Aug. 24, 2011
STORRS, Conn. - With just over a week until the first football game of the 2011 season, the University of Connecticut Huskies have been hitting the practice field in preparation for the September 1 game against Fordham. Check out the quotes below from head coach Paul Pasqualoni and select players to see what they think of the 2011 Huskies so far during preseason camp.
Head Coach Paul Pasqualoni
Where is the quarterback situation?
"We are working very hard, we are pleased with the progress that we are making and we haven't finalized the decision yet."
Do you expect to have the quarterback decision made by this weekend?
"We won't finalize, or make any type of announcement probably until game time on Thursday. It will be a game time decision."
What have the guys shown you at the linebacker position so far?
"Sio Moore has played the most football at the linebacker position and he is very athletic so it is good to have him at the position. He is still learning the position, but Yawin Smallwood is doing a good job, Jory Johnson is doing well and fitting in as a linebacker. We are working the two freshmen, Marquise Vann and Jefferson Ashiru, they are making steady progress. Mike Osiecki and David Kenney have been making progress. We are happy with the progress that the group is making, the issue always with linebacker is that there is so much going on that they have to play. Practice is one thing, seeing things in a game situation is a totally different deal. They are doing everything they can do so far."
How deep do you think the rotation will run?
"I think we will bring at least six, maybe seven guys to the game and we will have some special team guys that will also be linebackers. I think we will have some depth there. I like the guys and I like what we have."
Do you think the offense has made significant progress in the last couple weeks?
"There is no question that we are getting a little bit more familiar with it. We still have a ways to go, we haven't played a game yet, but we are getting there. We are getting more familiar with the system, with the language, with the terminology. When you go to a new program or a new coach comes in its like trying to learn a new language. It's literally like learning a foreign language. No two systems are the same. We are really getting better at this point. All of this may not seem like much, but when the 40 second clock is running down it is a big deal."
How close do you think are to being ready to play a game?
"I'm very happy that we have a full week left. Tomorrow technically ends the week since we play on a Thursday. We need to get through next week and we need those days. For us camp would actually end tomorrow and a normal week of preparation would start on Friday."
#63 Adam Masters, OT, RS Junior
What is the feeling among the offensive linemen?
"I'm feeling pretty comfortable, everyone is stepping it up, we still have a lot more work to do though. Definitely feel comfortable with the new plays, we are starting to understand the concepts of the new play book and everyone is starting to fall into place."
What adjustments are there with the new system when you have just a short period of time to work on it?
"The main thing is that at the first team level there is a lot more competition now. People have to step up now and they have to prepare themselves for gameday. There isn't as much room for mistakes and people have to compete at a much higher level."
Does the competition make everyone better?
"It does. We have a very strong defensive line, very fast defensive line and going against them everyday is a blessing in disguise because it can make gameday easier. Our defensive line is one of the best fronts that we will see."
How would you evaluate yourself during practice?
"My practices are tough. Kendall does not slow down, I see him about every play. He definitely forces me to step my game up as well."
#3 Sio Moore, LB, RS Junior
What are your thoughts on the defensive line?
"I love my defensive line. There is nothing like our defensive line. The range of defensive linemen that we have is scary. To me, I feel like I'm in the most grateful position there is, to have guys like Kendall Reyes, Shamar Stephen, Twyon Martin, Jesse Joseph, the list keeps going. There are guys that make plays everywhere. You feel blessed when you are at linebacker and you have guys that can eat up space and demand the types of things that they demand. They help at every point during the game, with the secondary and the linebackers."
Can you talk about this camp versus the previous years?
"The thing about this camp here is that it was held in a very professional manor. Coach Pasqualoni stressed that we had to handle this season like pros. There are meetings, walk throughs, film sessions, so that you can have the most time you can to correct anything that needs to be corrected so that you can execute on the field. With that being said, there is a lot of physical and mental wear and tear. At the same time, something that he is teaching us is that everyone is going to get beat up and everyone is going to get tired, it's who can mentally keep themselves in the game. If we are mentally stronger than everyone then we can get an edge."
#2 Michael Nebrich, Fr., Quarterback
After the final scrimmage in camp, where do you think you are in all of this?
"I don't know. Same place we were a couple of weeks ago at the beginning. Just have to keep coming out here and playing the best I can. Hopefully the coaches will make a decision soon and I'll be the guy. But you never know."
How would you assess your play this whole camp?
"I've been playing pretty well. I'm slowly getting better and better which is what I wanted to do. Being in camp, I wanted to get better each week, which is what I'm doing. There's a lot of things I need to get better at each week. I've definitely progressed over camp."
Do you feel like the offense has made strides? The defense has looked really good, how's the offense coming along?
"Our offense has done really well during camp. During spring when we just got the new offense, we were really struggling; especially against our defense. We have days where we show up and come out really well. We show glimpses of being really good. We have to get more consistent with it now. That will come with time."
Is your defense a good tune-up? It's one of the better defenses around. Is that a good test?
"They come out and give us a great look each day. Our D-Line is probably one of the best in the league. Playing against them will only help our offense in the long run. Our corners are great too. The timing with our wideouts against them will help the process as well."
Have the quarterbacks been live during practice?
"We've taken some hits. I actually prefer being live. I don't like someone tapping you on the side and having it called dead when really, they wouldn't have gotten me. I like the live situation. It's definitely more fun for everybody else too."
#18 Johnny McEntee, QB, RS Junior
On Coach Paul Pasqualoni compared to former coach Randy Edsall?
"They have a lot of things that are different but are both similar in ways. Edsall was very disciplined and he (Pasqualoni) has that same approach. It's not too different around here. I think the changes will be beneficial for us in the end."
Can you talk about playing in the same backfield with former high school teammate D.J. Shoemate (Tailback) after such different journeys?
"That would be crazy. We've known each other for eight years now. Been playing together for a while. It would be a lot of fun to be back there with him. He's somebody I'm comfortable with and I think he's comfortable with me."
You are the one "classic drop-back passer" on the team. How is the offense different with you at the helm?
"I think when the other guys go in, they can offer more to the offense. They can spread things out more. That puts more pressure on me to make sure I'm sharp with all of my calls and reads. I'm more of the drop-back guy, but don't sell them short though, they can throw it too. They are good passers."
#38 Dave Teggart, K, RS Senior
What does a kicker do over the summer?
"I've been in here up on the fields working on my kicks. Working on my form. I've been working hard, getting stronger. I do the same workouts as everybody else here. On top of that I need to stay on top of my kicks and my form."
What pressure is there for you after the year you had last year? The expectations are obviously going to be high for you. People will see you line up and think we are good from 50 yards all year. What does that do to you?
"Like you said, I have really high expectations on myself. I know what I can do out there. For a while now, I've known that I can hit 50-plus yard field goals. Now, after last year, people expect me to make them. Good. I should be making them. That's all I can say."
What was a typical day of workouts like for you over the summer?
"I had an internship to do most of the summer. We'd have lift from 6-8 every morning here (UConn Campus). Then I'd go from 9-5, sometimes more than that whenever the games were, at Dodd Stadium. Then I'd come back whenever I could and work on my kicks at night. Then the day would start all over again. So I had a pretty hard-working summer for me."
#24 D.J. Shoemate, TB, Senior
What was is like going through the change from Coach Edsall to Coach Pasqualoni this year?
"Coach P wasn't all that different. He brought in his own ideas, but he wasn't too much different. We all trusted him right from the start though. One thing, we all want to get into the NFL someday and he has that experience there. So we listen to what he's got to say."
As a leader now, as a senior, what do you see with the freshmen coming in?
"As freshmen, you know that they don't know anything coming in here. I try to flood them with everything I have, as much knowledge as I can. They are all getting it, slowly. It's tough to get the terminology coming out of high school. I'm a leader, so that's part of my job now."
On camp ending and the season starting in just a week:
"The guys know the plays. We know everything now. We have to execute though. We're prepared mentally. It's up to us to execute the plays we've been practicing. We are ready to go. Personally, my camp has been great. I am in shape. I've been running well and handling my assignments."