Sept. 10, 2013
STORRS, Conn. - The UConn football team returns to action after a 16-day layoff on Saturday as it takes on Maryland at 7:30 p.m. at Rentschler Field. The game will be televised by ESPN3 and heard on the UConn IMG Radio Network. In addition to ESPN3, there will be some over the air coverage -- Bright House Cable in Bakersfield, Calif. (148), Birmingham, Ala. (407), Elmore, Ala. (763), Central Florida (209), Detroit (407), Indianapolis (407) and Tampa (824). There will be coverage on Time-Warner Cable Upstate New York (1551), Central New York (399), Carolinas (519), New York City (198) and New England (1551).
Here is the latest version of "The Blitz".
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Tuesday was UConn media day for the game and here are some notes and quotes.
Head Coach Paul Pasqualoni
Opening Statement: "I think that the team has responded very well to the disappointing game against Towson, which is behind us. It's the old adage that the good Lord but your eyes in the front of your head and not in the back, so you can see where you're going and not where you've been. We've approached it that way. We spent a lot of time last week making those corrections, especially in the support and contain of those runs that got out on us. We worked a little bit more offensively on base fundamentals, both in the run game and the pass game. We told the players during the preseason that regardless of what happened we were going to come back and go to work just because the opening day was so early in the year. It was a good plan, I think the players responded very well and now we're here to get going on the real formal preparation for Maryland. It's a good feeling to get into the normal routine of a game week, which this will be the first one of this year, so we can our body clocks right and get going.
On keeping the team morale up after a long stretch since Towson: "There's two sides of it, one is the obvious of let's get back and play the game as fast as we can and get that bad taste out of our mouth. The other side of the coin is that we have an opportunity to really get things corrected but also get started on the next opponent and the next 11 games. I think that as a player if you watch the film and you realize that, taking nothing away from Towson because they're a team that played really well, ran the ball well, played hard on defense, the self-inflicted stuff you hope to get corrected. I think as a player you look at it that way, you have a chance to get better and make the team stronger. I think the kids, their attitude and their resiliency is really pretty good. The body language and the atmosphere has been that. I haven't had to do a whole lot, the kids want to be good and they want to have success."
On quarterback Tim Boyle moving up the depth chart to No. 2: "I would say we're giving Timmy more number two reps. He's a taller guy, he gives us a stronger arm. Casey Cochran is doing well, Casey has really had a good preseason and is working very hard, his attitude is great. We just felt that we wanted to give Timmy every opportunity to come along as quickly as he can. We're excited about Kivon Taylor as well, we haven't lost sight of any of that. We're trying to do the best job we can on developing that position as you kind of do at every position. You're working to find a way to distribute the reps and practice time so you get guys accelerated in their development, so that's really what we're doing."
On Chandler Whitmer's week: "Chandler worked very hard last week, as he does every week. Chandler worked hard on moving around, sliding around in the pocket and finding windows, trying to consistently get the ball out on time. Chandler's very good when the ball gets out in rhythm, gets out on time he had some very impressive plays against Towson. He's taking care of the fundamentals that are required at that position and working hard at it. I thought he had a really good week."
On when Kevin Friend and Tyler Bullock returned to practice, and Bullock's potential to return as the starting center: "Right after the Towson game they were ready to go, they just couldn't play in that game. They practiced in every practice. I think Tyler is almost back to 100, probably at 99, 98 percent. This will be a big week if he can put together good practices on Wednesday and Thursday, late in the week is when we make those evaluations. We'll see how those guys do come back and see if they're 100 percent."
On what's impressive about Maryland: "The big difference is (quarterback) C.J. Brown. He's a really good player. He's not only a really good runner, he's got a strong arm and he's very confident. I think what he's done is really boosted the confidence in the team. He's a guy that can make big plays, he can keep plays alive with his feet, make big plays with his arm. (Wide receiver) Stefon Diggs is maturing fast. He was a freshman coming out of high school, I think the year of the offseason program has made him more explosive. They added Deon Long who is a good wide receiver, Nigel King is a good receiver, and I like the fourth receiver (Levern) Jacobs, so they have four good receivers. (Brandon) Ross is a good player at running back, he's a very good player who can run it. The fullback (Kenneth Goins, Jr.) is a guy who reminds me of Dion Anderson, who you guys had here and I had with the Cowboys, not the tallest guy but a very well put together guy and a guy who can really block you.
"On the offensive line, three of the five guys from last year who played against us are back, so with C.J. back they have a pretty seasoned, experience group and that's made a difference. I think they're doing well on defense, they're pressuring on third down. They're in a lot of odd looks with multiple types of blitzes. They've always been a 3-4 type of team. When [defensive coordinator] Brian Stewart came in two years ago, he's a 3-4 guy. He was in San Diego with Wade Phillips then in Dallas with Wade. Brian's a bit more into the philosophy of 3-4 and then on third down, 3-4 with multiple looks and pressure that's seemed to become more popular. The linebackers are big in physical, they're playing well in the back end, they have good corners. So they're a very solid team and has played well in two games. They're really steamrolled the two games and have a lot of confidence right now."
On the captains job keeping the team focused after the Towson loss: "It was very good. They're a very good group, very determined and strong-willed, getting after everyone at practice, practicing hard, practicing with tempo. Effort in practice, they've had good meetings. They've really responded well, as you'd expect they would."
On overall reaction to the loss: "I think that for everybody, it was disappointing. Nobody was more disappointed than the players and coaches, that's for sure. We understand all that. I'd put it in the category of understanding it's one game, and that Towson's a pretty good team. I'm not going to be surprised when they win games this year, that's for sure. So I would say, disappointed."
On the importance of this Maryland game: "I think it's really important that we play well, that we go out there and play good solid football. There isn't a run that comes out for 35 yards, there protections are solid, you move the ball, you can run the ball, take care of the ball, play smart, play with great effort. I think that's really important. "
On utilizing wide receiver Deshon Foxx "Yea, that first play we ran there, that speed sweep for 12 yards I thought was a good play to get his hands on the ball there, maybe get him a little confidence, get him comfortable. I wish he would have caught that out-cut, he's clearly a guy we'd like to get the ball to in that slot position, when he gets his hands on it he can make things happen for us."
On the defensive end rotation of Angelo Pruitt, Jesse Joseph and Tim Willman" "Well, we're fortunate there. We're very fortunate that we have a solid, experienced three-man rotation there right now. I think we'll continue to see that. I think it helps all three of them, keeps them fresh."
On defending the Maryland pass rush: "Sometimes you can't block everybody they bring but we're working on it. I thought from a protection standpoint last week I thought our offensive line communicated well. Those guys up front are working together. We're going to have to do a good job but I think we're capable of it."
On facing a running quarterback: "In the NFL the guy that we saw was the guy you saw last night in Michael Vick. I think you try and change the defense up on them in the sense where you have a defense where you aren't going to let them run the ball. When you do that there's an old saying that when you strengthen here you weaken there. You have to pick your spots with it but you have to have something in your arsenal where you're not going to let the quarterback run the ball but then you have to be careful that you aren't thin on the back end against the pass and get hurt with them throwing the ball. That's something Maryland has done an excellent job of this year. Their receivers have done a excellent job of catching the ball this season."
On Facing Maryland's Receivers: "That's the first thing we did last week was went out and worked on it. It's the same problem everybody has. There's only so much you can do and you just have to hope that you're good enough up front to stop the run so the guys in the back end have a chance to handle the pass."
On Connecticut's offensive strategy against Maryland last year: "What we try to do every week it's the same approach. We try to see from a personnel standpoint where we match up with them and what we feel we could get done that way. Schematically you take a look at how they line up and how they defend the inside and outside run game. We see how they defend the two back run game and how they defend the one back run game and how they are handling the run while their back end handles the pass. Typically if they overload the front end and put the safety down in there then you have to try and throw the ball where there is one-on-one coverage going on. It's not rocket ship science it's just trying to grab a balance and have the quarterback recognize what is happening and call the right play."
On the return of tight end Sean McQuillan: "I think Sean's come back strong. He's had a great attitude about it and we're looking for him to be back to himself. On the lack of attitude of this season's defense "I wouldn't necessarily agree with that statement. They ran the ball 50 times last week. Five of those runs went for 101 yards. They ran the ball for a total of 201 yards. 45 runs went for a 100 yards so it's like point eight a carry. I wouldn't say it's passive. The ball got out on us because of some contain issues so we try to go back and address those things.
On trying to get more production out of the running game: "That goes back to how do you attack them. You're always looking to see how you can gain and edge and what the best run is against what they're doing and you hope they block it well. The great thing about Lyles' run last week was that he broke a tackle."
Linebacker Ryan Donohue
On moving on from the Towson loss: "The key to that was the bye week and having a long period of time to get the body back. It was almost like another preseason the way I looked at it. It's going to be like a fresh start we have to forget about the last game and we can't change it now. Approaching this week like it's the first game is the way to go about it."
On facing a high-powered offense like Maryland: "It's different schemes. We have to figure out what schemes works against this team versus what works best against that team. Sometimes you pressure a team more or you sit back and let things sort out in front of you. I definitely think our coaches do a phenomenal job with scheming and figuring out what's going to work best for us against this offense. As a player the biggest factor for this is gang tackling. They can run all over the place with their skill players but if we have 11 guys tackling them it's going to eliminate big plays."
On playing with fellow linebackers Yawin Smallwood and Graham Stewart this season: "I definitely think it's been going well. It's weird, us three haven't played with each other but we are getting more and more jelled and it will definitely help us stop the run in the future."