Saturday, November 30, 2013

Cochran leads UConn to second straight win

While one player can not be credited for UConn's second straight win, a 28-17 win over Rutgers, it struck me while watching Casey Cochran complete 25 of 33 passes for a career-high 311 yards and two touchdowns that he bore little resemblance to the turnover-prone player I saw during preseason camp.

Other than one drive when he indecisiveness resulted in both of the Scarlet Knights' sacks, Cochran looked poised and in control.

He guided UConn to its first touchdown on an opening drive since last year's win over Pittsburgh and led the Huskies to scoring drives of 79 and 80 yards despite playing without starting right tackle Kevin Friend, tight end Sean McQuillan and receiver Shakim Phillips.

"He makes good, sound decisions," UConn interim coach T.J. Weist said. "We take some chances with him as well. Shane (Day) did a good job calling plays today, put us in great position."

Weist shook his head at the throw he made on the final touchdown. Weist thought Cochran's best option was to look in the direction of Geremy Davis but watching the perfect throw by Cochran and outstanding catch by Brian Lemelle made Weist realize that Cochran made the right decision.

"That last touchdown to Lemelle, I asked him why are you throwing the ball over there?" Weist said. "We have Geremy and Deshon over there and you have a freshman over here but he knew he was hot. He had pressure coming from that side, he made the throw and Lemelle made a great catch on it but that was him making the right decision in a critical situation. He put the ball in there and he just made a play.."

That hasn't always been the case. We were able to go to a handful of practices during preseason camp and during the 11 on 11 drills against either the No. 1 or No. 2 defense, I had Cochran throwing eight interceptions, losing three fumbles and throwing no touchdown passes. He looks like a completely different player these days. He had one throw during a drill with no defense on the field when he missed the intended receiver by a couple of yards. I still remember Paul Pasqualoni, the head coach at that time, getting after Cochran saying "this is a 100 percent drill, there's no defense out there."

"It was just being resilient and working through that," Cochran said. "I give Coach Day a lot of credit for always pushing me, pushing me and pushing me no matter how hard it got and I thank him a lot for how hard he pushed me because it got to me where I am because it got me to where I am today."

Cochran was a good teammate when Weist chose to go with Tim Boyle, a true freshman, when he was named interim head coach but behind closed doors it was not the easiest of times for Cochran.

"It was a frustrating time for me," Cochran said. "I have been working hard here for two years. I think at that moment I made a decision that at that time whatever role I had I needed to do it to the best of my ability. I was over there signaling plays to Tim at the time and I did that to the best of my ability. When things are getting tough, you have to embrace that role you have to do your best. I was trying get to be the best I could be at practice or taking reps after practice and it paid off.

"I love the school, I love the program and I love the guys in this program and I knew I had to contribute any way I could whether it was working hard in the weight room trying to get guys better, throwing after practice. It did get frustrating. I did want to play real bad but I give it to the support that I have because they really pushed me through that time because it was tough."


All hands on deck for UConn's makeshift secondary

Byron Jones is the only member of the projected starting secondary to get on the field for every game this season.

Safety Ty-Meer Brown will miss his fourth straight game due to a shoulder/neck issue, cornerback Taylor Mack missed five games with a shoulder injury,  Andrew Adams suffered a shoulder injury during the preseason and missed the first four games of the season. Nickel corner David Stevenson is out for the season following knee surgery and Jhavon Williams the Temple game with a concussion and is not in uniform today.

What has happened is that it is opened up playing time for others. Obi Melifonwu came into preseason camp as a backup yet he enters the Rutgers game as the Huskies' third-leading tackler. Last week Tyree Clark stepped forward and had eight tackles in the win over Temple.

It hasn't always been pretty as there have been missed assignments and big plays allowed but with everybody back next year except for Mack, the experience gained this season could prove beneficial next season.

"Michigan was the first time stepping in and playing nickel and it was basically the same thing," Clark said. "I work really hard and I know when my name is going to be called, I am going to do my job. Football is very important. I want to make sure whenever my name is called I step up to it.

"We stay on top of each other make sure everybody gets the right reps, gets the right calls and makes sure everybody is playing together. Basically, if somebody goes down we know somebody is going to step up and play like they are supposed to."

Friday, November 29, 2013

Big win for UConn commit

UConn commit Luke Carrezola recorded his eighth sack of the season as Neshaminy rolled to a 42-7 win over North Penn in the District 1 AAAA championship game.

Carrezola finished with four tackles in the win. He has 53 tackles and 19 tackles for loss as a senior.

Neshaminy ran for 329 yards and will St. Joseph's Prep in the AAAA semifinals on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Philadelphia's Northeast High School. Pittsburgh Central Catholic and Lower Dauphin meet in the other semifinals, which is also Saturday at 1.

Closer to home, UConn commit Arkeel Newsome led Ansonia to the No. 2 seed in the CIAC Class S playoffs. Ansonia will host Coginchaug in the Class S quarterfinals on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.

Newsome ran for a career-high 406 yards and seven touchdowns in Thursday's 66-28 win over Naugatuck giving him 2,863 yards and 48 TD runs and 52 overall touchdowns for the 12-0 Chargers. Newsome has 9,681 career rushing yards heading into the playoffs. He passed four players including Minnesota Vikings running back Toby Gerhart to move into the seventh place on the national list according to the national high school football record book.

If Ansonia wins, it would play the winner of the Rocky Hill/Prince Tech game in Saturday's semifinals.

A third UConn commit is in playoff action as well. Offensive lineman Lamont Bradford leads Timber Creek (N.J.) Regional against Shawnee in New Jersey's South Group 4 title game on Saturday at Rowan University.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Kevin Friend out for Rutgers game

UConn announced that OT Kevin Friend (concussion) is out for Rutgers game. WR John Green and TE Spencer Parker have been cleared to play.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Report: Virginia Tech DC expected to interview for UConn job

Pete Roussel of is reporting that Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster is expected to get an interview for the UConn coaching job.

Mike Barber of the Richmond Times Dispatch spoke to Foster after practice and he said he has not been contacted by UConn however there are other reports that Foster's agent has been contacted by UConn about potentially interviewing for the vacancy.

Smallwood's Pick-6 perfect way for UConn's losing streak to end

It would be pretty hard to find a player in the country who has the respect of admiration of his teammates more than UConn junior middle linebacker Yawin Smallwood.

So when it was Smallwood stepping in front of a P.J. Walker and racing 59 yards for the winning touchdown in Saturday's win at Temple, for his teammates it was the perfect way for the Huskies to end the season-long losing streak.

"That was perfect," said cornerback Tyree Clark, who saw action as the nickel corner due to injuries to David Stevenson and Jhavon Williams. "That is how the game should have ended. My man goes in motion and I see him breaking, I plant, look over and I can see Yawin coming and know we had this play. I had to make sure I blocked my man so he couldn’t catch him."

Senior defensive end Tim Willman, who had two sacks and two fumble recoveries, was not shocked to see Smallwood step into a starring role when the Huskies needed him the most.

"When the game is on the line, your best players have to make plays and he is clearly one of our best players," Willman said.

Smallwood had a chance to intercept a pass earlier in the game and showed some frustration when he couldn't hold onto the ball. Given a second chance, he made sure history did not repeat.

"We’ve been going over that route concept all week in practice," Smallwood said, "I was geared up for it and I was waiting for it. I dropped one earlier and I just missed it so the scoreboard was 21-21 and I knew a play had to be made. I am not the type of guy who is going to wait for somebody else to make it, I needed to make the play myself. I am the leader of this defense, leader of this team so I have no problem stepping up and doing it."

This has not been the easiest of seasons for Smallwood even if he has recorded his second straight 100-tackle campaign. A year ago he was flanked by veteran linebackers Sio Moore and Jory Johnson, senior playmakers Trevardo Williams and Ryan Wirth were up front with Blidi Wreh-Wilson and Dwyane Gratz at cornerback. Injuries and graduation led to Smallwood playing alongside a relatively inexperienced defensive unit. The losses ate away at Smallwood.

"It definitely has been rough for me," Smallwood said. "I am a competitive guy and I don’t like to lose and especially since we’ve been working really hard and putting in a lot of effort but there is nothing else I can do except keep grinding, keep pushing to get better and get this team better. That has been my focus all season."

The biggest question with Smallwood is whether he will be back for his senior season. There have been multiple reports from NFL draft insiders speculating that Smallwood is going to make himself available for the 2014 NFL draft and he has been rated among the top 50 players on multiple draft databases. He said he will put his focus on his pro future at the appropriate time.

"Right now I am a college football player. I owe my respect to my team, to my coaches to focus on college football right now so that is what I am going to do," Smallwood said.

When I did a feature on UConn commit Logan Marchi in the preseason, he said his No. 1 goal was to lead his St. Paul team to the playoffs as a senior. That is not going to happen as St. Paul has been eliminated from postseason contention. So tonight's game against Xavier will be the final one of his remarkable high school career.

Marchi has had an outstanding season season. His 3,220 passing yards is the seventh highest total in state history. Marchi would need to throw for 489 yards to set the state single-season record set by Cromwell's Anthony Morales in 2011. It's more likely he moves into at least the No. 3 spot (currently held UConn starting quarterback Casey Cochran) or perhaps even into the second spot. Marchi does already hold one state record with 1,182 career passing attempts.

Speaking of records, Marchi is currently tied with Cochran for the state career record with 112 passing touchdowns and he needs nine completions to break Cochran's state career record in that category. Marchi also needs 298 yards to join Cochran as the only players with 10,000 career passing yards.

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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Casey Cochran quietly taking leadership role at UConn

When UConn interim coach T.J. Weist reflected back on the scene at halftime in Saturday's win at Temple, he mentioned two players who displayed remarkable leadership in the locker room as the Huskies faced a 21-0 deficit at halftime.

The first name is hardly a surprise as team captain and leading tackler Yawin Smallwood gathered the defense around him and acted like the leader that he is. An offensive player did the same thing but it was not one of the veteran players but redshirt freshman Casey Cochran.

Cochran was quick to spread the credit around when he recalled that scene at halftime before the offense had three scoring drives in the second half of at least 50 yards en route to a come from behind 28-21 victory.

"It is important to get everybody on the same page," Cochran said. "It is more than just yelling at the guys. I don’t do that as a quarterback of the offense. I try to get the offense more cohesive, try to get everybody on the same page and I think that is how I lead the offense. The leadership is thee on every single guy, I don’t do that much it revolves around everybody else on the offense.

"The thing that was weird was at halftime it didn’t feel like we were down 21-0. (A) 21-0 (deficit) to some people is a big deal and not a lot of people come back from that but I didn’t feel like we were out of the game at all. I think everybody on the team knew we were going to win that game even in the first half, we just had a bad half. The second half we came out and won it and that was a big deal for us."

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UConn in NFL: Week 12

Pretty quiet week for UConn alums in the NFL although Jordan Todman did break double digits in carries for the first time and figures to be the main backup to Maurice Jones-Drew following the injury to Justin Forsett (a one-time UConn recruiting target) and Kendall Reyes had a sack.

Will Beatty, OT New York Giants: Started in 24-21 loss to Dallas
Tyvon Branch, S Oakland : Did not play (leg)
Donald Brown, RB Indianapolis: Had two carries for 1 yard, one catch for minus two yards in 40-11 loss to Arizona
Darius Butler, CB Indianapolis: Had three tackles in 40-11 loss to Arizona
Marcus Easley, WR Buffalo: Bye week
Dwayne Gratz, CB Jacksonville: Had four tackles in 13-6 win over Houston
Ryan Griffin, TE Houston: Had 37-yard catch in 13-6 loss to Jacksonville
Robert McClain, CB Atlanta: Had five tackles and returned a punt for 10 yards in 17-13 loss to Oakland
Sio Moore, LB Oakland: Had seven tackles in 23-19 loss to Tennessee
Dan Orlovsky, Tampa Bay: Did not play
Kendall Reyes, DT San Diego: Had a sack in 41-38 win over Kansas City
Anthony Sherman, FB Kansas City: Had one catch for 8 yards in 41-38 loss to San Diego
Jordan Todman, RB Jacksonville: Ran 11 times for 31 yards, had 5-yard catch and 27-yard kickoff return in 13-6 win over Houston
Nick Williams, WR Washington: Did not record a catch in 27-6 loss to San Francisco
Blidi Wreh-Wilson, CB Tennessee: Had one tackle and forced fumble in 23-19 win over Oakland

Monday, November 25, 2013

National honor for UConn's Yawin Smallwood

Getting the Defensive Player of the Week honor from the American Athletic Conference wasn't the only accolade for UConn junior linebacker Yawin Smallwood.

Smallwood was named the College Football Performance Award's National Defensive Performer of the Week and the Linebacker Performer of the Week after recording eight tackles, scoring the game-winning touchdown on a 59-yard interception with 4:20 left and registering a sack on the final drive in UConn's 28-21 win over Temple. Smallwood went over the 100-tackle mark for the second straight season and more importantly, helped the Huskies snap a 10-game losing streak.

Also, senior defensive end Tim Willman was one of eight defensive linemen given honorable mention recognition after recording two sacks and two fumble recoveries.

In other news, none of the players who missed Saturday's game are listed on the two-deep chart for the Rutgers game although interim coach T.J. Weist said he hopes to have OT Kevin Friend, CB Jhavon Williams and WR John Green back.

Also, Rutgers has made a switch at quarterback as Chas Dodd will start in place of Gary Nova.

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UConn's Smallwood honored by AAC

UConn junior linebacker Yawin Smallwood has been named the American Athletic Conference's Defensive Player of the Week.

Smallwood returned an interception 59 yards for a touchdown with 4:20 left to lead the Huskies to a 28-21 win over Temple. Smallwood had eight tackles and had a sack on the game's final drive.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Veterans come through to lead UConn to first win

Since being elevated to interim coach T.J. Weist has walked into the visiting locker room at halftime on the wrong side of the scoreboard and knew he had to play the role of cheerleader and self-help guru as much as a football coach.

However, when Weist stepped into the locker room at halftime of last night's game at Temple, he saw a different scene. There were few bowed heads but a sense of  "enough is enough" from the leaders of the winless team.

"What did we say at halftime?" Weist said on a Sunday afternoon conference call. "Everybody wants to know ‘what did we say at halftime?’ I got a little (ticked) off and kind of challenged them a little bit but the players came together, Yawin (Smallwood) grabbed the defense and really Casey (Cochran) did a good job at halftime and really grabbed the offensive guys and brought the offense together in the locker room and challenged them. That was good to see some of our leaders challenge the team at halftime to get back to playing smart football, tough physical football. I was proud of their second half effort, shutting those guys out. Really everything came together for us in all three phases in the second half and that is what we have to do."

UConn trailed 21-0 against Temple at halftime but did not allow the Owls to score another point and had three offensive scoring drives of at least 50 yards to rally for a 28-21 win. Fittingly, it was the Huskies' veteran players who delivered many of the key plays. Junior linebacker and team captain Yawin Smallwood scored the game-winning TD on a 59-yard interception return and also had a sack on Temple's final drive. Defensive end Tim Willman had two sacks and two fumble recoveries, Geremy Davis opened the scoring with a 33-yard touchdown catch.

"That is what makes some of the (plays) special," Weist said. "Yawin, a team captain, makes the plays in the end. Tim Willman guys that the players really respect, comes through and the character shows through in the end and he makes a play when you need it. That is what you have to have. You want to win games you have to make plays and somebody’s got to make them, it is the guys who work the hardest, guys who are the starters and the team leaders those are the guys who usually come through and that is what we have been missing. It is really good for this team to see Yawin and Tim make those plays. Geremy only had four catches but they were four critical catches, every one of those catches made a difference in the game and the players trust him when he gets the ball that he does what he is supposed to do and make plays. The same thing with Yawin and that is what good teams and that is why I said we just have to learn how to win and they only learn how to win by making plays, making them at critical times and we finally did last night."

Weist had to deal with the frustration after returning home with losses following road games against Central Florida, Cincinnati and SMU so there was a different feel when the team headed back to Connecticut this time.

"There is no comparison because winning solves so many things," Weist said. "It makes everybody feel better, there is no comparison to it. This kind of win is so sweet because these players have put in so much work, the players and staff have put in so much work, so much time and so much effort to get a victory that this one is that much more special and means that much more. It may not mean anything to anybody in the country that a winless team won a game but this is one of our best victories, one of my best victories as a coach just because of how much it means to the players, to this program, to this university to come back and finally put it together. There is no comparison to the feeling you have, the satisfaction of coming back after a bad first half, coming back and getting a victory like this – there is just nothing like it."

On Thursday's conference call Weist said he brought cigars a while back with the intention of breaking them out for the staff following the first win of the season. He just didn't think it was going to take this long.

"Right after we met as a team (he broke them out)." Weist said. "We sang the fight song, we prayed, the assistant coaches got to meet with the offense and defense and we (had) a nice victory cigar. We have been waiting to do that a long time and it was a little something special."

Weist said wide receiver Shakim Phillips turned an ankle early in the game but he is hoping that Phillips can play on Saturday against Rutgers. He said he hopes to have offensive tackle Kevin Friend, DB Jhavon Williams and WR John Green back as well. Friend and Williams are dealing with concussions and Green had a quad issue. He was able to practice a little bit last week but not enough for him to play.

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Former UConn TE goes after Grey Cup title

While we'll have to wait until the AFC and NFC championship games are played on Jan. 19 to find out if a former UConn player will be suiting up for the Super Bowl, there is a former Husky slated to play in today's Canadian Football League title game.

John Delahunt, a rookie fullback for the Hamilton TigerCats, has nine catches for 104 yards and two touchdowns despite missing a large portion of the season with a knee injury.

The 101st Grey Cup will begin at 6 p.m. and can be seen on the NBC Sports Network

There are a couple of other Connecticut connections in the game. Hamilton's head coach is Kent Austin lived in Woodbridge for a few years growing up while former Bloomfield High star Kory Sheets, a one-time UConn commit before flipping to Purdue, is Saskatchewan's top running back and was the CFL's second-leading rusher during the regular season.


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Special night for two UConn recruits

The quest for championship glory continues for UConn commits Lamont Bradford and Luke Carrezola.

Bradford, an offensive guard, got to witness a record-breaking performance as Timber Creek quarterback Dan Williams set a New Jersey single-game record by throwing for 532 yards in a 47-13 win over Kingsway in the South Jersey Group 4 semifinals to advance to the championship game on Dec. 7 at Rowan University against the winner of today's Shawnee/Toms River South game. Timber Creek passed for 555 yards and ran for another 142 in the victory.

Carrezola's Neshaminy team advanced to the Pennsylvania District 1 Class AAAA title game with a 35-14 win over Abington in last night's semifinals. Neshaminy faces North Penn for the district title on Friday at Souderton HS. Carrezola had seven tackles, one tackle for loss (his 18th of the season) and a forced fumble. The senior defensive end  has seven sacks this season for 12-1 Neshaminy.

Friday, November 22, 2013

2 UConn commit in playoffs tonight

There's still plenty of uncertainty surrounding the players who have committed to UConn. The Huskies already lost one recruit when tight end Jordan Fuchs flipped to Rutgers. Also, Justin Noye took an official visit to Old Dominion last weekend. While these next several weeks will be interesting as who knows which of the players currently committed to UConn will be landing in Storrs. That being said, I plan on updating the current commits as if they are going to signing with the Huskies.

Tonight two of those commits looks to take the next step towards winning state championships.

Defensive end Luke Carrezola's Neshaminy squad plays Abington in the Pennsylvania District 1 Class AAAA semifinals while offensive lineman Lamont Bradford's Timber Creek team squares off with Kingsway in South Jersey Group 4 Second Round game.

As for the Connecticut playoffs, the pairings will be officially announced after the completion of the Thanksgiving Day games. 

Arkeel Newsome's Ansonia team is currently No. 2 in the CIAC Class S ratings and has clinched a playoff spot. Logan Marchi's St. Paul squad has been eliminated from contention for a Class S spot.

Newsome ran for 222 yards and four touchdowns (giving him 2,457 rushing yards and 41 rushing TDs) as Ansonia defeated Woodland 48-7 in the NVL championship game on Wednesday.

Marchi can earn a bit of history when St. Paul hosts Xavier in the regular-season finale on Wednesday. Marchi has 112 career touchdown passes which ties the state record set by current UConn starting quarterback Casey Cochran. He also needs nine completions to join New Canaan's Matt Milano as the only Connecticut players with two seasons with at least 200 completions. If he gets those nine completions, he will break Cochran's state record for career completions. On the season he is 191 of 317 yards for 3,220 yards, 38 TDs and 12 interceptions to go with 540 rushing yards.

Here's a look at some of the other UConn commits

Lost to Richland 46-6 in Pennsylvania District 6 Class AA quarterfinals
Had 48 yards rushing and 29 receiving as Suffield Academy defeated Avon Old Farms 50-42 in NEPSAC Super Bowl
Lost to Pittsford 28-0 in New York Section 5 Class AA quarterfinals
Lost to Northbridge 28-23 in Central Mass. Division 5 semifinals

Thursday, November 21, 2013

No good news on injury front for UConn

UConn interim coach T.J. Weist said neither OT Kevin Friend nor LB Marquise Vann have practiced this week and are both questionable for Saturday's game at Temple. Also, freshman WR Noel Thomas, who is a standout on special teams, will miss the game with a concussion.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

UConn seniors try to keep it all in perspective

Nobody would blame the 13 seniors if they were in full senioritis mode.

UConn is limping along to the worst start in program history, the Huskies were eliminated from bowl contention weeks ago and yet UConn interim head coach T.J. Weist said nobody is more zoned in on a daily basis than the senior class.

"Not at all, those are the guys who are the most engaged because those are the guys who have the most at stake, it is their senior season and it is their last 2 ½ weeks, that is all they’ve got left in their careers," Weist said. "Those are the guys who have to have the most leadership, those are the guys who are the most invested, those are the guys everybody is playing for. We are playing for our seniors, playing for our pride as football players, playing for UConn and playing for our seniors. The other guys are coming back next year and they have more seasons but these seniors have worked hard their whole careers and they deserve it and make sure every player is playing for them so I am not worried about that at all, those are the guys who are going to be working the hardest today at practice."

It's an interesting time for the seniors. Many of them will never play organized football after UConn plays Memphis on Dec. 7 while others like offensive guard Steve Greene and defensive tackle Shamar Stephen could get looks professionally. On both sides of the spectrum it is important to be focused on the current task - getting the Huskies a victory.

"This is all we have left," Greene said. "It hasn’t just been the seniors pushing them, it has been the entire team. Everybody comes in and is ready to work, ready to grind out during the week, everybody is eager to get this first win, to get this thing rolling hopefully we can end this year and give next year’s team momentum to get rolling for next year."

Weist said reserve CB David Stevenson will undergo knee surgery on Friday and is out for the rest of the season. LB Marquise Vann is also dealing with a knee injury and his status for the Temple game is yet to determined. Starting safety was on the depth chart as a starter after being sidelined for the last two games with a shoulder/neck injury.

"That was a mistake by us, he shouldn’t be on the depth chart," Weist said. "He hasn’t practiced, probably won’t practice and he is questionable for this game, He has a neck injury and we are waiting for this neck injury to either go away or get better and improve and it hasn’t yet, on the scale he is doubtful."

Offensive tackle Kevin Friend missed the SMU game with a concussion but there is a chance he could return. There is still no timetable for OG Gus Cruz to return to the field due to cardiac issues.

"I feel so bad for Kevin," Greene said, "This game is so unforgiving, it can be taken away from you in the blink of an eye and you have a guy like Kevin who has played a lot of football, played a lot of good football and he has been limited to four games this year and that is tough.

"That is a whole other situation (for Cruz), that is your heart and you don’t want to mess with that. It is tough but in college football, it is the next guy up there is no sitting and waiting for the next guy to come back, we have to be able to be interchangeable and if I go down, there is zero lack of production (drop off), it is tough to not have the guys that you thought would be there."

Monday, November 18, 2013

Seven UConn products on NFL Pro Bowl ballot

The NFL released its Pro Bowl ballot and UConn is well represented with seven former Huskies on the ballot.

Here is the list
OT Will Beatty, New York Giants
SS Tyvon Branch, Oakland Raiders
ST Marcus Easley, Buffalo Bills
CB Dwayne Gratz, Jacksonville Jaguars
LB Sio Moore, Oakland Raiders
DE Kendall Reyes, San Diego Chargers
FB Anthony Sherman, Kansas City Chiefs

Times for UConn's final two games announced

The American Athletic Conference announced that UConn's Nov. 30 game against Rutgers will be played at noon and air on ESPNU while the regular-season finale against Memphis on Dec. 7 will begin at 1 p.m. and be shown on ESPN3. Both games will be played at Rentschler Field.

Next up for UConn is a game at Temple on Saturday. The game will begin shortly after 7 p.m. and be shown on ESPN3.

UConn in the NFL: Week 11 edition

It's been an interesting year for Donald Brown. The former UConn star was once thought to be the running back of the future when he was taken by the Indianapolis Colts in the first round of the 2009 draft. But the Colts signed former New York Guants' RB Ahmad Bradshaw in the offseason and when Bradshaw suffered a season-ending injury, the Colts gave up a first-round pick in next year's draft to acquire Trent Richardson from Cleveland.

But, even as the Colts attempted to give the No. 1 RB spot to others, Brown has been quietly plugging along. Brown is Indianapolis' leading rusher with 323 yards and is averaging an impressive 5.9 yards per carry. He also has 15 catches for 153 yards for the Colts. He had season highs with 14 carries and 80 rushing yards and had a pair of TD runs in a 30-27 win over Tennessee. He likes to run against the Titans as he has six career games with at least 80 rushing yards and three have come at the expense of the Titans.

Another noteworthy development was Nick Williams' promotion to the active roster from the practice squad by the Washington Redskins. Willians, an undrafted rookie free agent, had one catch and also caught a two-point conversion in the loss to Philadelphia in his first NFL regular-season game.

North of the border, he did not record a catch but John Delahunt's Hamilton TigerCats team defeated Toronto 36-24 in the CFL's Eastern Conference final to clinch a spot in the Grey Cup. Fellow former UConn star Larry Taylor wasn't as fortunate as his Calgary team lost to Saskatchewan in the Western Conference final. Taylor had 91 yards on five kickoff returns and nine yards on three punts but he also lost a fumble in the game.

Will Beatty, OT New York Giants: Started in 27-13 win over Green Bay
Tyvon Branch, S Oakland : Did not play (leg)
Donald Brown, RB Indianapolis: Had 14 carries for 80 yards and two TDs and had 14-yard reception in 30-27 win over Tennessee
Darius Butler, CB Indianapolis: Had two tackles in 30-27 win over Tennessee
Marcus Easley, WR Buffalo: Had two tackles in 37-14 win over New York Jets
Dwayne Gratz, CB Jacksonville: Had two tackles in 27-14 loss to Arizona
Ryan Griffin, TE Houston: Did not have a catch in 28-23 loss to Oakland
Robert McClain, CB Atlanta: Had seven tackles and returned two punts for 16 yards in 41-28 loss to Tampa Bay
Sio Moore, LB Oakland: Had a tackle in 28-23 win over Houston
Dan Orlovsky, Tampa Bay: Did not play in 41-28 win over Atlanta
Kendall Reyes, DT San Diego: Had one pass breakup in 20-16 loss to Miami
Anthony Sherman, FB Kansas City: Had two catches for 18 yards and one run for one yard in 27-17 loss to Denver
Jordan Todman, RB Jacksonville: Had two carries for 9 yards, one catch for minus 5 yards, a tackle and 144 yards on four kickoff returns in 27-14 loss to Arizona.
Nick Williams, WR Washington: Had one catch for 5 yards and also caught two-point conversion in 24-16 loss to Philadelphia
Blidi Wreh-Wilson, CB Tennessee: Did not have a tackle in 30-27 loss to Indianapolis

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Ty-Meer Brown back as starter on UConn depth chart

UConn released its depth chart for Saturday's game at Temple and the first thing that caught my eye is that Ty-Meer Brown, who missed the last two games with a shoulder/neck injury, is back listed as a starter.

Offensive tackle Kevin Friend, who missed the SMU game with a concussion, is not listed on the two-deep but he has a chance to return to action.

LB Marquise Vann and CB David Stevenson, who both suffered knee injuries in the SMU game, are not listed on the depth chart. Ryan Donohue is back as a starter at linebacker while Tyree Clark replaces Stevenson as the backup to Byron Jones.

Also, the days of Tyler Bullock listed as the starting RG and backup LG are over as redshirt freshman Zach Rugg is now listed as the No. 2 LG.

Finally, to the surprise of nobody, Casey Cochran is listed as the starting quarterback after having a solid outing in his first career start.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

UConn looks to put road struggles behind them

The results and numbers have not been pretty in UConn's first three road games.

It started with a 41-12 loss at Buffalo in Paul Pasqualoni's final game as UConn's head coach. Humbling defeats to Cincinnati and Central Florida followed.

Heading into today's game at Southern Methodist UConn has surrendered an average of 33 points per game in three road games and the Huskies are facing the No. 1 passing offense in the American Athletic Conference and SMU senior quarterback Garrett Gilbert is first nationally in total offense per game.

"We just haven't played well," UConn senior offensive lineman Steve Greene said. "We haven't come out and executed like we are capable of really all year. We have another chance to come out and get this thing rolling."

UConn knows it will be challenged by a potent SMU passing attack.

"It is a big opportunity," UConn sophomore safety Andew Adams said. "We don't look in the past, we are always moving forward and I feel like we are to step up to the challenge. As a defense we haven't been a good tackling team on the road so Coach (Hank) Hughes emphasized tackling this past weekend so if we minimize our missed tackles I feel like we will be OK on the road."

UConn interim coach T.J. Weist hasn't had the easiest matchups since he became head coach especially when it came to defending the opposing quarterbacks. Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater, Central Florida's Blake Bortles, Brendon Kay of Cincinnati and now SMU's Gilbert are all players with the capability to playing football professionally.

"You watch them move up and down the field, they throw the ball all across the field, down the field and every which way there is to throw the ball and he (Gilbert) does a good job of managing that," Weist said. "He does a good job of tempo, you can see him moving fast, you can see him getting lined up and spreading the ball vertically, horizontally to multiple receivers, they have three of the best receivers in the league, two of the best receivers in the country."

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Friday, November 15, 2013

UConn/SMU game brings back memories

Tomorrow's game at Southern Methodist is just the second meeting between the teams. It's not hard to recall the details of the first showdown.

SMU was playing its second game after the program was revived following the NCAA's "Death Penalty." The Mustangs weren't expected to win a game all season and who knew how many seasons it was going to take before SMU returned to the win column.

That all changed when SMU scored the final 17 points to stun the Huskies.

Hamden native Abbott Burrell was a starting defensive back and team captain on the 1989 team so I reached out to Brown University where Burrell has been an assistant football coach for 19 seasons and spoke to him earlier this week about that unforgettable game.

"I remember making the trip down there playing a Division I opponent," Burrell said. "We were in the Yankee Conference at the time. The game, as I remember, was a game of two halves. We played pretty well in the first half and in the second half they made some plays and we couldn’t get any stops, they ended up clawing their way back into the game.

"I saw myself on TV (when the highlight of the game-winning touchdown was shown during a 30 for 30 documentary) . I remember that pass, we didn’t help ourselves, we let them get back in and gave them an opportunity to win the game. The games you lose like that you do (remember them), games that you were in control for much of the game and they win at the end, those games stick with me for a long time. I still remember that loss."

Naturally I asked Burrell for his take on the current state of affairs at UConn as the Huskies are 0-8 heading into tomorrow's game at SMU.

"I am pretty far removed from that situation but it has to be tough for everybody involved," Burrell said. "They get a lot of support from people in the state and a couple years ago they were bowl team and it just has to be tough for everybody involved. I know the coaches there are working as hard as they can to get things right, I know the players are working hard. They can’t get the breaks, they were in some games early and it is just a tough, tough situation. Anybody who has been involved with sports, you go through spells where you just can’t see to buy a break and things go against you all the time but they will get it back, turned around."

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Report: Former UConn commit flips to Rutgers

The Newark Star Ledger is reporting that former UConn commit Jordan Fuchs has committed to Rutgers.

Fuchs committed to UConn out of Christ the King but was placed at Milford Academy in New Berlin, N.Y with the plan of enrolling at Connecticut in January. Shortly after Paul Pasqualoni was fired by UConn Fuchs re-opened his recruitment.

I spoke to Fuchs after Milford Academy played the Yale JV team in West Haven last month and he spoke about the recruiting uncertainty following Pasqualoni's dismissal.

"Coach P sent me here and he is not at UConn anymore so I don’t know what is going to happen with that," said Fuchs. "I like UConn but I don’t know. I know Coach Weist, I like him, he is a good guy and what he is trying to do but there is that possibility that he might not be there and they could bring in a new guy and he could bring in a whole bunch of guys with him so I don’t really know, I am protecting myself and keeping my options open. I am just seeing how this plays out because I am kind of a tricky situation."

He is the first of the players who committed to UConn under Pasqualoni to flip his commitment.


DeLorenzo could have larger role for UConn

When the season began the UConn running game consisted of "let's hand the ball to Lyle McCombs and hope for the best."

McCombs carried the ball 17 times and no other running back had a career (although converted running back Deshon Foxx did carry the ball once).

However, as time went on Max DeLorenzo has been featured more in the running game. Last week's loss to Louisville marked the first time that he had more carries than McCombs as DeLorenzo ran 13 times for 38 yards and McCombs ran the ball 12 times for 30 yards.

With all the hype surrounding the switch from Tim Boyle to Casey Cochran at quarterback, could there be a switch at tailback as well with DeLorenzo emerging as the go-to guy?

I posed that question to UConn interim coach T.J. Weist at Tuesday's press conference.

"We are in good position with Max and Lyle," Weist said. "I think they complement, I think they both do a good job of playing hard and being productive, we have to get them the ball and find ways to run the ball. It is not the case of Max taking the place of Lyle, it is both of them, they both have to do a good job."

DeLorenzo has run the ball 48 times for 167 yards this season with 30 of those carries coming since Weist became the interim head coach.

"It was tough at first," DeLorenzo said. "I told myself to keep plugging away, keep plugging away and good things will come. I always said I am a gamer so if I get a chance to do well in a game, I tend to do well when I get a chance I get to do the best I can. It happened for me on Friday night. We have to play better obviously but as for me, I like the way it is going but team wise this isn’t good. That has always been my goal through every game, move the chains because that is what we need. I have been saying for the last year that we complement each other nicely. I hope I can get loose and break one so I can be that style of back too and not just be a battering ram, I like running inside, I like being the tough (inside runner) and taking hits, if that is what needs to be done than that is what needs to be done."

Obviously with a new starting quarterback, it would be a huge help if the Huskies can establish the run early against SMU.

"You have to establish the run every game, if you can’t stop the run you are not going to win," DeLorenzo said. "We moved the ball on Louisville because of the run, Louisville the No. 2 defense against the run, our line has been doing a good job up front and if we can get a lead for once and establish the run, I think we are going to be tough to beat."

DeLorenzo and his teammates want to get off the snide and pick up the first win of the season after an 0-8 start.

"It is too late now (to make a bowl) but we are playing for the seniors because it has to be hard for them but maybe it carries momentum into spring ball and next year," DeLorenzo said.

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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Cochran is UConn's new starting QB

Former Masuk High star Casey Cochran has been named UConn's starting quarterback for Saturday's game against Southern Methodist.

Cochran has appeared in four games, all in relief, and has completed 17 of 28 passes for 183 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. He has the highest QB rating (132.04) among the three quarterbacks who have played for the Huskies this season.

"I had no idea I was going to play against Buffalo, no idea I was going to play against Cincinnati, no idea I was going to play Louisville but the best advice I got from Coach (Shane) Day (UConn's quarterbacks coach) was you never know when you never know if you are going to get your shot, there are games in college and in the NFL where four quarterbacks get hurt in the game and the fifth guy gets in so you never know when your opportunity is. Even back in January I looked at it that some point you are going to get your shot so you have to be ready.

"We are here 24-7 and it is non-stop football and I think at that point during camp when it is grueling, the biggest thing is to push through it, push through that wall and ever since camp we developed that mindset no matter what those circumstances are, even if I wan’t getting reps in practice or during games, the biggest thing was mentally being able to see the game."

Boyle had no touchdown passes and eight interceptions in the last three games and with Boyle continuing to struggle against the pass rush, Weist made the decision to turn to Cochran.

"He has made very smart decisions, he has shown the ability that he can handle pressure and handle them efficiently and really make good decisions," Weist said of Cochran. "As far as Tim is concerned, we are giving him time to develop. He has really done a good job from a focus standpoint and we are no way giving up on either one of our quarterbacks, Tim still has to get himself ready to play all the quarterbacks know they are one play away, one snap away especially if you are the second-team quarterback to playing the whole game.

"Casey is a very smart quarterback and he is probably one of the hardest working players on our team, he comes in and watches film more than any other player than we have, he is very smart. We went with Tim with the onset, when we made the decision, because we thought Tim had a better skill set for us and it came time for Tim to really prove himself on the field. Same thing for Casey, Casey has to go and prove himself on the field against the No. 1 defenses, the pressure situations leading this team so he will get his shot."

Boyle has the best arm among the three quarterbacks who has played this season and he is also the biggest of the three. But the feeling is that Boyle got flustered after the struggles he had in recent weeks.

"At the time we felt that Tim threw the football better with more velocity, more accuracy at times," Weist said. "There was time in the spring and in camp that Casey really showed that he threw the ball better, he threw the ball more accurately. Casey had a little bit of a slump when he wasn’t making the best decisions, he wasn’t playing up the level that he played before and that came into the play with the decision for us going with Tim at the time. Since then Casey has kept working hard, kept showing us in practice that he was making better decisions, sounder decisions and when he moved up, when he played the last two games he has made really good decisions and fast decisions. When he was second team he has done a good job of handling the offense which is why we feel better about him. It is less about his skill set and more about his decision making more than anything."

Cochran's teammates rave about his football smarts and work ethic.

"Casey really knows what he is doing, he is a real student of the game he knows the playbook, he knows what the defense is going to do and that is something that really benefits him," UConn senior offensive guard Steve Greene said. "He came in on the last two games and had two touchdown drives and that is really what you can ask him to do. We are excited for him that he is getting a shot this week. A lot of it has to do with film study, staying after, working on timing and receivers and just making sure he is doing everything he can to put himself in the best position."

As ecstatic as Cochran is, Boyle is understandably disappointed. It was an interest scene inside the Burton Family Football Complex. Five weeks ago Boyle was swarmed around by the assembled media in the first access since he was named the starting quarterback. Cochran sat in the same seat as Boyle did five weeks ago and got the same treatment while Boyle was a couple tables away and only fielded questions from a couple of reporters.

"I am not going to give up by any means, I am going to keep pushing," Boyle said. "I will use it as motivation, whenever I do get my next shot I do want to be prepared and have a game plan going in. This is definitely a learning experience for me and what is in the past is in the past

"I was obviously disappointed because I want to play. I came here to play quarterback, I don’t think I did too good a job when I was in but that is an experience I am going to try to put behind me and learn from. My second reaction is don’t give up because a lot of players in that situation would just fold and throw in the towel but I am not going to do that by any means and I am going to use this as motivation to get better."


Monday, November 11, 2013

Announcement of UConn's starting QB could come tomorrow

If interim head coach T.J. Weist has made a decision on who is going to be UConn's starting quarterback against Southern Methodist, he is not ready to announce it just yet.

Chandler Whitmer started the first four games of the season but when Weist was named interim coach following the firing of Paul Pasqualoni, he named true freshman Tim Boyle as the starting quarterback. In four games as a starter Boyle has no touchdowns and eight interceptions. Redshirt freshman Casey Cochran came in late in three of those four games and threw touchdown passes in the last two games.

"We are still evaluating it," Weist said on Monday's American Athletic Conference coaches' call. "We put him (Boyle) down as the starter on the depth chart yesterday. At practice yesterday we reevaluated it and will make my decision tomorrow on who I am going to go with."

I asked him if he split first-team reps three ways when UConn hit the practice field yesterday.

"I wouldn’t say that," Weist said. "I will look at things tomorrow and decide who our starting quarterback is going to be and go from there, open up competition a little bit and see how things shake out."

Since UConn normally doesn't practice on Mondays and we meet with Weist before Tuesday's practice, he either has made his decision but doesn't want to announce it until tomorrow or he wants to sleep on things before announcing the QB.

There are no such quarterback issues at SMU. Senior Garrett Gilbert, the American Athletic Conference's reigning offensive player of the week. He leads all AAC quarterbacks and is seventh nationally in passing yards (3037 in eight games). He is averaging 379.6 passing yards per game and only Oregon State's Sean Mannion and Fresno State's Derek Carr average more passing yards per contest.

"It is impressive that he gets the ball to his weapons," Weist said he has some good weapons obviously, three of the best receivers in the league and two of the best receivers in the country so he spreads the ball around and he is very efficient. He has a very strong arm and he is physical."

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Andrew Adams, Taylor Mack starters on latest UConn depth chart

UConn released its depth chart for the game against Southern Methodist and the only changes are in the secondary as cornerback Taylor Mack is listed as a starter ahead of Jhavon Williams and Andrew Adams is a starting safety as Ty-Meer Brown, who started the first seven games before missing the Louisville game with a shoulder stinger. Brown is not listed on the two-deep chart.

There were no changes on the offensive two-deep chart as Tim Boyle is still listed as the starting quarterback and Deshon Foxx is listed as the second-string receiver and as one of the two kickoff returners.

"Ty-Meer is still out as of now, we are still evaluating him," UConn interim head coach T.J. Weist said on Monday's American Athletic Conference coaches' call. "Obviously he didn’t dress for the game. He had a neck injury, a pretty serious stinger in practice, we are still evaluating and letting the swelling going down. He had too much pain to really do anything in the game or too much stiffness I should say. We are waiting for more results to see how he is and he is week to week right now.

"Deshon Foxx practiced yesterday. He got a stinger during the game and it really didn’t go away but after the game he was fine. He was fine in practice yesterday so he is good to go."

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Sunday, November 10, 2013

Former UConn stars make an impact in NFL

It's hard to imagine there has been a day where so many different UConn products made splash plays on the same NFL weekend.

Jordan Todman had a 5-yard touchdown run, his second of the season, and Dwayne Gratz had five tackles and an interception in his return to the starting lineup as the Jacksonville Jaguars defeated Tennessee for their first win of the season. Todman also had a 2-yard catch and returned three kickoffs for 99 yards including a 46 yarder.

Donald Brown scored the Indianapolis Colts' only touchdown on a 13-yard reception and finished with 64 yards on five receptions in a 38-8 loss to St. Louis.

Ryan Griffin caught a 2-yard touchdown pass, the first of his NFL career, in the Houston Texans' 27-24 loss to Arizona. It was his first catch in nearly a month as Griffin had his first two career catches in an Oct. 13 loss to St. Louis.

Sio Moore had a sack, a forced fumble and a team-high nine tackles in Oakland's 24-20 loss to the New York Giants. There aren't any stats for offensive lineman but Giants left tackle Will Beatty started and helped the Giants' Andre Brown run for 115 yards.

Also, Marcus Easley had his first two career receptions as he had 13 yards on a pair of catches in Buffalo's 23-10 loss to Pittsburgh.

Kendall Reyes had four tackles in San Diego's 28-20 loss to Denver.

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Saturday, November 09, 2013

UConn quarterback situation could be addressed again

UConn interim head coach T.J. Weist didn't exactly give freshman quarterback Tim Boyle a ringing endorsement on a conference call earlier today when he was asked whether he was committed to Boyle moving forward.

"It is always a thought," Weist said of potentially changing quarterbacks again. "You say you are committed to him but I am not really committed to any player and keep him in the game no matter how he is playing. I think he has to do a better job throwing the football, handling the offense and he has to get better at it. We will reevalute it and we have to make some decisions on who our quarterback is and if we keep him there, we will look at the film and make the best decision for the team. I am watching film a couple times, I am going to meet with our staff. I am going to put pressure on him and the quarterback, really decide who is best for our team and who is the best quarterback. Tim has to show improvement, significant improvements every game for us to be patient with him. He has to be more efficient throwing the ball, handling the offense. We are going to evaluate that and see what is best for our team."

Boyle was 14 of 29 passing for 113 yards and three interceptions in a 31-10 loss to Louisville.

It was the third straight game that Boyle was pulled in the fourth quarter with UConn being blown out and redshirt freshman Casey Cochran finished off the game.

"That is another challenge," Boyle said after the Louisville game. "Casey is my teammate, we spend a lot of time together all the quarterbacks and he works his butt off, he watches a lot of film and he knows what he is doing out there. It comes down to being a competitor and watching somebody else do my job, it is a challenge but it is what is best for the team at that point so I can’t get too sour about it."

Boyle was named the starting quarterback after Weist was elevated to the role of interim head coach after the fourth game of the season. Boyle has not thrown a touchdown and has eight interceptions in the four games he has played.

"I haven’t done my job to the best of my ability in my four starts," Boyle said. "We have played a lot of good teams since I have been starting and I don’t look at the game and see what I did well, I see more what I didn’t do well so I can try to fix it. Seeing defenses, seeing blitzes, seeing when I am hot and stuff like that is something I am really going to have to work on this next week. I don’t see myself doing too much good out there which is a problem I am having right now and I need to fix.

"I don’t think it is confidence. It just comes down to me executing my job on every single play and I am not doing it as well as I should be and knowing I could be doing better. It is just me going week to week trying to fix that."

So where does Boyle think he needs to make the most strides to successfully lead the UConn offense?

"Seeing blitzes and knowing when to get rid of the ball quickly and seeing hot (reads)," Boyle said. "The pass rush is definitely different at the college level and the D-linemen are a lot faster, the linebackers disguise blitzes and until I am a senior in college it is something I am going to have to work on throughout my career. It is something I am going to have to go watch film, try to correct and spend time on."

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Has change been beneficial for UConn?

With UConn having played as many games with T.J. Weist as the head coach and Tim Boyle at quarterback as it did with Paul Pasqualoni calling the shots and Chandler Whitmer lining up behind center, I thought it would be a good time to see how the numbers look.

UConn's running game has been significantly more effective as the Huskies ran for 183 yards in the first four games and has 412 yards over the last four games.

UConn has 12 more first downs over these last four games, the rushing defense numbers are also better as opponents ran for 770 yards during an 0-4 start and 516 over the last four games.

The Huskies have remained disciplined as they had 18 accepted penalties in the first four games and 18 in the last four games.

Sacks are still an issue. Whitmer took a lot of criticism for holding onto the ball too long and taking unnecessary sacks as UConn gave up 20 sacks. Well, things haven't gotten much better as Connecticut QBs have been sacked 18 times in the last four games.

The story is the same on the other side of the line as UConn had three sacks in the first four games and three in the last four games (including Jesse Joseph's first sack of the season last night).

Opponents have thrown for nearly 100 more yards against the Huskies in the last four games than they did during 0-4 start. When you factor in that UConn was being blown out in three of those four recent games so teams were less likely to throw the ball in an attempt to manage the game and the numbers are more frightening. UConn has also given up nine touchdown passes over the last four games.

UConn has 13 turnovers and five offensive touchdowns over the last four games and the Huskies have thrown the ball 21 more times but have the same number of completions.

Losing eating away at UConn's veterans

When Jesse Joseph delayed his professional football aspirations for a year he firmly believed he would be wrapping up his final season at UConn playing in a bowl game.

Never in his wildest dreams did the senior defensive end envision that he would be part of just the second team in UConn football history to open a season 0-8.

"It hurts," said Joseph, who recorded UConn's only sack of Heisman Trophy candidate Teddy Bridgewater. "We were in his face all game and we have to come up with sacks really.

The defense played a pretty solid overall game against a talented Louisville offense.

The first offensive touchdown for Louisville came when cornerback Byron Jones slipped and fell while he was trying to cover DeVante Parker on a crossing route. The other one came when the Cardinals only needed to drive 56 yards before punching it in.

Louisville scored one touchdown on a blocked punt and another on an interception.

"Bottom line is we just have to be better, special teams, offense and defense," Joseph said. "We all have to click as a team. We can’t have one unit fall short and let the other two units pick it up."

So where do the Huskies go from here. There is no chance of playing in a bowl game and one more loss will guarantee a losing record in the first season of the American Athletic Conference.

"Pride, motivation, you can’t just call it a season and put your head down because a lot of people have way too much pride," Joseph said. "We come here to play football, to win games, It is not going our way right now but that is when you become a man. There are (four) games left and we can still pull the season around.

"We all have to stick together, let everybody know we have four more games and the next game is just as big as this game was and limit the mistakes we have made."

Friday, November 08, 2013

Ty-Meer Brown won't play for UConn tonight

UConn's second-leading tackler Ty-Meer Brown will miss his first career game after suffering a shoulder stinger following a head-to-head collision in practice earlier this week.

Brown appeared in all 12 games in the 2011 and 2012 season and all seven games this season.

Not only is Brown one of UConn's most reliable tacklers and is also a rock solid cover guy for the Huskies.

Andrew Adams, who was slated to be a starter before injuring his shoulder late in preseason camp, is expected to get the start in place of Brown.

Milestones in reach for UConn's Smallwood, McCombs

Two of UConn stars figure to reach some milestones tonight for UConn.

Junior linebacker Yawin Smallwood needs seven tackles to become the 16th UConn player with 300 career tackles and first since Scott Lutrus in 2010 while junior tailback Lyle McCombs needs 23 yards to become the sixth UConn player with 2,500 career rushing yards.

Here are the lists
1. John Dorsey (80-83)        495
2. Lawrence Wilson (07-10) 449
3. Troy Ashley (86-89)         428
4. Maurice Lloyd (01-04)     412
5. Mike Jansen (85-87)       394
6. Vernon Hargreaves (81-83) 393
7. Alfred Fincher (01-04)    357
8. Paul Duckworth (90-93) 344
9. Scott Lutrus (07-10)       341
9. Dennis O'Connell (76-78) 341
11. Chris Meyer (00-03)      332
12. Jamal Lundy (99-02)     320
13. Jim Reppi (90-93)        314
14. Paul Zenkert (91-94)    312
15. Brad Keatley (94-97)   311

1. Donald Brown (06-08)   3800
2. Terry Caulley (02-06)     3187
3. Jordan Todman (08-10)  3179
4. Wilbur Gilliard (92-95)    2624
5. Ed Lojng (91-94)            2515

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Thursday, November 07, 2013

Update on start time of UConn/Louisville game

For those wondering what would happen if the UConn/Maryland men's basketball game runs long and if that would impact the start time of the football game since both games are being televised on ESPN2, I've been told that there is a five-minute window for the start time to be shifted. In other words, the latest the game would start is 8:41 p.m. since the game is currently slated to kick off at 8:36 p.m.

UConn not using last year's Louisville win as motivation

The last victory for the UConn football program was one of the most memorable ones in program history as the Huskies went on the road and knocked off a Louisville team which would claim the Big East's automatic qualifier spot and beat Florida in the Sugar Bowl.

However, there has been little focus on using that performance as a springboard heading into tomorrow night's rematch.

"Sure we looked at the film, we looked at last year’s game but we are not focusing on it and make sure our players understand we are starting over this Friday night," UConn interim head coach T.J. Weist said. "When it comes down to these games it is going to come down to turnovers and efficiency on offense and defense. I think for us it has to come down to execution and up keeping momentum and forcing turnovers, not turning the football over and going out and executing."

The UConn defense, which could be without second-leading tackler Ty-Meer Brown due to a shoulder stinger, will be facing Heisman Trophy candidate Teddy Bridgewater who has completed 73.7 percent of his passes with 23 touchdown passes and two interceptions.

"Teddy, he’s a Heisman candidate and he can spread it anywhere on the field, all it means is you (mind) your P’s and Q’s every play," UConn senior cornerback Taylor Mack. "It is not like you can lock up on the leading receiver because he will look left and come back right."

Poor tackling has been an issue this season and with an extra week to prepare UConn has made improvement in the tackling department a major priority.

"Coach (Weist) made it a bigger responsibility to tackle more, we have the bye week and focus on that a lot more," UConn junior linebacker Yawin Smallwood said. "We have been working very hard on that and hopefully that will show on Friday."

Weist has been challenging UConn to become more physical in all phases.

"We are lacking in execution and physicality," Weist said. "We don’t think we controlled the line of scrimmage in the majority of our games especially Central Florida. We have to improve our physicality overall. We haven’t played as physical as we like as we are used to playing as we need to play against one of the better teams, the best team in our league statistically ranked as one of the top 20 teams in the country. We can’t afford to come out and not be physical as a complete football team, we focused on that, we had three good practices, physical practices, long practices and we can’t afford not to be physical but it is more about our mentality right now, our physicality and our finish, work on our players confidence in not just assignment but in technique. We have to be more physical up front."

UConn will open the gates at 6:30 p.m. so fans can watch the men's basketball opener against Maryland on the video board.

It is also Military Appreciation Day with a field-sized flag being displayed during the national anthem and a Military Appreciation Parade at halftime.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Taylor Mack set to return, Ty-Meer Brown iffy for UConn

It was a case of some good news and some bad news for UConn's injury-riddled secondary.

On a conference call earlier today UConn interim head coach T.J. Weist said that cornerback Taylor Mack, who has missed the last four games with a shoulder injury, has looked good in practice and could return to the starting lineup. However, starting safety Ty-Meer Brown was knocked out of practice yesterday after a head-to-head collision and he status for Friday's game against Louisville is up in the air.

Here's what Weist had to say about Mack, linebacker Graham Stewart and Brown.

"He (Mack) has a good week of practice, really they (Mack and Stewart) both had good weeks of practice. More than likely we are going to start Taylor Mack at corner. He has done a good job in practice, he has had really good practices. He has been physical and shown the ability to have contact, initiate contact. He has done a good job. He will split time with Jhavon (Williams) and we will see how practice goes today and see (come) game time how both of them (perform) because we are in nickel a lot so we will probably end up playing four/five DBs based on their personnel.

"Graham has done a better job each week. He is such a high-effort guy and a couple of hits he makes when he bangs up that leg or bangs up that ankle but he’s been fine. He has been full speed and he has done a good job and we expect more out of him this game.

"Ty-Meer Brown had an injury yesterday, we are still evaluating a little head-to-head collision in practice. He is getting checked out right now so there is no real update on him. We have to wait and see what is going to happen with the results. We are not sure if it was just a neck stinger. He was healthy this morning we just have to see how much contact he can have."

I also asked Weist for an update on offensive guard Gus Cruz who has missed the last two games due to a cardiac issue. Cruz will miss his third straight game but Weist is hoping he could return at some point this season.

"We are not sure," Weist said. "We are still in the same place we have been. I am not really at liberty to say if it is hereditary or what the cause of it but when you start talking about cardiac issues. He is responding to some treatment that he has been getting. It is more week to week for him. We hope and pray it is not the end of the season for him but we have to take it week by week and he is out this week. There have been some issues with him in the past that have led up to this with his shortness of breath so every week we look at him and say ‘OK, how much can you work out? How much do you feel normal with it? We are gradually bringing him back to see how much he can handle. As of this week he is still not playing but I am not going to count him out for the rest of the season just yet."

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

UConn in the NFL report: Week 9

In a relatively uneventful week for the UConn products playing in the NFL the highlight was former Huskies Sio Moore, Kendall Reyes and Darius Butler had at least three tackles. 

Will Beatty, OT New York Giants: Bye week
Tyvon Branch, S Oakland  Did not play (leg)
Donald Brown, RB Indianapolis: Ran for 49 yards in 27-24 win over Houston
Darius Butler, CB Indianapolis: Had three tackles in 27-24 win over Houston
Marcus Easley, WR Buffalo: Did not have a catch in 23-13 loss to Kansas City
Dwayne Gratz, CB Jacksonville: Bye week
Ryan Griffin, TE Houston: Did not have a catch in 27-24 loss to Indianapolis
Robert McClain, CB Atlanta: Had a tackle and returned punt for 16 yards in 34-10 loss to Carolina
Sio Moore, LB Oakland: Had four tackles in 49-20 loss to Philadelphia
Dan Orlovsky, Tampa Bay: Did not play
Kendall Reyes, DT San Diego: Had three tackles in 30-24 win over Washington
Anthony Sherman, FB Kansas City: Ran for two yards on first carry of season in 23-13 win over Buffalo
Jordan Todman, RB Jacksonville: Bye week
Blidi Wreh-Wilson, CB Tennessee: Did not have a tackle in 28-21 win over St. Louis

Monday, November 04, 2013

UConn defense close to full strength

While it is not an excuse for the way the Huskies have struggled, it should be notes that Friday night could be the first time that UConn could have the services of every defensive player listed on the two-deep chart headed into preseason camp.

The injury bug began when Andrew Adams, a projected starter at safety, injured his shoulder in a blocking drill late in camp. Adams needed to undergo surgery and missed the first four games. A high-ankle sprain suffered in the Maryland game knocked linebacker Graham Stewart out of action for four games. A shoulder issue kept cornerback Taylor Mack out of the lineup for the last four games. David Stevenson, who came into the season as the top reserve cornerback, was suspended for four games.

Now they are all expected to be in action when the Huskies host Louisville on Friday night (8:30 p.m., ESPN2).

Mack's return could be the most important considering how much the young secondary has been exposed over the last couple of games.

"(He's practicing) in pads, all the tests are positive," Mack said. "I spent the bye week in pads and I’m doing light contact, I do it every day and see how it feels. The way that the tests look and the way my shoulder is now, I will be cleared to play."

Mack's absence was due to a nerve issue with his shoulder and neck after he made a hit in an unsuccessful attempt to keep Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner to score a touchdown.

"My whole shoulder, neck, arm went numb, it was more intense pain than it was before," Mack said.

"I am working every single day trying to get my shoulder right, with the nerve in my neck and there is no electricity to give you the strength back in my arm," Mack said. "It is frustrating because you want to get back and there is nothing you can do. They say patience is a virtue. I prayed and luckily I should be able to come back (against Louisville). It was the play when I hit Devin Gardner going into the end zone.

Stewart returned to action in a 62-17 loss to Central Florida but he is still not 100 percent.

"I’ve been (practicing) since the UCF week so that is my time frame to get back but I have been trying to get back since Buffalo but ankle (injuries) are annoying," Stewart said.

"At the end of the day it is the kind of injury that it is going to nag you no matter what you do and the training staff has been taking good care of me and I am feeling better."

Stewart believes the Huskies can still salvage the season even if it won't result in a trip to a bowl game.

"I feel a sense of urgency," Stewart said. "I am glad to be back and I need to make plays. The season hasn’t gone our way but the season is not over, we can turn it around with this game and win out. That is what we want to do but I am trying to work hard, get back in the swing of things and put us in position to win.

"My reps are limited during practice and during a game. It is whatever I can do I am out there to do. It is a tough situation to be in because I know what I can do but my body is not letting me, whether it is I can’t cut or I can’t accelerate like I want to."

It is not Stewart's first brush with injury since he transferred from Florida. Last year he tore his pectoral muscle while trying to max out in the bench press.

"That is the worst thing that you can do is feel sorry for yourself," Stewart said. "Maybe it is some bad luck but all I can do is focus on the next  day and know it is going to get better.

"Through any adversity that you go through in life you always have to stay positive. There is no use of being negative or feeling down on yourself because you snap your finger and anything can change. Primarily what I am focused on is how can I get better and how can I help the team and at the end of the day that is all I can worry about."

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Sunday, November 03, 2013

Casey Cochran now No. 2 QB at UConn

UConn released its depth chart for Friday's game against Louisville and the most noteworthy change came at quarterback when redshirt freshman Casey Cochran is listed as the No. 2 QB instead of former starter Chandler Whitmer.

Since freshman Tim Boyle replaced Whitmer as the starting quarterback, Cochran is the only other quarterback to see the field for the Huskies. Cochran was 2 for 3 for 11 yards against Cincinnati and was 7 of 11 for 95 yards including a 46-yard touchdown pass to Brian Lemelle in a loss to Central Florida.

Whitmer started the first four games and passed for 896 yards with five touchdown passes and six interceptions.

Obviously I will have more on this tomorrow when we meet up with UConn interim coach T.J. Weist and selected players on the weekly media interview session.

Also, senior Tyler Bullock is listed as the starting right offensive guard but also as the second stringer at left guard, a spot previous held down by freshman Kyle Schafenacker.

Cornerback Taylor Mack is back in the two-deep but listed as the backup to Jhavon Williams.. Linebacker Graham Stewart is also back on the two-deep chart. Like Mack he began the season as a starter before being sidelined by injury.

Also, more than 30,000 tickets are already out for the next two home games against Louisville on Friday and against Rutgers on Nov. 30.

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Saturday, November 02, 2013

Delahunt back in action

When former UConn tight end John Delahunt injured his knee in an Aug. 30 game against British Columbia the fear was that Delahunt would miss the rest of the season.

After missing a couple of months Delahunt got back onto the field and had a 28-yard reception in a 37-7 win over Winnipeg in the regular-season finale earlier today.

Delahunt finished with nine catches for 104 yards including a pair of touchdown both coming in games against Winnipeg.

Delahunt is back in time to take part in the CFL playoffs as Hamilton will face Montreal in the Eastern Conference semifinals on Sunday Nov. 10. The winner will play Toronto in the Eastern Conference final on Nov. 17.

Former UConn star Larry Taylor's Calgary team earned the top seed in the Western Conference and a first-round bye. Taylor led the CFL with 1,910 return yards.

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Friday, November 01, 2013

Former UConn star Sio Moore named NFL Rookie of the Week

Former UConn linebacker Sio Moore was named the NFL's Rookie of the Week after recording six tackles and two sacks in a 21-18 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Moore, a third-round pick of the Oakland Raiders, was slowed by injury early in his rookie season but he has three sacks in the last two games.

Couple of milestones for UConn commit

St. Paul senior quarterback and UConn commit Logan Marchi became the second Connecticut player to throw 100 career touchdowns and had his first 100-yard rushing game in last night's win over Sacred Heart.

According to the Bristol Press Marchi was 16 of 24 passing for 278 yards and five touchdowns and also ran for 108 yards and two touchdowns in a 56-41 win over Sacred Heart.

Marchi now has 103 career touchdown passes which leaves him nine shy of the state record set by current UConn redshirt freshman quarterback Casey Cochran. Marchi also joined Cochran as the only state players with 9,000 career passing yards.Of Cochran's records that Marchi is closing in on, the one he figures to get to first is for most career completions as he needs 46 to match Cochran's mark of 635.

Fellow UConn commit Arkeel Newsome saw limited action last night as he rushed three times for 103 yards and two touchdowns and returned a punt 79 yards for a score in a 41-7 win over Watertown.

Newsome went over the 2,000-yard mark during the game and led the Chargers to their 36th straight win which is tied for the second longest in state history.

Newsome extended his state records for career rushing yards (8,823) and touchdowns (153).

Newsome passed NFL career rushing leader Emmitt Smith in career rushing yards and according to national high school football record book he is 17th all-time nationally in career rushing yards, sixth in rushing touchdowns and fifth in total touchdowns.

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