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.