Monday, October 15, 2012

Short memories for Huskies during a short week?

Perhaps it is a blessing that everything is moved up by a day with UConn playing at Syracuse on Friday night rather than on Saturday so the Huskies can get back onto the field and wipe away the frustration following last week's loss to Temple.

"We came in yesterday and we reevaluated," said senior cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson. "People looked in the mirror which is a good thing rather than pointing fingers instead of trying to put blame on somebody. Going into this week it is going to be a good challenge and we are up for it.

"Playing on the road, it brings the best out of you. It makes you have to focus and have to come together, It is a Friday night game so the loss, it gave us almost a short memory. It forced us to have a short memory. We have practice today and everything is pushed forward a day so it is good for us."

Much like they did a week ago following the loss to Rutgers, the UConn players said all the right things about the team having the proper leadership and guys stepping up and being ready for the challenge.

I thought it was only fair to pose the same question about the coaching staff's performance to UConn coach Paul Pasqualoni and did just that at today's press gathering.

"When you lose a game regardless of how you lose a game, you always go back as a coach and spend an awful lot of time on the film," Pasqualoni said. "You go back to see what you didn’t practice, did you cover the right things? Did you give the kids the reps on those things? You try to address anything you feel (they missed), you talk to your staff about it and you try to address it anything you feel like you missed or you are negligent on and you try to do a better job. There is self evaluation in this business every day.

"I thought we did a really good job. I thought the kids and the staff worked really hard and did a really good job getting ready for this team. There are things that we took away from them on defense. They hit us on the one run where we didn’t close on the back as hard as we needed to. I thought overall that we played with a great deal of energy. I thought we were excited to play and there were times in that game when you watch that film, you watch that game and you say that this team can really be a good team. It is just unfortunate that it worked out the way it worked out."

In other news, Pasqualoni said that tailback Lyle McCombs, who missed last week as he had a cast on his injured left wrist, should be able to practice this week and is probable. The issue last week was the cast prevented him from properly gripping the ball and with the swelling going down, the cast can be modified well enough for McCombs to be able to secure the ball. The news isn't as promising for reserve fullback Mike Osiecki who seems likely to miss his second straight game as he recovers from a concussion.

I also asked Pasqualoni for an update on which of the true freshmen will be redshirted.

Defensive end E.J. Norris, offensive lineman Tyler Samra and running back Joe Williams will not be eligible for redshirt seasons. No decision has been made yet on quarterback Casey Cochran and defensive tackle Mykal Myers, who are both on the travel squad but have yet to get into a game this season.

"Casey Cochran is up, his cast is off and he is 100 percent now  so we will see how this goes as preparation to whether we would consider playing Casey in a backup role or not," Pasqualoni said. "For the most part the guys that we have played, we have played and the guys we haven’t we haven’t. Mykal Myers is another guy who we have not redshirted. We haven’t played him yet but he is with us every day and every game he is up and he is ready to go in the game if we have to put him in the game."

So what would it take for the highly-touted Cochran to play this season?

"Injuries and depth (if) we needed (it) at the position. He has taken 7 on 7 reps what we call routes on air routes which is throwing the ball without defense but really hasn’t taken live snaps yet so we will see. We will try to get him a few this week and see how he looks."

Pasqualoni was asked about burning Samra's freshman eligibility even though he not in the main offensive line rotation.

"Next year we are going to graduate a couple of seniors on the offensive line and I didn’t want to be in a situation where we come back in the spring and in the media guide it says nobody has any playing experience," Pasqualoni said. "I am not big on that ‘no playing experience’ so there are certain situations of when the player in the game plan meetings and he is getting reps during practice, he is on the trip, his mindset is that he has the responsibility to being prepared to go in the game, that is a lot different from being redshirted and being home and not on the travel squad. It is critical at the quarterback position so Casey will continue to do that regardless and in the case of Tyler, I thought it was important for us to bring him along. We would like to have gotten him into a few more games but that hasn’t worked out yet but we still have five weeks left."

Finally, both in the press conference with us and on the Big East call, Pasqualoni naturally was asked about returning to coach his first game at Syracuse since he was fired following the 2004 season. I will save most of the stuff on this subject for later in the week but Pasqualoni had a great answer when he was asked if he was bringing his family to the game on Friday.

"This is a business (trip)," Pasqualoni said. "We are not going up to central New York to pick apples and ride on the hay wagon. On this trip my focus and  all I can see is getting ready to play."

UConn senior tight end Ryan Griffin was among the players named to the preseason watch list for the Mackey Award, annually presented to the nation's top tight end. However, when the 26-member midseason list was announced on Monday, Griffin's name was not among the candidates. Connecticut wasn't completely left out, however, as New London's Jordan Reed out of the University of Florida made the cut.

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