Huskies Set To Host Middle Tennessee On Nov. 4


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    The University of Connecticut Football team hosts a Memorial Stadium match-up with the Blue Raiders of Middle Tennessee on Nov. 4 at 12:30 p.m. The Huskies come off a loss to South Florida on October 28 (21-13) and have a record of 3-5 on the year. Middle Tennesseee is also 3-5, following a 61-35 loss at Mississippi State.

    The Huskies and Blue Raiders have never met in the sport of football.

    Tickets are still available for the two home games (11/4 vs. Middle Tennessee, 11/11 vs. Rhode Island) left on the UConn schedule and can be purchased by calling the UConn Ticket Office at 1-877-AT-UCONN. The first two UConn home games in 2000 were advance sellouts.

    Randy Edsall (7-12 overall record in two seasons) became the 27th head coach in UConn Football history on December 21, 1998. Edsall, 42, brings 20 years of coaching experience to the UConn program, including 16 seasons at the Division I-A level and three seasons in the NFL. He came to UConn after spending one season as the defensive coordinator at Georgia Tech. Prior to that he spent three seasons as the secondary coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars. He began his coaching career in 1980 at his alma mater, Syracuse, where he spent 11 seasons before moving on to Boston College, where he coached for three seasons before going with coach Tom Coughlin to the Jaguars.

    South Florida scored a pair of fourth quarter touchdowns and UConn was unable to overcome high winds and a devastating injury, falling to the Bulls by a 21-13 count. UConn entered the final quarter with a 13-7 lead, but the Bulls had the 40 mph winds at their back in the fourth and parlayed that edge into a pair of TD's for the win. UConn junior QB Ryan Tracey left the game in the second quarter with a serious injury to his left knee and did not return. Freshman Evan Benson made his first career start at tailback and ran for 119 yards and a score. Sophomore kicker Geoff Heyl made a pair of field goals to account for the other Huksy scoring.

    UConn overcame a 14-point first quarter deficit and used a 17-point fourth quarter to post a stunning 38-35 win over Akron. Sophomore kicker Geoff Heyl's 30-yard FG with four seconds remaining provided the final margin of victory. UConn finally got its running game in gear, as junior Taber Small scored three touchdowns and true freshman back-up Evan Benson gained a career-high 70 yards, including 51 in the fourth quarter. Junior QB Ryan Tracey threw for 293 yards and one TD, while rushing for another.

    Stadium site work has begun at the future home of Connecticut Football, now known officially as Rentschler Field. An official groundbreaking was held on October 20, 2000. The name commemorates the history of Pratt & Whitney Aircraft Company and its founder, Frederick B. Rentschler. The stadium address is 615 Silver Lane in East Hartford, CT. The name Rentschler Field will remain on the stadium for a 15- year period beginning with the first event in the stadium. The name can then be sold with stipulations. The first football game at Rentschler Field is scheduled for August 30, 2003 when Connecticut hosts Rutgers University.

    Senior defensive end Jamar Wilkins recorded a pair of tackles for a loss in the loss to South Florida to become the UConn career record holder for tackles-for-loss. Wilkins has 28 career TFL's, breaking the record of 26 held by former All-American and Green Bay Packers standout John Dorsey (1980-83). Wilkins had tied Dorsey when he snuffed out a fake field goal attempt by Akron on October 21. Wilkins has 13 tackles for a loss in 2000, third on the single season list. The single season record is 18, set by Khalid Riley in 1998. Senior defensive tackle Ronel Jumpp is currently fourth on the career list with 22 TFL.

    Senior defensive end Jamar Wilkins was UConn's leading tackler the past two seasons from the middle linebacker position, so his move to defensive end in the spring of 2000 was certainly noteworthy. Wilkins seems to have made a smooth transition based on his four game totals in 2000. Wilkins has 50 tackles, fifth on the squad, has 13 tackles for loss (second in 2000) and leads the squad with four sacks. He also had an interception in the loss to Louisville.

    Sophomore safety Jamal Lundy is eight games into his second college season, but is already a grizzled veteran by UConn standards on the defensive unit. Lundy has started 15 consecutive games, including the final seven as a true freshman in 1999. In 2000, Lundy leads the Huskies with 69 tackles, six for a loss, and has one interception. The other seven players in the Husky two-deep in the secondary have a total of 25 career starts between them.

    True freshman tailback Evan Benson entered the game with Akron with five carries for five yards on the season. In the two games since, he has 189 yards on 41 carries. Against USF, Benson cracked the 100- yard mark in his first career start, totaling 119 yards and a touchdown. Against Akron, Benson took advantage of a second half injury to junior Taber Small and ran through Akron to the tune of 70 yards on 19 carries, 51 of those yards coming in UConn's 17-point fourth quarter.

    Freshman tailback Evan Benson became the seventh true freshman in UConn history to hit the 100-yard mark in a game and the first since Barry Chandler had 118 yards vs. Boston University on November 1, 1997. Tory Taylor holds the true freshman record with five 100-yard games in 1995. Ed Long had four in 1991, Chandler (1997), Jeffrey Gallaher (1985) and Tony Jordan (1978) each had two, while Joe Markus had one in 1979.

    Sophomore linebackers Razul Wallace and Uyi Osunde have each continued their solid play at the linebacking position in their second season. Both players saw significant action as true freshmen in 1999. Wallace, who started one game as a true freshman, is second on the Huskies with 61 tackles and 15 tackles for a loss. His 15 tackles for a loss is second on the all-time UConn single season list (single season record is 18, set by Khalid Riley in 1998). Osunde, who started the final four games in 1999, is third on the team with 60 tackles and has had four double-digit tackle efforts.

    Senior flanker John Fitzsimmons enters the Middle Tennessee game having made a catch in 34 straight contests, dating back to his freshman season of 1996. The record for consecutive games with a catch is 35 games, held by Alex Davis (1989-92).

    Connecticut Football Record Book
    Consecutive Games w/Reception

    Rank No. Player Years
    1. 35 Alex Davis 1989-92
    2. 34 John Fitzsimmons 1996-present
    3. 33 Carl Bond 1996-98
    3. 33 Mark Didio 1989-91
    5. 31 David Dunn 1985-87

    Sophomore linebacker Uyi Osunde has totaled four double-digit tackle efforts on the season, including three straight games. Osunde leads the team in that category with his efforts against Eastern Michigan (ten tackles), Boston College (11), Akron (ten) and South Florida (ten). Sophomore linebacker Razul Wallace and sophomore safety Jamal Lundy each have two double-digit tackle efforts, while junior linebacker Justin Cook and true freshmen defensive backs Terrance Smith and Chris Meyer each have one.

    Three key defensive performers and starters for the Husky defense have been lost for the season due to injury. The latest of the casualities is junior linebacker Jamie Lenkaitis, who suffered a torn right MCL in the loss to Northeastern and will miss the remainder of the season. Junior cornerback Roy Hopkins suffered a torn MCL in his left knee against Eastern Michigan and will miss the rest of the season. He will apply for a medical redshirt at the end of the season and is expected to return in 2001 with two years of eligibility remaining. Senior linebacker Brandon Smith, the 1999 Team Defensive MVP, suffered a concussion during pre-season and has decided to end his playing career rather than risk further serious injury.

    During the 2000 season, UConn will have game captains for each contest. This week's game captain is senior kicker Jeff Cammuso.

    For each Husky win in 2000, the UConn coaching staff will award three game balls, one each for offense, defense and special teams.

    2000 UConn Game Ball Recipients

    Game Offense Defense Specialists
    Colgate Tracey Wilkins Coles
    Buffalo Small  Lenkaitis  Bradford
    Akron Benson Stroman Heyl/Richmond

    For each game in 2000, the UConn coaching staff will pick offensive and defensive scout team players of the week. These players will travel to that week's game if it is on the road or stay at the team hotel on Friday night for home games.

    2000 UConn Scout Team Players of the Week

    Game Offense Defense
    EMU Richard Bellina Ken Wilson
    Colgate Justin Spence Frank Quagliano
    Buffalo O'Neil Wilson Tyler King
    N'Eastern Barry Crable Bill Neumann
    Louisville Brian Krause Walt Villela
    BC Chris Bellamy WarrenSpivey
    Akron Justin Spence Nedvonne Young
    USF Keron Henry MikeMcIntosh

    A trademark of the Husky offense in 2000 has been the ability of the Husky quarterback to use all of his available options. The Huskies have ten different players with a reception and eight of those ten have caught at least 12 passes. Seniors John Fitzsimmons (36 catches, 545 yards, seven TD) and Steve O'Connor (34 catches, 501 yards, two TD's) lead the unit.

    Sophomore Geoff Heyl won the placekicking job with a solid pre-season and has continued his stellar play through eight games. Heyl hit the game-winning 30-yard field goal with four seconds remaining in the win over Akron and has hit on nine-of-13 FG's in 2000 and 18-of-20 PAT's. He made a career-best 48- yard FG in the loss to Boston College. With Heyl handling the placekicking duties in 2000, he has become the eighth placekicker in the last six seasons to handle the starting kicker role. The Husky kicking carousel looks this way: 1995-- David DeArmas, 1996-- Jon Cohen, Mike Morelli, 1997-- Robb Myers, 1998-- Jim McManus, 1999-- Jeff Cammuso, Marc Hickok, 2000-- Geoff Heyl.

    Freshman punter Adam Coles continues his impressive play as the Husky punter. Coles, a 24-year old former Australian Rules Football player, is averaging 40.5 yards per punt on 41 kicks. He had a long of 56 yards vs. Colgate and had kicks of 53 and 54 yards against Akron. The UConn single season mark for punting average is 41.7, set by Jim Carriere in 1988.

    Junior QB Ryan Tracey has had a tremendous debut season as the Husky signal caller. His eight-game totals are 159-for-292 for 1,984 yards and 15 touchdowns. He only threw five interceptions. With four 300-yard passing games, Tracey continues to head into uncharted territory for UConn QB's. He has already tied the single season record for 300-yard games and is only two off the career mark.

    All-Time 300-Yard Passing Game Leaders

    No. Career Passer No. Season
    6 95-98 Shane Stafford 4 1998
    4 00-+ RYAN TRACEY 4 2000
    4 87-91 Cornelius Benton 3 1991
    4 87-90 Matt DeGennaro 2 1988
    2 78-81 Ken Sweitzer 2 1981

    Junior QB Ryan Tracey now holds the mark for passing yards in the first five games of a season with 1,493, breaking the mark of Cornelius Benton, who threw for 1,474 yards to start the 1991 season. Benton had a pair of 400-yard games and one 300-yard effort in that stretch. Tracey's 14 TD's are also a five-game best. In 1998, Shane Stafford had 12 TD passes through five games. Tracey fell just short of the six-game mark with his total of 1,668. The six-game mark for passing yards is 1,692, held by Benton in 1991. Tracey's 14 TD's in six games also surpasses any six-game total in school history.

    Ryan Tracey's four TD passes against Northeastern tied a single game UConn mark, held by five other QB's. Shane Stafford threw four TD's in a game four times in his career, Matt DeGennaro did it twice, and Brian Hoffmann, Larry Corn and Ken Sweitzer also tossed four TD passes in one game at UConn.

    Junior quarterback Ryan Tracey made his first appearance as a Husky vs. Eastern Michigan and, statistically, his debut was among the top quarterbacking performances in school history. His 340 passing yards were the ninth highest single game total in UConn history and the most-ever by a QB in his first game. His 49 pass attempts were the fifth most by a Husky QB and his 55 total plays rank tenth in school history. Tracey completed 23-of-49 passes, threw three TD passes and had one interception.

    Junior tailback Taber Small has 426 yards and seven touchdowns in the 2000 season. In his career, Small has 1,202 rushing yards, 21 rushing TD's (tied for sixth all- time at UConn) and he has had six multiple TD games in his career. He has cracked the 100-yard mark in a game on two occasions. In 1999, Small had a school record streak of eight straight games with a rushing touchdown and he finished the year with 757 yards on the season and 14 rushing touchdowns. He had 15 touchdowns overall. He averaged 8.2 points per game, placing him tied for 27th in the country in the final Division I-AA statistics. His 14 rushing touchdowns and 15 total TD's are both tied for third on the UConn single season list. Walt Trojanowski totaled 22 TD's in 1945, all rushing and Wilbur Gilliard's 17 rushing TD's in 1993 was the best I-AA total in Husky history.

    Senior John Fitzsimmons went scoreless against BC, snapping his streak of games with a TD catch at five. He had a TD catch in each of the first five games in 2000, the second such streak for Fitz in his Husky career and one that matches the school record. Alex Davis is the only other Husky to catch a TD pass in five straight games, doing so in the 1992 season. Fitzsimmons also had a TD catch in the first five games of the 1998 season.

    UConn set a single game attendance record of 16,632 in the win over Colgate, breaking the old mark of 16,464 set in 1970 vs. Rhode Island. The game was the first advance sellout in UConn Football history. The game vs. Northeastern was the second straight advance sellout and the attendance of 16,549 is the third largest crowd in school history. The homecoming contest vs. South Florida was the third straight advance sellout and the attendance total of 16,585 is the second biggest home crowd in UConn history.

    A total of 12 true freshmen have seen action in 2000, five earning starts on defense and one on offense. Ten saw action for the Huskies vs. Eastern Michigan, marking the second straight season that UConn has had ten or more true frosh see action in the opener. Last season, 12 true freshmen played in the opener vs. Hofstra. In 2000, the following first-year Huskies have seen game action: Evan Benson (one start), Chris Clarke, Adam Coles, Jason Dellaselva (three starts), Davion Dixon, Trenton Jones (four starts), Terry McClowry, Chris Meyer (three starts), Sean Mulcahy (two starts), Chandler Poole, Terrance Smith (four starts) and Michael Ziccardi. UConn had 17 true freshmen see action in 1999.

    UConn's 2000 schedule is noteworthy in part because of the team nicknames their opponents seem to share. UConn plays two Eagles (Eastern Michigan & Boston College), two Cardinals (Louisville & Ball State), two Bulls (Buffalo & South Florida), the Red Raiders and Blue Raiders (Colgate & Middle Tennessee) and also has the always popular battle of the Huskies with Northeastern. Akron (Zips) and Rhode Island (Rams) lend little to this note, but both do have four letters in their nickname.

    UCONN ON TV IN 2000
    The Huskies will have five games televised during the 2000 season. The opener at Eastern Michigan was carried by Connecticut Public Television, as was the week three match-up at Buffalo. The contest at Boston College on October 7 was carried throughout the New England region on NESN. The October 28 game vs. South Florida will be broadcast by ESPN Regional, seen locally on NESN and in Florida on Fox Sports Net and WMOR-TV in Tampa. The game vs. Rhode Island on November 11 will be broadcast by Cox Communications of Rhode Island, with local television plans undetermined at this point.

    UConn moves into a new era of Division I-A football during the 2000 season. The Huskies will spend the 2000, 2001 and 2002 seasons playing I-A football with Memorial Stadium (cap. 16,200) as their home field. The 2003 season will bring the opening of the Stadium at Rentschler Field (cap. 40,000) in East Hartford, CT. UConn is scheduled to compete as an independent for five seasons and in 2005 begin play in the BIG EAST Football Conference.

    During the 2000 season, UConn head football coach Randy Edsall will join Joe D'Ambrosio for a weekly radio show on WTIC-AM 1080. The show will be on Monday nights, beginning at 6:00 p.m. and all of the shows will be held at Rookies Sports Bar in Cromwell.

    UConn finishes its three-game homestand with its 2000 home finale, a 12:30 match-up against the Rams of Rhode Island at 12:30 p.m.

    Boston College scored on seven of eight first half possessions en route to a 41-3 halftime lead and an eventual 55-3 decision over the Huskies. UConn turned it over on its first two possessions and got a career-long 48- yard field goal by Geoff Heyl with 11 seconds left in the first quarter for its only points of the day. Junior QB Ryan Tracey had a tough outing, throwing interceptions on the first two Husky drives of the day and finishing 17-of-33 for 175 yards. Junior WR Steve O'Connor had career-best totals of nine catches for 129 yards, while sophomore linebackers Razul Wallace and Uyi Osunde each totaled 11 tackles.

    The Huskies put together a gritty effort against the heavily favored Cardinals, but a big Louisville third quarter was the difference in a 41-22 victory. UConn trailed only 10-9 at the half, but the Cardinals outscored the Huskies 17-0 in the third to pull away. Junior QB Ryan Tracey continued to put up big numbers, going over the 300-yard mark for the fourth time in five games. Senior John Fitzsimmons caught his seventh TD pass of the season and junior Rashad Drayton had five catches and a TD reception.

    It was a tale of two halves in the battle of the Huskies and UConn came up on the short end of a 35- 27 score after going into halftime with a 27-15 lead. Connecticut junior QB Ryan Tracey was clicking on all cylinders in the first half, throwing four TD passes, two to senior John Fitzsimmons. But the Northeastern defense stiffened in the second half and tailback L.J. McKanas churned out 225 rushing yards on a school-record 47 carries.

    The Huskies extended Buffalo's winless streak to 18 games by holding off the Bulls for a 24-21 win in Buffalo. Junior tailback Taber Small gained a bruising 137 yards and scored a TD, while senior wideout John Fitzsimmons had four catches and a touchdown. Senior defensive tackle Ronel Jumpp's sack with under 20 seconds remaining forced the Bulls to attempt a 58-yard field goal at the buzzer, which fell well short.

    UConn earned its first win of the Division I-A era in convincing fashion by routing I-AA Colgate 37-7 in front of a sellout and UConn record crowd of 16,632. Junior QB Ryan Tracey put up big numbers for the second straight week, throwing for 327 yards, while junior tailback Taber Small rushed for 82 yards and three TD's. Senior wideout John Fitzsimmons caught a TD pass and senior defensive end Jamar Wilkins led the defense with a pair of sacks on the night.

    UConn's Division I-A debut went down to the wire and ended in a heartbreaking 32-25 loss to Eastern Michigan. The Eagles capitalized on a mistake in the Husky punting game and scored the game-winning TD with under two minutes to go. The Huskies had rallied from a 24-10 second half deficit to take a 25-24 lead. Senior John Fitzsimmons caught four passes for 124 yards and two scores, while junior Ryan Tracey's debut at the QB position was stellar, as he threw for 340 yards and three TD's on the night. Defensively, sophomore linebackers Razul Wallace and Uyi Osunde both recorded ten tackles and seven of Wallace's were for a loss.