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Game Week: UConn at Syracuse

Shakim Phillips is coming off a career-day against Temple.

Oct. 15, 2012

STORRS, Conn. - The University of Connecticut football team hits the road for a Friday night contest against BIG EAST rival Syracuse.  The game will be nationally televised on ESPN at 8:00 pm.  The Huskies (3-4, 0-2) visit the Carrier Dome for one final time as a conference foe against the Orange (2-4, 1-1).

The game can also be heard on the UConn IMG Sports Radio Network - including flagship station WTIC News Talk 1080.  Other affiliates for UConn football on the UConn IMG Sports Network include WILI 1400-AM in Willimantic and WAVZ-1300 AM in New Haven. The UConn vs. Temple game will also be available on satellite radio on Ch. 92 on Sirius and 190 on XM.

The Last Meeting
November 5, 2011
Rentschler Field, East Hartford, Conn.
Huskies Rally to Upend Syracuse, 28-21
Redshirt freshman quarterback Scott McCummings (Natick, Mass.) ran for two touchdowns and classmate Lyle McCombs (Staten Island, N.Y.) ran for 152 yards.

For the UConn game notes CLICK HERE. will once again host the official live chat of UConn football. For information, please see below

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

Head Coach Paul Pasqualoni
Opening Statement:
"We've got a short week and a lot of work to do.  The heavy work load starts today, which for us is a Tuesday.  We're trying to get our body clocks and our timing and the day of the week acclimated to the short week."

Do you have an update on Lyle McCombs' injury?
"Lyle is in the category of probable.  The swelling [in his left wrist] has calmed down; it's healing.  We're going to be able to adjust the cast, which will allow him to grip the ball and have ball security.  We're going to see how he carries [the football] today in practice.  We'll watch it closely.  The problem last week was he couldn't grip the point of the ball."

Where does Max DeLorenzo fit in the offense when Lyle returns?
"I think it was great that Lyle got a chance to be in a big game and got to carry the ball.  What I was impressed with on a couple of occasions, was his help in the protection; blocking.  He did a really good job from a pass-protection standpoint.  He's got good wiggle and he's got good ability to carry the ball.  I think it strengthens us, gives us a little more experience and helps our depth, obviously."

Do you and your staff take a look in the mirror after a loss like that?
"Absolutely.  When you lose a game, regardless of how you lose the game, you always go back and spend an awful lot of time on the film.  You go back to see what you did in practice; if you covered the right things, did you give the players the reps on those things and try to address anything that you feel maybe you missed and you try to do a better job."

Why have you chosen to play Tyler Samra and Joseph Williams as true freshmen?
"Next year we're going to graduate a couple of seniors from the offensive line and I didn't want to be in a situation where we come back here in the spring and have nobody with any playing experience.  There are certain situations when the player is in the game-plan meetings, he's getting reps during practice, he's on the trip, his mindset is that he has the responsibility of being prepared to go in the game; that is a lot different than being redshirted and not on the traveling squad.  In the case of Tyler, I thought it was important for us to bring him along.  We would have liked to have gotten him into a few more games.  It hasn't worked out for us like that, but we've got a few games to go.  [Joseph Williams] has been playing special teams.  He's a little bit more mature, physically.  We wanted him in the game-plan meetings, wanted him on the travel squad and wanted him to be prepared with the focus and responsibility to go in the game."

What kind of defensive adjustments need to be made going from a rush-first opponent to a pass-first opponent?
"It's a big adjustment because Syracuse is going to throw the ball.  They've got good running backs and good receivers.  There quarterback [Ryan Nassib] is a very good player.  He's a good drop-back passer.  There is a big adjustment to be made this week.  This will be a much different deal."

What are your thoughts on returning to the Carrier Dome?
"It's a BIG EAST conference game.  That's where I've focused my energy.  We're just getting ready to play the game.  [Syracuse] has played a tough schedule and they're playing tough football."

Is it comforting going to a dome where it should be easier on the kicking game?
"It will be like kicking indoors [at the Shenkman Training Center].  Chad [Christen] is going to work hard this week.  We're going to get a few more kicks in with him.  I'm confident that he's going to bounce back and do well."

What improvement have you seen made by Trevardo Williams over the last two years and is he a next-level player?
"The thing I like about Trevardo, we all know how explosive he is and fast, but he's playing the run very well.  That's what I really like.  Rushing the passer is his strength, which he's working awfully hard at.  He quietly goes about his business and is playing with very good effort.  I think [he is a next-level] player.  I think Trevardo has got as good of a burst getting off of the ball as any players I've been around.  His get-off reminds me of Dwight [Freeney].  Dwight was a little bit thicker, probably a little bit heavier, but that initial burst off the ball reminds me a lot of Dwight."

Senior Cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson
On sense of urgency at practice:
"Right now every day has to be an energy day and have a lot of focus at practice. We need to embrace every opportunity you have because this could be our last few games played together. We still have five more games and can still make some things happen."

On frustration after Temple loss:
"We can't feel sorry for ourselves. Our losses are all self-inflicted right now. We have to be a hundred percent on everything because we know one or two plays can ultimately hurt us. On Saturday's you have to be a hundred percent be paying attention to detail at all times."

Senior Defensive End Trevardo Williams
On staying positive after loss:
"The last game was a lot of little mistakes. We need to stay positive. It is not a challenge to stay positive right now. It doesn't make things better by being negative. We will go ahead and progress."

On making sacks look easy:
"It may look easy but it really is not. I think it is speed and power. The combination of those two things helps me get to the quarterback very quickly."

Senior Defensive Tackle Ryan Wirth
On Trevardo Williams:
"He's a freak.  He's a huge asset.  He's bailed me out a couple times, chasing somebody down from the outside.  It's awesome.  He's stout enough to play the run and he obviously has no problem closing in on the quarterback.  He's a huge asset and I'm glad he plays for us.  He's a great kid.  He never stops.  Trevardo Williams is one of a kind, definitely."

As a senior, do you make it a point to talk to the guys and get them fired up these last five weeks?
"The most that we can do is lead by my actions.  I'm not gonna hoot and holler.  But I'm gonna keep practicing hard.  Everybody's head has to be up.  I've made that a point.  We have five games left.  We need to fix what needs fixing.  We need to go on to Syracuse.  That's out main focus now.  Friday night we have to get the ball rolling.  We have five more games.  We still have a chance to do something good."

The team won five in a row two years ago, do you get the sense that this team can do the same thing?
"I said earlier, we have 16 seniors, a lot of leadership on this team.  I think we're all going to band together to do what we have to do to lead some of the other guys and get the ball rolling.  We don't want to go out on a bad note.  We need to make something happen this year.  I'm gonna do everything in my power to make it happen.

Will you tell the underclassmen that it's not unprecedented to win five in a row, that it's happened before?
"Of course.  It's been said.  They know.  I think they're on board, definitely.  This week in practice is going to be huge, the preparation for Syracuse. We'll be ready to go out there on Friday night."