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."

First day of practice

Some observations from Day 1 of practice with the Huskies, who were just in helmets. Pads will debut Sunday.

Defensive end Kendall Reyes looked good. He frequently beat his man to apply pressure on the quarterback. If the redshirt freshman develops nicely this year, the Huskies will have serious depth at the position with Cody Brown, Lindsey Witten and Julius Williams.

Watching the quarterbacks, the amount each has had in the system was evident. Tyler Lorenzen is heads above the field. He has greater poise and showed considerable leadership. He communicated with the coaches and his unit between snaps. He did throw a pick on a pass intended for Kashif Moore. Good throw, but Darius Butler was in position early and got underneath Moore. Butler ran teh ball back 35 yards.

Cody Endres was the next best. Sure, it's just one day, but how these guys build on Friday over the next month will determine a lot of what the Huskies can and cant's do. Endres found Alex Molina, of Waterford, for a nice pass down the right sideline for about 35 yards.

Zach Frazer looked so-so, at best. He doesn't have great touch and it looked like he was squeezing the ball a bit too much. Maybe he's rusty, which is bad since most guys worked hard over the summer. It got me thinking why a Notre Dame-caliber QB transfers and decides between UConn and Cincy? Where was Penn State in the discussion?

Brandon Dillon and Keith Gray had a little smack talking. That was about the extent of the rough stuff from the players, who angered coach Randy Edsall with lackluster effort. At one juncture, Edsall yelled, "This is our tempo; not your tempo from the summer. Get into it."

Tony Ciaravino nailed a 50-yard field goal. Dave Teggert tried to match him, but was wide left.

Robbie Frey had a nice 35-yard run up the middle into the end zone.