Thursday, September 19, 2013

No change in status for three injured UConn starters

It's looking more and more like it will be the dreaded "game-time decision" status for UConn's three injured starters.

On a conference call with the media earlier this afternoon, UConn coach Paul Pasqualoni said he considers offensive tackle Kevin Friend, wide receiver Shakim Phillips and linebacker Graham Stewart to be questionable which was also how he referred to them on Tuesday.

"We are going to look at them again today," Pasqualoni said. "Kevin is moving around, Shak is moving around, Graham is moving around. As we go out to practice, we are going to look at them today. I would say they are questionable as of this afternoon.

"We have all day Saturday. We have our meetings and all of that so we will get a real good evaluation by Saturday game time."

So if Phillips, who has the most receiving yards through two games as any UConn receiver since 1989, can't do who will replace him?

"John Green will go in," Pasqualoni said, "John did in and did a good job last week. We are working a bunch of people, Dhameer Bradley, Noel Thomas, Thomas Lucas trying to bring him along as well as he is a tall kind of a same type of guy as Shak so we are working those guys and it is just a matter of how much we can get them, how much they can get ready and what they can get ready to do by Saturday."

This is where the departure of Tebucky Jones, coming off a big game in Fordham's win over Temple and Ricky Gutierrez, one of the more impressive receivers during spring ball, hurts the Huskies since the last three receivers Pasqualoni mentioned are true freshmen with Lucas not moving over to offense until late in preseason camp.

If Friend can't go or if hobbled by a high-ankle sprain, Xavier Hemingway and Dalton Gifford are the candidates to step in at right tackle.

"We are optimistic for Kevin but we are working Dalton Gifford and Xavier Hemingway," Pasqualoni said.

Considering how much Hemingway has struggled filling in for Friend in the first two games and Pasqualoni admitting - at least in the Towson game - that he wished he had given him some help I asked Pasqualoni whether it will change the way he utilizes his fullbacks and tight ends in an attempt to keep quarterback Chandler Whitmer protected.

"There are a few things you can do in the protection that can help over there," Pasqualoni said. "It is not always just keeping another guy in, sometimes you can slide the line, you can keep another guy in, you can roll out away from it so we have all of those mechanisms and we are certainly aware of it."

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