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