Aug. 10, 2012
STORRS, Conn. - The University of Connecticut football team held its annual media day on Friday afternoon at the Burton Family Football Complex and Shenkman Training Center. Players and coaches took part in individual and group photographs, while the event opened with a press conference with head coach Paul Pasqualoni. A live webcast, hosted by Huskies All-Access, featured the events of the day as well as segments featuring trivia contests for fans as well as a segment with players in coaches playing a game called "Know Your Teammate".
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Below are quotes from coach Pasqualoni, senior linebacker Sio Moore and sophomore running back Lyle McCombs.
Head Coach Paul Pasqualoni
We are excited about this senior class. We have 15 seniors returning and added Blaise Driscoll, who was a walk on quarterback for us over the years. We are really excited to have him back and are really excited about this group of seniors. We have 15 players and when you look at them, they have all played and been contributors to this program. So as a coach, you have to be really excited about that. They have all taken some ownership of this team and have made a big commitment to this team. I know you will enjoy talking to them (later today).
We finished up the first week of preseason. The way we have this thing organized is we came in last Thursday and started practicing last Friday. We had our first scrimmage on Thursday so that ends the first week. Things are going well for us. The guys are working very hard and we are getting a great deal accomplished. The guys are practicing with a high level of focus and attention so that part of it is going very well.
The same areas that we are looking to develop are coming along. On the defensive line, it's unfortunate that Shamar Stephen got hurt but he is making very good progress and has responded very positively to treatment. I can't put a timetable on his return but I would say that he is making very good progress in a couple days so we are optimistic there.
We are happy to have Andreas Knappe with us. His arrival was somewhat delayed but he is another candidate to be on the defensive line. We are happy with the progress of the defensive line so far and I think we have picked up where we left off in the spring.
On impressions of the true freshmen on the roster
There are some true freshman that physically certainly can contribute. The key is can they learn enough to perform at a dependable level. But the encouraging part is that, as young as these guys are, they are really mature physically and they don't have big issues getting in there and going against the older guys.
On the quarterback situation
Right now, the depth of quarterback is we named Chandler (Whitmer) the starter and obviously with Casey (Cochran) being banged up, Johnny (McEntee) is number two. Casey is taking as many reps as he can but he can't take the under the center snap. He is taking snaps, throwing the ball and learning the system. I'm happy that we have Blaise here because he is very smart and knows the system.
On taking advantage of the coaching staff's experience
We just have to do a great job getting guys ready to go. Our staff will work hard to game plan and the goal is always to give the kids the best chance to win. At the end of the day, it's not what we know, it's our ability to get it to the players. There's no lifeguard on duty on Saturday, they have to do it themselves.
Senior Linebacker Sio Moore
On senior cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson
Blidi is one heck of a guy. Not only as a player but he is one of my best friends off the field. He is an athlete and he is smart. He doesn't just play the game, he knows the game.
On senior defensive end Trevardo Williams
Trevardo is the sack man. He and I are in a race every practice to see which one of us gets to the quarterback first. His burst and explosion is great. But some people think he gets to the quarterback just because he's fast but he sets himself apart with his great technique. We work with each other a lot to become better pass rushers.
On playing linebacker in the BIG EAST
Being able to play linebacker in the BIG EAST, you need to have a lot of experience. You need to be able to know and recognize a lot of different things and make adjustments in game-time atmospheres. When I was a young player that was something that I had to learn and adapt to quickly. But Coach is right, you can't do anything without having a good frontline.
Sophomore Running Back Lyle McCombs
How do you handle being targeted my all of the opponents on the schedule?
"I think I'm going to take my mindset into every game the same way I did last year and do my job to help my team win."
What kind of focus do you need to avoid a sophomore slump?
"I'm really not concerned about [a slump]. My focus is, whatever play is called in the huddle I'm going to do my job and take it one play at a time."
With Chandler Whitmer under center, how do you see the offense balancing out?
"I think [the offense] is balancing out well. We've been working a lot on that in camp. I think it's coming together well and it will be more of a balance, but if it has to fall on my shoulders then I'll be ready for it."
What can you say about Michael Smith returning to the offense?
"[Michael Smith] is a big addition to the offense. He's a guy that makes plays, runs disciplined routes and knows the playbook. I think he's ready to go out for his last year."