Shakim Phillips and the Huskies take on Michigan in primetime Saturday.
Sept. 17, 2013
STORRS, Conn. - The UConn football teams is back in action this Saturday as it takes on Michigan at Rentschler Field at 8:00 p.m. The game will be televised on ABC and heard on the UConn IMG Radio Network. The game is sold out and with temporary seating being added to Rentschler Field, the contest will have the largest crowd in the ten-year history of the stadium.
For a copy of the UConn media notes, CLICK HERE.
UConn is now offering a four-game ticket plan for the remaining 2013 home games after the Michigan contest. For more information, CLICK HERE.
UConnHuskies.com will once again hold a live chat during the game. Please scroll down for more information on that.
Tuesday was Media Day in Storrs and here are some quotes and video from the event.
Head Coach Paul Pasqualoni
Opening statement: "Well, obviously today was our first formal day of preparation. We do a little bit on Sunday but today really starts the bulk of the work for us. Obviously Michigan is a very talented team. Quarterback [Devin Gardner] can beat you with his arms and beat you with his legs. The running backs are good, wide receivers are good. Jeremy Gallon is as good a slot receiver as we'll see. Tight end [Devin Funchess] is excellent. You've got big guys on defense, on the line, I like their linebackers, like their corners and I think their safeties are very good. Obviously this will be a great challenge for us. They have Taylor Lewan, arguably, the best left tackle in football. If he's not the best, he's in the top-three somewhere. So this will be a good challenge for us."
On playing Michigan after the loss to Maryland: "We're happy to be playing a high quality team on our schedule. It's the challenge of being in Division I football; you get to play an outstanding program like Michigan. It's good for football, it's good for Connecticut, and it's good for Eastern football. We'd like to play this game 100 percent healthy and I don't know if we're going to be able to do that. Coming off a disappointing loss against Maryland, it's good to have a game this week. The only advantage of not having a game this week would be having a week to give the questionable guys a chance to get better. I think that our players are into the routine, we talked about this a great deal in preseason about after the Maryland game really getting into the grind of the season. We have to rise up and get ready to play this game, put our best foot forward and give every ounce of energy we have."
On coaching the underdog: "I think that it's all about our preparation. It's about getting the gameplan in and making sure the players understand the information and know what the game plan against this team has to be in all phases, in offense, defense and special teams. It's one day at a time in practice for us this week, one rep at a time, one drill at a time. We'll prepare as best we can so we can play as fast as we can and with as few mental errors as we can. Obviously we didn't do well enough with that last week and it really cost us last week. I'd love to have just two of those plays back week, but you can't. Our players put in a great effort getting ready for Maryland, but I'm hopeful that everybody understands that its only a play or two that turns these games around. There's a great sense of urgency to be able to focus on what you have to do, take care of the little things, your assignments, technique and positions. In the end, the big thing I keep saying to the kids, the score will take care of itself."
On this year's run defense: "There are a lot of things on the run defense I really like. I think Shamar Stephen is playing very well, Julian Campenni, Yawin Smallwood are playing well. The difference is, we've had a couple of assignment issues that lead to big plays. Those four big runs that they had last week, they accounted for 114 yards of the 200 or so they had. The thing that is bothering is an assignment mistake here or ther,e and when we've had the assignment okay, the technique hasn't been what it's needed to be and we've either missed a tackle or been out of position. We have some guys that are good players that are playing for the first time, so that's going to happen. You just try to get better every single week and hope as a coach that you have them right on it and they're focused and in position and make the right plays. But I think we have a chance to be a very good run defense, I feel as optimistic standing here today as I did last year."
On playing in primetime on ABC: "Obviously it's exciting. I think it's exciting for everyone in the state of Connecticut, there's no question like that. To have a team like Michigan, perennial top-20 team with tremendous tradition coming in here, that's exciting. For our program, where we are from a non-conference standpoint the idea of bringing in high level Big Ten opponents, SEC, Big 12, ACC opponents, from a recruiting standpoint and an excitement standpoint, the notion that if you come to UConn you're going to have a chance to be the best and compete against the best, so I think it's exciting."
On how Akron played against Michigan defensively: "I thought they tackled very well and did a good job of covering the receivers. Akron did a good job containing the run for the most part. Akron gave themselves a chance to win and Michigan turned the ball over which really hurt them. I thought Akron was able to make a couple plays on offense. They did a good job of executing their game plan. They fought with a lot of effort and made some plays in the pass and run game."
On if there will be a challenge in facing a Michigan team that didn't play its best last week: "I don't think so. In college football anything can happen any week. Akron Head coach Terry Bowden, Chuck Amato, the defensive coordinator there, and Jeff Bowden, the offensive coordinator, have all been around football a long time. They're coaching too and the players are working hard. I think it's a tribute to them. They put together a plan and the kids believed in it and almost won."
On Shakim Phillps' play this year and how much UConn will miss him if he misses time: "We're going to miss him if he can't go. Shak is a talented guy. He's a tall, big guy that has excellent explosiveness, which is what you're really looking for in that receiver. Other guys might be a little smaller and little quicker in and out of cuts, but what I love what about Shak is that he isn't one of those guys who thinks he knows everything. He goes out there every day like the real good ones do and tries to become a better route runner. That's important for the system we're in because he has to be there has to be exactness to where he's going because the quarterback needs to throw ball right on time to a spot."
On possible distractions with a program like Michigan coming to Connecticut: "Our players in this program have played against Michigan and played against other big teams. I think the kids understand. I'm not going to get up in front of them and say this is the Michigan Wolverines. That is not in my fiber to do that. I'm so think headed there were no distractions for me last season and I had a good time preparing for Maryland believe it or not. We're going to do the same thing this week. We will enjoy the week of preparation and enjoy the grind and getting ready and the opportunity to play at 8 p.m. at the Rent at home. I want the seniors to enjoy it. It doesn't get any better than this being at home playing against a quality opponent on ABC. I don't know how it gets any better than that in terms of football."
On what he wants the country to take away from seeing UConn on the national stage: "I want them to see a good, solid football team. A team that knows how to play and handle themselves on the field and a team that can play offense and play defense and special teams. It doesn't have to be super fancy but I'd like it to be good, sound and solid football."