STORRS, Conn. - The University of Connecticut football team returns to action on Saturday when it takes on UCF at noon at Rentschler Field for its annual Homecoming contest. UCF brings a 5-2 record into the game and is 3-0 in the American Athletic Conference while the Huskies are 1-6 overall and 0-4 in the league.
At halftime of the game, a memorial to the late Jasper Howard will be dedicated. The monument, located in the endzone concourse under the main scoreboard at Rentschler, will honor the life of the UConn football player who tragically passed away five years ago.
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For a copy of the UConn media notes for the game, CLICK HERE.
Tuesday was media day in Storrs. Here are quotes from head coach Bob Diaco with a social media recap of the day.
Opening Statement: "It is exciting to be in a game week, back in a standard Saturday game week. We've got a great opportunity and a great team coming in to play against, led by coach George O'Leary who has been doing it for a long time. Excellent BCS victor a year ago, another veteran, junior and senior-laden team. It will be a great challenge for us."
On the UCF Defense: "I think the main component to their defense is that it's all fourth and fifth year juniors and seniors. There are a couple third-year players in there, one or two younger guys but other than that they're all older players. They've got a veteran grizzle to them and they're really well coached, sound, they don't miss tackles. You watch them accelerate through tackles, they play defense the way I like to watch it played. When they line up and their coverage presents, it looks like a coverage. They're sound in their front and then you add to it that they have some exceptional players. They're talented all across but separating themselves is the safety, [Clayton Geathers], fantastic player. They have a veteran backfield that allows them to do some things up front. At the second-level they have an All-Conference performer in [Terrance Plummer], he's kind of the battery of the unit, a heart and soul, great, vocal, energetic leader. Then they have two interior techniques that are very hard to block. I'm not sure anybody has really handled them and they've dominated the inside in every game they've played, that is [Demetris Anderson] and [Jaryl Mamea]. Those are some components to why they're playing great defense."
On the young secondary: "I was thinking about that same question this morning as I drove in listening to my Taylor Swift playlist. I would say that they're coming on. For example, Javon Hadley, he's a trained corner. He works his game, he's done it for a long time. He hasn't done it here in college football, but you watch him and he is a trained corner. So as a young guy, at least there is volume of practice reps and time he's been at that position. So that's helpful. Plus he's a gritty, tough guy. What he might lack in size and overall speed, he makes up for in toughness. He's got some fundamental base for playing the position. We're excited about him and taking a look at him. He's in competition with John Green so we'll see who ends up claiming that spot in the game. John is a guy who just moved to that position, and the same goes for Brice McAllister. He has never played the position, it's probably at times going to look like that, but there's only one way to solve that and that's for him to play in the games. We don't have any other option and we don't want any other option. We believe Brice is going to be a great cornerback here. We think it's his best position, his most natural position. He was a very productive tailback throughout his life but he possesses a few traits that separate him to that next level of athleticism on the perimeter. Almost all the great corners could play tailback, but not all the great tailbacks could play corner. You have to be that much higher level of an athlete to play corner because it is all reaction. Brice possesses those traits, it's just going to be a work in progress. Jamar Summers is a true freshman and Jhavon Williams is a redshirt-sophomore, so they're all young. Williams played 104 plays last week against arguably one of the best wide receiver corps in the country, so he's got to have a lot of confidence there. And so did Jamar. So Summers competed well and fought hard. He's got high-level skill and talent and he's trying to approach his game right now as an older player and a professional with extra film study and time around the building. I'm excited to watch all five of those guys play."
On the four tailbacks: "I'm pleased with all four backs. We have roles that they are going to play. We gave Max DeLorenzo and Josh Marriner, Max in particular, a good, appropriate opportunity and there was no real separation there. At the end of the day, Arkeel Newsome and Ron Johnson possess high-level, tangible talents that in time, their maturity of their games will catch up through game experience. So if nobody really was taking it and running with it, something needed to tilt the scale. We're pleased with all of those guys, they're all going to play a role for us, they can all go in the games and produce. The tailback doesn't prevent us from winning."
On young wide receivers: "They're improving in their preparation. Their route-running is getting better, the preciseness. In Thomas Lucas' in particular, in Noel Thomas' case he's blocking better, more aggressively. I also have seen a higher level of leadership, a higher level of professionalism in how they prepare and live. We're pleased in all four, including Dhameer Bradley and Brian Lemelle. Those four are kind of the same, not the same position but all wide receivers and all of similar age."
On the UCF offense: "They have a quarterback [Justin Holman] that gets better every week. Big, physical, runs like a ball-carrier when he's got the ball. He's going to chew up yards, make you miss, try and run you over. He's on the move a bunch keeping drives alive and making plays. They have three really big, talented wide receivers. Proficient route-runners, excellent hands. Create matchup issues on the perimeter. They have two big backs, specifically William Stanback, tackle-breakers, downhill North-South runner who runs behinds his pads. So they have some high level talent on the offense and they play smart football. They're not beating themselves, fundamentally sound, big physical aggressive offensive line. But specifically the quarterback and what he can do with the ball and extending plays and drives, those matchups on the perimeter and a big, physical back."
Converted WR John Green, @UConnFootball secondary needs to fill void left by injury to captain Byron Jones http://t.co/vZyitequ4N-- NHRegister Sports (@nhrsports) October 28, 2014
Tuesday presser: Young corners on anisland http://t.co/5OXJFgsiO0— John Silver (@JohnFSilver) October 28, 2014
Word is that former UConn RB Andre Dixon will be on hand Saturday to help unveil the Jasper Howard Memorial at the Rent.— Ed Daigneault (@EdDaigneault) October 28, 2014
Diaco on tight end position :"improving..McQuillan been asked to block more but need to have him do more things for us." #UConn— Desmond Conner (@desmondconner) October 28, 2014
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