Saturday, December 27, 2008

Sayanora, Ambrose

Rob Ambrose, UConn's offensive coordinator, was named the head coach at Towson Saturday. It ends Ambrose's seven-year stint with the Huskies. Ambrose began his tenure at UConn as the quarterbacks coach and then moved up to the post he is leaving.

Now the search for a replacement begins. My guess is the replacment comes from the outside.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Back in the saddle

It's been a while, and between finals and using the last of my vacation, this blog is up and running again.

I want to use this spot to discuss Donald Brown. Granted everything this season seemed to have a hint of Brown to it, but that's OK. Yes, he's said he was coming back but today after speaking with a program official, let's see if he changes his tune once the NFL underclassman evaluation comes back in about a month.

The honors have not stopped coming in for him. He found himself first or second team All-American on just about everyone's list, which is no small accomplishment. It shows you how much people are really paying attention.

The day the Doak walker award was announced, I published this column, which was picked up by a sister paper in Illinois, not far from Iowa. The Iowa fans waited until Shonn Greene won before saying anything. Check out the responses. The e-mails weer even better.

When UConn decides its going to promote Donald Brown in the future, it should consider this:

Here's a better way to compare Greene and Brown: The quality of rushing defenses faced.I've excluded Maine for Greene and Hofstra for Brown.

Iowa faced rushing defenses Nos. 81, 95, 37 (common opponent/Pitt), 36, 72, 93, 43, 78, 8, 94 and 71. (Avg rank 64.36)
UConn faced rushing defenses Nos. 9, 13, 37 (common opponent/Pitt), 40, 47, 49, 53, 57, 75, 88 and 101. Avg rank 51.72)
Based on that statistic, it's tough to say Greene faced a harder group of defenses. Furthermore, with UConn having zero passing game, everyone knew Brown was getting the ball.

Pitt can be the tie breaker, if we'd like. Greene had 23 carries for 147 yards and a TD. Brown had 34 carries for 189 yards and a TD. One had more yardage, but the other a higher average.

As for Greene's yards per carry, he was 24th in the nation, so clearly that can't be that significant of a factor if that many backs had better averages.

I've needed to get that off my chest because at the risk of sounding like a homer, I do believe Brown was the best running back this year.

Some stocking stuffers before Christmas....Tony Ciravino will likely handle kick offs in Toronto. Desi Cullen had his appendix removed last week and is recovering. Cullen will still punt.

Offensive coordinator Rob Ambrose is interviewing at his alma mater, Towson State, for their head coaching position. I hope Ambrose gets it. The Huskies need a more creative mind calling the plays.

Linebacker C.J. Marck is transferring, likely to a I-AA or Football Championship Subdivision school. He's not playing in Toronto and has already left the team because he felt he shouldn't play if he's not coming back. That's a tough call to make -- not playing, that is. That's a class move by someone who from what I've been told, was well liked by teammates.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Tonight most of the college football awards are presented. There are two awards I am interested in: the Doak walker (RB) and Fred Bilitenkoff (WR).

The first because I think its a shame UConn's Donald Brown isn't a finalist. I'm not saying he should win, but you can't tell me he isn't one of the three best at his position.

The second, because I voted on that award and think it's going to be a lot closer between Michael Crabtree, last year's winner, and Dez Bryant.

Today voting begins on the Football Writers Association of America's coach of the year award. We rank them 1-9.
My vote:
Kyle Whittingham, Utah
Chris Petersen, Boise State
Mike Leach, Texas Tech
Joe Paterno, Penn State
Nick Saban, Alabama
Mack Brown, Texas
Bob Stoops, Oklahoma
Pete Carroll, USC
Urban Meyer, Florida

Your thoughts?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Brown sets the standard

Donald Brown became the first UConn player to win a major Big East award. he was named the conference's Offensive Player of the Year Wednesday. Brown, a junior, led the nation in rushing yards and yards per game. He was also among the leaders in scoring.

Now the question of will he or won't he leave really begins to heat up.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

It's Toronto

The UConn football team has accepted an invitation to play in the International Bowl on Jan. 3 in Toronto.

Playing in a bowl game in consecutive seasons for the first time in school history, UConn will face MAC champion Buffalo in the noon kickoff from the Rogers Centre.

"We are very excited to be playing in the International Bowl in the beautiful city of Toronto," say UConn head coach Randy Edsall. "I think it is a strong statement to the development of our program as we have now played in bowl games in back-to-back years for the first time our history. We worked with the executive director Ken Hoffman and his staff in 2004 when we played in the Motor City Bowl and had a terrific experience and we look forward to the same for this bowl"

Check back with this blog and for more info.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Leader One

If his numbers hold up, Donald Brown will end the regular season as the leading rusher in all of Division-I football.

Shame on you


You want your UConn football team to be taken more seriously. You think it's not treated like the supposed "big-time" program you allege it is on blogs and message boards throughout cyberspace.

Why not try showing up to home games, particularly the last game of the season, on a day when your seniors are being honored? 5,000 people in the stands for senior intros and under 15,000 for kickoff is a joke.

Until YOU treat the program like it matters, no one else will.

Fond farewell

Nineteen seniors say goodbye to Rentschler Field today.

Some we've gotten to know well as a result of their regular playing time, some we've started to get to know and other we just never saw much of.

This much is true: Whatever happens in the game today against No. 23 Pittsburgh, these 19 men will have quite a few memories to share for a lifetime. Let us not forget there's still one more game, probably the International Bowl.

I began talking to players about their careers a month or so ago when I sat down with D.J. Hernandez. D.J.'s an interesting cat. He really puts a great deal of thought into what he does and doesn't say. But I'd say since last year he's begun to show great introspection.

After games, D.J. was the worst interview win or lose. Usually terse, short, annoyed or saying as little as possible with as many words as possible, he's changed. In group settings he'd clam up a bit, which is understandable. But this year, he was so infrequently available that many of my peers and I would speak with him with one or two other people. The result was D.J. opening up about family, college, football and his future.

Then when you watch him become all but forgotten this season, you appreciate him a whole lot more.

There were a few standup guys in this senior class that deserve recognition for that. Tyler Lorenzen, Rob Lunn, Keith Gray, Cody Brown and Tony Ciaravino.

Tyler was the kind of guy who enjoyed the candid moments with people and told you what he thought. As a QB, he was the ideal interview. Never took the credit and always took the blame even when it wasn't his to take.

Lunn, despite being a Red Sox fan, is the guy everyone wants to be around. He's smart and funny, and puts things into amazing context, beyond most people his age. This past week, it took him 15 seconds before he started crying when asked about his memories at UConn. You know the bye week killed him. That gave him two weeks to marinate on playing his last home game.

He reminded me that there's more than Xs and Os, something easily forgotten week after week when everyone is talking about this formation or that, starting quarterbacks and "personal reasons."

Keith Gray flies under the radar. He's deceptively funny. Every week he imparts a little humor and shares his take on the previous game and the next. Few people take the win or loss as personally as he does.

Eveyone knows that Cody Brown is funny. He's a different funny than Lunn. You see how amped he gets on game day and then minutes after the game ends, he's doing standup. Every team needs a Cody Brown and everyone needs to know a Cody Brown.

Finally, Ciaravino is a unique kicker. He understood the pitfalls of being a kicker and never complained. He was always willing to face the music and because of it, the media held him in high regard. He's also blessed with a great disposition. I'm sure he's looking forward to getting back to the warm weather in Florida.

Good luck to the seniors.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Dixon arrested

An already disappointing season for UConn redshirt junior tailback Andre Dixon took a major turn for the worse and not only is his ability to play in an upcoming bowl game in question, but so is his place in the program.
Dixon was indefinitely suspended from the team after he was arrested early Tuesday morning for driving under the influence. The New Jersey native was released after posting $500 bond. Dixon is slated to appear in Rockville Superior Court on Dec. 15.
Huskies coach Randy Edsall announced the suspension at his weekly press conference, calling it a violation of team rules.
“The young man made a mistake and he came into see me and we’ve talked,” Edsall said. “It’s unfortunate, but he made a mistake.”
Dixon was pulled over around 1:30 a.m. after following a police cruiser too closely on North Eagleville Road. The arresting officer pulled Dixon and issued a field sobriety test, which he failed.
A year after rushing for 828 yards and second-team All-Big East, Dixon has been a non factor from the start. A nagging ankle injury slowed him coming out of training camp and true freshman Jordan Todman surpassed him, unofficially, on the team’s depth chart.
This season, Dixon has played in nine games and has 37 rushing yards.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

What the Big East has to say about the last UConn play

I just got off the phone with conference spokesman John Paquette, who gave me the Big East's view of the final play for UConn in it's 17-13 loss at South Florida Sunday night.

"The passer's back foot was still behind the line (of scrimmage), so when the pass was released. Also, the play would have been reviewed and probably reversed by replay, but since the pass was incomplete the ball belonged to USF anyway," Paquette said.

As for whether Lorenzen was on the receiving end of a late hit, cause for a personal foul call against the Bulls, Paquette added, "Those are all judgement calls. A play like that is a judgement cal and we wouldn't offer an opinion on that."

Monday, November 24, 2008

Called into question

On the Huskies' final play from scrimmage, the play where Tyler Lorenzen was called for an illegal forward pass,UConn coach Randy Edsall provided the Big East with a video of that play. His contention is that Lorenzen was subjected to a personal foul after the throw.

I've reached out to the head of Big East officiating Terry McAulay and hopefully I can give you definitive word on the league's take before the night is out.

Also, I eluded to the Biletnikoff Award. My semifinalist votes went to Texas Tech's Michael Crabtree, BYU's Austin Collie and Missouri's Jeremy Maclin. The final ballot arrived today and the finalists are: Crabtree, Maclin and Oklahoma State's Dez White. Maybe my memory is short, but when was the last time the country had three sophomore WRs like those guys?

Brown no Walker

UConn's Donald Brown is not a finalist for the Doak Walker award, given to the nation's top running back. Michigan State's Javon Ringer, Georgia's Knowshon Moreno and Iowa's Shonn Greene are the three finalists.

“For me, that’s a disappointment because I think he should be,” coach Randy Edsall said. “He’s the leading rusher in the country; he’s up there (among the best). What else would you have to do? Just because he’s not from a big-name school, a supposed big-name school? He has more yards than them, probably more carries (and) more touchdowns; that is kind of surprising to me. That’s the way it is. He’ll just go about his business and keep working hard and try to help his team win.”

Monday, November 17, 2008

Your take

I just submitted by ballot to determine the finalists for the Biletnikoff Award (top WR). I'm not about to reveal my picks ( I will in a few days but don't want to skew the vote) but I want to see who the fans like.

Dez Bryant, Oklahoma State
Chase Coffman, Missouri
Austin Collie, BYU
Quan Cosby, Texas
Michael Crabtree, Texas Tech
Eric Decker, Minnesota
Jarett Dillard, Rice
Casey Fitzgerald, North Texas
Kerry Meier, Kansas
Jeremy Maclin, Missouri

Notice, all but three are from the Big 12.

Larry Taylor en fuego in Canada

Two kickoff returns for touchdowns by the former Husky put Montreal in the Grey Cup Nov. 23.

Is he seeing Orange?

That's what everyone wants to know about UConn head coach Randy Edsall. Is he going to leave for the newly vacant Syracuse job?

Let's look at the facts.

* He spent 14 years there as a player and a coach
* It is, despite what UConn fans may say, a bigger program. Just check out the history.

Let's look at the factors.
*If Edsall wanted to go to Syracuse and move onto another job, a bigger one I presume, he would probably get the same job if he stays put. Why? Because he has to rebuild Syracuse before it can compete and win games. At UConn he's built a respectable program and will have consecutive bowl teams.
* Syracuse would have to make him among the best-paid coaches in the nation. Plus, handle his buyout. Not happening. Plus, Edsall has zero leverage with UConn. He got a new deal a year ago. I do think had the'Cuse come calling then, he would have left. But it was Georgia Tech then. So what it's another Big East school? The state of Connecticut isn't about to give him another raise.
*The most important factor -- he's miffed over not getting the job when the Orange hired Greg Robinson. I can totally see Edsall smiling to himself in private, and he should. Clearly -- Edsall or not -- G-Rob was the wrong call.

Tying in a hot-botton topic of the day, Edsall has said he has no interest. But as he's shown, he's not affraid to lie. He's said as much himself.

Why are reporters, such as myself, in such a tizzy over this? Understand that you, the fan, come to us for news. Our job is to present you the truth of what is going on, no matter if its politics, sports, business or a pet show. Thursday Edsall said it was Zach Frazer or Cody Endres who would start at QB and that he didn't know what Lorenzen could do. He even had Frazer warm up with the first team Saturday night. He knew Tyler Lorenzen was starting. He didn't have to say Lorenzen was starting. He could have said, "Lorenzen is practicing, but right now it's Zach or Cody."

If we are to believe Edsall made the decision based on Thursday's practice, which is generally a walk-through for road games, then the head coach thinks we are all idiots. He says the deciet was an act of gamesmanship. Nevermind that you wasted it on Syracuse, but Lorenzen was a non factor. He passed for 70 yards. 70!!!!

The really point isn't what he lied about. It's that he's done it a few times and we've reported essentially false info as a result. So why should you, the fan, read what we print about your team? There's no way of knowing what is truth and what isn't.

We as reporters should be mad. This isn't a game to play with people's livlihood's, especially in this economy. You want to argue that the press does this with him, but he is a public figure, a state employee. That's part of the job when you coach a football team.

So when Randy Edsall says he's not interested in Syracuse or hasn't been contacted by Syracuse or a third party, etc., do you believe him?

I don't.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Vote for the Don...

or another RB, if you choose.

Donald Brown, the electric UConn tailback, is a finalist for the Doak Walker award. It's the annual award given to the nation's top running back. The folks with the Doak Walker award are allowing fans -- yes, fans -- like you to vote on

It works like this: Whomever gets the most fans votes will receive one actual vote in the balloting. With so many outstanding backs this season, that one vote could make the difference.

So in the spirit of this election year, exercise your right to vote!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Another nomination for Brown

In addition to being a finalist for the Maxwell Award (top player) and Doak Walker Award (top running back), the Walter Camp Football Foundation has named UConn's Donald Brown as a finalist for its player of the Year award. He is one of 15 nominees.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Lean with it

During this stellar season for tailback Donald Brown, Brown has been a staple of the weekly media sessions. He's also shown a great amount of emotion when dealing with the media. I don't mean banging fists or crying or yelling or anything like that. But he's an expressive young man, who when the Huskies lose, he's disturbed. When they win, he's more affable.

Today, he showed some humor and laughed more than most of my types have seen in three years.

Recalling memories of Syracuse's appeal when he was younger and the legacy of "44s" or star running backs with the Orange, Brown was asked about running backs coach Terry Ricardson, who played at the 'Cuse.

Brown said that when there's been down time in the fikm room, sometimes he pops in old footage of Richardson. There was one game that stood out where Richadson scored against Louisville and then posed by leaning up against the goal post.

The redshirt junior said he doesn't believe that act would fly today, meaning it is far too tame.

Coach Richardson was kicking it old school.

Midweek update

Anyone want to fancy a guess at who is the Huskies' starting quarterback Saturday night at Syracuse?

Right now the only guess that has the odds against it would be Tyler Lorenzen, and his odds are improving -- slowly.

It's still Cody Endres or Zach Frazer -- my money is on Frazer -- and it's still a game-time decision. Endres said he's been working on the basics, something that got away from him in the second half against West Virginia two weeks ago. The three interceptions hurt the most because each led to a Mountaineers score.

Lorenzen looks fine walking around the football complex and is no longer wearing a boot. The screw is still in his right foot, but that hasn't prevented Lorenzen from doing light drills under the guidance of the training staff. He's essentially replicating common movements for quarterbacks such as drops and shuffles. He has yet to get the OK for full-speed running, so that will have to wait at least until later today at the earliest.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Brown named Maxwell semifinalists

Donald Brown was named one of 15 semifinalists for the Maxwell Award, given annually to the college player of the year.

Brown has set new UConn career carries and singfle-season rushing yards records is having a break out season. Despite the consideration, Brown is trying to keep the nomination in perspective.

"To be honest with you, it's an honor, but at the same time, it's unrealistic," he said. "A kid from UConn will never win an award like that. I know it just as well as anyone else – a kid from UConn will never win an award like that."

The other candidates are: Sam Bradford, So., QB, Oklahoma; Donald Brown, Jr., RB, Connecticut; Darryl Clark, Sr., QB, Penn State, Michael Crabtree, So., WR, Texas Tech; Chase Daniel, Sr., QB, Missouri, Shonn Greene, Jr., RB, Iowa; Graham Harrell, Sr., QB, Texas Tech; Jeremy Maclin, So., WR, Missouri, Colt McCoy, Jr, QB, Texas; LeSean McCoy, So., RB, Pittsburgh; Knowshon Moreno, So., RB, Georgia; Javon Ringer, Sr., RB, Michigan State; Zac Robinson, JR., QB, Oklahoma State; Mark Sanchez, Jr., QB, USC; Tim Tebow, Jr., QB, Florida.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Syracuse game time

Originally, the Nov. 15 game between UConn and Syracuse at the Carrier Dome was slated for a noon start. It's been changed to 7 p.m. and will air on ESPNU.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

The day after: West Virginia

A few other bits of information besides the update on Darius Butler's condition.

Coach Randy Edsall said he was pretty happy with the special teams against the Mountaineers, and believes that there were a couple of situations on kick returns that had the Huskies gottten the appropriate blocking there might have been a touchdown or two in the cards.

One area Edsall said the team needs to work on is making the opposition kick field goals in situations where touchdowns were scored.

Against a team like West Virginia, the Huskies tried a few different looks on both sides of the ball to put more speed on the field -- an issue that has really haunted the team the last two seasons. Jordan Todman played over Donald Brown (a move I have to disagree with) and Dahna Deleston played at linebacker. The latter move was one that had been discussed in the preseason and it wouldn't surprise me if he sees more time there.

"All it does is puts more speed on the field. I thought we had a great plan defensively yesterday. I thought putting Tywon Martin in there and having Julius (Williams) in at the tackles and Lindsey (Witten) at the ends and Cody (Brown) and Dahna where he was and Scott in the middle and Aaron out there, it just put more speed and athleticism out to play against a team like West Virginia. I thought it was productive for us for the most part."

Ironically, Edsall was happy with how his team stayed away from penalties, but noted that the only penalty came on a 3rd-and-1 and ultimately forced them to punt. If they don't get the call against them and gain the first down in West Virginia territory, it's fair to assume UConn scores.

No decision has been made regarding who will start at QB in two weeks at Syracuse.

“That’s something we’ll evaluate and take a look at and make a determination as we see fit,” he said.

There's no update on whether Tyler Lorenzen can return in time for the next game. My guess is he plays at South Florida in three weeks.

The coach was asked about recruiting players with teams like the Mountaineers in mind.

"We try to recruit the kids that have the academics, tat have the character, the character, the work ethic, the speed and athleticism to fit into our program and we hope we can get the fastest and most athletic guys we can and combine that with the rigors of what the academics are at the university to fit them in."

Butler out 4-6 weeks

The injury to cornerback Darius Butler will keep him out 4-6 weeks, coach Randy Edsall announced Sunday. The injury is being described simply as a "knee injury" that wouldn't require surgery by Edsall. He said that was the extent of what the medical staff want released.

For Butler, this is good news. He won't play until a bowl game, but that he should be OK for NFL workouts is positive.

Saturday, November 01, 2008


There was a lot to not like about today's 35-13 loss. We can start with 28 unanswered West Virginia points -- at home. How do you do that? Donald Brown and D.J. Hernandez's fumbles hurt, as did three Cody Endres interceptions. I noticed the last two weeks that Endres seems to play a decent half but not a complete game. Because of his inexperience, he forgets his mechanics when under pressure and makes mistakes. You won't win many football games with that happening.

I suspect that in two weeks at Syracuse, Zach Frazer will start and Tyler Lorenzen's return may not be too far away.

The loss all but assures the Huskies won't win the Big East. That means a best-case bowl scenario is the Meineke Car Care Bowl in Charlotte once again. More likely they end up in Birmingham or Toronto for the games played there.

No official word, but expect Darius Butler to have torn his ACL and have his season end early. Even worse is that this will hurt his draft position since he won't be ready to go to the combines in late winter. Any team that takes him is taking him sort of sight unseen. Scouts have been at games and have game footage to watch but its not the same. Last year, Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Dave Campo told me you have to see a player run drills live. This injury may have cost Butler millions of dollars. That's sad because he's a great talent.

The drops have to stop. Randy Edsall called out his wide receivers after the game saying he needs someone -- likely a recruit -- to come in and want the ball. I don't know if stick 'em would work with this crop. Kashif Moore, who had the biggest drop of them all, said he thinks the unit as a whole can be that go-to receiver. Sorry, Kashif, but show me one person who has what it takes to do that. There is no swagger a la Keyshawn Johnson, where they say, "Throw me the damn ball."

Finally, let's not give the Huskies' defense a hard time. How much should be expected when they have 30-40 yards to work with. Notice when they had the Mountaineers backed up, the defense was in control for the most part.


Some things you won't read in tomorrow's Bulletin. I guess that makes it semi-exclusive to this blog depending on which other publications run it.

Donald Brown, who had his streak of 100-yard games snapped at eight, passed Terry Caulley as the school's all-time leader in rushing attempts. He's now at 585 carries.

Anthony Sherman had a few career bests: 16 rushing yards, 16-yard run, seven catches and 51 receiving yards.


That's not a Biblical reference, but the amount of time that West Virginia needed to score three touchdowns. Donald Brown fumbled and it led to another WVU score, a three-yard Sanders run. 28-13 West Virginia.

It's over

Unofficially, that is.

Endres overthrows D.J. Hernandez and is intercepted, leading to a Jock Sanders' four-yard score. 21-13 WVU and the UConn offense is in a shell again.

Making the Huskies pay

After Moore's failed catch on the long pass from Endres, UConn was forced to punt. West Virginia, mixing runs and passes, moved down field and scored on short pass from White to Jock Sanders. Had Moore held on, it's 20-7 UConn. Instead it's 14-13 West Virginia.

Deep thoughts

Everyone's been hankering for more pas attempts down field. Endres had Kashif Moore WIDE open down field on the opening possession of the second half. It should have been a 56-yard touchdown. Moore had the ball, but let it slide between his arms for an incomplete pass.

Pushing the lead

Darius Butler had a nice 37-yard kickoff return aided by a sideline penalty and the Huskies got a 38-yarder from Teggart to lead 13-7 with 6:49 left in the half.

That hurts

The Huskies pushed West Virginia back to a 3rd-and-goal from the 24 and barely missed sacking Pat White. Instead, White escapes, get s a block and scores to bring West Virginia to within three at 10-7.


The Huskies drove 80 yards, thanks to three consecutive first down plays, and ended the drive with a Donald Brown 21-yard TD run that saw the back pull, drag and fake out defenders thanks to a stutter step that broke him free of the from the front eight.

Endres has been good, to say the least. He completed 3-of-3 for 24 yards.

Fair start

UConn's defense has come to play. Two West Virginia possessions ended with two West Virginia punts. Noel Devine and Pat White are bound to break for a big play, but right now they've had one god run each (White + 12 and Devine + 11).

The offense, led by Cody Endres looked good on its lone possession. Endres hooked up with D.J. Hernandez on a 17-yarder that would have had the Huskies near the WVU 30. Endres took a licking on the play, but Hernandez ducked after catching the ball and was promptly stripped off the ball costing UConn possession.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Huskies' academic success honored

The UConn football program has been honored by the American Football Coaches Association for its graduation of student-athletes as part of its Academic Achievement Award program. This is the fourth time in six year (2003, 2005, 2007) that the Huskies have received this notation.

“We are happy to be recognized by the AFCA for our graduation rates once again," head coach Randy Edsall said in a release. “This is a great credit to our players and to Ellen Rennie and her staff at CPIA (Counseling Program for Intercollegiate Athletes) which works so diligently to help the student-athletes here at the University of Connecticut.”

Established by the College Football Association in 1981, the Academic Schievment Award program recognized CFA-member Football Bowl Subdivision institutions with high graduation rates among members of its football team. When the CFA disbanded in 1997, the AFCA stepped in to present the award and conduct a graduation rate survey that encompassed all members of the FBS.

This year's award marks the first time the NCAA's Graduation Success Rate (GSR) formula has been used to select the winner. From 1981 to 2007 the award was presented based on a formula used by the College Football Association and the AFCA.

Monday, October 27, 2008

O' Canada

The Huskies go back to the land of the Maple Leaf once more in recruiting. Canadian contributors this year have been Mo Petrus and Martin Bedard. This time, defensive end Jesse Joseph out of Vanier College in Quebec, according to

Joseph is Vanier's defensive captain and leads teh team with four sacks. Vanier is the same school that produced Petrus and former Husky Shawn Mayne.

Here is the article I wrote in August on UConn's forays into Canada.

Teggart honored

After his four-field goal game against Cincinnati, Dave Teggart was named the Big East's Special Teams Player of the Week. It's a nice start to his career, thanks to the four kicks, one of which was 47 yards into the wind.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Record breaker

Donald Brown is now UConn's single-season rushing yards record holder with 1,324 yards. That's with four more games to play.

Critical call

Call it conservative, but going for 3 on 4th-and-inches from the goal line is the right call especially after taking the delay of game penalty. The field goal makes it a two-possession game for Cincinnati, which is down 26-16. Dave Teggart has four field goals for UConn.

The kick was made necessary after a review negated a Donald Brown 5-yard run on a direct snap. The call was he was down at the half yard line. Another run on third down failed, setting up the field goal.

Dave, Dave he's the man

Dave Teggart's 47-yard field goal into a strong wind was as impressive of a kick as any I've seen in a few years. It reinforces the decision to start him. Three field goals and two PATs on the day make him the offensive star.

Huskies strike back

Jordan Todman helped put the Huskies back on top witha two-yard run to his left.

It was set up by a sweet 34-yard pass to Michael Smith. On 2nd-and-10 from the Cincy 39, Cody Endres checked off his receivers and had plenty of time to find Smith, who ran a great route from the left to make the catch over the middle of the field.

Dave Teggart's PAT has UConn up, 17-13.

New QB

Cincinnati came out of the break with a new QB -- Chazz Anderson, who started when today's starter Tony Pike was out with a broken arm.

Donald the great

A two-yard run, but he ran to the right eluded Deangelo Smith's tackle attempt by hurdling the defender then diving for the end zone. The Huskies are looking good. Zach Frazer may want to transfer again.

Big, bad Cody Brown

Brown sacks Cincinnati QB Tony Pike, then on the next play chases him to the sideline and forces a fumble that goes out of bounds putting the Bearcats in a 3rd-and-28 situation from the Cincy 2.

Making up for lost yardage

An illegal block call wiped out a 25-yard run by Donald Brown (who had one yard against Cincy last year), Endres found Brown on a screen pass that picked up 24 yards.

The drive stalled bringing out Dave Teggart for his first FG attempt. It's a 26-yarder that sailed through the uprights.

A small victory

After the blocked punt gave Cincinnati the ball on UConn's 15, the Huskies held the Bearcats to just three yards and a field goal.

It's something to build upon, but right now the Huskies must show it can move the ball. Try handing Donald Brown the ball. Sure, Cincy is stout against the run but you have to try and se if you can loosen up its defense. My guess is Randy Edsall wants to complete a pass before he runs. If that's the case, it will be a while before there's a run. Between bad throws, bad blocking and good defense, it can get ugly.


Cincinnati blocked UConn's first punt attempt after Cody Endres feebly tried passing on every down. On the blockd punt, punter Desi Cullen had to be helped off the field. Cincy takes over on the UConn 15. I smell a LOOOOOONG day.

And the quarterback is...

Zach Frazer warmed up, but Cody Endres is starting.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Coaching rumors

The New York Times reported Wednesday that Huskies coach Randy Edsall was contacted by a third party, hired by Syracuse, as it begins a coaching search in advance of firing Greg Robinson. Edsall is a logical choice being he played and coached at Syracuse.

Edsall denied the report Wednesday, saying he "doesn't deal in speculation."

"I just want you to know and everybody to know I haven't been contacted by any college, any university, the NFL or any person regarding any job," Edsall said.

The Times' piece said Edsall may be cost prohibitive to Syracuse because he has a $1 million buyout, plus Robinson has a buyout, then add on at least $1.5 million (Edsall's current salary). That's a whole lot of cash.

Outside of that consideration, I don't see him taking the job. Edsall won't say it because he loves Syracuse and it holds a special place in his heart, but he is upset he wasn't offered the job when Robinson was hired.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tony kicked to the curb

There's a new kicker in town and his name is Dave Teggart. While Teggart isn't new in the truest sense of the word, he is new in the fact he hasn't kicked for the Huskies yet. The decision came down today when coach Randy Edsall announced the move at his weekly presser.

A few thoughts: Congrats to Teggart, he's a good kid. You can tell he was a bit nervous talking to reporters today because he probably never had a 10-15 grown sweaty, overweight men surrounding him like a piece of meat. It sounds worse than it is.

Anyhow, on the flip side, Tony Ciaravino, I think is paying for the sins of the father, or at least the offense. It's really easy to say he cost the team the game against Rutgers with three missed field goals. But is that really why this change is happening? Randy Edsall said, "Those two guys are very, very close. There’s not much difference at all." So why make the change? Change for the sake of change is never good.

I think it's easier to sacrifice one lamb than feed the entire flock to the wolves. That is what's happening. To his credit, Ciaravino is taking the demotion like a champ. If you recall, Ciaravino was Matt Nuzie's backup and when Nuzie struggled his senior year, he wasn't a big fan of talking to the press. He was a little temperamental, which is understandable. Toward the end of that year, he really opened up a bit and showed strong leadership by example. Ciaravino saw that and walked the walk, if you will from Day One. It's one of the reasons he is liked by everyone.

So you don't want to say that Rob Ambrose's play calling stinks? OK. I can respect that Edsall doesn't want to stab his coach in the back. Then take the blame yourself. No, can't do that. Instead, demote the kicker, who won't play a game past December, mess with his head and it looks like the 12-10 loss falls squarely on Ciaravino's right foot.

On the QB front, Edsall said that Zach Frazer has a "head injury," refusing to call it a concussion. You can have a nail stuck in your head, have it removed and possibly still play a few days later. That's a head injury. A concussion is far more serious football-wise because of the long-lasting ramifications. Don't expect to see Frazer Saturday against Cincinnati. Look for Cody Endres, who played a bit against Hofstra, to start Saturday. If he plays well, Frazer may want to look into transferring again. According to Edsall, nothing new will be announced until Thursday.

Monday, October 20, 2008


Randy Edsall is at it again. He has made all of his quarterbacks off-limits at tomorrow's media press conference.

Not that this should be a surprise considering the coach doesn't like hearing anyone second guess him. Right now it's, if you haven't coached who are you to say anything. Of course, if a high school coach or a non BCS college coach questioned his calls, the response would probably be they hadn't coached at his level.

This is all too much. I understand the desire for control as a head coach. but Edsall makes BIG bucks and avoiding the reality of his situation (bad playcalling) isn't going to make the questions stop. All he's doing is putting pressure on himself and his team.

"Fuzzy" Frazer doesn't practice

Randy Edsall said Monday that redshirt sophomore Zach Frazer didn't practice Sunday. He'll know more tomorrow, but in the event that Frazer can't play Saturday, Cody Endres, the third-string QB, will take the snaps against Cincinnati.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Not a happy camper

Randy Edsall is usually a mild-mannered football coach. You know he is passionate and you know he wants to win. But when things go wrong — as they did at Rutgers Saturday — he should have known questions about play calling were bound to pop up.

They did during his day-after conference call. But this time Edsall took exception to the notion of the Huskies' offense being "Conservative."

“You call it conservative, I call it trying to win games,” Edsall said Sunday.
“If you’ve ever coached, the object is to win games,” he continued. “If we need to throw the ball, we’ll throw the ball. If we need to run the ball, we’ll run the ball. We’re going to do the things that we think are important to win the ball game, we’re going to do the things we feel to win the ball game. (Saturday) we did the things to put ourselves to win the ball game; we just happened to not win the ball game.”

He went on to say that he doesn't need to explain the logic, but frankly, after two straight losses that featured special teams mishaps, the passing game is spotty because of inconsistent play by the receivers and the running game has been expected. I wonder if using more two-back formations with Donald Brown and Andre Dixon might help, if for no other reason as creating a guessing game and/or use them as receivers.

Edsall sarcastically said they will throw 50 times against Cincinnati Saturday.

That may be a problem as quarterback Zach Frazer is "fuzzy" after taking a hit or two late in the game. By all accounts, it sounds as if Frazer is concussed, but the coach said he didn't have any more details. That's not true. If your quarterback is "fuzzy" after a game, there's no way you don't know. At any rate, Edsall will give an update Tuesday.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Back in the saddle again

It's been a couple of weeks since my last posting here, and now that the first bye week is over and done with, let's get caught up on the happenings today from the Burton Family Football Complex.

Zach Frazer met with reporters this morning before coach Randy Edsall. Frazer is feeling more confident and comfortable with the offense, saying the playbook is "wide open" to him. Center Keith Gray echoed Frazer's evaluation, noting that his apartment-mate wasn't down more than anyone else after the North Carolina loss, but that Frazer took the defeat as added motivation.

"Things are going good. ... I feel like I'm fitting into the offense more and more each day," Frazer said.

The redshirt sophomore philosophised that feeling good in practice and away from the field translates into how you feel and play during games. There has to be truth to that statement, nothing of an absolute nature, but certainly its encouraging.

Darius Butler, who plays on both sides, said that Frazer has looked good in practice but emphasized it is only practice and that "everyone looks good in practice."

I'll dish Edsall's words on Rutgers until later. He did have some nice tidbits...

Asked about whether Butler's play at corner has led to teams throwing more toward Jasper Howard he said, "I think that some people have a tendency to throw away from where Darius is, which would put a little more pressure on Jas. I think he's responded well to it. He has to understand that when you have a guy like Darius that people might tend to stay away from him and go after the other guy because he's the new guy on the block. I think he's responded well, He;'s got to get better; he's nowhere near where we want him to be or where he wants to be. he's making progress the more he plays, he's just got to get better with fundamentals and doing the technique exactly right. He's not a big guy, so if he can play his technique the right way all the time he has a chance to get better each game and each year."

Asked about former Husky Dan Orlovsky's play in his first career NFL start for Detroit against Minnesota, Edsall sent his former star a text message after the Lions' loss. Orlovsky committed a blunder when he ran out of the end zone for a safety against the Vikings.

"He never did that while he was here. I felt bad for him. ... I told him not to let one play get his confidence down. I'm sure he'll never do that again."

Everyone was asked how they spent the bye week. Rob Lunn went apple picking with his girlfriend, Frazer went to Boston with his girlfriend, who was visiting, Donald Brown went home for a day. Edsall had the chance to see his son, Corey play football Saturday night and checked out the new film, "The Express."

Being a Syracuse graduate, Edsall had a little more perspective on the film than most would have. That wasn't what stood out to him, however.

"I thought it was a good movie. ... To me, it was too long in the making. For kids nowadays, I don;'t think they can relate to the time frame in terms of when that took place. To me, with what Ernie Davis did, that should have been made 20 years ago.
"There probably as much football, but the racial situation he had to confront during those times. It's just interesting to see the way it was."

It doesn't happen too often that something other than football is discussed at these pressers. But that was a nice, brief break. It was followed by a great question asked by Desmond Connor of the Hartford Courant regarding Edsall's stance on his players being outspoken on various issues.

"I think if people have a cause or if they feel strongly about something, I think they should go ahead and pursue or be active in whatever role they want to partake in supporting that cause or bringing attention to that cause but understanding they can't let that affect what their jobs are. That's to be a student and to be an athlete, first and foremost. If they have the time to do those things and not affect those other areas, I'm all for that. If you are going to be involved or champion or be an advocate for certain things, then you need to make sure you are thoroughly prepared to discuss those issues and be able to have your points to get out. I never want to see one of our players do it be the seat of their pants or a fly-by-night thing because then it turns back the other way against them. If you feel strongly about certain things, in this country, you have that right to be able to express yourself. As you express yourself, make sure you have all your ducks in a row and your prepared to discuss it and handle any questions that come back at you. I think that's all part of the growing process, that's all part of the total person philosophy that we have within our program. We want to develop that. When they leave here, the majority of them are not going to the NFL. They're going to go out into all walks of life and you better be ready to communicate, you better be able to stand up for yourself. If you have that forum, if you have that platform while you're in college, just do it the right way and handle it the right way."

That's it for now. In the next post, we'll see what Rutgers coach Greg Schiano had to say, as well as Donald Brown, Darius Butler, Cody Brown and Keith Gray.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Tickets becoming rare

Wanna see the Huskies take on Cincinnati on Oct. 25 at The Rent? Too bad, it's sold out.

What about the early November meeting with West Virginia? Ha! That's sold out, too.

What does that mean? You either have to find a loving friend who has a ticket to spare or buy one for the season finale against Pittsburgh.

Ticket sales such as these are showing an increase in interest in the Huskies. How much that means people will be in their seats for the start or if they ever leave the parking lot, I don't know. However, this is a good step forward. The next is selling out the Pitt game. Then selling out the entire home slate before the season begins next year.

Time is money and money is time and athletes aren't paid!

Huskies coach Randy Edsall refused to allow new starting QB Zach Frazer to speak to the media Tuesday. He said 10 minutes of Frazer's time would prevent him from preparing for North Carolina. You know how ridiculous that sounds, right?

“The young man is making his first start this week,” Edsall said. “The only thing he needs to focus on is trying to get himself ready for the game and to play the best game that he possible can. It’s my prerogative as the head coach to protect my players and to allow them to prepare the best way that I feel possible for them to be successful.”

Edsall justified the action by saying Frazer was appreciative of the move. Maybe he is. I don't doubt it. Here's the catch: If Frazer stinks Saturday night, this bit of posturing blows up in Edsall's face and takes Frazer down with him. He may believe that the attention and focus has shifted off of Frazer, but it hasn't. All Edsall has done is increase the magnifying glass that his redshirt sophomore will be viewed under.

Furthermore, Frazer has been in the program over a year -- he knows, or should know the playbook. It's a bigger issue if that's why Edsall kept him away from reporters.

Sunday, September 28, 2008


Husky fans rejoice! The team entered both polls today, No. 24 in the AP poll and No. 23 in the coaches poll. Let's see if they can handle that sort of pressure and attention when they face a team on the outside of the polls at North Carolina.

Injury update

Word comes from UConn that the surgeries fro Tyler Lorenzen and Steve Brouse went well. No word on how long they are expected to be out of action. That info should arrive tomorrow when Randy Edsall speaks on the Big East coaches conference call.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The day after

Huskies coach Randy Edsall spoke to reporters today in his weekly day-after teleconference. When asked about the injury report, he said Tyler Lorenzen (right foot) and Steve Brouse (right fibula) will have surgery Sunday.

There's no time table for either player's return. If everything falls favorably, you're looking at mid-November.

Edsall expects Rob Lunn and Alex Polito back for North Carolina next weekend, and will wait to see how Kendall Reyes responds over the next few daysbefore declaring him ready to play. That's three defensive tackles that miss serious time Saturday. It certainly contributed to the ease at which Louisville ran the ball -- not to dimish the talents of their fine backs -- but it takes two to tango.

Edsall tried to downplay the depth concerns, saying fundamentals and technique were to blame for whatever concerns. I tell you this, if that's the case it shouldn't matter who is on the field. It does matter and the Huskies need to get healthy. The bye week after North Carolina can't come soon enough. Neither can the one in early November.

As far as Brouse, this is a loss that maybe doesn't seem severe, but it is. He's been a dependable receiver for the Huskies and a strong blocker. Without him, you'll see Martin Bedard start and possibly see Yianni Apostolakos in certain situations.

With Frazer, who looked better Saturday than he did in the few occassions I saw him in training camp, Cody Endres is the No. 2 again. He was the primary backup until, ironically, this week. Edsall moved Frazer ahead of Endres after Frazer was deemed recovered from a concussion he sustained in August.

The coach is happy, at least publicly, with his signal callers. It's a far cry from past years with Matt Bonislawski and D.J. Hernandez (who has vanished as a WR).

"I think we got our guys," Edsall said. "Zach went in and played, we've seen Cody do things, so I'm comfortable with (the situation). Those ar erge two guys now that we have to go with. I'm confident that Zach will do a good job and hopefully Coduy doesn't have to (play), but if Cody did, I'd be comfortable with him because these are rge guys that we have."


That's what the Huskies are after an exciting win at Louisville. It came with some casualties. Quarterback Tyler Lorenzen broke his right foot and will undergo surgery Sunday. I should have more on his estimate return later Saturday.

As a result, the Zach Frazer era begins. Frazer looked shaky at first, but settled down. It helps when you hand the ball to Donald Brown.

No. 34 had another big night, 190 yards and a score despite the Cardinals stacking the box every down.

In theory, the win should push UConn into the Top 25. But because the Huskies were grossly outgained in yardage, the game will support the logic that the Huskies are just a lucky team, not a good one. I don't subscribe to that. You have to be good to make luck work to your advantage, and the Huskies have.

Keep in mind that UConn played without Lorenzen for three quarters, without Steve Brouse and without Alex Polito. That's three starters down, yet it comes away with a win.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The way to respond

Nothing fancy -- maybe to predictable (Brown carry after Brown carry), but the Huskies are responding appropriately after a Bears touchdown. Over five minutes have been knocked off the clock and had the choice of going for it on 4th-and-1 (they went with a successful Brown carry). It paid off with a Brown 2-yard scoring run by...Donald Brown.

Out of synch

The game started so well for the Huskies, but they have repeatedly give up first-down plays to Baylor when the Bears would be in third-and-long scenarios. Baylor, despite a couple possessions that have proved fruitless on the scoreboard, is picking apart the UConn defense.

Worried that Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin is going to run all over UConn, the Huskies have allowed two passing touchdowns and are lucky there wasn't a third.

It's only a 14-7 game with 8:38 left in the first half, but the Huskies need to wake up. If they don't, this is a loss they will not recover from, especially since it is at Rentschler Field.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Bowden on Brown

I spoke with Terry Bowden today regarding the start of the season of UConn's Donald Brown. Brown, as you know, is second in the nation in rushing yards and points.

With the kind of numbers the redshirt junior has posted, there is a smattering of talk linking Brown and the Heisman Trophy.

“Based on Donald Brown’s numbers, if he can continue what he has been doing, just looking at the type of recognition (West Virginia’s) Pat White gotten over the years with Brian Brohm in Louisville, Matt Grothe at South Florida, there’s no reason if he continues like this that he won’t be one of the top backs in the country.”

I asked Bowden, an analyst and former coach, is UConn's weak schedule hurts Brown. He noted that his father, Bobby's Florida State team hasn't played a Division-I game yet. All he could tell you for certain is that the 'Noles would be a very good I-AA team. The point is that everyone has light schedules early on, for the most part, so it isn't a knock on anyone player.

In fact, Bowden said should Brown keep his pace and the Huskies struggle, he'll be fine because Brown is on a monsterous tear. If the Huskies keep winning, it provides some room for Brown's numbers to deflate.

“If you put up gaudy numbers — look at Graham Harrell at Texas Tech — he’s closing in on 50 touchdowns and 6,000 yards passing (in a season), then it doesn’t matter what the record is,” Bowden said. “But if you have very good yards; (Brown) needs 2,000 yards, the numbers mean everything.”

Monday, September 15, 2008

Virginia revisited

During today's Big East coaches conference call, UConn coach Randy Edsall said that he would like to play Virginia again. The teams completed a home-and-home series Saturday. According to Edsall, UConn is in talks with Virginia to set up another contract.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

What to take from the win

It was a fantastic win with both offense and defense clicking. Tyler Lorenzen played the way he played most of last year: Under control and smart. Donald Browns was, well, Donald Brown. And Darius Butler, contrary to anything UConn says, brings an electric element to the offense.

Defensive end Cody Brown told me after the game he was mad the D allowed its first touchdown of the season and that he would be running a penalty lap today because of it.

What did we learn? UConn is better than what it showed against Hofstra and Temple. We also know the Huskies (Offensive coordinator Rob Ambrose) can make creative play calls, something he might want to try doing more often. Granted, part of that is because of Butler, whose athleticsm allows for so much tinkering that it's exciting. The Huskies need to do a lot of work on special teams. Virginia had 219 yards of total offense and 209 on kickoff returns. Against teams like Cincininatti, South Florida, West Virginia and Pitt where there are good return men, that can kill a game.

What didn't we learn? A fair assessment. How bad is Virginia? It lost 35-3 to Sourthern California, which is understandable. But it also beat Richmond 16-0 at Charlottseville, which tells you nothing good about the Cavaliers.

This is what I don't like: The Huskeis are 3-0, will still be toward the bottom of the "receiving votes" list and the knock on them will be either "they barely beat Temple," a two-week old excuse or that Virginia isn't good. The national taste makers don't want give the Huskies credit. It happened last year and it is going on again this year. If the Huskies were to beat South Florida or West Virgina, we would hear how thiose schools just had a bad day, or in the case of the Mountaineers, that the Huskies couldn't beat them last year. Again, that was last year and doesn;t matter. But coaches and voters on the writer's poll don't like UConn or the Big East. Don't be surprised if the Huskeis are 6-0 entering November and are ranked 25th in both polls.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Third quarter review

Donald Brown finishes his day with 206 rushing yards, three touchdowns and 32 receiving yards. Not. Without Andre Dixon, what happens? Jordan Todman has a touchdown and 78 yards with a score.

It's 42-3 and I suspect a few more scores -- at least two.

Second quarter chatter

More of the same. Darius Butler has gotten involved in the offense, catching a couple passes for 40 yards and has a 13-yard touchdown on a reverse.

Maybe it's too early to say this, but with the season Donald Brown is having, shouldn't he recieve Heisman consideration?

First quarter thoughts

Cody Brown came to play! He has planted two hard hits and a quarterback pressure.

The Virginia defensive line can't stop the run. Be it Todman, Brown or Lorenzen, the Huskies have run at will so far.

Lorenzen has done a fine job managing the offense. And the playcalling has been good. Virginia anticipated run on the Huskies' second possession and the Huskies came out with pass, including an 11-yarder to Darius Butler, his first career catch.

Husky Tidbits

Defensive end Lindsey Witten and tailback Andre Dixon are not playing tonight. Freshman tailback Jordan Todman, however, is playing and a nice gain on his first career carry.

A lot of times UConn claims to have a sellout only to see patches of empty seats. Not tonight. The Rent is PACKED!!!! Nice to see the fans come out in full force for this important game against an ACC team.

Also, lots of recruits present on the sidelines. Most of them were for the class of 2010. While some looked excited and happy to be here, their fathers looked the happiest.

And a friend of the Huskies was at the game: Will Webb, the Executive Director of the Meineke Car Care Bowl in Charlotte, N.C. You'll remember UConn faced Wake Forest in that game last December. Afterwards, Webb had nothing but glowing praise for UConn and its fans.

Davis returns

Former Husky Dan Davis was in the house Saturday night. Davis was in camp with the NFL's Indianapolis Colts but was cut in the final cuts before the season began.

Davis, as friendly as ever, said he was injured in the Colts' final preseason contest and accepted an injury buyout. Davis is due to have surgery to "shave some cartilage" from a knee. He expects to be back at full strength in seven weeks. According to Davis, the Colts expressed interest in bringing him back when he's healthy, as did the Philadelphia Eagles.

Pictures II pre-Virginia

Lorenzen is ready for the snap

The team lines up

Pictures I pre-Virginia

Donald Brown

Cody Endres passing

Brad Kanuch lining up in drills

Tyler Lorenzen and D.J. Hernandez

The defense huddles

Defensive success

Here are some numbers putting the Huskies' defense into perspective

Statistic National rank
Scoring defense 7th
Rushing defense 32nd
Passing defense 31st
Interceptions 7th (tied)
Pass efficiency defense 16th
Sacks 2nd
First down defense 10th
3rd down defense 27th
4th down defense* 1st (tied)
Red zone defense 21st

*Two attempts made

Friday, September 12, 2008

Virginia's defensive line

Last year in Charlottesville, the Virginia defensive line -- aided by the very loud and raucous crowd -- caused problems for UConn in the fourth quarter. It's a new defensive line and the game is at Storrs. Earlier this week, I asked Virginia coach Al Groh about his new d-line, which lost the likes of Chris Long.

"We certainly made it a lot better, production-wise, than we did last week. We have three or four young players in there that we think are going to be very good players for us. They'll play upwards of 50 games for us while they're here. They've only been in two, so clearly there's a long ways to go. The analogy that we've drawn to the past is when a player such as Chris Long entered the lineup, there wasn't a lot of hype or a lot of oohs and aaahs. 'Oh, isn't this great that Chris Long is going to be playing?' There was a lot of skepticism and doubters toward that sort of thing. Now, after he left, that attitude is, 'Wow, what are you going to do without Chris?'"

" I'm not predicting that we're going to have another best defensive player to ever play at Virginia circumstance, but we have some players that we think have the ability to establish themselves that, by the time they leave, maybe it will be the same response: 'Wow, what a great career they had. It's going to be difficult to replace them.' But they're kids with good talent, very ambitious, they're all competitive and frankly, they're probably a little bit ahead of the curve from where our redshirt freshmen defensive linemen would be after two games. But they're going against a very veteran group. We would suspect that there's a lot of players on that UConn offensive line who have looked across that line of scrimmage the past three years who have seen kids like these guys line up across them and kind of spit them out. We recognize they're going against some guys who know some of the tricks of the trade."

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Ben Mauk's setback

This is the AP story regarding former Cincinatti QB Ben Mauk's attempts to play again. Today, he was dealt a severe blow by his hometown court.

By The Associated Press
Former Cincinnati quarterback Ben Mauk, who sued the NCAA after being denied a sixth season of eligibility, lost another appeal Tuesday when a judge in his hometown ruled against him.
Hardin County Judge William Hart refused to grant a permanent injunction allowing Mauk to rejoin the Bearcats.
Mauk, who says he missed two seasons because of injuries, was turned down by the NCAA five times before he asked the court in Kenton, Ohio, for help.
He testified last week that a foot injury prevented him from playing during his freshman season in 2003 at Wake Forest, where he played before transferring to Cincinnati. He led the Bearcats to 10 wins last season and a No. 17 final ranking.
Mauk didn’t prove that he would lose out on a chance at pro football by not playing another year at Cincinnati, the judge said.
Kevin Murphy, an attorney for Mauk, said he was shocked by the decision. He said he was traveling and had not seen the ruling. He said he hasn't decided whether to appeal.
NCAA spokesman Erik Christianson said Tuesday that members of the reinstatement committee had reviewed Mauk’s appeal carefully and determined another year of eligibility was not warranted.
“The NCAA argued strongly at trial that no evidence of irreparable harm to Mr. Mauk had been produced, which is required before issuing an injunction,” he said.
Carol Iwaoka, chair of the committee, said last week that Mauk was turned down primarily because he had been cleared to play during his freshman season and was on the team’s travel squad.
It was unclear whether Mauk would have taken the field even if the judge had sided with him. Cincinnati officials have not allowed Mauk to practice while the case is the courts.
The Bearcats, meanwhile, are thin at quarterback after starter Dustin Grutza broke his right leg in a 52-26 loss at Oklahoma on Saturday. Grutza, who lost his job to Mauk last year, is expected to undergo surgery and miss more than a month.
Murphy argued in court that the NCAA has been unwilling to listen to Mauk’s arguments and treated him differently from other athletes who have been granted another year of eligibility.
NCAA attorney Linda Salfrank has said that athletes have a five-year window to play once they arrive on campus and that Mauk used up his time.
Mauk played two seasons at Wake Forest before he broke his throwing arm and missed the entire 2006 season.
He transferred to Cincinnati because he had lost his starting job and overcame his extensive injuries to become one of college football’s biggest success stories a year ago. He threw for 31 touchdowns and 3,121 yards.

Edsall calls out play calling critics

Don't get Huskies coach Randy Edsall started on criticism of his team's play calling.
Asked what his thoughts were about fan and media disapproval of a generally predictable offense (partly due to Tyler Lorenzen's struggles and last week's rain bowl), Edsall made it known he doesn't care what anyone has to say.

"If you think I'm worrying about people criticizing the plays that we call, that's the furthest thing from my mind," Esall said. "I could care less what anybody thinks what we do from a play calling standpoint becfuse I can tell you this, there's nobody out there that's putting in the time that we're putting into it every single day from six o'clock in the morning to 10 o'clock at night trying to come up with plans with our personnel involved and the people that we are playing, to go out and win football games. But in this society, it's a second-guess society. People are entitled to second guess. I'll even go back after games and say, 'Well, geez, maybe we could have done this or could have done that.' But you go with what you're going with and you use your personnel the way you think you can use it. I just know we're 2-0 and we're going to continue to do the things we have to do to try to get wins.I've stated that one of the things we have to do is we have to be more productive in the passing game. I know that's what we have to do. But are we going to go out and throw the ball 60 time a game? No, we're not going to do that."

He said society is all about looking "flash" and "glitter." Edsall added anyone who thought the Huskies should have thrown the ball more in Philadelphia against Temple in the wind and rain against Temple needed to check themselves into a hospital to get their head examined.

Then when asked whether he sits with Offensive Coordinator Rob Ambrose to discuss the job he's doing, Edsall's ire flared up.

"I didn't have any problem with nay game he's called. We're 2-0. I don't have a problem with anything he’s called, we're 2-0. Everything runs through me, guys. Put the blame on me; It's on me, I'm the head coach. Don't criticize my assistant coaches. The buck stops here. If anybody wants to take the shots, take them at me.”

Edsall gave some updates on injuries Tuesday:
Tailback Jordan Todman is practicing, but Edsall has not decided whether the freshman will play against the Cavaliers. Defensive end Lindsey Witten and tailback Andre Dixon are going to try and practice this week. “It’s all depending upon how they feel and what they can do,” Edsall said. “They’re going to try to go; If they can go, they’ll play.”

Also, former Husky Donald Thomas, who was a sixth-round draft pick of the Miami Dolphins, was placed on the injured reserve. Thomas, a starting guard for Miami sustained a foot injury in the team’s opening loss to the New York Jets.

Ex-Husky injured

Former Husky Donald Thomas, who was a sixth-round draft pick of the Miami Dolphins, was placed on the injured reserve. Thomas, a starting guard for Miami sustained a foot injury in the team’s opening loss to the New York Jets.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Huskies and Vols to tangle

This is the UConn release:

The University of Connecticut has agreed to play a two-year football series with the University of Tennessee in 2015 and 2016 with the first game at Rentschler Field and the second contest at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville.

The contest in East Hartford between the Huskies and Volunteers will take place on Sept. 26, 2015 while the rematch will be in Knoxville on Sept. 3, 2016.

“The UConn-Tennessee football series will provide two outstanding games for both programs and their respective fans,” says UConn Director of Athletics Jeffrey Hathaway. “We are happy to bring this intersectional matchup to our dedicated football fans. The trip to Knoxville the following year will give our UConn supporters another fun opportunity to travel with the Huskies on the road.”

Tennessee won the 1998 National Championship and has 13 Southeastern Conference titles to its credit. The Volunteers have won 25 bowl games in their history. Neyland Stadium has a capacity of 102,038 - the fourth-largest on campus stadium in the country.

“It is very exciting for our football program to have a series with Tennessee,” says UConn head coach Randy Edsall. “We want to challenge our team by playing a strong non-conference schedule in addition to the BIG EAST slate we face every year. Tennessee is a nationally-recognized program and we are happy to have them on our future schedule.”

“The Tennessee game is another premier non-conference match-up that will be played at Rentschler Field,” says Hathaway. “We annually play a demanding BIG EAST slate at home and Tennessee adds to an impressive list of Bowl Championship Series opponents that are on our future schedules at Rentschler Field. The best way for Husky fans to ensure they will be at Rentschler Field for all of these great games is by being a season ticket holder.”

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Small world

For as many college football teams as there are, it never ceases to amaze me how well players know each other. When talking to reporters today about his three interception performance against Hofstra, as well as last night's Tennessee-UCLA game, Tyler Lorenzen shared an interesting tidbit.

His coach at Palomar JC was the father of UCLA QB Kevin Craft, who is a good friend of Lorenzen. After last week's win, the friends shared a moment that proved fitting for both players.

"I talked to him before the game and after my game. I told him I threw three [interceptions]. He was like, 'Really?' I was like, 'Yeah, man.' And he goes,'I know, that never happens Whatever. I just have to bounce back and not let it happen again.'

So last night, I was watching the first half and, one, two, I was like, 'What are you doing?' The throws were crazy. I was like, 'Kevin's not in this.' I sent him a text message after the game [that said] 'It's how you respond to the challenges you face that determine what you become. You responded, buddy. Good job' That's how I want to look at it; that'show I want to look at it. I just have to respond."

Lets start the hype

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Lansanah cut

Former UConn Husky Danny Lansanah failed to stick with the Green Bay Packers,. The linebacker was waived today as part of the team's final wave of cuts to get its 53-man roster in place for next week's season opener.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Injury or curveball?

I didn't touch on this last night, but the whole Hofstra changing its starting quarterback due to an injury just before kickoff smells funny.

Allegedly, starter Bryan Savage twisted or tweaked something in his back stepping off the team bus when it arrived at Rentschler Field Thursday. Then 16 minutes -- yes, 16 minutes -- before kickoff, Pride coach Dave Cohen is told Savage can't go and Cory Christopher would have to step in.

“Sixteen minutes before kickoff? No – I’ve never had that happen to me before," Cohen said. "Something was bothering him. It was brought to the attention from the trainer to the doctor and it was in his best interest not to play. No [it didn’t change our offense], Cory can throw the ball, he has rifle. The difference is that Bryan took 75% of the reps – that would be the only difference. We did highlight some different quarterback runs that we might not have and I think you saw [Cory’s] ability athletically and physically to make some plays. He showed a lot of courage and a lot of leadership.”

The thing is as much as Cohen says playing Christopher didn't change the offense, which is true, it did change the plays within the offense that would be called. Playing Savage over Christopher would be like playing Ben Roethlisberger over, say, Kordell Stewart. Stewart was more prone to running. As is Christopher.

This is what Christopher had to say:

“To find out 16 minutes before the game [that I was starting QB], of course, I was shocked but I felt that I was prepared and I was ready to take on the challenge. After the first drive, I felt like everything was on for us. After that, when we got it all out, I felt like our timing was back on point. I was pumped and I was ready. I was very frustrated last year [sitting on the bench], so I was ready to prove that I was ready to play this year and be a leader for my team. I hope Bryan is OK, but to have the opportunity to play, I was pumped.”

My feeling is that Hofstra knew it had close to zero chance of winning this one. There had been so much talk of Appalachian State upsetting Michigan last season and if this was a similar game that Cohen wanted to throw the Huskies for a loop. Maybe he thought the Huskies weren't as good as their record showed a year ago. Who knows? But the thinking that the Huskies spent two weeks focused on Savage and then pull the plug at the last minute seems suspicious to me.

Hey, good for Hofstra for trying; even better for them if it worked.

What the Pride found out is Donald Brown is a beast and the Huskies defense is good. Furthermore, when you replace a passing quarterback with a running quarterback, it doesn't take a coaching staff and its defense very long to figure out that 90% of the time you can gamble on run and hit the jackpot.

UConn was afforded the luxury of spreading its secondary while pinching in with the linebackers to help contain Christopher, who carried the ball 21 times for 25 yards.

The only issue here for UConn is it can't use that approach again this year. Even Temple and Baylor will find a way to take advantage of that scheme.

After the fact

No matter how great it is to get a win, it was not one for the memory bank. In fact, Huskies coach Randy Edsall would like to forget much of tonight's 35-3 win over Hofstra. He would like his team to forget a lot of the things they did in the win.

He was none to pleased with the seven penalties for 70 yards. He called many of them undisciplined gaffes and they won't be tolerated. He did say that with a new head of officiating in the Big East that refs will make some calls they hadn't in the past. He wasn't using it as an excuse so much as a lesson for his players: Know what you are supposed to do, know how to play the game.

Edsall did say he doesn't remember seeing as many holding calls in one game. I counted six. I may have missed one or two, though.

“I don’t care if it’s the first game of the year or the tenth game of the year; it shouldn't’t happen,” Edsall said. “If you use proper fundamentals and techniques, you shouldn't’t get called for holding. You should move your feet, if you’re doing things right fundamentally, that won’t happen.”

You simply can't have these mistakes. This was Hofstra, who could barely do anything against UConn. What happens when the Huskies do this against Cincy? Rutgers?

Tyler Lorenzen had possibly his worst game for UConn when you consider three picks and the opposition. He threw six all last year and never more than one in a game.

"I was just being impatient," he said, "but that's unacceptable. I can't let that happen."

Edsall said Lindsey Witten, who registered two of the team's seven sacks, has an undisclosed injury. We'll know more tomorrow.

Also, freshman Mike Smith impressed at WR. He's big and fast made three catches for 32 yards. One catch was a beaut; leaping with his back to a defender and bringing the ball down. You can really see a lot of potential for him. If the Huskies ever learn how to throw the ball with any sort of consistency, he could be a weapon for the next four years.

The announced crowd was 37,583. That's generous. I might lean toward 25-30,000. And if you didn't see it on TV, the Huskies had a real Husky on the sideline before the game. Ferocious, menacing, threatening it is not. It looked more interested in playing and licking people's faces.

Somewhere, someone is asking for a bear or even a lobster.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Freying the competition

Robbie Frey, the de facto back up to Donald Brown Thursday because of injuries, scored his first career touchdown early in the fourth quarter to push the Huskies' lead to 35-3.

Feeling four

Brown has not let up, becoming the first Husky since Cornell Brockington on Nov. 15, 2003, to score four touchdowns. Brockington did his feat at Wake Forest.

Brown has 20 carries for 130 yards in one half.

Three scores

Brown has three TDs and 129 yards with 3:01 left in the first half. UConn leads, 21-0. It is the first three TD game game for a Huskies RB since Cornell Brockingto on Sept. 10, 2005 against Liberty.

What can Brown do for you?

Donald Brown has 10 carries for 65 yards and two touchdowns with less than 5 minutes left in the first quarter as UConn leads Hofstra, 14-0.


After a holding call erased Darius Butler's 85-yard kickoff return, the Huskies forced a fumble on their punt with Robbie Frey recovering at the Hofstra one. Donald Brown punched it in from a yard out to give the Huskies the early lead,

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Happenings from Storrs

Randy Edsall held his usually Tuesday presser on Sunday because of the season opener on Thursday against Hofstra. I will add quotes later, but for now this is the quick and dirty recap.

He said that Brad Kanuch and Jordan Todman will not see action against the Pride. He's playing it smart and safe by allowing both players additional rest for nagging injuries. My guess is we won't see either play before the Virginia game in three weeks.

Edsall went on to say, as expected, every game is important but the team is only focused on the game at hand. The coach, as well as several of his players, expressed bitterness over how last year ended with the bowl loss to Wake Forest. Rob Lunn, Tyler Lorenzen and Donald Brown all echoed that sentiment.

Edsall said the loss made him question a lot of things as far as what they could have done differently and whether Wake Forest was simply the better team.

Don't expect to see much of Daruis Butler on offense. Edsall is happy with the progress the receivers have made, even without Kanuch and the loss of Terence Jeffers. The plan is to see what the receivers can do first and then decide how, when and if Butler will join the party.

The positions where there are depth concerns are at safety and linebacker. Injuries have made health a premium at those spots, but the Huskies believe they can win with what they have on the two-deep chart.

Also, unless he is forced into duty Thursday, don't expect Dave Teggart to see the field. Edsall said his second-year kicker simply has lacked the consistency to merit the opportunities. And no, Edsall has not given up on Teggart.

Lorenzen spoke about his excitement for the season and mention freshman wideout Michael Smith. Smith apparently loves contact. So much so that he seeks out defensive backs to hit.

Sorry to everyone who missed me on WXLM 104.7 Saturday. A family emergency arose and I had to miss my air date. I'll be back on Sept. 13.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Radio ga-ga

Check me out tomorrow at 11:40 a.m. on WXLM (104.7 FM) on Sports Talk with Mike and Bill discussing Huskies football. I will be on air before every Saturday home game or the Saturday of a home weekend.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Late night notes

After a double dip of practice and pagination, there are things not featuring in Thursday's Norwich Bulletin.

Randy Edsall discussed starting right guard Zach Hurd. Hurd had been on the coach's bad side lately. Saturday he ran a penalty lap and was told to tell reporters how stupid he is by Edsall after a false start.

Apparently the premature movements have been an issue for the big guy.

"Zach is a very conscientious young man," Edsall said following practice. "he called me (last) Wednesday night after the scrimmage; he had another false start that night. He called me on the phone and said, 'Coach, can I come in a talk to you? What can I do to help myself with that?' I said, ' Lets not talk over the phone; come in tomorrow and let's talk face-to-face.'" So I spent about 20 minutes with him and just told him things I thought he needed to do. He has all the abilities. I told him, No. 1, it's all about preparation: And that's knowing your assignments inside and out, knowing what your supposed to do. The second thing is focus. Once you get out there, just focus on the concept and the play that we have called. Don't be worried about anything else. Thirdly, you have to confidence in your ability. You're a good player."

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Practice notes

Freshman tailback Jordan Todman took a nasty hit in Saturday's open practice. Afterwards, coach Randy Edsall said he wasn't sure of the extent of the injury. Todman is a small guy. Avoiding contact is the name of his game. What the Huskies need to worry about is Todman becoming Terry Caulley-like with the injuries.

At one point, Edsall became angered with OL Zach Hurd. Edsall ordered Hurd to run a penalty lap and said, directing the lineman towards a group of reporters, "Go down there and do an interview. Tell them how dumb you are."


Hurd has not been on Edsall's good side since camp began and is in danger of falling out of the rotation.

Edsall wasn't very happy with practice at all, saying the lack of energy was discouraging. He does anticipate a better effort the next time on the field. He joked the team was intimated by the fans, as it was an open practice that drew a few hundred spectators.

Zach Frazer sustained a concussion in Wednesday's scrimmage and was held out of practice.

Lindsey Witten was not present Saturday as he left th team to be with his ailing grandmother.

Jasper Howard has won the other starting cornerback position.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

News and notes from camp

Huskies head coach Randy Edsall said Tuesday that the battle for the final corner spot between Jasper Howard and Robert McClain is in Howard's favor as of right now. While a more clear picture should be in place by the weekend, Howard's superior coverage ability outweighs McClain's physical strength.

No matter which way UConn goes at this spot, it appears so even that either man could start on a week-to-week basis.

Brad Kanuch didn't practice again, neither did Lindsey Witten, Greg Lloyd, D.J. Hernandez and Tyler Lorenzen. Lorenzen and Hernandez were held out because Edsall wanted to see what his other wideouts and quarterbacks could do.

I discussed the QB situation in more depth in Wednesday's editions. To add to what is in print, I really like what I saw from Casey Turner. Turner, a freshman from Virginia, had a strong presence at the line and showed some nice touch on passes. If I had to bet, he'll redshirt this year.

Observations as I moved around the field...
Coach Hank Hughes wants to see better effort from Brandon Dillon at defensive end. During one-on-one drills, Hughes also told Alex Polito he needed to keep his hands inside when engaging his opponent. And to prove how much experience, size and strength all matter, Rob Lunn repeatedly dominated freshman A.J. Portee.

There were some really sweet runs from Meme Wylie and Jordan Todman. Todman is going to have a hard time getting carries because Wyle, Andre Dixon and Donald Brown are pretty good backs, but don't be too surprised if Todman starts next season. Yes, he is that good (in camp).

Tight end Martin Bedard had a great catch after the ball, which was intended for newbie Michael Smith, was deflected in the air.

Another TE, John Delahunt was tied up by Jerome Williams about 15 yards out. Delahunt turned in and swung himself outward, freeing his right arm to make a one-handed catch.

Darius Butler made a beautiful catch against Terry Baltimore up the left sideline. Baltimore had great coverage, turned around to play the ball, but had it taken away by Butler in the last second.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

News and notes

Unhappy with the work of starting quarterback Tyler Lorenzen, Edsall sent a message to the senior by played back-up Zach Frazer with the first team during Tuesday’s practice.
"It could be a one-day thing, it could be a two-day thing … who knows how long it could be," Edsall said. "It's in terms of what we see here on the field and what people are doing." … Junior wideout Brad Kanuch missed the second half of practice with an apparent left quadriceps injury, the same injury that shelved him for the duration of the spring camp. … New London’s Aaron Bryant blocked a Dave Teggart field goal attempt. … Oliver Bernsen left school and was replaced on the team’s roster by walk-on punter Nick Amarante.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Q & A Chris Lopes

I recently spoke with UConn Class of 2009 recruit Chris Lopes for a Q & A. This is what he had to say. Lopes, a 5-11 safety from the Tilton School in New Hampshire, runs a 4.41 40-yard dash and weighs in at 187 pounds.

Q: What was it that drew you to UConn?

A: "[Coach Randy Edsall] took me one-on-one; he personally took me through all these drills. He told me how he coached in the NFL and how I have the potential to be there. He gave me the pitch that I could play early. ... Plus I have a couple pf buddies who are going to school there; I'm going to have a lot of fun."

Q: Coach Edsall tries to present a family atmosphere, was that something that appealed to you?

A: "I definitely got the same feeling. We just connected. He told me he was having a cookout for his players. ... He stays with his players. I think he's a great person and he's making that program big. I think they can do [win the Big East] again. Hopefully in my time there my impact on the team will help win the Big East."

Q: How would you describe your style of play?

A: "I think the UConn fans who haven't seen me play in New Hampshire will see that I'm a very elusive, hard-hitting, physical and fast player. I have size, I can tackle, I can catch, I can run. My game films say it all.

"Last year I was only about 165. This year, I'm coming in at 187."

Q: Has any of the UConn coaches expressed desire for you to play more than one position?

A: "I'm trying to practice at wide receiver, but I'm 5-11-ish. I don't know. I played wide receiver at a camp, but they mostly want me at safety. They cans ee me doing punt returns and kick returns.

Q: Do you prefer wideout or safety?

A" "I like receiver a lot. But once I'm there I'd like to practice at receiver. We'll see what happens. Right now, I'm focused on defense."

Q: What does Edsall's experience with the NFL and helping produce NFL-caliber players mean to you?

A: "He's sent Tyvon Branch to the NFL, Robert Vaughn had a great year; I heard of him when he played in Massachusetts and Darius Butler. His track record speaks for itself. ... There is a lot of potential. The thing is I have the potential and I'm going to work hard to get better and better and better."

Q: How much pressure do you feel with the recent success of defensive backs at UConn?

A: "Actually that makes me feel real good. I'm going to do well at UConn. I'm not worried. I don't play nervous. I feel like I have confidence in my coaches and hopefully I can go to the next level."