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Huskies Face Navy In American Opener

UConn quarterback Bryant Shirreffs
Sept. 22, 2015

STORRS, Conn. - The University of Connecticut football team returns to action this Saturday as it takes on Navy at Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field. The game kicks off at 12:00 p.m. and will be nationally televised by the CBS Sports Network and heard on the UConn IMG Sports Radio Network.

The Last Meeting
Sept. 30, 2006
East Hartford, Conn.

Saturday will be Kids' Day at Rentschler Field and there will be plenty of activities, including a post-game on-field ball toss.

With the Naval Academy in town, there will be a number of military appreciation activities, including the unfurling of an American flag that covers the field during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner.

The game is the American Athletic Conference opener for the Huskies, who are 2-1 on the young season. Navy, a newcomer to play in The American, this year is 2-0 and won its first-ever conference game last week against East Carolina.

To purchase tickets for the game, CLICK HERE.

For the UConn media notes, CLICK HERE.

Tuesday was media day in Storrs and here are quotes, video and a Twitter summary of the day.

UConn Coach Bob Diaco

"The recap of the Missouri game is done now that we've sufficiently been through it and graded it and had our what's called a time in mourning after a loss. We have given that the appropriate amount of time, no more, no less. Speaking to that, about the response from the players, it was just natural. It wasn't forced. It was just very believable and very real disappointment. It was a very unified feeling. Nobody was really any different than the rest. We all really felt the same, which is new. That hasn't always been the case. Some maybe were not as upset as others, some might not have necessarily known how to feel, but there was a clearly unified disappointment. It really hurt, which is a great thing. It's a great thing. That's moving the program forward.

"The game itself, we didn't execute well enough. We didn't do a good enough job coaching for the players to execute at the level that they would have needed to, to get that win, which was very real and not a stretch. It wasn't magic. It was being done with fundamentals, and contact toughness, and mental toughness and good playing, and all the investment leading up to that. The players and their strength and conditioning and their spent on that stuff. It just needed a little bit higher level of execution in all three phases to pull that win out, which again was very realistic. We prepared for that, expected it, and that's why it hurt so bad.

"Now we've moved on and are excited to play again and compete and play Navy. It's Navy week and they're a great team. I've been competing against Navy for some time, and this is the best Navy team that I've seen personally the last half dozen years, six years or so. In fact, I can click on footage from three years ago and see a lion's share of players that are playing right now in the game as freshmen and sophomores. They have a veteran group, a strong group, a talented group, and they look like the stiffest competition of our first four opponents."

On Navy's blocking style: "It can hurt if people get hurt. It's a violent blocking style. It's more rare than not rare to come out of the game without lower extremity injuries, but we're healthy. So then in turn, playing them can only help. As much exposure to that style of offense that you can possibly get is a benefit. I think they're playing within the rules. They're fair. They are not doing anything that is dirty or underhanded. They're a class outfit. Their coached by a great guy and a great coach. They are as classy an outfit that you're going to get, and they are well within the rules.

"It's just that style of blocking is very disruptive. It can be very harmful. The rules have eradicated a lot of other dangerous things for the players on the field. That to me is the final frontier, being able to come from a blind area and cut a player that's not paying attention to you, you're really just rolling the dice. There's some elements there that would be great nationally if they get cleaned up with cut blocking and what's acceptable and what's not. But right now the rules are the rules, and they are well within the rules. They're not dirty. They're not cheap. They're fair, they're classy, they're high-character, and they're well coached."

On Navy's quarterback Keenan Reynolds: "I think one of the best things that is making him all of those things right now is that he's a senior, and he is surrounded by seniors. They have nine of the 11 starters on offense are seniors. And when you factor in the top 22, there is only a small handful, maybe four players, of all 22 that are not seniors. He's talented in terms of speed and quickness. He has a strong arm. He can go through read progressions and deal the football per coverage, which is not unique necessarily, but not all the option quarterbacks can do that especially when they're young. He has multi-layer reads. He's athletic and fast and tough. He also now doesn't make a wrong decision. When it's supposed to go to the fullback, it goes to the fullback. When he's supposed to pull, he pulls. When it has to go on the perimeter, it goes on the perimeter. He's very ball aware, and supported by a veteran group."

On if the UConn coaching staff has spent more time on special teams area: "They have to. I have already as it relates to Sunday and Monday, in terms of the coaching staff. You play a game like that, in SEC country on the road, and you have special teams blunders, you can't win. You can't do that. On any one play, not that you would have won the football game, but you don't get the punt blocked and it's 7-6. All other things being equal, the ball is on the 25, you're kicking for the win, whether it goes in or not, it's not even a choice. The punt gets blocked, that happens the same, you don't get PAT blocked, now it's 9-7. All things being equal, again ball on the 25 you're kicking for the win, because you have no other choice. That's what you have to do. And the penalties, and the silly stuff. I was surprised by it. I didn't think that that would be an issue. Clearly it was. We've never had an elevation issue. Bobby (Puyol) normally has great elevation and ball trajectory, but for some reason, the last few times it hasn't looked like that. It really wasn't a protection issue. It has been, but on Saturday it wasn't. I initially thought there was a pretty good push, but it really wasn't. They had a nice flat wall. It wasn't that. The kick was low, but he'll get it right. I have confidence in him. He is a diligent guy and he cares so much. He'll be just fine."

Redshirt senior, defensive lineman, Julian Campenni

On the team's response to the loss: "We were disappointed that we didn't get the win, and we went there to win. It was a close game, but we had our time to mourn, 24 hours, and now we're on to Navy."

On Navy QB Keenan Reynolds: "He's a four-year starter, great athlete, and knows trip blocks extremely well. It's going to be a difficult match-up to try and stop him."

On how the defense has played so far this season: "We prepared for this. We worked in the off season for it. We expect it to be a great defense. We know we have the potential. So it's just guys going out there with belief and the work ethic to get the job done. Our mentality is anywhere, any place, any time. We'll play a team anywhere, any place, any time."