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UConn vs. UMass Game Week

Blidi Wreh-Wilson and the Huskies take on UMass on Thursday.

Aug. 25, 2012

UConn Football Gameday Central

STORRS, Conn. - Football game week is finally here! UConn opens up the 2012 season on Thursday, August 30 at 7:30 p.m. vs. Massachusetts at Rentschler Field.

Tickets are still available for purchase -- for as little as $15 apiece. Please click HERE to purchase them.

Here are the UConn media and press notes for the Thursday game, including an updated depth chart.

Here is the UConn football depth chart entering the game.

Thursday's game will be televised live on SNY and can also be heard on the IMG-UConn Radio Network at WTIC 1080.

Head coach Paul Pasqualoni held his weekly press conference Sunday afternoon, below are quotes from the coach and selected student-athletes.

Head Coach Paul Pasqualoni
Opening Statement:
"Hard to believe it's Tuesday...well it feels like Tuesday to me because obviously it is exciting to be in game week.  It is good to finally be in a game week.  Our outlook is very positive.  We have just one injury right now.  [Defensive tackle] Shamar Stephen will not play in this game.  We're looking forward to a very good college football game, a great game in the Northeast.  It should be pretty exciting."

What kind of rivalry do you hope to establish with UMass?
"I think that we're all very excited about it and the possibilities and potential of what a rivalry with Massachusetts cane mean.  With conference affiliations now being what they are, playing UMass will give us a chance to have an Eastern game regardless of the location [of our conference opponents].  It's exciting for fans, easy to get to and has a chance to be a great game."

What do you know about UMass and its new coaching staff?
"We know that the coaching staff there is an outstanding coaching staff.  We don't know exactly what they'll do.  [Head coach] Charley [Molnar] was the offensive coordinator at Notre Dame and did one great job with a high octane offense.  He'll spread you all over the field, do an excellent job with the screens, run the ball very well and throw the ball in several looks and play actions on first and second down.  We know that we have our plate full.  Certainly, on first and second down and they're an excellent concept team on third down.  We know that they're going to be high tempo and they're fitting their players and talent into their roles.  We will not be surprised by how well organized and efficient they are."

What went into your decisions regarding left tackle, tight end and defensive tackle on the depth chart?
"I would say that [John] Delahunt and [Ryan] Griffin are both starters [at tight end].  To tell you the truth, I don't know who will start the game.  That's not important.  What is important is that they're both going to play and play a lot, which they usually do.  They are both interchangeable.  Nobody is behind [left tackle Jimmy] Bennett right now, just because we've got some youth there.  What will happen is we will rotate the interior linemen.  Right now, the next player to go in the game is a guard, which means one of our guards would go to left tackle.  Right now, each of our offensive linemen are learning to play a minimum of two positions.  That's how we can ensure we have the next best player in the game.  [Julian] Campenni is up; he's going to start the game for Shamar Stephen [at defensive tackle].  He is a young player, but he's been working very hard.  With the no-huddle offense that [UMass] runs, we're going to have to be ready to play at least four inside guys and four outside guys.  Campenni had a good year last year as a redshirt playing on the scout team."

After all these years, do you still have the same emotions heading into the first game of the year?
"Yes.  It never changes.  That feeling that you get once the regular season officially starts and you work from Tuesday to get to Wednesday and the excitement builds, then you get over to the stadium and that feeling never changes.  Whether it was Cheshire High School, Southern, Western, Syracuse, the Dallas Cowboys or here it's the same.  That's why you coach and that's why it's fun."

How do you fell about quarterback Chandler Whitmer going into his first start and where do the other quarterbacks stand?
"I feel good about Chandler [Whitmer].  He has worked hard.  He's going to have to have a great week this week to be on top of his game.  I'm happy with Chandler and I'm happy with Johnny McEntee and Scott [McCummings].  I think Casey Cochran has been working his butt off out there with a cast on.  Once that cast comes off, he'll be ready to go too.  [Quarterbacks coach] Shane Day has done an excellent job as the coach of the group."

Do you feel better about your depth at wide receiver this season?
"Right now, we're pretty healthy and that's kind of a delicate position, traditionally.  I think that we have more depth [this year] and I think that the roles that they're in, really fit their skills sets.  If we can stay healthy and play fast, I think we can have a productive set of wide receivers."

How will the new kick-off rules affect Nick Williams as a weapon in the return game?
"I think that it's going to reduce injuries in returns.  That's what the NFL tried to do and they did it.  When we get a chance to return, we want to be prepared to return.  Hopefully Nick [Williams] will have some opportunities."

What have you seen from Chad Christen that earned him the place-kicking duties?
"[Chad] Christen has had a good camp.  We try to create a very competitive environment in camp with scrimmages and two-minute drills.  Over the course of those situational practices, we've needed field goals to tie the game or win the game and he did it."

#43 Lyle McCombs, Redshirt-Sophomore Running Back
Is the offense where you want it to be at this point and how are you looking forward to game one?
"I think that we're where we want to be at this point and we're ready to go.  Guys are ready to get out there and spot hitting each other.  I think we're ready to go and everybody is excited"

Can you talk about the offensive line and what you've seen in camp?
"I'm not concerned at all.  I think the offensive line will do a great job, like they do every year.  I'm as confident in them as I am with anybody on this team."

Is there a tendency to overlook a recent FCS opponent in the season opener?
"They're a good opponent and we're going to respect them just like we respect any other opponent.  We're not going to take them lightly."

#48 Trevardo Williams, Senior Defensive End
Is the philosophy of the defensive line to confuse the offense and not let them know what is coming?
"Our job is to cause chaos.  Coach is always talking about that and it's mainly our job to make it difficult for the offense to pick up on the defense."

How excited is everybody to show what they can do and turn things around?
"Everyone is excited.  We have 16 seniors and this is our last year.  We're just trying to go out with a bang."

Is there more leadership on this team than in years past?
"There is a lot of leadership at each position.  On the offensive line, [Adam] Masters always keeps the offense in check and keeps them focused.  If anyone is feeling distracted, he'll keep them looking forward.  On the defense, we've got a bunch of seniors.  We're all on the same page.  If anyone falls, we'll just motivate them to get back up?

#94 Ryan Griffin, Redshirt-Senior Tight End
What are your personal goals for the season?
"I definitely want to produce more in the red zone.  That's a goal I'm working on.  I've got to get myself big when we get down to scoring time and I've got to work on my footwork to get better as a blocking tight end."

What does tight end John Delahunt bring to this offense?



"[John Delahunt] is a real good blocker.  He'll get after you in the run game and can beat you deep if you're caught looking in the backfield."

#10 Chandler Whitmer, Redshirt-Sophomore Tight End
How have you taken to the UConn system on offense?
"It's more of a pro-style system, with drop backs and play actions, which is more fitting to my game."

Will the tight ends be a big part of your targets this year?
"I think so.  We've got some great playmakers there and we also have playmakers outside at receiver and have Lyle [McCombs] in the backfield.  I'm excited about all of the weapons we have on offense."

What do you see as the strength of the UConn defense this year?
"They've got a lot [of strengths].  There are no real holes in that defense.  I'm real excited about everybody.  The defensive line is looking real good, our linebacking corps is real solid and on the outside we've got two older guys; [Dwayne] Gratz and Blidi [Wreh-Wilson] that are really going to lock down some receivers." will also be hosting live chats during the upcoming football season. Here is information for our first in-game one during the UMass game.