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UConn vs. South Florida Game Week

Lyle McCombs ran for 73 yards at WVU last week.

Oct. 11, 2011

STORRS, Conn. - The University of Connecticut football team returns home to Rentschler Field for a 3:30 pm BIG EAST contest against South Florida on Homecoming this Saturday.  The Huskies (2-4, 0-1) and Bulls (4-1, 0-1), coached by former UConn head coach Skip Holtz (1994-98), are tied with four wins apiece in the all-time series.  Each team fell in its conference opener, with Connecticut losing at West Virginia, 43-16, last week and USF falling at Pittsburgh, 44-17, before its recent bye week.

Saturday's game will be televised live on SNY and the BIG EAST Television Network.  Live game audio can also be heard on WTIC 1080, the UConn Radio Network.

For a look at UConn's weekly media release CLICK HERE.

Head coach Paul Pasqualoni held his weekly press conference Tuesday afternoon, below are quotes from the coach and selected student-athletes.

Paul Pasqualoni, Head Coach

Opening Statement:
"We're getting ready for the second half of the season.  Obviously, Saturday against West Virginia was a game where the turnovers really affected us.  We had a chance to go ahead in the third quarter and the ball went from our 13-yard line to their 12, instead of us being able to go ahead up and get ahead of them at a point where we came out in the third quarter.  We had a pretty good first series of defense in the second half. We were really looking forward to and talking at halftime about getting ahead of them in the third quarter and then being able to play with some points on the board and force them to be a little bit more careful, but it went the other way.  Up to that point I thought we were playing pretty good.  South Florida is a team that's scoring about 40 points per game in a spread offense.  B.J. Daniels is an excellent quarterback.  They run the ball really well and he's an excellent thrower and an excellent scrambler.  Darrell Scott is a big load as a back.  He's a yards after contact guy.  He's a good zone runner.  They're a zone team.  They run the inside-outside zone.  They run the zone-read play.  The back is really involved and the quarterback is involved in this scheme.  If you put too many people in the box, they quickly throw it out to wide receivers.  They've got excellent personnel on offense.  Their offensive linemen are good zone blockers.  Defensively, they're athletic.  They rush the passer really well.  This will be the best outside pass rush team we've seen all year.  This will be another quality team coming in here.  We're playing another high level team."

Is B.J. Daniels a bigger challenge than the other quarterbacks you've faced this year?
"Yes.  There's no question that he is looking to scramble.  He and the receivers have great chemistry.  When he starts scrambling, they start looking for him and they'll break their routes off to get back into the direction he's going.  Once he starts to scramble, it's hard for (the secondary) because you don't know what's going to happen.  Everyone just starts running and turning.  It's chaos, but it's pretty organized chaos."

How do you feel the secondary played against WVU?
"In regards to (Byron Jones) and (Ty-Meer Brown), I thought they came in as two young kids against a top 20 team on the road in a big game and I thought they fought and they held their own.  Could they do a few things a little bit better?  Absolutely.  I think Ty-Meer has got a lot on his plate being a safety, getting lined up right, directing the adjustments on the back end.  He did a good job.  He's going to do a better job as time goes on.  I don't think it's a job too big for Ty-Meer.  It was a high level team to break them in on, but in the big picture of things it was positive."

What kind of a kicker is Dave Teggart?
"(Dave Teggart) seems to compete on these long field goals.  We were going to pooch punt the (ball) on Saturday and as we were thinking about it, the wind stopped.  We were watching the flags at the top of the stadium and at the top of the goal posts and they stopped.  We thought that if the TV timeout didn't last forever, we can get him out there and maybe we can kick this ball before the wind starts up again.  The TV timeout was killing us to tell you the truth.  He went out there and he hit it.  That's a pretty impressive kick.  He's made some good kicks this year and is pretty consistent in practice.  On Sunday, right after the game, we work pretty hard on (point after touchdowns) and field goals.  He hits the ball really solid and his mechanics and his footwork are really good.  The operation up front, the snap and the hold, has been fairly consistent."

Is the team discouraged at this point in the season?
"No.  I don't think they're discouraged.  I think there's a lot on the film that we're encouraged about.  If practice on Sunday is any indication, they come back out and practice well.  I expect them to be up and enthusiastic and getting ready for a big game on Homecoming to play South Florida here."

Were there signs in the running game that you liked?
"Sometimes it wasn't real impressive, but from a consistency standpoint and the number of times we ran it, there were some good things happening there.  We didn't come out with any big runs.  West Virginia played with a conservative, contained style of 3-3-4 defense.  They didn't take a lot of chances.  At times we fought them up front.  I thought (Lyle McCombs) found a couple little seams to move the ball into.  There were some things that we absolutely have to do better, but there were some things that I found encouraging."

Is this team's run defense as good as the numbers indicate?
"Other than a 14-yard zone play, which should have never come out of there, I thought the defensive line played solid football up front.  They did a pretty consistent job.  Our guys are working hard on run defense.  This will be a real test this week because we're adding a big factor to the run game, in B.J. Daniels.  There's another element to defend this week.  We will find out a little bit more about our run defense this week."

Is there a sense of urgency around the team?
"We have felt that sense of urgency since the Fordham game every single week.  These games are all precious games and they're all important games.  My approach to this has always been, if you play a 12-game schedule, it's 12 one-week seasons.  I've never been able to look past the next game.  I don't think we can do it.  We have to put everything we have into the preparation to win these games.  The South Florida game is another one-week season."

Where do Tebucky Jones and Geremy Davis fit in to the wide receiver corps?
"(Tebucky Jones and Geremy Davis) are still learning what it takes to be wide receivers at this level.  The multitude of formations and how we line up is something we can't take for granted.  They're young guys and that's been tough on them this year.  They're both a work in progress.  If they can focus on the details, they'll have a chance to become good wide receivers."

Were you concerned with the pass protection on Saturday?
"What (West Virginia) did, which they had not done (all season), they came with the maximum pressure.  To be honest, the first one caught us by surprise.  We adjusted to the next one and they added one more blitzer on (to the following).  Two of the three they caught us on and the other (blitz) we've got to protect better.

Can you address why the offense struggles after the defense gives it good field position?
"We've got to do a better job in the red zone.  There has been a variety of reasons.  At the end of the day, it comes down to execution and making a play and getting the ball in the end zone.  We need to run it better down there too."

#18 Johnny McEntee, RS Junior, QB

Reaction to the West Virginia loss:
"We went in (to West Virginia) thinking we could win.  I think for the first half, we put ourselves in a good situation.  I don't think we're discouraged."

How did your third quarter fumble change the game?
"I think (the fumble) gave (West Virginia) some momentum.  The greater a lead they got, the more freedom it gave their defense.  The good thing is we have a game every week.  It makes it easier to forget about it and get ready for South Florida."

On South Florida:
"They're probably one of the most talented teams in the BIG EAST.  They have a really good defense, but they're beatable.  If we work hard this week, I think we can come out with a win."

What is the general mood around the team?
"We've just got to tell each other to look past (Saturday's game).  We have four losses right now, but I think we can still come out with a productive season.  Looking at the schedule, there's no team that we don't think we can beat.  We've just got to put it all together on the field."

On the team's offense in the first half at WVU:
"I think we moved the ball really well in the first half.  We couldn't get in the end zone.  We could only go for field goals.  We need to get our red zone offense going."

#38, Dave Teggart, RS Senior, Kicker

On coach saying nice things about him:
"That's good for this week, I'm happy. I've had a couple ups and downs this season. To have a good week is a great momentum builder. I just want to put as many points as I can on the board for the team. These guys are out there killing themselves and I just want to provide as much of a cushion as possible."  

On missing first field goal and making others:
"You have to just forget about it. It is the nature of the position. You're only as good as your next kick. If you dwell on the ones you miss you will be pulling your hair out. It's frustrating but the one thing a kicker has to be able to do is get it out of your head."

On the 53 yard field goal:
"At first the punting team was going out there and it was right on the edge of do we kick it or don't we. Coach asked me what my feelings were and I shook my head saying I wanted to redeem myself from the clank off the post. I was lucky enough to get a great snap and hold and was able to put it through."

On what is required to be a good kicker:
"It's all mental. Obviously, you either have a leg or you don't. It's like a golf swing. If you are able to repeat the same thing over and over it'll work."

On who he turns to for support:
"My father. He kicked at University of New Hampshire. Up until this week he had the longest field goal in the family with 53 yards. He is very instrumental in my progress."

#99, Kendall Reyes, RS Senior, DT

On challenge of upcoming week against USF:
"It's going to be a big challenge. They have been putting up 500 yards a week and can attack through the air and run the ball very well."

On being discouraged:
"We are not discouraged. We know we have a great team. We just need to clean things up and basically get right for the second half of the season."

On being a leader:
"I do whatever it takes to keep the team going in the right direction. The first thing to focus on is to have a great week of practice."

On having a chip on shoulder:
"We do have a chip on our shoulder. The team has a lot to prove. We do have a great team; we just need to prove it to ourselves. That starts with a great week of preparation. We aren't lacking confidence. Sometimes you put out a great effort and it doesn't turn out the way you want it to. We are just going to keep on working."

On USF being a rival:
"Every game in the BIG EAST is basically a rival. All the games usually go down to the wire. Anyone can beat anyone. It definitely feels like a rivalry in that sense."

#85, Geremy Davis, RS Freshman, WR

On the WVU game:
"It was tough. We were in (the game) for the first half. We have to believe we can come back from only one touchdown. Even if I am not in the game, I can still try and keep the spirits up on the sidelines. We have to try and stay focused."

On WVU atmosphere:
"It was loud and very hard to play. It was something I have always wanted to play in. I have always seen it on TV and it has always been a dream to play in an atmosphere like that."

On the mood of the team after the game:
"Everyone was down, but we can't stay like that. We move straight on to the next game. We can't be sitting around and pouting."

On freshman year:
"It could be better. I am so grateful for my time here. I need to take advantage of the reps I am getting."

#4 Twyon Martin, RS-Senior, DT

Are you getting enough pressure on the defensive side in the passing game?
“We try to make a team one dimensional.  If we can stop the run, then we can start to focus mainly on stopping the pass.  A lot of the hard work we do in practice has shown in the games for stopping the run.  We have to pick it up in the pass to be a total defense though.  We can always get more pressure to take some of the load off the guys at the back end (Secondary).  We can make life a lot easier for the entire defense.  It’s something we have to work on throughout the week.”

Are you happy with the physical play from the D-line? Are you physically beating teams or is it more of the scheme? What leads to teams getting points lately?
“Honestly, I feel that physically we are able to play with teams and beat them up.  It’s not just the scheme, or the physical part of it, it’s a loss of focus maybe.  Guys aren’t in the right places at the right times or not doing their jobs.  It’s one or two plays that make a football game.  There have been a few plays in the past few games that have killed us.  Not finishing the fourth quarter. Getting third quarter shutouts.  Honestly I think they (West Virginia) gained like 17 or 23 points or something in the third quarter.  That stuff really hurts us.”

Are you discouraged by what happened last week and being 2-4?
“A team that’s 2-4 will feel some type of discouragement.  Me, Kendall and some of the other seniors have been in this position last year.  We are trying to rally up the troops.  We’ve been here before.  The season’s not done till it’s done.  We’re just trying to focus on the next game which is USF and try to win that one.”

Is there a positive to take out of losing on Saturday, knowing you have West Virginia out of the way and the schedule is maybe a bit easier the rest of the year?
“We thought we had a really good shot at West Virginia.  They were a really tough team.  I take my hat off to them.  They have a great personnel group out there.  They have a great quarterback in Geno Smith.   I wouldn’t say that USF is any less than West Virginia.  I wouldn’t say that Syracuse is less than anyone either.  All the games are going to be tough.  In conference games, everyone’s reaching for the same goal.  Anything having is worth fighting for and in the BIG EAST, we are all fighting.”

On USF quarterback B.J. Daniels.
“He’s a great quarterback.  Similar to Geno Smith.  Not quite of a pocket passer, but he can use his feet and escape.  I know going into this game they average over 220 rushing yards a game.  That’s going to be a tough one.”

How do you stop him?
“Same way we try to stop everyone.  By working hard at practice.  Focusing on the little things.  The defensive line watches a lot of film trying to pick up tendencies.  That’s what we need to focus on.”

#16 Tebucky Jones Jr., RS-Freshman, Wide Receiver

On adapting to college two years in.
“In high school you’re used to dominating on the field every Friday.  Coming into college especially at an FBS school, everyone’s faster, everyone’s stronger and quicker.  The game is more technical too so you have to become smarter.  Whether it’s studying the playbook or reading defenses and coverages.  Basically the speed of the game.”

What’s been the biggest adjustment and the hardest part for you?
“I actually think it’s more of the mental part of the game.  Adapting to a large playbook and reading defenses and preparing and studying the opponent.  In high school, you can just go out and dominate physically without having to think too much.”

Do you talk to your dad about the struggles and trying to keep your head up?
“He told me before I came here that it would probably be one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life.  Week in and week out, he tells me to stay motivated.  I’ll have my ups and downs but keep my head up.”

Who do you go to on the team when you are trying to stick with it and keep that mentality?
“I really look up to the captain Kashif Moore.  He’s in the same position as me as a receiver and he’s been through it all really.  I look to him when I have trouble or when I have to ask someone a question or if I’m just feeling down.  He’s been through everything I’m going through now.”

Why aren’t you performing right away like the way you know you can?
“I mean, I know I had an off game at West Virginia.  I’m just trying put it behind me.  It was a lack of focus and concentration that got the best of me that day.  I want to put it behind me and go day-by-day and move on and get better.  That was the first game I played in that had that crazy of an atmosphere.  I need to come up with the plays in a big time game like that.  It’s concentration and lack of focus.