Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Moving time

This is the end of the wonderful UConn Huskies Nation blog on Blogger. For all five years I've covered the team, this is where I've posted news, notes and ramblings. And I even got a snazzy background image this summer.

HOWEVER...All of the Bulletin's blogs are moving to the newspaper's Web site, and my UConn football blog is the first of mine to make the jump.

So, as of today, you can find me at:

But I'm leaving you with one last poll question. Let me know what you think.


Saturday, September 18, 2010

Want some last-minute info on the game?

I will be on WXLM 104.7 FM discussing UConn's game with Temple Saturday morning at 11:15 a.m.

You can listen here:

Friday, September 17, 2010

From the mailbag

It's always good to hear from readers, no matter where they are. This week, Scott from California posed a question about the Huskies' upcoming game against Temple.
Scott writes:
Dear Joe,

Thanks for your great coverage of the Huskies. I was reading before the season about Moorhead installing a new no-huddle, up-tempo offense, and how Frazer was the type of QB who could run that system. Has that been an emphasis in practice? Is that something we would expect to see against Temple? I see UConn has run about 58% of the time for the season.  I appreciate hearing any opinions or insight that you may have on this.
Thanks for the e-mail. Joe Moorhead brought in the no-huddle last season, but it wasn't used nearly as much as people would have liked. Part of the problem was the Huskies really struggled in the passing game and the running attack usually worked.

This year, UConn still wants to use the no-huddle. The media hasn't been allowed to watch practice since before the Michigan game, so I can't tell you what's being worked on specifically. I can tell you this: During training camp, they worked the no-huddle extensively.

Then where is it, right? I think it was difficult to use it against Michigan because the Wolverine's 3-3-5 formation makes passing difficult and that's what the Huskies needed to do to climb back into the game. As you mentioned, the Huskies have run the majority of the time, and I think last week's game skews the numbers. Versus Texas Southern, UConn had to run otherwise it would have been running up the score in a 62-3 game.

Against Temple, which allowed almost 300 passing yards to Central Michigan last week, I suspect we'll see some no-huddle. Look for it on the drives where the Huskies are moving the chains and the Owls are sort of on their heels. It's the ideal situation to use the no-huddle and really crush a defense's spirits.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Lutrus out

Senior LB Scott Lutrus will miss Saturday's game at Temple with an upper extremity injury. It's believed to be the stinger he suffered last season, which was aggravated two weeks ago against Michigan.

This was an injury that really nagged Lutrus last season. 

It's time to start wondering if he will play again for the Huskies.

More award updates

  • The Maxwell Award, given to the game's most outstanding player, recognized performances by the following:
Oklahoma sophomore QB Landry Jones threw for 380 yards and four touchdowns. 

Alabama's senior QB Greg McElroy completed 16-of-24 passes for 229 yards and two touchdowns.    

Arkansas QB Ryan Mallett completed 28-for-43 passes for an even 400 yards and three touchdowns. 

Oregon sophomore RB LaMichael James rushed for 134 yards on 16 carries including a 72-yard touchdown run. 

Nevada senior QB Colin Kaepernick completed 72% of his passes and ran or threw for 402 yard. He also rushed for 161 yards on 11 carries.

  • The Chuck Bednarik Award (best defensive player) recognized these athletes: 
Michigan State LB Greg Jones led the Spartans with 11 tackles, forcing a fumble and helping to hold Florida Atlantic to just 45 yards rushing.

Purdue DE Ryan Kerriganhad a dozen tackles, including four for minus yards, and a pass breakup.

Florida senior safety Ahmad Black picked off two passes in Florida's 38-14 win over South Florida, while leading the Gators with eight tackles.

  • The Thorpe Award, presented to the top defensive back, honored Rutgers Joe Lefeged as its player of the week.
  • The award for top center, the Rimington Award, noted three players to watch tis week:
Georgia Tech's Sean Bedford
Mississippi State's J.C. Brignone
Auburn's Ryan Pugh

SNY viewing party

I can't tell you if this will become a regular occurrence for road games, although I believe it is a good idea, but...SNY is holding a student-only viewing party for Saturday's UConn-Temple game.

It starts at 11:30 a.m. at the UConn Student Union Theater, which holds roughly 500 people. There will be refreshments, giveaways and prizes for students who attend.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Award updates

It's just the third week of the season, but it's never too soon to start talking about the major college football awards. I mean, heck, Temple is plugging it's running back as a Heisman candidate.  Let's try to sort through the pretenders and contenders. I'll try to give updates every week.

Here's what different committees are saying about their awards:

  • The Davey O'Brien Award (best QB) presents its marquee matchup between No. 9 Iowa and No. 24 Arizona. The game features two top QBs — Nick Foles and Ricky Stanzi.
The folks at Stanford don't want you to forget about Andrew Luck. They send along the following from his most recent game:
  • Completed 11-of-24 passes for 151 yards and two TDs in Stanford’s 35-0 victory at UCLA
  • Also rushed for a career high 63 yards on seven carries.
  • Helped Stanford to its first victory in the Rose Bowl since 1996
  • Stanford is 2-0 on the season and ranked 19th in both the AP and USA Today Coaches’ Polls this week
  • Stanford improved to 10-4 with Luck as a starter
Andrew Luck highlight video from last week

  • Meanwhile, the good folks at the Football Writers Association of America, which I am a member of, named Ohio State CB Chimdi Chekwa as the defensive player of the week.
  •  The Paul Hornung Award, which goes to the most versatile player in college football, selected nine (NINE?) who stood out last week. They are:
  • Kentucky's Randall Cobb, Oregon's Kenjon Barner, Troy's Jerrel Jernigan, Michigan's Denard Robinson, Florida's Jeffrey Demps, Rutgers' Joe Lefeged and  Mohamed Sanu, Stanford's Owen Marecic and Michigan State's Keshawn Martin. 
  • The John Mackey Award, presented to the best tight end, named Notre Dame's Kyle Rudolph its tight end of the week.
  • Last, but not least, the folks over at the Biletenkoff Award (top WR) have provided the top 40 WRs in terms of yardage. No, I'm not listing all 40. But I'll give you the top 5.
Duke's Connor Vernon has 310 yards, Jermain Kearse of Washington has 287, Kealoha Pilares from Hawaii has 280 yards, Bowling Green's Kamar Jorden follows with 279 and Ryan Broyles of Oklahoma is fifth with 266 yards.

      Tuesday, September 14, 2010

      Tuesday's notes

      UConn began its planning for Saturday's game at Temple, a team which has been a thorn in the Huskies' side. The last two games were memorable in that the Owls were cheated three years ago when the officials wrongly waved off a TD pass, ruling that the receiver was not in-bounds. The most recent game was notable because the Huskies played down to the Owls, who weren't good, and had to be saved by Donald Brown with a tropical storm hitting the region.

      • Randy Edsall said there is no rivalry in particular, because "every game is a rivalry. Temple coach Al Golden, who like Edsall, is on the rise on the coaching scene agreed, but added that his team hasn't done what the Huskies have in winning at Notre Dame, having beaten a SEC team and having won a bowl game.

      • Asked to expanded upon his vote of confidence (note: Edsall has no actual say) in adding Villanova to the Big East and whether he'd consider Temple, he said this:
      "I'm not a decision-maker in the process or anything, but when I heard about this even before (recent reports out of Philadelphia), it was something we talked about when we were in our meetings in May. I think because of when you look at the league and you look at the situation (Villanova already a member in basketball), I think it's a natural fit for our league and for Villanova if they feel they can handle it financially and the things that go with making that upgrade (from FCS to FBC). ... I think it would be a good fit, and if it happened I would be very delighted to see them join in football."

      He went on to say about Temple:
      "That's up to the people at the Big East. We don't make those decisions. That's up to the Big East."

      That sounds like a big thumbs down to the Owls.

      He added this about having a ninth team and how it helps scheduling for Big East teams:
      "That's a lot of it, but also in terms of when was the last time we had seven home games here? We haven't even had seven home games and that's the thing I've been trying to get is seven home games because that helps you financially, it helps you because you'd rather play seven home games than six. You have the four home conference games, I think you have a tendency that you might be able to get seven home games more easily hen you are only playing three non-conference opponents at home."

      Edsall said if there were a balanced schedule, UConn would not give up playing one FCS team because that game helps enable it playing seven games at Rentschler Field.

      • Asked about linebacker Lawrence Wilson,  who has been able to remain healthy over his career while fellow linebackers Scott Lutrus and Greg Lloyd Jr., have not, Edsall had this to say:
      "I don't know, you have to ask him that. He goes out there every day and practices and plays. Some guys genetically are made different. Some guys, their bodies are just different. Some guys are a little bit more athletic, some guys are a little bit more fluid, some guys are a little bit more flexible and some guys are lucky. Whatever it is, he's doing it right. Not that anyone is doing it wrong. I think any time you can play injury free for the most part throughout your career, it's probably a little bit of luck more than anything in terms of football."

      • When Edsall suspended Erik Kuraczea and Cody Endres during training camp, the speculation was that they would make their return this week. But when the subject came up, Edsall said it was a subject he would discuss next week. 
      Does that mean they will return for Buffalo? Not necessarily. He did say that they are not back, but things like that can be fluid. It wouldn't surprise ,e to see them in uniform on Saturday.

      On how " 'Bama" has improved and can continue to improve:
      "He's become more of a student of the game. I thin he's learned to dissect the game a little bit more in terms of what people are trying to do. I think there are always things he can try to improve upon on just in terms of being consistent and being more aggressive all the time."
      • Along the lines of linebackers, Edsall was asked about getting playing time for his younger LBs considering all three starters are seniors.
      "I'm not worried about next year. I couldn't care less about next year. You're going to play your best guys. I'm not going to take Lawrence or Greg or Scott off the field just to gain guys' experience."
      • With Ryan Griffin having missed most of the preseason as well as the Michigan game, John Delahunt has stepped in and played well for the Huskies. Edsall had praise for the work he had done.
      "I think the biggest thing is he put more time and effort into it; he's worked hard. I think he made more of a commitment in trying to be as good as he can be. In think he saw he had some ability. What he did was try and go out and maximize his potential. I just saw a guy who went out and tried to work harder, really since last January, in all aspects of becoming a better football player. I'm talking about strength and conditioning, understanding all the concepts and all that we're trying to do offensively. Again, he's always had very good hands. He just made more of a commitment to be the best player he could be."

      I'll say this much: When I spoke to Delahunt, who is from Canada, a couple years ago prior to the International Bowl, I didn't think he would ever play. He was bulky and looked more like an O-lineman than TE.

      • Sophomore WR Dwayne Difton looked lost during August. He missed catches, the route running left something to be desired, and when talk of who was expected to contribute, Difton's name was usually absent from conversation. But now, Edsall has seen some positives and thinks that the small, but the fast WR from  Fort Lauderdale could be a factor. 
      Difton looked good in the second half against Michigan and again in the second half against Texas Southern. He'll probably get more snaps early against Temple, but he will have to make them count if he wants to see the ball in conference play.

      Edsall said they won't hesitate to use him more. That's really not good if you are Isiah Moore.
      "I just think what happens is I don't think it's fair to put some of the hype on these kids as they come out of high school and I think the way some young men are treated in high school, they are catered to and allowed to get away with certain things. When they come to a program like this, they're not going to be catered to. They're going to earn their stripes. The publicity, the rankings that they had coming in here really doesn't mean anything. for some young men, it's an adjustment period. It takes some time for them to really understand that it's all about hard work and going out and working hard and earning your right, not that you're going to be given something. You have to earn it, you have to work for it. And I think that's been part of the process with Dwayne, and I think he's picked it up, and he sees now and he's been better for it and he's doing some good things. He still has to become more consistent when he's on the field.

      What they are saying

      Randy Edsall became UConn's winningest head coach Saturday, but when asked about it, he deflected the praise to everyone else involved with the Huskies. The win put Edsall ahead of J.O. Christian This is what a few of his players said about him.

      “He’s a consistent leader,” said right guard Zach Hurd. “He’s not afraid to say what he needs to say or get done what needs to get done. He doesn’t care of people don’t like him for what he does — he does the best thing for the program. Whatever the program needs he does. His interest is always in the program. He’s just a great person in general.”

      “Right now, he is the program,” said fullback Anthony Sherman. “He’s been here 12 years and he’s done a great job every year that he’s been here. ... His hard work has just rubbed off on everybody else. That’s why we’re a good team, because of him.”

      “He harps on, you come here to play football, but he’s very concerned with your academics,” tailback Robbie Frey said. “He wants you to do well in school. I feel like he’s built a program where he has well-rounded people.”

      Monday, September 13, 2010

      Observations and ramblings

      During his Sunday teleconference, which might have been the shortest in the five years I've covered the team, Randy Edsall said he saw some inconsistent play from the secondary, wasn't happy with Jory Jones' play in place of Scott Lutrus, and found good and bad in Mike Box's play.

      I just watched the SNY pregame and postgame coverage of Saturday's game as well as the game itself (not that I wasn't watching Saturday).

      Some points of interest:
      Athletic Director Jeffrey Hathaway said he likes where the Big East is at, but thinks it needs to explore a ninth team. Published reports out of Philadelphia say that the conference invited Villanova. The studio analysts said the Wildcats were a bad choice. Roman Oben said if the conference lost Boston College, Miami and Virginia Tech, it needs to add a school of that stature. Uh....good luck.

      My take is there is a short list of schools that are viable: 'Nova, Central Florida (my choice), Memphis, East Carolina and Florida Atlantic.

      Another subject Hathaway was asked about was playing a team such as Michigan in Week 1. He said he liked it because the team had longer to prepare. Imagine what would have happened if they had just a week? The players said they weren't ready for Michigan and that it was a bad practice week.

      Speaking of Michigan, Dennard Robinson's big game against Notre Dame makes UConn look better than in the immediate aftermath.

      Lost in the Huskies' 62-3 win over Texas Southern on Saturday was that the victory made Randy Edsall the program's all-time winningest coach. He has 67 wins.

      There was a lot of hype surrounding D.J. Shoemate's arrival from USC. Two games in and it's been undeserving. He's been the least effective of the Huskies' running backs and looks tentative. His best moments came against Texas Southern's second string. Not good. He has three games to bounce back or you won't see him in conference play.

      How dangerous is Jordan Todman? Two games in and both teams avoid him on kickoffs.

      About Todman and Shoemate...both lost the ball in a game this season. Not a good trend.

      The games are going to start getting harder. Temple plays UConn tight and Vanderbilt will be an athletic team that's faced better, yet the passing game hasn't distinguished itself. There were some drops at Michigan and just 15 attempts versus Texas Southern, not a real test.

      UConn was unhappy with third down effectiveness in its opener. After a 4 of 11 game Saturday, I am sure that hasn't changed.