Sept. 4, 2012
STORRS, Conn. - Week two of the college football season approaches as Connecticut gears up for a non-conference match-up with North Carolina State at Rentschler Field on Saturday, September 8 at 12:00 pm.
The Huskies are coming off a season-opening, 37-0 shutout of former Yankee Conference rival Massachusetts in front of 35,270 at Rentschler last Thursday. UConn last faced NC State on the road in 2003 and has not played a team from the ACC since hosting North Carolina in 2009.
Saturday's game will be broadcast live on SNY and can be heard on the IMG-UConn Radio Network on WTIC 1080 AM.
For a look at the Connecticut game notes and depth chart click HERE.
UConnHuskies.com will once again host a live chat for the game. Here is a link to that chat and a way to get an email remdiner.
Head coach Paul Pasqualoni held his weekly press conference Tuesday afternoon, below are quotes from the coach and selected student-athletes.
Head Coach Paul Pasqualoni
“We really need to have a good week of practice. NC State is a very skilled team, with good players everywhere. This will be a real challenge for us. We’ll have to play smarter than we did last week. [If] we turn the ball over three times against this team, we’re going to have a lot of problems. We’re really going to have to play smart and not beat ourselves. We’ve got a big week ahead of us.”
What did you learn about your team last week?
“I would say that we confirmed some things. I thought that on defense, we showed signs of being a team that could be athletic and could run. I thought that was evident on the film. I think we learned that Chad Christen is prepared to go out there with confidence and kick. I thought we saw effort on special teams; all the way around in the coverage and return units. I think we learned that we’ve got to a little bit better job throwing the shorter passes. We have to try to not have the underneath receivers in the short game have to make acrobatic catches. And I think we learn that we’re going to have to run the ball better. Our consistency, yards per attempt, was not really what it has to be.”
How do you interpret the team’s defensive dominance against UMass?
“I think that we clearly were better, at this stage of the UMass program, we were clearly better up front than they were. We were a little bit further ahead experience wise. I think it is probably a little bit of both the fact that we were further ahead than they were and we are giving effort and we are working hard up front. With the NC State offensive line, with four seniors, they’ve got about 100 starts between them. This will be, by far, our biggest challenge up front.”
What is the status of the defensive line?
“Right now, I would say Shamar [Stephen] is out for this week. Losing Teddy [Jennings] is a big deal. He’s one of three guys in the rotation [at defensive end]. He’s a senior who has played a lot of football and is a good player. That’s a huge loss for us. Somebody else is going to have to step it up. Tim Willman will come in; he needs to step it up. Elijah Norris played a little bit; he’s going to have to step it up. I thought Ryan Wirth played a solid game for us. I think the younger guys in there, Angelo Pruitt and Julian Campenni, they’ve got technique to improve on. They gave effort in there and at times they looked okay. They’ve got to step it up as well this week.”
What do you like about Elijah Norris on the defensive line?
“He’s very athletic. He plays with a very high motor. He’s tall and is about 245 or 250 lbs and he’s going to get bigger. We have three seniors here [at defensive end], so I don’t want to go into next year and you hear me say we don’t have a defensive end with any playing experience. It’s a combination of Elijah, physically, having some tools and you need young players with experience at that position.”
How would you grade Chandler Whitmer’s performance against UMass?
“I thought Chandler really played well, without giving away the keys to the car. I thought he was pretty good in the pocket. I thought his ball security was excellent. I thought he pushed up and made some plays. He made some throws, could put a little velocity behind it. For his first game, I thought it was a good first game.”
How have you decided to use Nick Williams in the offense?
“I think what you try to do as a coach, is you try to identify your talent and skill set of the players you have. Then the fun and the trick of being the coach, is trying to utilize all of the talent that you have in the room. Nick is a talent. We’re trying to put him in situations where he can go one-on-one, especially in the underneath and short game. We’re just trying to come up with ways for Nick to get some touches and be productive.”
How important is it for Adam Masters to be a versatile offensive lineman?
“I think that Adam Masters has got to be able to play two or three positions. I think that’s the world we live in if you’re an offensive lineman and you want to be realistic about it. If you want to be a good player, you’ve got to know more than one position. You want to always have your best linemen in the game. If you don’t coach that way, you’re going to end up with your sixth best lineman next to you and the seventh best lineman in the game. From a coaching standpoint, it doesn’t make sense.”
#10 Chandler Whitmer, RS-So., Quarterback
On moving past the win over UMass:
“We’re looking to move on. That’s the main focus for us; looking at the stuff that we need to improve on and try to correct that before this week. We’ve got a big week ahead of us and we’re looking forward to NC State.”
On his mindset going from playing a MAC opponent to an ACC opponent:
“It’s definitely a different level, but it’s just the next opponent on the schedule. That’s how we look at it. We take each team’s strengths and weaknesses and recognize the competition we’re playing and even though it might be a different level, we’re going to still go out and compete every week.”
On the approach of facing an All-American cornerback:
“I can’t really get caught up in all of that. I’ve just got to stay within my progression. I know what they do well and will try to avoid making mistakes. It’s all about staying within myself and doing what I’m coach to do.”
#31 Nick Williams, Sr., Wide Receiver
Can you talk about Chandler Whitmer and how he did for his first game?
“For his first game, I thought he played great. He had command of the offense, he was very poised out there. He knew everything that was going on. He knew what their defense was running. He felt comfortable out there and I was proud of him for his first game.”
On Whitmer’s leadership in his first game:
“I think Chandler is a great leader – he leads by example. He’s an incredibly hard worker. He’s the first one in the film room, the last one out. That showed on the field. Guys can go to him with questions, he always knows what’s going on. I think that’s a good compliment for the quarterback.”
You have talked in years before about wanting to do more. It seems like the team is relying on you more this year:
“I think this year I’m a little more involved than I have been in years past. I’m all for that. I hope that continues and the role continues to grow as well.”
How much fun is it to get in the backfield and get your hands on the ball?:
“It’s nice. It eliminates the pass. It’s a little bit more direct so there’s more chances for you to get the ball. It was nice to be in on those jet sweeps and what not.”
Have you changed now that you are a captain and a senior?
“I don’t think I’ve necessarily changed, over the years you see guys go through a maturation process and I think I went through the same process and I’ve taken on more of a leadership role now than when I was younger. But I don’t think I’ve changed too much.”
Do you like surprising people when you get the ball in your hands?
“Absolutely. I’ve got a pretty big chip on my shoulder, so any time I can make plays, it satisfies the chip… so to speak. Just over the years, I’ve been overlooked and what not, from outside in and inside out. It feels good to go out there and perform a little bit.”
#5 Blidi Wreh-Wilson, RS-Sr., Cornerback
It was a good first step against UMass, but things will probably be a little different this week?
“Yeah I mean, we played a good UMass team last week and we had a great week of practice. Going into this week we know we have a good opponent coming in and we need to have a good week of practice.”
Their offensive line is pretty sharp, so you know they’ll want to run the ball well:
“They have a good O-Line and a veteran O-line at that. They have a good quarterback and some good receivers so they have a good deal going on over there.”
The team has a bit of an injury bug, will you and some of the other guys have to have a bigger role to make up for those injuries?
“It’s unfortunate when guys go down but it’s part of the game. We have a lot of depth on our defense and we have guys ready to step in.”
Last year you did so well after the first game and things kind of fell off a little, how do you make sure you are ready to step up to this next level of competition?
“It’s all about preparation. We need a good week. We need to get in the film study to know what’s going on around us. We need to know all the calls and know the formation we’re going against to be as well prepared as we can be.”