Saturday, September 26, 2009

New QB

Johnny McEntee replaces Cody Endres late in a blowout game.

Two. Two straight fumbles.

UConn went from dominance over Rhode Island to fumbles on consecutive possessions. If UConn coughs up this game, I propose it gives up the rest of the schedule.

Two drives, two scores

UConn needed to come out and establish the pass for two reasons. The first being to keep Rhode Island's defense honest. The second is to get that element of the offense on track before the bye week.

The Huskies may or may not get Zach Frazer back in two weeks at Pittsburgh, but either way the offense has to BELIEVE it can throw the ball. If it doesn't have the confidence going into Big East play, it never will.Running backs Jordan Todman and Andre Dixon have been used as receivers already, but the Huskies will have to expand upon the options. Brad Kanuch, who made a great block for Todman, also made a nice diving catch for a 10-yard gain.

If UConn can get five guys with 30 or more yards receiving, it will be a step in the right direction.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Frazer out

Zach Frazer hurt his right knee and is doubtful to return. Cody Endres is now at QB.

Griffin hurt

Tight end Ryan Griffin hurt his back with &;22 left in the first half. The play was a run by Jordan Todman, away from Griffin. Griffin was on his stomach and grabbed his lower back. He got up, tried jogging to the sideline but fell down and eventually walked off with help.

I'm not a doctor, but my guess is he herniated a disc.

Some tidbits...

Former Husky D.J. Hernandez is in attendance. He looks good and smiling more than he did while in school. He's coaching high school football, something he seems fit for.

Rentschler has some changes, such as blue tarp wrapped around the lower level border. It looks good. Now, if UConn would add a blue end zone and some fans -- the stadium is about 30 percent full.

Injuries, etc

Scott Lutrus will not play, Kijaun Dabney is starting in his place.

Also, a couple of Tar Heels are out due to swine flu.

Stay here for live updates.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Some things to look forward to

From UConn:

The UConn men’s ice hockey team celebrates its 50th anniversary as a varsity program this weekend and former players and coaches will be honored during a ceremony….The newest class of the Connecticut High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame will be introduced at halftime...A new gameday program will debut on Saturday….”UConn Playbook” is a 48-page, playbill-style magazine that will be distributed to fans for free…”UConn Playbook” is a joint production of UConn and IMG College....FanFest takes place from 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. outside the stadium between Gates C and D and features entertainment and family activities...the “Husky Walk” will makes its season debut as fans get a chance to welcome the UConn team as they get off the team buses and head to the stadium. That takes place at approximately 9:45 a.m. between Gates A and B.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Q & A

Time to answer some questions from the mailbag. Mike asks:

Q: What are your expectations for the team this season?

I'll save the offensive portion for question No. 2...

Mike, I've grown to like UConn's defense. It's rarely flashy, but it usually finds a way to get the job done as long as it isn't West Virginia on the other sideline. I try not to sound too much like a Kool-Aid drinker, but if Randy Edsall is throwing a true freshmen at defensive end, the guy must be good. I'm talking about Jesse Joseph. He's probably a little on the small side (6-3, 238), but he is strong and quick. The d-line will miss Cody Brown, so there will be some drop off there.

The starting linebackers are excellent and, for as good as Scott Lutrus is, I am always impressed with Lawrence Wilson's knack for being in the right place at the right time. My concern is depth. If someone gets hurt, UConn will likely have some inexperienced players stepping into big roles. Sure, they need to get experience some time, but its always better when you get to play behind the vet.

I believe the secondary will be fantastic. I'm a big Robert Vaughn fan. He has a nose for the ball, and because Jasper Howard and Robert McClain force quarterbacks into making bad passes, Vaughn -- and maybe Jerome Junior -- will be waiting.

The Huskies' special teams is solid. I wouldn't begin to play with spectacular or other grandiose descriptions. Desi Cullen is primed for a good year, as is David Teggart. There's three more years -- including this one -- of Teggart, so he needs to be strong. Coverage has lacked at times last year, and probably will agains with younger guys on the field. The good news is there are guys, like Robbie Frey who make big plays. However, the main concern is punt protection. It cost the Huskies the North Carolina game a year ago.

Q: What do you expect out of the offense tempo wise? Will the team be better offensively?

All the talk is of the no-huddle, and it should be. UConn is going to try to move the chains at a furious pace. Can they? I like its ability to run with Jordan Todman and Andre Dixon. If Dixon plays the way he did two years ago, there's no worries on the ground. Where the no-huddle can flop is if QB Zach Frazer can't complete a pass. Each dead ball nullifies the no-huddle, so drops and incompletions or penalties defeat the purpose.

Don't expect UConn to always use the no-huddle. Every seems to be in love with it, but the draw back to a fast-moving offense is extended field time for the defense.

If the Huskies can grab a sizable lead, expect them to slow the pace.

Will they be better? That's really hard to say. Will Todman and Dixon be better than Donald Brown? Not likely.

Frazer still has to prove he can run the team, and that it's a different offense than he's had the last two years, it has to take some adjusting. Anyone who thinks he will significantly better than last year from the start needs to rethink the position.

I like the o-line because there are so many familiar faces, which the Huskies enjoy. Injuries have chipped away at some depth, but many guys can play at several spots, so UConn should be good there. They will still miss Will Beatty ( A LOT!!!) and Keith Gray. Gray might not have been the best center, but he got the most out of what he had, which started upstairs.

The receivers are the tricky -- and most pivotal -- aspect of the offense in terms of the team's chances to win besides quarterback. The returning wideouts are mad that they've essentially been discounted for the new guys. Fine. It's deserved, but fine. If a healthy Brad Kanuch can stretch the defenses in the manner Randy Edsall imagined years ago, it will be a start. There's so much talk about freshman Dwayne Difton, and physically he's got the goods. He's a mini Darius Butler. He's also got the pedigree -- comes out of South Florida, played for the state title four years in a row and was trained by NFL legend Cris Carter. All this means the kid knows a thing or two. The two guys to watch are Michael Smith, who the team has been raving about of late, and Kashif Moore. Moore was a surprise starter last year and was hot and cold, but mostly cold.

If four wideouts get close to 500 yards each, it's a good year. Or, if one approaches 1,000 and another is in the 500-700 area, things are good.

Q: Thoughts about the Ohio game?

This is a tricky game. Ohio wasn't a good team a year ago but gave Ohio State fits. Most of the team is back, which bodes well for the Bobcats. Their leading rusher had fewer yards last year (529) than Todman and Tyler Lorenzen combined (580), which didn't happen on many carries. All three of their leading rushers had over 300 yards, so they'll mix and match for the matchups or hot hand.

Ohio is much more of a passing team, but I don't like their quarterbacks at all. I have not seen them, but coach Frank Solich described them as guys who can throw on the run. Sure, that's handy but you don't want to talk about how your QBs can throw while running. It means you have a bad o-line.

The other thing is Ohio, while scoring a few fewer points per game than UConn (0.8), it allowed 70 yards more per game against MAC foes.

The line in Vegas says Huskies by 3 or 4. I say 14.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Media Day: Week 1, Ohio

Don't call them Ohio U. or OSU. That's what the Ohio University game notes say. I kid you not.

Anyhow, sorry for the late post. Immediately after leaving Storrs, I had a newspaper to put out.

Coach Randy Edsall is glad to see game week arrive -- you know they are tired of hitting each other.

* He said that Zach Frazer is ready to be the starting QB. Edsall said Frazer throws well, is tough, a competitor, is smart and has a presence that commands respect from the other guys in the huddle. For his part, Frazer said he has been waiting for this opportunity (to be the unquestioned starter). It's been a long road considering he hasn't been the guy since high school.

Frazer said, in response to questions about his concussions last year, that he is wearing the best helmet possible to protect his noggin.

* Edsall has been pleased with Desi Cullen and Dave Teggart in camp and expects that to continue.

* Another person who has impressed is freshman Jesse Joseph. He'll be starting at defensive end, and the time he spent on campus and around the team and coaching staff going back to January, appears to be the deciding edge over another true freshman, Trevardo Williams. The Huskies really like these guys and could be bookends for the next three years once Lindsay Witten graduates.

"He's one of those players that has a knack for the game. He has very good savvy. he's a competitor, he's gotten stronger since January. ... He just has that innate ability to understand the game and play with good leverage," Edsall said of Joseph.

I'll tell you this, you don't hear coaches use savvy too often when describing players. That makes me think UConn believes it found another gem in Canada.

* With it being Week One,Edsall said that if players have trouble getting their focus right for this game, it will be tough to do so later on as the season progresses.

* Injuries/suspensions update: Harris Agbor is still out. John Yurek (safety) is having surgery on Sept. 18, and OL Jimmy Bennett;s surgery went well and "they are very pleased with where he's at already," Edsall said.

* The coach was asked about the allegations at Michigan, and understandably, Edsall was careful with his words as he is friends with Rich Rodriguez. He gave us a breakdown of how the Huskies spend their week.

Sunday (4 hours):
50 minutes of weight training
2 hours meetings
1 hour, 10 minutes practice

Monday (off).

Tuesday (4 hours)
1 hour, 10 minutes meetings

Wednesday (4 hours)
50 minutes of weight training
2 hours meetings
1 hour, 10 minutes practice


Friday (2 hours, 10 minutes)
I imagine all practice time

Saturday (3 hours)

Grand total 19 hours, 35 minutes. Edsall wasn't clear with all of the breakdowns time-wise. By deduction, Thursday is 2 hours, 25 minutes. I also believe the team practices Thursday's, but I don't have the split.

I'll try to post some more during the day Wednesday, with some quotes from the team.