Oct. 1, 2012
STORRS, Conn. - The University of Connecticut football team returns to action on Saturday, Oct. 6 when it travels to Rutgers to face the No. 22/21 nationally-ranked Scarlet Knights. Game time is 12:00 p.m. and the contest will be nationally televised by ESPNU from High Point Solutions Stadium.
UConn has a 3-2 record entering the game and the contest is the BIG EAST opener for the Huskies. Rutgers is 4-0 and 1-0 in the BIG EAST.
Last season, Connecticut defeated Rutgers by a score of 40-22 at Rentschler Field on November 26. Lyle McCombs and Scott McCummings each ran for two touchdowns as UConn had a 24-10 lead at halftime and extended its lead to 40-10 after three quarters. McCombs finished with 93 rushing yards on the day while Nick Williams kept the Huskies in good field position all day with 158 return yards. The opportunistic Huskies took advantage of three lose fumbles by Rutgers and three interceptions.
For the official UConn media notes for this game, please CLICK HERE.
Once again, UConnHuskies.com will host the official online chat of Husky Football. For more information, please see below.
Head coach Paul Pasqualoni held his weekly press conference Tuesday afternoon, below the live chat are quotes from the coach and selected student-athletes.
Paul Pasqualoni, Head Coach
“Obviously, we’re happy to have gotten the win on Saturday against Buffalo. We prepared for a tough game and we got a tough game. Now we’re going down to New Jersey. Rutgers is a very good team; very talented team. [They] had a very impressive win at Arkansas, which is certainly not easy to do under any conditions. We always talk about football being a complimentary game. This is going to have to be a complimentary game for us. We’re going to have to be able to punt the ball well, cover kicks, hopefully be able to do something in the return game, play well on defense, play well on offense and move the chains.”
Has UConn-Rutgers evolved into a legitimate rivalry?
“I’m only going on my second year, but I can see that through the recent history in the BIG EAST that this has become a rivalry. I think you have that environment when the games are close and they’re hard-fought games. I guess that’s what makes them exciting; makes it a rivalry. The geography makes a whole lot of sense as well.”
What are the challenges of going on the road in college football?
“The [road] environment makes it hard on the offense. I’d be surprised if [High Point Solutions Stadium] is not packed. I’ve been there a lot. The stands are kind of close to the field and it makes it loud, so it’s hard on the offense. We’re going to have some silent counts. I’ve been down there when it’s very windy and that has been a factor. I don’t know how the wind is since the stadium has been closed in. With those conditions, you’re just not as familiar or as comfortable as we are at [Rentschler Field].”
Are there any differences in the way Rutgers plays under first-year coach Kyle Flood?
“They’re very similar. They’re doing a lot of complimentary things; the same things that they’ve done [in the past]. I think one of the themes that you’ll see is continuity and the kids not having to learn a whole lot of new stuff, new terminology and new systems. You see a lot of carryover from last year, which I think has been good for them.”
What is your biggest concern going into this game?
“I’d start with [Jawan] Jamison. You always start with, you’ve got to stop the run. This guy is an excellent back. He makes big plays against everybody. [Against] everybody they play, on the film, he’s very productive. He can score, he can put the game away, he iced the game at South Florida. He’s very impressive on the film at Arkansas. I think the receivers [are a concern]. Obviously, [Brandon] Coleman is a big, strong, fast guy, [Tim] Wright is a big, strong, fast guy in the slot, [Mark] Harrison is a big, strong, fast guy. I think the offensive line is playing very well. Offensively, they have a very good supporting cast around [quarterback] Gary Nova. They’ve got a very good offense that concerns me. Very explosive.”
What did you like best from your team in the non-conference portion of the schedule?
“I thought we got better as we went. It didn’t look that way against Western Michigan; although I liked the team better in the second half. I thought last week we tried to make it a point of emphasis to come out and be productive offensively early in the game and I thought we did that. I like the attitude of the kids and I like the way they’re working and taking ownership to fit their role.”
Are you worried about Lyle McCombs wearing down?
“You always worry about guys wearing down, but that’s Lyle’s strength. One of Lyle’s strengths is he wants to be in the game. He doesn’t want to come out of the game. We’ve got capable people [behind him]. Martin [Hyppolite] can go in. Martin did a good job last week. Max DeLorenzo is still there in the bullpen, so we’ve got some guys, but Lyle is a pretty good all-around back and we’re going to keep doing what we do.”
Has Martin Hyppolite earned more carries after his performance on Saturday?
“Going in [to Saturday], we wanted to get Martin anywhere from 10 to 12 plays in the game and I felt we did that. If Lyle gets a little tired, we can sub him in there. I don’t have a number of plays for Martin [this week], but I have no problem putting him into the game. He’s a big guy. His speed was pretty impressive on Saturday. I see Martin as a bigger back, a guy who can run and put the ball in the end zone. He’s got to continue to focus on taking care of the ball, which I thought he did a good job of.”
Through five games, what player has surprised you the most?
“I would say that Ryan Wirth, having not been a starter, I think has come in and tried to fill the shoes of [Kendall Reyes] by giving us some good play and leadership [on the defensive line]. I think he’s done an admirable job trying to help us there. Obviously we lost two really good players there and in the leadership department I think Ryan has done a really good job.”
Ryan Wirth, Senior Defensive Tackle
On Rutger’s strong run game:
“We need to go in and stop Rutger’s strong run game. Who better than us to stop the run game? That’s how we’re going into it.”
On the defense focusing on stopping the run game:
“I think the whole team has to come out in all phases and do a good job for us to win. As a defense we’re focused on doing our job and the offense will focus on their part.”
On being from New Jersey and playing at Rutgers:
“It’s very important for us New Jersey kids to come out and win at Rutgers. There are a lot of the guys on the team from New Jersey but we can’t let it be a distraction.”
Blidi Wreh-Wilson, Senior Cornerback
“They’ve been having a great season. They are a big physical team with a good coach. It’s good that we have a core group of seniors because we all know that one play with Rutgers can determine the game. We have to have a good week of preparation and practice to be ready.”
On finishing 3-2 in nonconference action:
“We came out of nonconference play 3-2. We would have liked to come out 5-0 but we played some tough teams. There were a couple close games that allowed us to see how we responded in adversity and difficult situations.”
What are your thoughts on the defense over the first five games?
“The defense needs to cause more turnovers. We did a good job running our plays and applying our techniques but we limited a lot of big plays.”
Adam Masters, RS Senior Offensive Tackle
Is this just another game? You guys knocked them out of the BCS (BIG EAST Automatic Bid) last year.
“I wouldn’t say it’s just another game. It’s Rutgers. It’s always a physical, tough game. I think it’s something that we’re all looking forward to. Most importantly, it’s the start of conference play. We have to crank it up a couple notches in practice and do whatever it takes to get this win on Saturday.”
On facing the No. 1 rushing defense in the nation:
“If anything, that’s just more excitement for the offensive line. We have a great opportunity to prove ourselves and prove that we can run the ball and protect the passer. We can really get this offense going with some consistency on Saturday.”
Do you use this week as a Litmus Test for this offensive line to prove that you guys can handle anything?
“Definitely. We have a tough front seven coming up with Rutgers. What more could you ask for than an opportunity to play against the best rushing defense in the nation to show that you can move the ball against anyone?”
Ryan Wirth said that you took ownership of the offensive line, what have you done to take charge?
“I’ve spent a lot of time in the film room. I’ve basically been living in that film room. I’m communicating with the offensive line and doing everything that it takes to keep us on the same page and get everything going in the right direction.”
Are the guys responding to you as a leader?
“Without a doubt, they want it as much as I do. I love playing next to them. We all want to make this a great year. We’re working extremely hard. We’re putting in the extra hours, the extra film. It’s just a matter of doing whatever it takes to get the ball moving.”
There’s 18 guys from New Jersey on this team, is there a bit more jump in their step and do they have a big desire to affect what’s going to happen on Saturday?
“I think they are all excited to go home and play in front of friends and family. It’s always been somewhat of a rivalry game. We’re definitely looking forward to it.”