Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Shorthanded defensive line to be tested this week

UConn football coach Paul Pasqualoni said that knee injuries will keep senior defensive end Teddy Jennings and junior defensive tackle Shamar Stephen out of action for Saturday's game against North Carolina State.

It would be challenging enough to face the Wolfpack with the full complement of defensive linemen but going forward without two of the more underrated linemen on the squad is certainly a cause for concern among the UConn staff.

North Carolina State's starting offensive line had combined to play 137 games and start 104 of them with 85 of those starts coming from guards Zach Allen and R.J. Mattes and center Camden Wentz.

"This will be by far our biggest challenge," Pasqualoni said. "It is a very good offensive line, players who have been in big games. We'll find out where we are this week."

Here is what Pasqualoni had to say in updating the status of Stephen (who injured his knee during fall camp) and Jennings, who was hurt in the third quarter of Thursday's win over UMass.

"Right now I would say that Shamar, for this week, is out. We had an evaluation over the weekend and it is not realistic (that he will be back). I could say he is questionable but my sense is he is going to be out for this week. Losing Teddy is a big deal for us. He is one of three (defensive ends) in the rotation for us, he  is a senior and a good player so that is a huge loss for us. Somebody else is going to have to step it up. Timmy Willman  came in and stepped it up, E.J. Norris played a little bit as a freshman and he stepped it up. The way I always looked at a guy being injured, you don't get emotional or sad about it. You get the next guy and put them in the game, keep going that is what you have to do. Those guys are going to pick it up.

"I thought (senior defensive tackle) Ryan Wirth played a solid game for us. I thought he played pretty solid. I think the younger guys in there Angelo Pruitt, Julian Campenni, they've got technique there, they gave effort but they have to keep going. They still have Mykal Myers in the wings, we still have B.J. McBride, they have to continue to improve and get better in there."

Pasqualoni also addressed UConn's non-conference schedule which features the next two games against ACC squads.

"I think in this day and age with how important every conference victory is,  preferably early in the year you'd like to have a game where you say 'OK,  this is our early  first game of the year and we are going to go out and work out the kinks.' From there non-conference wise we  are going to play some good people, we are going to have some ACC people, Big 10 people, SEC people and we have always done that and see how we stack up against that level of play. Hopefully we will be battle tested and know exactly where we are when we go into the conference schedule.

"We have two ACC teams, Western Michigan is an awfully good team. I know everybody considers the MAC not to be the ACC or SEC but they are a very good team. Buffalo went down to Athens, Georgia and are hanging right with Georgia Bulldogs... I am happy with the schedule right now."

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home