wilson said. "I think we'll be fine with the pace just because when they do the pace we know the plays they're going to run after the quick tempo. A lot of the stuff they run we've seen on film from other teams. They just have great athletes at the skill positions, a good back and a good quarterback, so they have good timing and execution out of it."


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