STORRS, Conn. -
The University of Connecticut football team takes on the USF Bulls on Saturday at noon in the Huskies' Homecoming Game. The game will be televised on ESPNU and heard on the UConn IMG Sports Network from Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field.
UConn brings a 3-3 record into the game and are 1-1 in American Athletic Conference play. UConn won at UCF last Saturday by a 40-13 score and the Husky defense is ranked 27th in the country in scoring and 37th in total defense. Both of those marks are good for second in the American.
USF is 2-3 overall and 0-1 in the American and is coming off an impressive 45-24 win over Syracuse last Saturday. The Bulls have won the past three meetings with UConn and lead the series by a 7-5 count. The home team has won 10 out of 12 times in the series.
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Tuesday was Media Day in Storrs and here are quotes, video and a Twitter wrapup of the day.
UConn Head Coach Bo Diaco
"Thanks for coming everybody. We're rapping up the Central Florida game. It was great to win, and get a win, and have a road trip. Like we talked about last week, is there something different that you maybe do or think about doing. I felt strongly that we were doing the appropriate things. The players were mentally and physically ready to play in the games on the road. They're sleeping good and eating good and the travel was classy and well thought out. The time frames were done properly. I just felt good about the team's energy and mentality leading into all these games. It was good to see that come to fruition, and get a win, and the players execute and play well and produce. It's a great feeling and a great energizer to confirm good habits, and continue to want to add even better habits so we can continue to feel this way.
"Moving forward now, to Florida back-to-back here, we have South Florida this week. Another week that, like I said, kudos to the Florida guys. There are 11 Florida guys on our football team. They gave great investment last week and they'll do it again this week, and that's fun and exciting for them. It's very important for the program if we get that little extra heart beat from those 11 guys today. They look like a very strong team, especially last Saturday against Syracuse. The score wasn't close and the game was even less close. They're a high-powered group in all three phases, playmakers, on the perimeter and on defense. It'll be a great challenge for our program."
On the game plan for the tight ends after they made so many catches at UCF: "We like throwing the ball to our tight ends. We like running our offense with tight ends. We'd like to continue to attract big, long, athletic tight ends. You saw Chris Lee come in the game at the end and play about 15-17 plays, and you could how big and long he is at about 6'6'' or taller. They become a weapon, when they can, like Tommy (Myers) can attach on the line of scrimmage, detach in the slot or in the number three position he can detach. He can get in the back field and move around. When a guy can do those things, and create overload in formations, defenses need to adjust accordingly. Then when you do that and the guys can detach and become functional receivers, that's a problem on defense. It's a problem for us when we're game planning on defense, that personnel group of 12 personnel or 13 personnel, because you never know what it's going to be, So it's always a part of our plan to keep those guys involved and try to get match-ups on backers with those bigger guys."
On the overall play of the offensive line: "They're developing. They're getting better and better. We always have things to clean up, but I didn't see and real assignment errors. That really improved. Some of the sacks, like I said, have been attributed to not just the offensive line, but tight ends, running backs, and then the quarterback. Everyone gets a little bit of blame, even the coaches. Maybe a coach didn't put the formation together with the protection properly. There's a lot of reasons why those things happen, but I've been pleased with the offensive line and their development. I thought it was very impressive to watch that next man-in offensive line come in, specifically study (Trey) Rutherford, (Steve) Hashemi, (Daniel) Oak in particular. You can get real excited. The other guys performed well also, but those three in particular had some real nice strain plays against their top defensive line. They didn't sub them out."
On what impressed him about USF when watching USF vs. Syracuse film: "I was so impressed with so many things, I really was. They have a dynamic rushing attack. It is awesome. It's basically a triple option. They're attacking the dive, the alley and the force on every down. They have weapons in all three spots. The tailback is one of the best in the country. He is physically and statistically. He's fantastic. The quarterback is not really much different than the Navy quarterback, similar guy, big, strong, makes the right reads, can make the throws. The issue with the force on the perimeter, they have a couple of dynamic playmakers, one of them also happens to be the kickoff returner number 87. He's an electric player. They're attacking in force with him, whether they're giving him jet sweeps or just pitching it out there. I was very impressed with their rushing attack. On defense, they have some real playmakers. All four defense line guys are a force inside, 200-300 pounders inside that are quick and strong. They also have a couple of defensive ends that create a lot of stress, real quick twitch guys that have athleticism, and are high-contact players."
Redshirt sophomore, quarterback, Bryant Shirreffs
On if the UCF win is reinforcement of what the coaches are teaching them: "I'd say its reinforcement, because we know how close we are and then to see evidence of that in a game is definitely reinforcing."
On if he expected the freshman receivers to play as well as they are: "We prepared that way and the young guys really executed, which was very exciting for me especially. To see some of them make big plays, it's encouraging for sure."
On if the freshman reeivers playing well gives him confidence: "It definitely helps you when everyone is making plays, and you can feel comfortable throwing to anyone and not have to worry about match-ups."
On the team not having a ton of drops and how that helps him: "There's really no better feeling than seeing a receiver make a catch on a bad ball, and then catch every good ball. I don't know how many drops we've had this year but it's been really minimal. That's very encouraging as well."
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