CONNECTICUT HEAD COACH RANDY EDSALL
A veteran of 22 years of major college coaching with three years in the NFL, Randy Edsall has tackled the challenge of bringing a former NCAA Division I-AA team up to par with the BIG EAST in a six year span head on. He has compiled a 32-37 career record in his six seasons at UConn, including wins in 21 of UConns last 28 games after defeating Toledo in the 2004 Motor City Bowl. Immediately prior to becoming UConns 27th head coach on December 21, 1998, Edsall served as defensive coordinator at Georgia Tech in 1998 under George OLeary. Edsall began his coaching career at his alma mater, Syracuse, from 1980-1990, working under Frank Maloney and Dick MacPherson in a variety of capacities. Amongst his highlights at Syracuse was being a part of the 1987 team that went undefeated at 11-0-1, tying Auburn, 16-16, in the Sugar Bowl. Edsall moved on to Boston College where he coached defensive backs under Tom Coughlin from 1991-93 before following Coughlin to the NFLs Jacksonville Jaguars, staying on the First Coast through the 1997 season. Edsall is a native of Glen Rock, Pa., and graduated from Susquehannock High School.
HUSKY WIN TOTAL STANDS STRONG AMONGST NATIONAL ELITE
It has been quite a run for the UConn football program. Since Nov. 1, 2002, the Huskies have posted a 20-7 record in regular season games (21-7 overall including the Motor City Bowl). The 20 wins are amongst most regular-season wins of any school in the nation over that span. Oklahoma holds the national lead with 28, followed by Boise State and USC with 27 each.
MOST REGULAR SEASON WINS SINCE NOV. 1, 2002
27 Boise State, USC
23 Georgia, LSU, Miami (Fla.), Texas, Tennessee, Utah
22 Auburn, Florida State, Michigan
21 Iowa, Louisville, Miami (Ohio), Ohio State, Toledo
20 CONNECTICUT and six others
CONNECTICUTS MOST SUCCESSFUL THREE-YEAR RUN EVER
The Huskies have posted .500 or better seasons in each of their past three campaigns, finishing at 6-6 in 2002, 9-3 in 2003 and 8-4 in 2004. The 23 combined wins over the past three seasons mark the winningest three-year span in school history. UConn had previously won 22 games over a three-year period three times, from 1996-98, 1987-89 and 1986-88.
AN ELITE EIGHT
UConn finished the season ranked 19th nationally in total offense (429.8 ypg) and 27th in total defense (327.42 ypg). Nationally, UConn was one of only eight well-balanced teams to rank in the top 27 of both categories, joining Auburn, California, Louisville, Oklahoma, Texas, Virginia and USC. All but No. 23 Virginia finished the year ranked in the top nine of both polls, while the Cavaliers did climb as high as number six during the season. The elite octet also includes three of the four BCS bowl game winners (USC - Orange, Auburn - Sugar and Texas - Rose).
HUSKIES BOWL BOUND THIS TIME AROUND
By shuting out Buffalo on Nov. 20, UConn became bowl eligible for the second consecutive season and the second time in the schools brief Division I-A tenure. In 2003, UConn went 9-3 but as an independent could not secure a berth. The Buffalo win also clinched a winning season for UConn. The Huskies have never finished below .500 at the Division I-A level, going 6-6 in 2002 in addition to last falls 9-3 mark. Since Division I separated into Division I-A and I-AA, 16 schools have jumped up to the Division I-A level. Of the 16, UConn is one of just five schools to finish its first three seasons at the Division I-A level with a record of .500 or better. UConn joins Louisiana Tech, Marshall, Nevada and future BIG EAST member South Florida in this group.
BIG PLAYS MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE
The Huskies showed a propensity on both offense and defense in 004 to allow big plays in which at least 20 yards are gained. The team that was more assertive in this area tended to win the games. UConn was 6-0 this year when gaining more yards than its opponent on big plays and 2-4 when the opponent gained more yards in 20-plus yard chunks. The lone exceptions came on Sept. 30 when Pittsburgh gained 228 yards on six big plays while UConn gained just 137 yards on five of them; and also against Rutgers when UConn trailed 200-152 in this department.
THE SECRET TO THIRD DOWN? FIRST AND SECOND DOWN
One way the UConn offense was able to sustain drives better than the teams opposition in 2004 en route to an 8-4 record was its success on first and second down translating into a better third down conversion rate. UConn faced 176 third downs this year while its opponents have faced 170. However, UConn had to convert from seven yards or longer on just 86 of its 176 third down attempts (48%) while the opposition had to go from seven yards or longer on 102 of its 170 tries (60%). UConn had to convert from 15 yards or more just 16 times while its opponents stared down third-and 15 or longer 26 times. In its shutout of Buffalo, the Bulls faced 10 conversions of seven yards or greater and failed on each of them. Toledo faced this hurdle 11 times in its Motor City Bowl loss to the Huskies.
HUSKIES DOMINATING ON BOTH SIDES OF THE BALL
Over the past 28 games, UConn has outgained its opponent 24 times. The first exception came when UConn was outgained by Rutgers 455-321 on Nov. 8 of last year in its home finale, a game the Huskies won 38-31. The other three were on Sept. 17 at Boston College when the Eagles held a 334-291 edge, on Oct. 13 when West Virginia held a 462-365 advantage and on Nov. 13 when Georgia Tech outgained UConn 410-225. The Rutgers contest marked the first time since losing at Vanderbilt on Oct. 26, 2002 that UConn had been outgained. Over this 28 game span, UConn has averaged 454.6 yards per game of total offense and 321.7 yards per game of total defense. In its last 17 games, UConn has eclipsed 500 yards of total offense seven times.
CONN-TROLLING THE FLOW OF THE GAME
A telling sign of UConns strong performance on both sides of the ball during its brief tenure as a Division I-A program has been its ability to both record and prevent long drives. Since the start of the 2002 season, UConns offense has strung together 31 scoring drives of at least 80 yards while the Husky defense has surrendered just 15 such marches. UConn also holds a 7-2 advantage over its opponents in the number of 90-yard and over drives since becoming a I-A program.
The Huskies are 9-1 in November over the past three seasons combined, its entire tenure in Division I-A. UConns loss at Georgia Tech on Nov. 13 snapped a winning streak in the month of November that dated back to 2001, as UConn had posted a perfect 7-0 mark in the calendars penultimate month over the 2002 and 2003 seasons. Last fall, the Huskies were a perfect 3-0 in November with wins over Western Michigan (Nov. 1), Rutgers (Nov. 8) and Wake Forest (Nov. 15). Those wins came on the heels of a 4-0 November in 2002 as the Huskies topped Florida Atlantic (Nov. 2), Kent State (Nov. 9), Navy (Nov. 16) and Iowa State (Nov. 23). The Huskies defeated Buffalo (Nov. 20) and Rutgers (Nov. 25) this November. UConns last November loss, prior to Georgia Tech, came on Nov. 24, 2001 when the Huskies lost to Temple at Franklin Field in Philadelphia in a contest that was rescheduled after the September 11 terrorist attacks. In addition to its 9-1 November mark, UConn is 1-0 in December play after defeating Toledo, 39-10, in the 2004 Motor City Bowl.
LETS GET IT STARTED
UConn was 7-0 this year when scoring first and 1-4 when the opponent strikes first with the lone exception coming at Rutgers on Thanksgiving morning. UConn has now won each of its last 10 games in which it has scored first, dating back to a 24-14 loss to Boston College on Sept. 13, 2003.
TURNING OVER THE EXPECTED RESULTS
UConn committed four turnovers against Temple, then a I-A era high, and won. The only time this year that UConn didnt turn the ball over was during a loss at Georgia Tech.
NO RETREAT, BABY, NO SURRENDER
UConn trailed Duke, 20-6, with just over 11 minutes to play at Rentschler Field on Sept. 11, but rallied for a thrilling 22-20 win. This was not an isolated event for UConn. In the 36 games since UConn became a Division I-A team, six times the Huskies have erased a 10 point or greater deficit to win a game and five times UConn has rallied in the fourth quarter for a victory. The Duke game was the fourth time in which the team had done both. UConn trailed Rutgers 17-7 at the half on Nov. 8, 2003, and 24-21 entering the fourth quarter, but fought back to win the game. The Huskies rallied from a 31-21 third quarter deficit against Akron last Oct. 25, winning the game on a 27-yard Matt Nuzie field goal as time expired. UConn erased a 20-6 third quarter deficit to beat Ohio, 37-19, during the 2002 season. The following lists chart each instance of 10 points or greater comebacks, and fourth quarter rallies, for UConn in the Division I-A era:
LARGEST DEFICIT OVERCOME TO WIN (I-A ERA)
Deficit Date Opponent Score Quarter Final
17 11/1/03 Western Mich. 0-17 2nd W, 41-27
14 9/11/04 Duke 6-20 4th W, 22-20
14 9/21/02 Ohio 6-20 3rd W, 37-19
10 11/8/03 Rutgers 7-17 3rd W, 38-31
10 10/25/03 Akron 21-31 3rd W, 38-37
10 11/23/02 at Iowa State 10-20 3rd W, 37-20
FOURTH QUARTER COMEBACK VICTORIES (I-A ERA)
Date Opponent Deficit Score Time Game Winning Play
9/11/04 Duke 14 6-20 11:05 Matt Nuzie 21 field goal
11/8/03 Rutgers 3 21-24 8:04 Cornell Brockington 1 run
10/25/03 Akron 6 28-34 8:43 Matt Nuzie 27 field goal
10/18/03 at Kent State 8 20-28 1:51 Wilson 14 pass from Orlovsky
9/21/02 Ohio 6 13-19 14:05 Dan Orlovsky 1 run
SIX MORE YEARS!!!
The traditional battle cry in presidential election years is for four, but UConn and head coach Randy Edsall made it six more years as the two recently agreed on a contract extension through the 2009 season. Edsall will receive a base salary of $200,000 this year, a sum that increases by $25,000 per year. He will also receive $495,000 for other commitments, a sum that increases $50,000 per year. The contract also includes a one month bonus for a bowl appearance and a three month bonus for making a BCS bowl. Director of Athletics Jeffrey Hathaway called the deal another milestone in the numerous positive developments that the UConn football program has experienced in the past several years.
YOUTH IS SERVED
Eight true freshmen appeared for UConn this season. The biggest area where true freshmen made an impact was on special teams. Tyvon Branch served on-and-off as one of the teams kickoff returners while Larry Taylor also fielded kickoffs and returned punts, with true freshman Brandon McLean as his backup. Branch was also used in the secondary and made a start at corner back at Georgia Tech. Shane Hussar won the teams punting honors and, against Murray State, he became the sixth true freshman to start a UConn game in the Division I-A era. Hussar was joined by another true freshman in the kicking corps as place kicker Tony Ciaravino saw action on the teams onside kicks. Afa Anoai and Julius Williams also got into the mix against Murray State, mainly on special teams. Anoai later played consistently as a backup at defensive tackle. Dan Davis made his debut against Army at defensive end and saw steady action as a reserve. Six true freshmen played for the Huskies in 2003 with the secondary seeing the largest infusion of freshmen.
Each week head coach Randy Edsall issues an award for the Scout Team Player of the Week on both offense and defense. In recognition of their often-overlooked hard work, those players earn a spot on the Husky travel squad and dress list for that weeks game. No award was presented for the Motor City Bowl game since the entire scout team made the trip to Detroit. The weekly honorees are listed below.
Game Offense Defense
Murray State WR Ellis Gaulden DE Dan Davis
Duke OG Immanuel Hutcherson CB Darius Butler
Boston College WR Matt DAgata LB Justin DeRubertis
Army TE Steve Brouse DE Harold Stanback
Pittsburgh OL Pat Shortell S Donnell Ford
West Virginia WR Aaron Smith LB Justin DeRubertis
Temple C Trey Tonsing DB Quanear Gaskins
Syracuse TE Steve Brouse DT Rob Lunn
Georgia Tech OG Ken Rice LB Robert Theoudele
Buffalo RB Lou Allen DB Dahna Deleston
Rutgers OT Aloys Manga LB Robert Theoudele
After each UConn victory, head coach Randy Edsall awards game balls for the teams top performer on offense, defense and special teams. The 2004 recipients are listed below.
MURRAY STATE: Jason Williams (offense), Alfred Fincher (defense), Keron Henry (special teams).
DUKE: Keron Henry (offense), Alfred Fincher (defense), Keron Henry (special teams).
ARMY: Dan Orlovsky (offense), James Hargrave (defense), Larry Taylor (special teams).
PITTSBURGH: Cornell Brockington (offense), Alfred Fincher and Tyler King (defense), Matt Nuzie (special teams).
TEMPLE: Cornell Brockington (offense), Maurice Lloyd (defense), Larry Taylor (special teams)
BUFFALO: Dan Orlovsky (offense), Alfred Fincher (defense), Shane Hussar (special teams)
RUTGERS: Dan Murray (offense), Maurice Lloyd (defense), Deon Anderson (special teams)
TOLEDO: Dan Orlovsky (offense), Maurice Lloyd (defense), Larry Taylor (special teams)
Active Career Game Ball Leaders: Dan Orlovsky (6), Alfred Fincher (5), Cornell Brockington (4), Terry Caulley (4), Maurice Lloyd (4), James Hargrave (3), Keron Henry (3), Tyler King (3), Larry Taylor (3), Deon Anderson (2), Billy Irwin (2), Ryan Krug (2), Brian Markowski (2), Dan Murray (2), Matt Nuzie (2), Justin Perkins (2), Jason Williams (2), Allan Barnes, Chris Bellamy, Matt Cutaia, Jeff Fox, Kinnan Herriott, Shane Hussar, Tim Lassen, Grant Preston, Brandon Young.
HUSKIES RECEIVE FIRST EVER PRESEASON POLL VOTES
Connecticut received votes in both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today preseason coaches polls, the first preseason Division I-A votes in the programs history. UConn also received votes in the final editions of both polls, its 11 AP votes ranking 33rd overall. The Huskies cracked the receiving votes columns of both polls during the 2003 season for the first time at the Division I-A level. The program has yet to crack the top 25 of either poll.
OUR OWN LITTLE EPCOT CENTER HERE IN STORRS
While the overwhelming majority of the 2004 UConn football team was comprised of players from the northeastern United States, the Huskies had a far greater international influence than a typical college football team with players hailing from three different foreign countries. UConn has three Canadian players, in the Quebecois trio of Dan Desriveaux, Shawn Mayne and Jason Ward. Offensive tackle Aloys Manga is a native of Duana, Cameroon while defensive tackle Deon McPhee grew up in the Bahamas. Wide receiver Keron Henry was born in Guyana and moved to the U.S. when he was very young. In 2003, UConn also welcomed Australian punter Adam Coles and two other Canadians (Hakeem Kashama and ONeil Wilson). Back in his native country, Wilson is a wide receiver for the CFLs Montreal Alouettes.
Senior linebacker Alfred Fincher, offensive tackle Ryan Krug and quarterback Dan Orlovsky were named as the teams 2004 captains in a vote of their teammates on April 16, the day before the annual Blue-White Spring Game.
SIX HUSKIES NAMED ALL-BIG EAST
UConn landed six players on the All-BIG EAST teams on Nov. 30, which were determined in a vote of the leagues coaches. Cornell Brockington, Alfred Fincher and Justin Perkins all earned first-team recognition while Ryan Krug, Maurice Lloyd and Matt Nuzie were second team picks. Brockington comfortably led the conference with 1,218 rushing yards on the year and picked up an average of 156.0 all purpose yards in BIG EAST games. Fincher led the conference with 140 tackles, ranking sixth in the nation while his five forced fumbles tied for third nationally. Perkins tied for the league lead with 17 passes defended and returned two of his five interceptions for touchdowns, setting both a season and career school record. Krug is the anchor piece of a line that helped the Huskies lead the league in total offense. Lloyd was second in the conference with his 117 total tackles while Nuzie, a Lou Groza Award semifinalist, led the league with 20 field goals on the season, also topping the previous school seasonal record.
BOWLING A PERFECT 300
Two Huskies were nationally recognized for their performances against Toledo in the Motor City Bowl. Maurice Lloyd made All-Bowl squads sponsored by ESPN.com and CBS SportsLine after his 18-tackle effort that featured 3.5 tackles for loss, including a sack. Matt Nuzies four field goals earned him a spot on Sports Illustrateds All-Bowl team.
WEEKLY BIG EAST HONORS ABOUND
UConn has claimed each of the BIG EASTs weekly honors at least once this season, all of which were initial firsts for the program. Dan Orlovsky was named the Offensive Player of the Week after his four-touchdown effort in UConns win over Army on Sept. 25. Orlovsky won the award again after UConns loss at Syracuse on Oct. 30, making him only the fifth player in BIG EAST history to win Offensive Player of the Week honors outright in a losing effort and just the second since 1996. Orlovsky hit on 39 of his 51 passes for 445 yards in the game with three touchdowns and two interceptions. During the contest he also became UConns career passing yardage leader. Following UConns historic win over Pittsburgh on Sept. 30, Alfred Fincher (Defense) and Matt Nuzie (Special Teams) earned league recognition. Fincher tied a then-career high with 17 tackles against the Panthers, including 1.5 TFLs, a forced fumble and a pass break up. Nuzie tied his career high by nailing three field goals, including a 49-yarder as time expired in the first half. The kick topped his previous career long of 38 by 11 yards. Shane Hussar was also named Special Teams Player of the Week once. He got the nod after the Buffalo game on Nov. 20 when he punted for a 43.2 average and left three of his five kicks inside the Buffalo 12 yard line.
ORLOVSKY REPEATS WALTER CAMP CONNECTICUT CROWN
Dan Orlovsky was named the co-Connecticut Player of the Year by the Walter Camp Football Foundation for the second consecutive year. The honor is annually is bestowed upon the most outstanding collegiate football player in the country, at any level, who is a native of Connecticut. Orlovsky joins Wisconsins Tarek Saleh (1995-96) as the only repeat winners of the award. The UConn signal caller also took home the honor in 2003. This year marked the first time that there had been co-recipients of the honor as Orlovsky shared the 2004 prize with Badger linebacker Anttaj Hawthorne of Hamden. Orlovsky is the third Husky to receive the prestigious award in its 23-year history, joining Hamdens Carl Bond (1998) and Ansonias Glenn Antrum (1988). UConns four total award recipients ties Syracuse and Wisconsin for the most honorees all-time. Orlovsky is only the second recipient from a New England Division I-A school, joining former Boston College, and NFL All-Pro, linebacker Bill Romanowski of Vernon who won the award in 1987. Prior to Orlovsky, the award had not gone to a quarterback since BYUs Steve Young won it in 1983.
WILSON NAMED BROYLES AWARD FINALIST
On Nov. 30, UConn offensive coordinator Norries Wilson was named one of six finalists for the Broyles Award, annually presented to the nations top assistant coach. Wilson is the first Husky mentor to be so honored. He stood alongside Oklahomas Chuck Long, Auburns Gene Chizik, Californias Bob Gregory, Iowas Norm Parker and Boise States Chris Peterson as finalists for the award, which was won by Chizik. The award is in just its ninth year and already three former winners have already gone on to become head coaches at major college programs in David Cutcliffe (Ole Miss), Ralph Friedgen (Maryland) and Mark Mangino (Kansas). The eight-man selection committee that approved Wilson is also an impressive group, consisting of Frank Broyles, Hayden Fry, Bo Schembechler, Vince Dooley, Don James, Dick MacPherson, Grant Teaff and LaVell Edwards. Combined, those eight legends of college football coaching have won four national championships, nine national coach of the year honors, over 1,300 games, 59 conference titles and appeared in 112 bowl games.
TEAM AWARDS ANNOUNCED
For their leadership and dedication off of the field as much as their performance on it, Alfred Fincher and Dan Orlovsky shared the team MVP honor at the Huskies annual awards banquet on Dec. 5 at the Rome Commons Ballroom in Storrs. Cornell Brockington was named offensive MVP and the defensive honor went to Tyler King. The Huskies averaged 268 ypg of total defense prior to him breaking his leg in the waning moments of UConns win over Pittsburgh while permitting 383.8 ypg in the six games after the injury. Matt Nuzie received Special Teams Player of the Year recognition. The Scholar Athlete Award was given to senior wide receiver Keron Henry, who will graduate this spring with a double major of electrical engineering and computer science with a mathematics minor. The Huddle Club Award also went to Henry. The honor is bestowed upon the Husky who best exhibits leadership and dedication and is viewed as the ultimate team player. The Kendall Madison Award was given to Brian Sparks. A former walk-on, Sparks was recognized for being a strong team player whos dedication, hard work and outstanding citizenship best exemplify the strong spirit of the UConn Huskies. The award is named for the former Husky who was tragically killed in the mid 1990s while being a good samaritan in his attempt to break up a bar room fight. The Brian Kozlowski Award was given to Ryan Krug for being courageous, hard working and productive. The award is named for the former Husky and current Washington Redskins tight end who through relentless hard work, effort and dedication has been able to have a lengthy NFL career.
INDIVIDUAL HUSKIES GET NATIONAL RECOGNITION
In a sign of increasing national awareness and respect for the great things happening at UConn, five different Huskies were named to preseason watch lists for major national positional awards. Dan Orlovsky finds himself on the watch lists for both major quarterbacking awards (OBrien and Unitas) and both of the major national player of the year honors that produce an official watch list (Maxwell and Walter Camp). Orlovsky was named a semifinalist for the Unitas. Offensive tackle Ryan Krug (Lombardi and Outland) and linebacker Maurice Lloyd (Butkus and Nagurski) were named to two separate lists, while linebacker Alfred Fincher was named to the Butkus list and center Billy Irwin was named to the Rimington Awards official watch list. As the season progressed, Orlovsky made the Unitas semifinalists cut while Matt Nuzie was named as a semifinalist for the Lou Groza Award.
BOWL GAME NOTES
CONFERENCE CHAMPION CONN-QUEST
UConns 39-10 victory over Mid-American Conference champion Toledo in the Motor City Bowl left it in good company nationally as it stands as the second most lopsided bowl game win over a conference champion since the 2001 season. The only instance of a team beating a conference champion in more decisive fashion in a bowl game over the past three years came on Jan. 4, 2005 when Southern California defeated Big 12 champion Oklahoma, 55-19, in the FedEx Orange Bowl, a margin of 36 points. Prior to UConns Motor City Bowl win, a conference champion had not ended its season with a loss of at least 29 points since Floridas 33-point win (56-23) over ACC champion Maryland in the Orange Bowl on Jan. 2, 2002 in head coach Steve Spurriers Gator finale. Overall, UConns win was the fourth most lopsided out of the 28 bowl games played in 2004, also trailing Georgia Tech (51-14 over Syracuse in the Champs Sports Bowl) and Tennessee (38-7 over Texas A&M in the SBC Cotton Bowl) in addition to USCs blowout victory. UConns win was the most decisive in the Motor City Bowls eight-year existence.
A MAGICAL DOZEN
For the third consecutive year, UConn played 12 games and made the grand finale monumental. On Dec. 27, UConn made its bowl game debut and rolled to a 39-10 victory over Mid-American Conference champion Toledo in the Motor City Bowl. On Nov. 23, 2002, UConn posted a 37-20 win over bowl-bound Iowa State on Senior Day in Ames, the programs first ever win over a Big 12 team or a bowl-bound squad. On Nov. 15, 2003, the Huskies found more Week 12 magic with a 51-17 rout of Wake Forest, again on the road. It was just the fourth time since 1983 that a non-conference team had scored at least 50 points in an ACC stadium. UConn is now 4-0 all-time in its 12th games, having defeated Hampton, 42-34, in a first round 1998 NCAA Division I-AA Playoff game. Due to the rotation of the calendar placing an extra Saturday between Labor Day and the end of November, the NCAA permitted schools to schedule 12 regular season games instead of the standard 11 in 2002 and 2003. Legislation is presently being considered by the NCAA to make a 12th game permanent beginning in 2006. It will likely be approved in April.
THE FIRST FRAME
UConn made its bowl game debut in Detroit. It had been five years since a team made its bowl debut, an event that last occurred when Boise State appeared in the 1999 Humanitarian Bowl, where the Broncos defeated Louisville, 34-31, on their home (blue) field in Boise...UConn was the second team to make its bowl debut in the Motor City Bowl, joining Marshall, a 34-31 loser to Ole Miss in 1997...The last team to make its bowl debut and face a MAC school was in 1984 when UNLV faced, curiously, Toledo, beating the Rockets, 30-13, in the California Bowl, played at Bulldog Stadium in Fresno. UNLV later forfeited the game to Toledo for using ineligible players...Schools making their bowl game debut are 9-8 since the Division I-A, I-AA split in 1978 and 3-4 since 1990...In addition to UConn, UAB and Troy also made their bowl game debuts this year. The three first-time schools tied for the most in a single year since four schools made their bowl debuts following the 1952 season in Florida (Gator), Southern Miss (Sun), Syracuse (Orange) and Wisconsin (Rose). Three teams also made their bowl game debuts in 1984 (Army, UNLV and Virginia).
HUSKIES MAKE SECOND POSTSEASON APPEARANCE
Although 2004 marked the bowl debut for UConn, the Huskies had played a pair of post season games. In 1998 the team qualified for the NCAA Division I-AA Playoffs. UConn defeated Hampton, 42-34, on Nov. 28 at Memorial Stadium in Storrs but fell a week later, 52-30, at eventual runner-up Georgia Southern in the quarterfinals. Current Chicago Bear Adrian Peterson ran for 232 yards and four touchdowns for the Eagles in the contest. GSU would lose in the final to Massachusetts, a team that UConn defeated twice during the 1998 regular season. The two Husky wins over UMass are believed to mark the only time a team has defeated a college football national champion twice in the same season.
With its Motor City Bowl victory, UConn became the sixth school since the 1978 divisional split to have won both a bowl game and an NCAA Division I-AA Playoff game. The Huskies are joined in that regard by Boise State, Idaho, Louisiana Tech, Marshall and Nevada.
BOWL GAMES AND NEW ENGLAND
UConn became the seventh school from New England to participate in an NCAA sanctioned bowl game and the first from the state of Connecticut. Other than Boston College, UConn became the first New England school to go to a bowl game since 1969. BC made its 16th bowl appearance on Dec. 30 in the Continental Tire Bowl, while other participating New England schools are Boston University (1969 Pasadena), Brown (1916 Rose), Harvard (1920 Rose), Holy Cross (1946 Orange) and Massachusetts (1964 Tangerine).
FORD FIELD FACTS
UConn played in a dome for the second time in school history, both coming this season. The Huskies played their first ever indoor game on Oct. 30 when they fell, 42-30, at Syracuses Carrier Dome...The Huskies played on FieldTurf, or a comparable surface, for the third time in five road games in 2004. Both Boston College and Rutgers plays on a grass-like artificial surface. Syracuse plays on traditional AstroTurf and UConn faced Georgia Tech on natural grass at Grant Field in Atlanta. UConn is 3-2 all-time on the surface, having also lost at Cincinnati in 2001 and won at Army in 2003 in addition to this years win at Rutgers and loss at BC...UConn played in an active NFL stadium for the fourth time and is now 2-2 in such games. UConn lost to South Florida in 2001 at Raymond James Stadium, home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and split a pair of games against Yale in 1973-74 at the Yale Bowl, which was serving as a temporary home of the New York Giants during the reconstruction of Yankee Stadium. UConn went 0-2 at Boston Universitys Nickerson Field in 1961-62 when the facility played host to the AFLs Boston Patriots. The Huskies have also played at six former NFL or AFL facilities in Franklin Field (Philadelphia Eagles, 1958-70), BCs Alumni Stadium (Boston Patriots, 1963, 1969), Harvard Stadium (Boston Patriots, 1963, 1970), Vanderbilt Stadium (Tennessee Oilers, 1998), Nippert Stadium (Cincinnati Bengals, 1967-69) and the Orange Bowl (Miami Dolphins, 1966-86). It will become a more frequent occurrence now that UConn has joined the BIG EAST as both Pittsburgh (Heinz Field) and new member USF play their home games in NFL facilities. Also, the leagues bowl ties can annually send the Huskies to either the home of the Miami Dolphins (Dolphins Stadium - Orange Bowl), New Orleans Saints (Louisiana Superdome - Sugar Bowl), Arizona Cardinals (Sun Devil Stadium - Fiesta Bowl), Jacksonville Jaguars (ALLTEL Stadium - Gator Bowl) or Carolina Panthers (Bank of America Stadium - Meineke Car Care Bowl).
DAN-O STILL PUTTING ON A SHOW
Senior Dan Orlovsky, highly-recruited out of high school, throughout his UConn career lived up to the local hype he generated as a high school All-American and the Connecticut Player of the Year in 2000 at Shelton. He ends his tenure as a Husky holding nearly every school career and single season passing record, in addition to several single game benchmarks. He started off the 2004 season exactly where he left off in 2003, tying his own school record with five touchdown passes against Murray State. His 219.28 passing efficiency rating was also a career high and, through one week, led the NCAA. He also equalled his own career high of 382 passing yards in the game, hitting on 19-of-29 passes (65.5%). He later eclipsed that yardage total by throwing for a school record 445 yards at Syracuse on Oct. 30. Orlovsky threw a whopping 67 TD passes during his last 28 games (2.4 per game) and holds the school record with 84 career TD strikes. He was named the BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Week after throwing for four touchdowns against Army on Sept. 25. He earned the honor again after the Oct. 30 game at Syracuse in which he set a school, BIG EAST and Carrier Dome record by completing 39 passes for a UConn record 445 yards, fifth-best in BIG EAST history. He capped his time as a Husky by earning game MVP honors at the Motor City Bowl. In 2003, Orlovsky was named the teams MVP after hitting on 279-of-475 passes (58.7%) for 3,485 yards with 33 touchdowns and 14 interceptions for a 137.40 rating.
ORLOVSKY AMONGST THE NATIONS ACTIVE LEADERS
With 84 career touchdown passes to his credit, Dan Orlovsky ranks third amongst all active passers behind only Timmy Chang of Hawaii and Andrew Walter of Arizona State. Meanwhile, his 10,706 career passing yards ranks sixth amongst all active players. Meanwhile, his 39 completions at Syracuse (Oct. 30) tied for the most in the nation this year by someone other than Texas Techs Sonny Cumbie. His 445 passing yards in that game were the third most this season against a member of a BCS Conference trailing only the 522 that Kyle Orton of Purdue threw for against Indiana on Nov. 20 and the 520 that Cumbie threw for against California in the Holiday Bowl.
A poised and mature Dan Orlovsky saw his statistics make a dramatic improvement after the midpoint of his sophomore year. Below are his statistics from the first 18 games of his career and the last 28 (record listed is only in games which he started):
TD INT YPG CMP% EFF REC*
First 18 17 20 167.2 52.5% 103.60 3-11
Last 28 67 31 274.6 61.5% 138.81 21-7
ORLOVSKY STREAKS SNAPPED
Against Duke, Dan Orlovsky rallied UConn from a 14-point fourth quarter deficit by completing 68-percent of his passes in the game (23-for-34) for 290 yards. Much talk after the game though was centered on the fact that he didnt throw a touchdown pass. The game snapped a school-record string of 25 consecutive games in which Orlovsky had thrown a touchdown pass, dating back to the season finale of his freshman year, Nov. 24, 2001 at Temple. Orlovsky recently had another career-best string come to an end as he had a streak of 116 consecutive passing attempts without throwing an interception end at Rutgers.
By throwing for 316 yards in UConns game at Virginia Tech on Sept. 27, 2003, Dan Orlovsky joined some elite company. Since the start of the 2001 season (47 games), only six quarterbacks have thrown for 300 yards in a regular season game against the Hokies stringent defense. In that regard, Orlovsky joins Miamis Ken Dorsey, Marshalls Byron Leftwich, Syracuses Troy Nunes, Pittsburghs Rod Rutherford and Virginias Matt Schaub. The feat was not accomplished once in 2004 against the ACC Champion Hokies.
HUSKIES IN THE NATIONAL LEADERS
Several UConn players finished the year amongst the NCAA leaders. Dan Orlovsky ranked fifth in passing, 15th in total offense and 37th in passing efficiency. Keron Henry (42nd) and Jason Williams (91st) both ranked for most receiving yards per game while Henry (28th) also ranked in receptions per game. Cornell Brockington was the nations 22nd leading rusher, and tops in the BIG EAST despite sparse playing time in the first two games of the year. Collectively, UConn boasted the nations 10th ranked passing offense, 19th ranked total offense and 27th ranked scoring offense.
SCORING FIFTY IS NIFTY
Between beating Wake Forest, 51-17, to end the 2003 season and racing past Murray State, 52-14, to open the 2004 season, UConn scored at least 50 points in consecutive games for just the third time in school history. In 2002, the Huskies beat Florida Atlantic, 61-14, on Nov. 2 and Kent State, 63-21, on Nov. 9 in the final two games ever played at Memorial Stadium. In 1945, UConn closed the season with a 53-0 win over Maine followed by a 54-0 win over Boston University. UConn has never eclipsed the half-century plateau in three straight games.
THE EAST HARTFORD 500
In seven of its last 17 games, UConn has recorded at least 500 yards of total offense. UConn opened its 2004 season with a 530-yard offensive effort against Murray State and picked up 503 more against Army. The Huskies racked up 512 yards of total offense against Temple and 566 at Syracuse the following week. In the final five games of the 2003 campaign, UConn posted 515 at Kent State (Oct. 18), 568 against Western Michigan (Nov. 1) and 536 at Wake Forest (Nov. 15). Earlier in the 2003 season, UConn had recorded 613 yards of total offense at Buffalo (Sept. 20), a total that was just five yards shy of the school record mark of 618 set on Sept. 30, 1995 at Yale.
FINISHING IN THE RED IS GOOD
You wouldnt want your financial ledgers to be full of red ink, but UConns 2003 late season success was in part due to finishing its time in the red zone in style. UConn entered the Duke game having scored on each of its last 29 possessions in the red zone, dating back to its Oct. 18 game at Kent State. The run included 21 touchdowns and eight field goals but was snapped against the Blue Devils when Matt Nuzie missed a field goal on the games opening possession. After going 5-for-5 at Rutgers with all five scores being touchdowns and 6-of-7 in the Motor City Bowl, UConn scored on 43 of its 48 red zone possessions this season (90%) with 27 touchdowns.
ARE YOU EXPERIENCED? O-LINE STARTERS SURE ARE
With three seniors in left tackle Ryan Krug, left guard Brian Markowski and center Billy Irwin, junior right guard Grant Preston and sophomore Craig Berry, UConns 2004 starting offensive line combined to start an incredible 174 career games. The yin to this yang though was the backup situation. Other than the five starters, UConns offensive linemen had combined to appear in a total of just 44 career games entering the season, 35 of which were accounted for by reserve center Jeff Foxs career-long tenure as the teams long snapper. Michael Kodish became the first reserve to start a game when an ankle injury to Ryan Krug pressed the junior into a starting role against Army on Sept. 25.
Head coach Randy Edsall preaches a balanced offensive attack, evenly mixing rushing and passing plays throughout his tenure at UConn. The 2004 season though saw UConn trail late in several games and forced the passing play count to swell for the first time since UConn was fully welcomed into Division I-A. Adjusting the 15 sacks allowed (which the NCAA counts as rushes), the Huskies had 479 passing plays to their credit this fall and 406 rushing plays. The 2003 season more closely followed the traditional Edsall offensive pattern. Last year, the Huskies attempted 483 passing plays and 463 rushing plays. In 2002, the sum was exactly even with 421 rushing and passing plays attempted.
LIKE A BROCK
By far the leading rusher in the BIG EAST Conference, Cornell Brockington eclipsed the 100-yard plateau six times in 2004, leaving him one shy of tying the school record which is shared by teammate Terry Caulley. Brockington earned the start at tailback at Boston College and did not disappoint, turning in a 105-yard effort on 24 carries, including UConns lone touchdown. He was also the teams leading receiver with five catches, good for 40 yards. That effort was followed up in style a week later with a 111-yard rushing effort against Army. Brockington finished just a yard shy of his career high when he carried the ball 31 times for 185 yards with one touchdown against Pittsburgh. After being held to 90 yards by West Virginia, he jumped back up on track and gained 181 on the ground against Temple followed by 123 at Syracuse. Brockington had 216 yards of total offense against the Orange behind the strength of a team-season high 10 receptions. Brockington has eclipsed the 100-yard rushing plateau in seven of his 11 career starts. In his only start prior to 2004, he was the teams offensive catalyst, running for 182 yards and four TDs, in UConns 51-17 win at Wake Forest on Nov. 15, 2003. He was the BIG EASTs leading rusher at 101.5 yards per game and earned first-team All-Conference honors. A solid receiver as well, Brockington averaged 156.0 yards per game all purpose yards in conference play. His 1,218 rushing yards in 2004 rank as the fourth best seasonal total in UConn history.
DEEP TAILBACK ROTATION
Helping make the decision to shut down Terry Caulley for the year easier was the fact that UConn started four different tailbacks in 2003 and three of them recorded a game with at least 188 rushing yards. In the immediate wake of the injury, many outside of the team initially doubted UConns ability to run the ball without Caulley, but Chris Bellamy, Cornell Brockington and Matt Lawrence all stepped up their play and created a log jam on the depth chart. UConn averaged a productive 159.0 rushing yards per game as a team over the final six games of the 2003 season while the Huskies had a 100-yard rusher in eight of the teams 12 games last year. The rotation of that potent depth continued into the 2004 season as both Lawrence or Brockington started games with Brockington leading the BIG EAST and rushing and earning first-team All-Conference honors. Bellamy, Brockington and Lawrence all rushed for a touchdown in 2004.
A TOUGH CAULL TO MAKE
With his knee not yet 100% recovered from a serious injury suffered last September 27 at Virginia Tech, head coach Randy Edsall decided prior to the start of this falls drills to air on the side of caution and redshirt tailback Terry Caulley for the season. Caulley, who played as a true freshman in 2002 when he was named to the Freshman All-America team, will have two years of eligibility remaining next fall. Caulley was leading the nation with 601 rushing yards last year when he suffered a season-ending knee injury on a non-contact play as he made a cut on just his second carry of the game against the Hokies.
Keron Henry helped fuel UConns win over Duke on Sept. 11 by making a then-career high eight receptions for a then-career high 112 yards while also adding to the teams success on special teams. For all his good work, Henry earned UConns game ball on both offense and special teams. He became the first offensive player of the Edsall era to accomplish this double. Uyi Osunde earned the defensive and special teams game balls for his efforts in UConns 61-14 win over Florida Atlantic on Nov. 2, 2002 in the penultimate game at Memorial Stadium. He capped his career in style by again breaking the century barrier during the Motor City Bowl with a nine-catch, 109-yard effort against Toledo. In addition to the Duke and Toledo games, he also gained over 100 yards receiving against Army (Sept. 25) and Syracuse (Oct. 30), giving him four 100-yard games on the year, the most by a Husky since 1998 when John Fitzsimmons had five and Carl Bond had four. Despite spending about half of his career at quarterback, Henry finished his time at UConn ranked ninth in school history in receiving yards (1,615) while his 67 receptions in 2004 are the fifth best seasonal mark in Husky lore. In 2004, Henry ranked 28th in the nation in receptions (5.58 per game) and 42nd in receiving yards (74.25 per game). He ranked fourth in the BIG EAST in each category. A model student athlete, Henry will graduate in May with a double major of electrical engineering and computer science, along with a minor in mathematics.
WHERE THERES A J-WILL, THERES A WAY
Speedy wide receiver Jason Williams earned a game ball for his efforts against Murray State when he caught four passes for 128 yards and two touchdowns. The junior had just 139 receiving yards all of the 2003 and no touchdowns. Williams first TD strike was an 80-yard pass and run against the Racers. The duo wasnt done though, topping that with a 90-yard touchdown connection against Temple on Oct. 23. It was the third longest passing play in UConn history and the eighth longest in BIG EAST history. Williams was UConns second-leading receiver on the season by yardage, making 44 catches for 661 yards with four touchdowns and a team-best 15.0 yards per reception average.
EDSALL LETS THE DAN-IMAL LOOSE
The lone switch amongst the starters from the preseason depth chart to the current one on offense was the insertion of sophomore tight end Dan Murray into the lineup. Murray demonstrated his great combination of blocking and receiving ability during the teams fall drills and earned the starting nod for opening day against Murray State where he did not disappoint. In addition to showing his adept blocking skills, Murray caught four passes for 92 yards, including a 61-yard touchdown grab. All were career highs. Murray put a strong bookend to the regular season when he earned the teams offensive game ball at Rutgers. He caught five passes for 135 yards with a pair of touchdowns. Murray became the first UConn tight end to eclipse the century mark since Brian Kozlowski had 151 yards at Boston University on Nov. 14, 1992. Other than a three-yard touchdown grab, each of his catches were good for at least 20 yards.
LASSEN LASSOES TOUCHDOWNS
UConn tight end Tim Lassen made the most of his 14 career receptions. Six of the 14 were good for touchdowns, including one during UConns win over Army on Sept. 25.
SHARING THE WEALTH
Edsall has made a point of having a deep rotation at wide receiver throughout his time at UConn. In 2004, seniors Keron Henry Matt Cutaia and Brian Sparks, along with junior Jason Williams, formed the top of the unit. Regardless of who ended up in the mix from play-to-play, Edsall keeps them involved. Of the thirteen different Huskies who caught a pass, nine hit double digits in receptions and nine different UConn players caught a touchdown pass. The nine players to catch a touchdown pass tie for fourth best in the nation. Boise State, California and Miami (Ohio) have each hit 10 different receivers for a touchdown. In 2003, 15 different players caught a pass for UConn and eight Huskies hit double figures in receptions. The shared receptions also created an even distribution of receiving yardage. Despite the fact that UConn has thrown for 9,620 passing yards over the past three seasons combined (267.2 ypg), the Huskies have had just 11 100-yard receiving games, with six different receivers reaching the plateau (Shaun Feldeisen, Henry, Dan Murray, Williams, ONeil Wilson and Brandon Young). A total of 10 different Huskies caught a touchdown pass in 2003. The stats were similarly diverse in 2002 when seven different Huskies caught at least 20 passes which tied for the fourth in the nation during the regular season.
YOUNG IS RESTLESS
The Huskies were without one of their top wide receivers for the 2004 season. Junior Brandon Young suffered a foot injury in a bad automobile accident in his native Maryland the weekend before fall training camp started. In addition to his 28 receptions in 2003, Young also contributed as a kickoff and punt returner.
ITS GOOD TO BE THE KING
Tyler King was named UConns Defensive MVP despite playing in just five regular season games before breaking his leg in the waning moments of UConns 29-17 win over Pittsburgh. An excellent example of someone who played every snap like it was his last, the difference in UConns defense was startling with and without his presence in the opposing backfield. UConn averaged 271.2 yards per game in total defense over the six games he played in and 383.8 over the six other contests. The hi-octane son of former New England Patriot Steve King made a triumphant return for the Motor City Bowl, in which he received the UAW Lineman of the Game Award. King had four stops in the game, 1.5 for loss with a sack and a fumble recovery as he rekindled a pass rush that had missed his presence. In his six games played in 2004, King contributed 31 tackles, including 10 for loss and 4.5 sacks. At the time of his injury he led all BIG EAST defensive linemen in tackles. He wraps up his UConn career with an even 40 TFLs (including 19 sacks) in 40 games played and 174 total tackles.
HUSKIES IN THE NATIONAL RANKINGS
UConn had at least one representative in most NCAA statistical leader charts on defense. Alfred Fincher was sixth nationally with 11.67 tackles per game while Maurice Lloyd checked in at number 28 with his 9.75. The tandem were the BIG EASTs top two total tackles with 140 and 117, respectively. Fincher tied for third in the nation by forcing five fumbles in 2004. Justin Perkins tied for 14th nationally with his BIG EAST leading 17 passes defended. As a team, UConn ranked in the top third nationally for the third straight year since joining Division I-A, as UConn placed 27th nationally in total defense. UConn ranked 19th in passing defense, 28th in passing efficiency defense and 36th in scoring defense. UConn led the BIG EAST in both total and passing defense.
ITS FINCH IN A PINCH
Linebacker Alfred Fincher didnt want his senior season to leave him with any regrets and he ensured that, beginning with his final home opener at UConn. Fincher made seven tackles, tying for second on the team, a total that included 1.5 tackles for loss. Fincher also broke up a pass and intercepted another, returning it 16 yards for his first career touchdown. It was UConns first defensive score since Chris Meyer ran an interception back 63 yards for a touchdown on Nov. 9, 2002 against Kent State. He has kept the ball rolling and through the end of the season, as he led the BIG EAST with 140 tackles and was a first-team all-conference selection. Fincher rose to the occasion when UConn hosted its first ever BIG EAST Conference home game has he tied his career high with 17 tackles against Pittsburgh, on national television, to earn conference Player of the Week honors. He followed that up with 21 tackles against West Virginia to set a career high and 16 more against Temple with three pass breakups in coverage. His 11.67 tackles per game ranked sixth in the nation. Fincher leaves UConn ranked sixth in career tackles (357) and fourth in career tackles for loss (35.5). His 140 tackles in 2004 tie for the sixth best seasonal mark in UConn lore. An impact player, Fincher became the first Husky to ever play in the Senior Bowl where he had an impressive week of workouts at the prestigious Mobile, Ala.-based showcase event.
INTERCEPTION TOTALS PERK UP
Senior cornerback Justin Perkins, who missed all but the first half of the season opener in 2002 with a knee injury, regained the form that made him the teams top cover corner in 2001. Perkins also found his interception knack in 2003, snaring a total of six opponent passes, tying for 11th in the nation with 0.50 interceptions per game. He made two interceptions against Rutgers and tied for sixth place on UConns all-time seasonal record chart with his six pick-offs in 2003. He was named to several preseason All-BIG EAST teams in 2004 and backed up the hype, making first-team All-BIG EAST for recording five interceptions, tying him for 16th in the nation. His first one came on Sept. 11 against Duke when he returned a fourth quarter interception 27 yards for a touchdown, a play critical to UConns last rally to edge out the Blue Devils. He also brought an interception back for a touchdown against Pittsburgh, making him the first UConn player to ever return two interceptions for a touchdown in either a season or his career. Previously, 24 different players had returned one each. His 17 passes defended on the 2004 season led the BIG EAST and tied for 14th nationally.
AN INTERCEPTION A DAY KEEPS THEIR OFFENSE AT BAY
The UConn defense intercepted exactly one pass in eight of the teams 12 games this past fall. UConn didnt make any interceptions against Syracuse, Georgia Tech and Rutgers, all road games, two of which UConn lost. The Huskies made a pair of interceptions against Toledo in the Motor City Bowl.
BUFFALO DOESNT SHUFFLE OFF TO ANYWHERE
UConns defense was dominant against Buffalo on Nov. 20 in the teams home finale. Needing a win to gain bowl eligibility, the Huskies responded by holding the Bulls to 96 yards of total offense on only 49 snaps. In the game, Buffalo had five first downs, four completions on 21 attempts and punted eight times, seven of them being on three-and-outs. It is one of only seven times a Division I-A team has been held to under 100 yards of total offense over the past two seasons combined.
UNDER 100 YARDS OF TOTAL DEFENSE VS. I-A (SINCE 2003)
Team Opponent Date Yards
Oklahoma Colorado 12/4/04 46
Oklahoma Texas A&M 11/8/03 54
Georgia Tech Maryland 10/9/04 82
Virginia Akron 9/18/04 84
N.C. State Maryland 10/16/04 91
Connecticut Buffalo 11/20/04 96
Ohio Central Florida 10/11/03 98
CONSISTENT STARTING LINEUP
Eight Huskies started all 12 games this season on defense (M.J. Estep, Alfred Fincher, John Fletcher, Rhema Fuller, James Hargrave, Maurice Lloyd, Shawn Mayne and Justin Perkins).
WHY LET THE OFFENSE HAVE ALL OF THE FUN?
Husky defenders found the end zone three times in 2004. Alfred Fincher returned an interception 16 yards for a touchdown against Murray State on Sept. 4. Seven days later against Duke, Justin Perkins provided perhaps the critical play of the game when he returned an interception 27 yards for a touchdown to cut the Duke lead to 20-19 with 10:14 to play. Perkins scored again on a nine-yard interception return in UConns win over Pittsburgh. UConn last recorded three defensive scores in a single season in 2002. The school record sum of four was set in 1997. Also, the Murray State and Duke games marked the first time the Husky defense has scored in consecutive games since the 2002 season when Razul Wallace scored on an interception return against Florida Atlantic on Nov. 2 and Chris Meyer did likewise on Nov. 9 against Kent State.
DESPITE LOSSES, DEFENSIVE LINE LOOKED FINE
UConn lost three of its four starters from its 2003 defensive line in Ryan Bushey and team captains Sean Mulcahy and Uyi Osunde, but rumors of the units demise have been greatly exaggerated. An athletic crew of replacements comprised a formidable starting unit, in addition to Tyler King, the groups lone returning starter. Deon McPhee and Rhema Fuller had a combined 37 career games played at tackle entering the season, while Shawn Mayne ably manned the end post vacated by Osundes graduation. The backup positions though saw a lot of new faces, some of which were forced to step up at end of te regular season in the wake of Kings injury. UConns reserve defensive linemen had comb