Monday, December 31, 2007

I'm awake and at the UConn women's basketball game versus Army at the, uh, XL Center. Really, I'd like to protest, but that's neither here nor there.

From all accounts, the Charlotte experience was one that everyone liked. The bowl committee, the city, the teams, the media. On my end, I'd like to thank my old friend Frank Kay and his assistant Mary-Kate for their hospitality at the Hilton and throughout the week. Kay went the extra mile to make the media's job as stress free as possible.

I'd also like to thank the folks at Tweed Airport for the luggage counter expereince. It's a series of steel gates with heavy plastic in front of them. The baggage handler cranks open the gates and the baggage area looks like a makeshift elementary school puppet show stage. The hillarity of the moment was priceless.

Oh, and the lady who traveled with her hamster in the cooler. That was great.

Getting back to the football end, Randy Edsall will have his final teleconference with reporters shortly. You have to imagine that the theme will be positive considering all things. Sure the game was rough and the playcalling was questionable at best. But when you look at where this team was supposed to have been, this last month shouldn't have happened and the previous three would have been depressing.

Who's going to forget what happened? The highs, lows and the incredible.

I caution UConn fans from saying their school is a top 25 team. Not yet. Don't talk about how a share of the conference title proves the Huskies can compete with West Virginia. We saw in these last few games that there is a big gap between the Huskies and the Mountaineers, Bearcats and Demon Deacons.

Now the hope is taking the experience of this season and using towards next season and making 2008 better than 2007.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

With three minutes, 10 seconds left in the game and the Huskies having a chance to get the ball back, Wake Forest quarterback Riley Skinner ran for 19 yards on a third-and-eight to all but ice the win.

Micah Andrews then rattled off a 30-yard run two plays later. He then scored from nine yards out to cap the scoring.
This is the game for the Huskies. Trailing by seven and at their own 11 with 7:01 to play. The Huskies need to learn how to use the passing game in a nhurry.
UConn's Tyvon Branch is hurt and has gone to the sidelines for examination.
Tyler Lorenzen was just sacked at the goal line, narrowly missing a saftey. Any momentum in this game is 100 percent with Wake Forest.
Just as the Huskies were about to lose the lead, senior Danny Lansanah recovers a fumble at the UConn four that was forced by Darius Butler's hit on Josh Adams.

It had appeared the Huskies had lost any edge as the Deacons were having their way with UConn's defense. But thanks to the co-captains, UConn has escaped a tight spot. Now they need to get away from their end zone.
Wake Forest tore apart the UConn defense on the second half's first possession, ending with a 38-yard scoring run for the Demon Deacons.

On the ensuing kickoff, Tyvon Branch took the return 62 yards to put the Huskies into Deacon territory. But Wake's Stanley Arnoux intercepted a Tyler Lorenzen pass after it was tipped to turn over possession.
Today's first half is the first time since Sept. 9, 2006 that Wake Forest has been shut out in the first half.
I had a good laugh at halftime. Wake Forest's band and flag teams came onto the field. Waving banners that read S N O C A E D. You know, on this side of the field that's how it read. On the other, it read D E A C O N S.

It reminded me of the first time I tried ot figure out those funny Chik-fil-A commercials.

By the way, the UConn band was MUCH better than Wake's.
It's halftime in Charlotte and UConn leads 10-0. But what made zero sense is what transpired in the closing seconds of the half.

Alex Polito sacks Wake QB Riley Skinner for a nine-yard loss. With the clock ticking at 44 seconds, Huskies coach Randy Edsall calls a time out. OK, so he wants to have at least one more shot with the ball. Maybe its just a punt return by Larry Taylor, in hopes that lightning strikes twice. But after Wake runs its next play, a run to the left, UConn doesn't call another timeout.

This makes no sense. Did Edsall just want to call a timeout for the sake of prolonging the half or hearing the official say, "Connecticut calls a timeout"?

If you aren't trying to get the ball back, force Wake to rush its offense against the clock. Don't give them time.
Tony Ciaravino kicked a 29-yard field goal to push UConn's lead to 10-0 with five minutes left in the half.
Donald Brown broke several tackles and sprinted out to the Wake 33 on a 58-yard run.
Wake tried going for some trickeration by running a reverse, but the Huskies snuffed out the play with Cody Brown making teh stop for a 9-yard loss.

On the next play, Robert Vaughn picked off Riley Skinner at the nine yard line, but needed help getting off the field. It appears he was hit in the stomach and may have the wind knocked out of him.
Wake's Kenny Moore has 90 receptions this season, breaking the ACC mark for catches in a season held by N.C. State's Tory Holt since 1998.
Pass interference called on Darius Butler on a ball that the Wake reciever had no chance of catching. Good going to the SEC officiating crew.
The Huskies seem to have picked up some momentum thanks to Taylor's return and will need it as they begin this possession at their own 13 yard line.
Larry Taylor returned a punt 68-yards for a touchdown to put UConn ahead 7-0.
On 3rd-and-3, De'Angelo Bryant made a catch and fell short of teh first down marker, forcing Wake to punt from its 15.
UConn actually picked up a first down, but that was about it on its third possession of the game.

Cullen's punt was hauled in at the 12 and Wake picked up a personal foul on John Tereshinski, driving them back to the six yard line.

Right now, the best UConn player has been punter Desi Cullen.
Josh Adams just took a shovel pass from Riley Skinner and slipped for a two-yard loss. Clearly, the field is still a bit damp.

To follow up on the fog, it has withdrawn considerably, so it shouldn't be a factor from here on out.
Two possessions and the Huskies have looked bad both times. No one has gotten open, Tyler Lorenzen is under heavy pressure and there have been two dropped pass (Terence Jeffers and Andre Dixon).
The Huskies dodged a bullet thanks to Cody Brown. Two plays after the Demon Deacons broke a 13-yard run, Brown knocked the ball out of QB Riley Skinner's hand for a fumble. Skinner recovered for a sack, creating a 3rd-and-18 situation. Skinner went long for Kevin Marion at the goal line, but over threw Marion by a foot. Marion dove and had his hands on the ball as he cross the goal line, but he couldn't pull it in.
On its first possession, UConn goes three and out, and Terry Baltimore picks up a 15-yard penalty when he prevented Kenny Moore from catching the punt.
Taking part in the opening coin toss is boxing legend George Foreman.
He's not offering burgers, though, which is good because Charlotte has been a gastronomical event.
There's so much riding on today's game for both teams. For Wake Forest, a bowl win makes the top team football-wise on Tobacco Road. For UConn, a win validates its rise to respectability and will all but lock up a final Top 25 ranking.

So what do these teams do to try and bring home the win today? Well, what I expect to see is a chance at redemption for UConn wide receiver D.J. Hernandez, who as the quarterback, cost the Huskies last season's game against the Demon Deacons at Rentschler Field.

Don't be surprised if you see Hernandez line up next to quarterback Tyler Lorenzen or if he throws a pass.

When I spoke to Hernandez last week and asked him about last season's loss, he said he doesn't remember anything. Spoken like a quarterback. Maybe more like a closer in baseball. Either way, this is his chance to erase the bitter feelings many have about that game last September.
USually, Johnathan the Husky looks pretty dirty and in need of a good bath. But today, the UConn mascot looks like a good supermarket-quality rug cleaner was taken to his, um, fur. I guess he's ready for his close up.
It's time for my prediction on today's game.


And the winner will be:

Expect a close game with the Huskies winning by no more than five, continuing the run of good, close games this bowl season.
Weather update: the fog is setting in and descending upon the stadium. It's starting to remind me of the Eastern League All-Star Game at Dodd Stadium last July. Only this game won't be called due to the fog.

Some observations from Charlotte...

* I got a great laugh when Zac Boyer of, who rode to the game with me, was called "young'n" by a North Carolina sherrif.

* The media lot is in the heart of a run-down industrial neighborhood. The walk to Bank of America Stadium went something like this: up a small incline, down a step, under a rusty chain, through a prking lot with tailgaters, across a street, down the block, up a steep street, a right turn down an alley, dodging a car driven by what is presumably a blind man, a left turn and into the Stadium. We past another writer who looked winded. Considering I am working on my aspiration to play the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man in the remake of Ghostbusters, I was gasping for air and sweating heavily.
Today is the day. The always cliche "big game" is under two hours away.

The field is in decent condition. Outside of the faded NFL logo at midfield, it has held up nicely with the rain Charlotte received last night. Speaking of he weather, it is overcast and bit humid. It must be in the low 60s and I wouldn't rule out rain. The forecasts had said rain early and then again late into tomorrow. But the rain stopped before midnight, so only time will tell what happens there.

Right now both teams are warming up. Look for the Huskies to wear their white jerseys with blue pants and the Demon Deacons to go with all black.

Remember to vote for who you think wins the game in the poll along the right panel.

Friday, December 28, 2007

It's been a rainy night in Charlotte, making the events in uptown Charlotte not as successful as they would otherwise have been. The forecast here is for rain the rest of the night and into the early morning. It should have let up by game time.

The wet conditions favor UConn, as it played three games in the rain (Louisville, South Florida and Rutgers).

Walking through the city tonight, there is a very strong UConn following. Should much be made of this? Not really. Why? Well, considering the distance of Winston-Salem to Charlotte and the number of tickets sold by Wake Forest, I expect the black and gold armada to show itself tomorrow.
Here are some fo UConn's finest heading to their cars at the speedway.
Here are some more photos from the speedway. First is Randy Edsall and his son, Corey, as they prepare for the track.

Next up, Edsall climbs into the car.

These next two pictures are of Edsall and Wake Forest Coach Jim Grobe after Edsall won the tire change challenge.

UConn QB Tyler Lorenzen exits his stock car at Lowe's Motor Speedway.

Dan Ryan tries to escape his ride

Wake Forest Coach Jim Grobe climbs out of his car

Jim Grobe exits his car

Thursday, December 27, 2007

One of the events was a tire change challenge between the head coaches. Wake's Jim Grobe has a bad back, so he was replaced by assistant coach Keith Henry. Henry was beaten badly by UConn coach Randy Edsall. Only once has the winner of the tire change challenge lost the bowl game. That distiniction belongs to former West Virginia Coach Rich Rodrigue in the bowl's first year.
The teams got to ride along in stock cars today. Everyone had fun and later one I will post a bevy of pics and videos to prove as much.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

I'm in Charlotte and have finally escaped from the Turkish prison that is Tweed airport.

How well equiped was it? Well the same guy who issued my boarding pass also loaded my luggage and guided the plane out of the gate. With the next flight not leaving for another three hours, how my flight was delayed is amazing.

And the vending machines -- they had the selection of five sodas. I put a dollar in the machine and made my selction. I was prompted to make another choice. Ultimately, I was 0-for-5.

When I got to Philadelphia, I found myself with a gate change -- which was one over -- but the bigger issue was another delay. Forty-five minutes worth. Oh, and I was in what seemed like a glorified high chair in which I could fit a leg, an arm and my head.

The drive from Greensoboro was longer than I remembered, but it's good to be here.
Tweed Airport. What a masterpiece. What a hole.

If airports were dive bars, Tweed would be the crown jewel. It makes the fictional airport on "Wings" look like the first-class cabin on an international flight.

If Tweed was any more void of life and color, it could serve as a stunt double for a port-o-john. The need for employees is lacking to the point of having a "ring bell for service" button on the check-in counter.

Needless to say, this trip got off to a memorable start.

Monday, December 24, 2007

It's time for the Huskies and Demon Deacons to get down to business. UConn's players arrived in Charlotte today from their various destinations. They won't be wasting too much time, as they have a team practice at noon tomorrow.

Speaking of tomorrow, Merry Christmas!

If you haven't already, check out the interview with Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe. You can find the link in a few posts below this or on the Norwich Bulletin website. Also, I will be sending postcards appearing in the paper every day starting Wednesday. And don't forget to pick up the paper Saturday for all of the coverage we'll provide.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Here's the link to the interview:
The audio clip of my interview with Jim Grobe has been up on the Norwich Bulletin site. If you haven't listened, go check it out.

Also, look for me feature on Huskies coach Randy Edsall in Sunday's paper. I sat down with Edsall recently for a one-on-one interview.

Right now the players have gone home for a few days before they regroup in Charlotte on Tuesday. Interesting side note, Darius Butler and Larry Taylor aren't flying to Charlotte -- they're driving. So for all of you hitting 95 South to 85 South to 77 South, keep your eyes out for the pair of Huskies.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

I mentioned D.J. Hernandez's participation in halftime events next Wednesday at the Charlotte Bobcats' game. He will be joined by teammates Darius Butler and Cody Brown. While the details are still unclear, it appears to be a cooperative contest featuring three players from each team.
Check out Norwich tomorrow for a one-on-one interview I conducted with Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe. It's lengthy, so don't expect a quick listen.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

When the Huskie shead to Charlotte next week, they will attend the Charlotte Bobcats game against Washington on Wednesday night. At halftime, D.J. Hernandez will take on a member of the Wake Forest team in a battle of the teams. D.J. is considered one of, if not the best, basketball players on the team, so it will be interesting to see that side of him.

Monday, December 17, 2007

If you read Sunday's Bulletin you saw my look at Charlotte and a list of places to eat, drink and have fun.

It's a great city and if you are attending the game, I think you'll find that out for yourself.

Also, with West Virginia's Rich Rodriguez bolting for Michigan, I want to know how many of you think the Mountaineers are going to see how much interest Randy Edsall might have in the vacancy. So check out the newest poll.

Friday, December 14, 2007

ESPN is reporting that Randy Edsall is a candidate for the head coaching position at Michigan. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the coming days, especially with Edsall signing a new contract with the Huskies after his flirtation with Georgia Tech.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

UConn fans should give themselves a good pat on the back. The team has sold 10,500 of the 12,500 tickets it needed to sell for the Meineke Car Care Bowl on Dec. 29.

There was a lot of doubt whether the team and its fans, most importantly, could sell that many tickets. This shows that it can. Why this matetrs beyond thsi year is next season and beyond when UConn is being considered for a bowl game, bowl committees can look at what the Huskies' fan base was able to accomplish, making UConn more attractive.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Some more honors for UConn... Freshman linebacker Scott Lutrus was named to the Freshman All-American team and teammate Lawrence Wilson, a linebacker, was named to the second team.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Boy, do things change quickly. Published reports out of North Carolina are saying that Jim Grobe is not leaving Wake Forest for Arkansas.
Looks like Wake Forest head coach Jim Grobe will be leaving for the same position at Arkansas. If this proves true, great hire by the Razorbacks.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The Huskies will be heading to Charlotte for the Meineke Car Care Bowl to face Wake Forest. It doesn't seem like a sexy game but I think it will be a good game. A rematch of a game last season that UConn should have won but didn't, might as well as be a road game and not neutral site because Wake is a hop, skip and a jump from Charlotte.

Personally I get the feeling the Huskies are licking their chops over facing the Deacons. A game with Florida State or Maryland would have been tougher and I think Wake is a good matchup for UConn.
Sorry I have been absent for a few days...there's lots to discuss. Some of which will have to wait for a later time. But let's start with the news of the day.

Four Huskies are named to the All-Big East team with oniy two on the first team. Linebacker Danny Lansanah, who will be playing on Sundays, and offensive lineman Donald Thomas were named to the first team. On the second team were tailback Andre Dixon and kick returner Tyvon Branch.

The most shocking bit of news is that Randy Edsall wasn't named the conference's coach of the year. That went to Cincinnati's Brian Kelly who took a bowl team to...another bowl. Whereas Edsall took a team the COACHES (same folks who voted on the award) picked to finish seventh to a share of the conference title.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Statement from Randy Edsall on the team's co-Big East championship:

"This is another great landmark to achieve in only our fourth year in the BIG EAST. It is something that nobody thought could have happened four years ago or even at the start of this season. To have it happen in year-four in the league is a great compliment to the hard work of our student-athletes, assistant coaches and staff. It has been a season of milestones for us with our first national ranking, first undefeated home record, first win over a ranked team, the winningest regular season in school history and a bid to a great bowl game in Charlotte. Our first BIG EAST title is yet another incredible milestone on top of the many others that we reached during the 2007 season."

Friday, November 30, 2007

Huskies coach Randy Edsall is in Atlanta today interviewing for the Georgia Tech job. Edsall was an assistant with the Yellow Jackets. While I don't think he'll get the job, let's discuss who are possible replacements if he were to leave, and also the distraction this has caused the team as it gears up for the Meineke Car Care Bowl.

Tulsa coach Todd Graham
Central Michigan's Butch Jones
Buffalo's Turner Gill
Kentucky offensive coordinator Joker Phillips

This isn't a big name program and big name coaches aren't going to want to come to Connecticut.

As for the distraction, I wonder how the kids feel with their coach running off looking for a new job? Look, no one should say that Edsall has no business trying to better his station in life, but I feel this is the wrong time. How awkward would it be if, say he does get the job, and the Huskies play the Jackets in Charlotte? Who does he coach for?

This is just bad timing by Edsall.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

A new poll is up: vote for the conference's top coach.

Here are my picks for a few honors, real or that I created. Let me know what you think...

Coach: Randy Edsall, UConn
Player: Pat White, West Virginia
Freshman: Noel Devine, West Virginia
Worst coach: Greg Robinson
Worst team: Syracuse
Best game: West Virginia vs. Louisville
Worst game: Pitt at West Virginia (in advance)
Best cheerleaders: South Florida
Worst cheerleaders: UConn
Biggest surprise: UConn
Biggest letdown: Louisville
Best mascot: South Florida
Worst mascot: West Virginia (when the mascot looks like the locals, it's either a great choice by the school or a bad place to live).
Best press meal spread: South Florida
Worst press meal spread: West Virginia
Best press box: Rentschler Field, UConn
Worst press box: Nippert Stadium, Cincinnati (hot and the most absurd Internet situation). Rutgers isn't far behind.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Huskies landing a spot in the Meineke Car Care Bowl can be viewed as a bit of an upset. Cincinnati had thought it was a lock for the Sun Bowl, but apparently that bowl wants Oregon State from the Pac-10, a team the Bearcats had already defeated.

With that, Cincy figured to play in Charlotte. But now that they are not, the Bearcats are trying to come to grips with playing in the Bowl while two teams with identical record, but who both lost to the Bearcats, are playing in more appealing games.

Meineke Car Car Bowl Executive Director Will Webb told the Cincinnati Post, "Neither school has an extensive bowl history. We know that Cincinnati has a longer Division I football tradition, and they sure have in the last year energized their fan base. We had to decide one way or the other. It was not unanimous, but UConn came out on top. The conference rank should mean something. There were some folks that argued that didn't give up on Cincinnati, with the head-to-head and ending rank. You had reasonable people that agreed to disagree."

Monday, November 26, 2007

Now that the regular season is over, the guessing begins as to where the UConn football team plays its next game.
As one of three teams finishing the season at 9-3, the range of possibilities include cross-country travel and even leaving the country. Based solely on the Huskies’ second-place finish in the Big East, they should find themselves in a Sun Bowl matchup against a Pac-10 opponent (Cal, Oregon or Arizona State). But if the Sun Bowl committee decides to go with Cincinnati, considered a more exciting team and one of three to defeat UConn, the Huskies will look for a spot in the Meineke Car Care Bowl in Charlotte, N.C.
“I had the chance to play golf with the Meineke people this summer (at Big East Media Day) and the Sun Bowl people as well,” UConn coach Randy Edsall said Sunday, when asked if he would be willing to make sales pitch to bowl committees.
Charlotte would provide the Huskies with a great regional matchup, facing a team from the Atlantic Coast Conference, giving both high profile and a respectable opponent. The possibilities go from Clemson to Virginia to Wake Forest to Georgia Tech to Florida State.
If somehow that were to fall through, the Papa John’s Bowl in Birmingham, Ala., would be waiting. This is the least appealing option for the Huskies because it opens up the possibility of them losing to a team from what is considered an inferior Conference USA. For all of the progress the program has made this year, a loss to say, Memphis, would validate the criticism of UConn being a product of a weak schedule.
Lastly, the International Bowl in Toronto would provide the Huskies with a Mid-American Conference opponent, either Bowling Green or Miami (Ohio).
“We’ll be happy wherever we’re going,” Edsall said. “The Big East has five bowl opportunities. There are five teams that are bowl eligible. I would just think with what we accomplished this year, people would look at the whole season and see a 9-3 football that was ranked for a number of weeks during the season. ... I think we’ll fare well.
“Whoever wants us, we’re going to go there and enjoy it and enjoy their hospitality and play a whale of game for those people that are going to be in those stands wherever it is.”
One monkey wrench in all of this would be if the Gator Bowl, long suspected to pass on a Big East team, chooses a Big East school (therefore committing itself to the Big 12 for the next two seasons) such as South Florida, then Cincinnati becomes a greater possibility to play in Charlotte. That leaves the Huskies to decide between travel to Birmingham and Toronto.
An outside possibility, according to Big East Commissioner Mike Tranghese, is that the conference may trade out of a bowl game in exchange for a game associated with another conference.
“We can; it depends who’s in the game,” Tranghese said. “It all depends on who’s in the game. We won’t even get to this until next week. We have to play out this week. ... Then we’ve got to see who’s where. There’s still a possibility of a trade out, but there’s still some other games to be played.”
Regular-season conference play comes to an end this weekend, but even with the last bit of unfinished business left on the table, talk has clearly turned toward bowl season.
Behind West Virginia’s runway victory for the Big East title, calls for more prominent bowls and matchups are ringing in the office of conference commissioner Mike Tranghese.
“We’re trying to identify bowls that we can go to places our fans and teams want to go,” Tranghese said Monday. “But our other priority is who we play. Currently, we do not play the Big 10 and we do not play the SEC, and I would like to play both of those conferences.”
An option for the conference before the Bowl Championship Series contract expires after the 2009 season is trading a bowl game with another conference, something Tranghese said will be discussed in the coming weeks.
Tranghese noted that with two years remaining on the BCS contract, the Big East is eyeing a stronger presence in the BCS, considering it will likely have a team playing for that national title and doesn’t have an affiliation to any of the four BCS bowls.
“When we negotiated the contract, Boston College was still in this league playing in that one year period of limbo,” he said. “So we had no leverage, and to be quite candid and blunt, we were lucky to get what we got.”
Tranghese said the next round of negations are at least a year away but that the appeal of the conference is expanding. He noted that four bowls, which are not affiliated with Big East teams, expressed interest in becoming partners last season. With four teams finishing with no less than nine wins, the Big East is gaining appeal.
Brawl mates
Just because West Virginia has put itself in position to play for the national championship doesn’t mean Pittsburgh will allow its next-door neighbor to treat it lightly Saturday when the two teams met in the “Backyard Brawl.”
“Their the Big East champ right now, and that’s motivation,” Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt said. “You’re always looking for something when you’re struggling like we are. You’re always looking for things to add to the game.”
Top players
Cincinnati’s “Bionic” Ben Mauk was named the Big East’s Offensive Player of the Week. Mauk’s heroics allowed the Bearcats to pull away in the fourth quarter for a tough road win at Syracuse. He completed 29-of-42 passes for 431 yards and four touchdowns while running for a score. Six of Cincinnati’s scoring drives lasted 1:38 or less and he established a new school record with 27 touchdown passes.
West Virginia’s Mortty Ivy took home the Big East Defensive Player of the Week honor. His 11 tackles — three for a loss — two sacks and forced fumble against UConn sparked the Mountaineers to a win for the conference title.
Ivy’s teammate, Pat McAfee, won the Big East’s Special teams Player of the Week award for the second consecutive week and third time this season. McAfee nailed all eight of his extra point attempts and launched a 46-yard field goal. Also, his three punt attempts landed inside the 20-yard line.
UConn coach Randy Edsall speaking to reporters after Saturday's loss.
A panoramic view outside of Mountaineer Field before Saturday's game.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

A new poll is up -- tell me where you think the Huskies play next.
Less than 24 hours after his team was handed its worse defeat in program history, UConn football coach Randy Edsall was moving forward as the Huskies sit and wait to learn the opponent and location of their next game.
Even a 66-21 loss to West Virginia, one which gave the Mountaineers the conference championship, Edsall and his coaching staff hit the recruiting trails for the next three weeks toting the team’s 9-3 record, second-place Big East finish and upcoming bowl game.
“They left already,” Edsall said of his coaching staff. “We got in here (Sunday) morning and had the film graded and things and we had a 10 o’clock staff meeting. They were out of here by 12 o’clock, heading on planes, heading places to start recruiting.”
As for the yet-to-be-determined bowl game, Edsall claimed to not have a preference, but said if university or conference administrators want him to pitch his team to a bowl’s committee, he’d be ready.
“That’s pretty much for the other people. That’s (Athletic Director) Jeff Hathaway to do those things, and our conference to do that. If they want me to get on the phone and call anybody, I’ll be more than happy to call anybody. I know all of the people that are involved with the selection.”

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Dennis Brown connected with Anthony Davis on a two-yard pass with 1:20 left in the game.
West Virginia's Ed Collington shredded the UConn defense and scored on a one-yard run to put the Huskies in a 66-14 hole.
Jock Sanders rushed for 58 yards on three carries and gave West Virginia a 59-14 lead in the fourth quarter.
Steve Slaton ran in from three yards out to give West Virginia a 52-14 lead over UConn.
UConn quarterback Tyler Lorenzen fumbled a snap and it was recovered by a West Virginia defender, giving the Mountaineers a 45-14 lead with 3:33 left in the third quarter.
Noel Devine broke a 25-yard run to put West Virginia ahead of UConn, 38-14, Saturday afternoon.
Pat White took advantage of a pass interference call against UConn and scrambled in every direction, ending with a 24-yard touchdown to put West Virginia ahead, 31-14, early in the third quarter.
Another thought to ponder: The last two meetinsg saw UConn play better in the second half. If this trend holds true, could we see a Huskies' win?
Just some look at the statistics:

UConn leads in first downs 13-8, rushing yards 137-102, passing yards 124-88 but West Virginia has forced two turnovers compared to none for UConn. Those turnovers led to 14 WVU points.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is the difference.
Donald Brown scored from two yards out with 19.2 seconds in the half, pulling UConn to within 10 points, 24-14, going into halftime at West Virginia.
Pat White ran 29 yards on a 3rd-and-10 and that was followed by a Steve Slaton 31-yard run for a score to push West Virginia's lead over UConn to 24-7 Saturday afternoon.
Jasper Howard's fumble of a punt return at the West Virginia 14-yard line, led to a Mountaineers' score and a 14-7 lead for the hosts Saturday
Pat White connected on a 49-yard pass, then scored o a three-yard pass to pull West Virginia even with UConn, 7-7.
Tyler Lorenzen found Brad Kanuch just over the cusp of the end zone for a six-yard pass to culminate a 92-yard drive, putting UConn ahead against West Virginia, 7-0, in the first quarter Saturday.
This time of year, seeing representatives of different bowl games is a sure sign of a college team's significance. The past few weeks, reps have been at UConn games home and way. Naturally, with the Big East championship on the line shortly, there are important people around today's UConn-West Virginia game. That is, reps from the Orange Bowl.

Keep in mind, as part of the bowl selection process, the four non-national championship bowls have pecking order. Unless the champion of a conference associated to a bowl is in the title game, they are contractually bound to a game. The order and affiliation list is:
Orange Bowl (ACC)
Rose Bowl (Big 10)
Fiesta (Big 12)
Rose Bowl (Pac 10)
Sugar Bowl (SEC)

Now, for the sake of argument we'll pretend UConn wins. Why? Because if they lose, they'll almost certainly fall to the Meineke Car Care Bowl in Charlotte, N.C., and this becomes a pointless exercise. Also assume whomever wins tonight's Kansas-Missouri game wins the Big 12. Amuse me.

This is what the likely bowl sitaution will be:
National title game: Ohio State vs. Kansas/Missouri
Orange Bowl: Virginia Tech vs. UConn
Rose Bowl: USC vs Illinois
Fiesta: Kansas/Missouri vs.Georgia
Sugar Bowl: LSU vs. West Virginia

The difference if UConn loses?
National title game: West Virginia vs. Ohio State
Orange Bowl: Virginia Tech vs. Florida
Rose Bowl: USC vs Illinois/Hawaii
Fiesta: Kansas/Missouri vs.Georgia
Sugar Bowl: LSU vs. Kansas/Missouri/Oklahoma/Oregon

Also, the immediate qualifier for the BCS games is nine wins, which means the following schools are eligible:

LSU, Kansas, West Virginia, Missouri, Ohio State, Arizona State, Georgia, Virginia Tech, Oklahoma, USC, Texas, Boston College, Hawaii, Virginia, Illinois, Boise State, UConn and Wisconsin.
After sitting through an additional hour's worth of traffic because of the mass of humanity attending the game, I finally arrived at the stadium. The sea of blue and gold is rather awe inspiring.

Save the jokes, but it reminds me a lot of a NASCAR race where there are fleets of RVs and tents and flags and an endless parade for miles lf horn-tooting MOuntaineer faithful.

I wonder if it serves the Huskies well if they arrive with blindfolds over their eyes.

Not at Duke or South Florida or Cincinnati or Virginia have I seen this environment. Like it or not, this is college football at its finest.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thoughts while sitting in my hotel room...

Hawaii looks good, amazingly.

It's colder in Norwich than Pittsburgh.

The room service quesadillia is so expensive, it charged me gratuity just to be in its presence.

This room is so big, you can fit four sportswriters at the desk.
I'm here in Pittsburgh getting ready to head south to Morgantown tomorrow morning. There's a lot riding on tomorrow's game. More so now that LSU lost to Arkansas in triple OT.

Here's the thing: Before LSU lost, West Virginia was going to run up the score against UConn if it had the chance. Why? Assuming LSU was to beat Arkansas, West Virginia would need to win by as many points as possible to impress voters and hope that the Missouri/Kansas winner falls in the Big 12 title game next week against Oklahoma.

Now, a Missouri win and a West Virginia win likely pushes the Mountaineers into the top spot.

Talk about pressure? If there wasn't enough on the Mountaineers, it's been jacked up a few notches. If you ask me, that added pressure helps UConn. But if it doesn't take advantage of that factor early, it can be quickly negated.

I still don't like the Huskies' chances. I hope they win; a BCS game for this upstart team makes for a great story, maybe one of the best this season. But I just don't see it happening.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

"I was telling someone earlier (Tuesday), my wife and I -- she's pretty astute -- following football, we actually talked about the beginning of the season (she said) one of the teams you have to look out for is UConn because they had so much bad luck after last year with the injuries and all that. Normally you're not going to have that bad luck two years in a row.

"People have known they're pretty good for the last four, five weeks and they're still winning."

-- West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez on UConn.
Just a quick perusal of national media's take on Saturday's game and I see most outlets/columnists are including the game as one of the games to watch. Some, however, are either dismissing the Huskies or just believe the game isn't worth watching despite the Big East title being at stake. Is that shoddy journalism? Maybe. Logic would tell you if a conference championship is on the line -- and a BCS bowl bid -- then there is some significance to the game. That's where I think it's not a problem to dismiss the Huskies. At least there's an opinion, but to ignore the game entirely -- no matter how you think the game will turn out -- treating it as if it were a Temple-LSU game. This is two Top 25 teams.
-- New poll --

Who wins Saturday? You have until kickoff to vote.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Huskies will have their hands full this weekend trying to stop West Virginia quarterback Pat White. In order to try to mimic White's movements in practice this week, UConn will use defensive back Jonathan Jean-Louis in the roll of Pat White.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Huskies have won and will now play for the Big East championship next weekend at West Virginia. More on that later...
Danny Lansanah just add the final touches to the game, a 49-yard interception return for a touchdown. It's the fifth time the Huskies have done so, a school record.
After missing a 38-yarder, Tony Ciaravino came through and kicked a 32-yarder to stretch the UConn lead to 24-0.
It's the half and it looks like UConn is toying with Syracuse. The lead is 21-0 and no matter what the Orange tries to do, it isn't enough. Even when UConn punter Desi Cullen mishandled the ball on a punt attempt, he picked up the ball and drop kicked it to the 'Cuse's 27 yard line.

It's that kind of day.
Donald Brown delivers with a 21-yard run for a score. With the point after, the Huskies lead 21-0 with 7:04 to play.
Andre Dixon ran in from two yards out to put the Huskies up two touchdowns. Right now Cincinnati and West Virginia are watching this game knowing the Huskies' success puts more pressure on the teams as they meet tonight.
In what might be the sweetest looking pass play of the season, Tyler Lorenzen connected with Terence Jeffers ona 63-yard TD pass. It's the longest pass for the team since Oct. 23, 2004 when Dan Orlovsky hooked up with Jason Williams for 90-yards against Temple.
Just in case any of you decide to check in before kickoff, the field looks horrible. As AP's Pat Eaton-Robb said to me, "It looks like they brought out the Maine field," in reference to the sad state of affairs from the home opener.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Any questions about Lou Allen’s long-term status with the UConn football team were answered Tuesday when coach Randy Edsall announced that Allen, of Salem, would not be returning to the team next season.
The end of Allen’s Huskies career is two fold: The tailback is on course to graduate this academic year and is suffering from lingering affects of stingers, an injury common in contact sports. According to the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons, it is a “pain that spreads from the shoulders to the hand” and can feel like an “electric shock or a lightning bolt.”
“[Allen] came to me during the open week, just sat down and said, ‘Coach, this is going to be it for me,’” Edsall said. “I kind of looked at him and said, ‘Why?’ He said, ‘I’m going to be able to graduate. I’ve had these problems with these stingers.’”
Allen, who established a new state record for rushing yards at East Lyme High School, was indefinitely suspended from the team last week. Edsall said that Allen will not participate in Saturday’s festivities honoring the team’s 10 seniors. Allen’s status for the regular season finale at West Virginia next week and the team’s subsequent bowl game, is up in the air.

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Nov. 24 game between UConn and West Virginia has been held for six-day selection, giving ABC, ESPN and ESPN2 until Sunday before deciding which network will broadcast the game and at what time it will be played. The decision will be based upon the results of this weekend’s games. If the game is played at noon, it will be seen on either ESPN or ESPN2. If the Huskies-Mountaineers game is played at 3:30 p.m. or 8 p.m., it will be carried by ABC.
Each year the networks are allowed to designate games for six-day selection a total of three times.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The loss tonight to Cincinnati makes the Big East a tighter race than it appeared to be a week ago. Here are the possiblities:

* If UConn, West Virginia or Cincinnati win out, that team wins the conference championship.

It becomes more complicated when you consider the remaining games for each.
UConn - Syracuse, at West Virginia
Cincinnati - West Virginia, at Syracuse
West Virginia - at Cincinnati, UConn, Pitt

* The most likely scenario is UConn beats Syracuse and losses to West Virginia; Cincinnati does the same; and West Virginia sweeps. Based on those results, the bowl projections would send WVU to a BCS bowl (Orange or Sugar Bowls), Cincinnati to the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas, and UConn to the Meineke Car Care Bowl in Charlotte, N.C.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

UConn's defense has had trouble stopping the run, but a bigger concern has be the futility if the offense. The Huskies need to get something going or the game will have already been decided.
It's cliche, I know, to say today's game is the most important game of the season. But in this case, it's hard to say otherwise. A win by UConn keeps the Huskies in the drivers seat for the Big East crown. A loss turns what was a two-team race into a three-team race. The Bearcats play West Virginia next week and if Cincy wins out over the next three weeks, they are the Big East champs. A loss today places the focus squarely on the UConn-West Virginia meeting in two weeks.

In Friday's paper I predicted a loss for UConn. I'm sitting here in the pressbox at Nippert Stadium and my gut is telling me the Huskies will win.

Cincinnati isn't as effective running the ball as UConn is, but Bearcats QB Ben Mauk will pose problems with his arm and legs. In the end, the decisive factors will be whether the Huskies can score in the red zone and who wins the turnover battle.

Also of note, members of the Sun Bowl committee are here checking out both teams.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Salem's Lou Allen was suspended by coach Randy Edsall Monday for violating an unspecified team rule. No further comment is expected. I attempted to reach Allen, but was unsuccessful.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Just a quick note from last night: Former Husky Alfred Fincher sent a "pump up" video to the team this week, which was played prior to the game. It apparently had such an impact that coach Randy Edsall is giving Fincher a game ball.

Dan Davis said the message was, "Why not us? Why not now?" It's something the team is taking to heart. That also goes for this season being what unifies the players who've played for the Huskies throughout their history.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

If there was any doubt about whether or not the Huskies are a quality team, it is being put to rest tonight. In less than a full quarter, UConn has dismantled Rutgers and lead 18-3.
Earlier this week, coach Randy Edsall refused to say that kicker Tony Ciaravino has stabalized the position. After he missed a gimme PAT, Edsall looks wise beyond his years.
It may be bloody cold here, but what a great start by the Huskies!

D.J. Hernandez's blocked punt leads to a safety, putting UConn up 2-0 before they see the ball.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Well, I'm back -- I don't know who schedules their wedding in the middle of such an incredible season.

It's been an incredible run by the Huskies, who are on their way to a bowl game. Let's take a look at the possibilities based upon how the Huskies finish the season.

4-0: Orange Bowl, against ACC champ (if not playing in BCS title game)
3-1: Sun Bowl, against a Pac-10 team (Oregon, Arizona State or USC)
2-2: Car Care Bowl, against an ACC team (how about a rematch with Virginia?)
1-3: Papa John's Bowl, against a Conference USA team
0-4: International Bowl, versus a MAC opponent

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

For those of you who do check in here or in the paper, I'll be gone for the next two weeks. During that time Matt Stout will cover the Huskies. He's a great writer and will do an outstanding job. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Bright and early, or at least early. Thanks to a 6 a.m. flight to Virginia, I made it in time for the game, but was minutes away from missing my plane. That would be because of a gathering of all the Patriots and Cowboys fans in New England flying out of Providence and a group of about 50 golfers heading to Myrtle Beach forcing the check-in line out to the curb.

If I was sleepy with just two hours sleep, the drunk Irishman who was wearing a little bit of his dinner on his sweater, made sure I couldn't doze off. Nothing like a real-life smelling salt. On second thought, smelling salt isn't half as shocking.

Anyhow, Scott Stadium is impressive. It holds 61,500 and the left endzone is seatless. It really is a fine facility and I'm curious whether playing in such a venue might intimidate the pups from UConn. Many of these guys played at Raymond James Stadium last season when South Florida issued a beating. But that stadium wasn't half filled. This is going to be a frentic, sold-out crowd on a college campus.

You might think that UConn is playing with the house's money because few expected five wins. I thought three. Maybe now that they haven't lost, there is mounting pressure.

We'll find out. Game time is 90 minutes away.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

During today's media session, Huskies Coach Randy Edsall announced that the team is healthier than it's been all season. Tailback Donald Brown has recovered from an ankle injury against Akron. Lawrence Green is back on the two-deep, but was limping with a brace on his right knee, so who knows when or to what extent he'll be contributing. Aaron Bagsby and Gary Mack are out against Virginia, with Mack out an extended period of time.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Lorenzen hooks up with Andre Dixon on a 9-yard TD pass but how...HOW DOES TONY CIARAVINO MISS THE PAT??????
Thoughts so far...

The Huskies have looked horrible on offense. Tyler Lorenzen is making ill-advised passes and getting pressured and Donald Brown can't run against the 98th ranked run defense.

As I type this, Lorenzen connects with Steve Brouse on two passes for 47 yards.

The defense, with the exception of the final possession by Akron in the first quarter, has looked good.
NFA grad Dan Ryan did not start today's game against Akron. It remains to be seen if he plays.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

In other injury news, Ellis Gaulden, who has yet to play for the Huskies may make an appearance Saturday. Lawrence Green's status is "up in the air."
During today's conference call, coach Randy Edsall said that the status of the offensive line has not changed from last weekend at Pitt. As for linebacker Ryan Henegan, Edsall sat down with Henegan to discuss where he is with his come back. Edsall said the two are in agreement about progress. Edsall called any talk of where Henegan fits in when he does return "speculation."

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

It's a quarter way through the season and I am interested in who y'all think is the team's MVP.

Vote on the poll to the right and leave comments for discussion. Maybe you think I failed to include someone. Maybe you want to make the case for one of the players selected. Whatever the case, chime in.
Happy 22nd b-day to Donald Thomas. Thomas said he got a few phone calls around midnight last night from family members but tonight his plans are not to exceed watching a movie or two in between his football and academic studies.

Coach Randy Edsall said that Dan Ryan should be good to go for Saturday's game against Akron but he may not start. Linebacker Ryan Henegan may or may not play.

Monday, September 24, 2007

The Huskies picked up three votes in the AP poll released Sunday. It's the first time since 2004 that UConn had done so. Also, the Huskies garnered 24 votes in the Harris Poll, one of the components of the BCS poll.

While they are two wins from bowl eligibility and I think they'll get those wins (Akron, Syracuse), I think UConn will need seven wins to get a bowl bid because of the weakness of its schedule

If seven wins were to happen, look at Virginia and Rutgers as possible wins.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

No word on Dan Ryan, but Ryan Henegan has been practicing with the No. 2s and should see playing time at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh Saturday night.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Thursday coach Randy Edsall will be talking with local media and giving an update on the team's injuries.

Ryan Henegan, the Huskies' second-best linebacker coming into the season, has yet to play and practiced in full pads for the first time this week. His return will give the UConn four solid linebackers.

Local product Dan Ryan missed last week and from what I took out of Edsall's comments Tuesday, Ryan wasn't likely to play Saturday at Pitt. That's a shame because he is a major upgrade over Alex LaMagdelaine and quarterback Tyler Lorenzen is going to need as much help as possible on the line. If you saw the pressure Temple put on him last weekend, wait until you see what Pitt does.

If Lorenzen can get those quick, four-to-six yard dump passes going early and quickly transition into longer pass attempts down field, he should be able to force Pitt's defenders to back off and allow Donald Brown and Andre Dixon the chance to run for positive yardage.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Huskies punter Tony Ciaravino was named the Big East's Special Teams Player of the Week. Ciaravino kicked field goals of 24, 47 and 50 yards in UConn's 22-17 win over Temple Saturday.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

UConn coach Randy Edsall said he anticipates linebacker Danny Lansanah to play Saturday. Fellow linebacker Ryan Henegan practiced in pads Wednesday but will not play against Temple.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Coach Randy Edsall announced that Corey Stringer and Andre Dixon have both been reinstated to the team and will be eligible to play next weekend against Temple.

No time like when Temple comes in to get people on the field.

Monday, September 03, 2007

The first game is in the past and the UConn Huskies now look ahead to the home opener. I know there are hopes of a bowl game now that the Huskies have defeated the mighty Blue Devils of Duke.

Let's go through the schedule and what I expect to see happen:

At Duke -- well, not as close as I thought, but a win nonetheless. (1-0)
Maine -- Should be an easy win (2-0)
Temple - If UConn loses this one, the program should go D-II (3-0)
At Pittsburgh -- This is the pivitol game of the season. My gut says the Huskies win (4-0)
Akron -- I think the Zips are better than expected, but UConn should win (5-0)
At Virginia -- No way UConn wins this one (5-1)
Louisville -- This will be the worst defeat of the season (5-2)
South Florida -- The middle game of the worst stretch this season (5-3)
Rutgers -- Close, but no cigar (5-4)
at Cincinnati -- I'd like the Huskies' chances at the Rent, but it's a tough road game against an improved Bearcats squad (5-5)
Syracuse -- Last chance for bowl eligibility (6-5)
At West Virginia -- That seventh win never seemed more distant than it will against the Mountaineers (6-6).

I'm of the mind that a six-win season gets you a bowl game, but it didn't happen for Pitt last year after dropping six straight and I don't think it happens for the Huskies because they play one of the weakest schedules outside of the BIg East. If I'm proven wrong and the Huskies beat Virginia, they go bowling. If steps.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

The first quarter is complete in Durham, and thanks to a field goal and a safety, UConn now trails 7-5 against Duke,
On the first possession of the year, Duke dismantled the UConn defense, highlighted by a 53-yard pass. Duke leads 7-0.
Oddly it feels warmer in the press box, which has AC, then outside of Wallace Wade Stadium. But the potential for heat in Durham, NC, has led the Huskies to suit up in white jerseys and silver pants -- a look not seen since UConn went to Miami in 2002.

Another note of interest is LB Ryan Henegan is back in Storrs. That means Lawrenece Wilson gets the start at the Husky linebacker position.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Just to get things started for the season, my predicted order of finish in the Big East.

West Virginia
South Florida