Nov. 5, 2012
STORRS, Conn. - The University of Connecticut football team looks to snap a four-game losing streak when it hosts Pittsburgh at 8:00 pm under the lights at Rentschler Field on Friday night. The game will be broadcast nationally on ESPN2 and can be heard on the UConn IMG Sports Radio Network at 1080 WTIC AM.
The Huskies are 3-6 on the season and are 0-4 in the BIG EAST for the first time in program history. The Panthers enter at 4-5 overall and 1-3 in league play. Pittsburgh is coming off a 29-26 three overtime loss at Notre Dame on Saturday.
For a look at the UConn media notes CLICK HERE.
We will hold a live chat during the game here at UConnHuskies.com. For more information, please see below.
Head coach Paul Pasqualoni held his weekly press conference Monday morning. Below are quotes from coach Pasqualoni and select student-athletes.
Head Coach Paul Pasqualoni
"We have a short week with a Friday night 8:00 game. Yesterday was a practice day. Today is, as opposed to being the player's day off, this is the equivalent of first and second down, which is our Tuesday. So it's a fairly heavy work day today. I'm looking forward to getting outside. It will be a good outdoor game, typical of playing in the Northeast. We're all used to that accustomed to it and looking forward to it. We're looking forward to putting together good week."
Are you seeing a lot of copycat defenses week-to-week?
"Not necessarily. The one thing that I will say that is happening each week, which is not unusual because we do the same thing, you see a little bit different blitz than what they had shown. Not everybody goes into the next game with exactly the same pressure they'd shown the week before. Other than that I wouldn't say it's a copycat thing where everybody runs the same schemes."
Can you talk about the offense's struggles vs. BIG EAST opponents?
"That's something that if we can get the run game going, especially running it a little bit better in the red zone, we could have more production in that area. We need to come up with some runs that will really help us in the play action game; make them commit more people and be a little bit worried about blitzing. I think it will help that. The points [in BIG EAST games] are from a lack of consistent production. For me it starts with the running game."
Is Lyle McCombs running at 100%?
"Every game you get a little nicked up and a little bumped, but I think [Lyle McCombs] is 100%. I don't think there is an injury issue there. I think it is just a matter of finishing the block."
How are the players dealing with the disappointment of four-straight losses?
"I think the South Florida game was a game we played with excellent effort. It was a great night, great atmosphere, BIG EAST conference game and the kids are very much looking forward to this week. They had a good day yesterday and they'll come in today and they'll be fired up and ready to go. There is still a lot of football to play. Obviously, we're disappointed, but that hasn't diminished what we're doing."
What are your thoughts on Pittsburgh?
"They're pretty good' probably the best 4-5 team in the country. [Quarterback] Tino Sunseri has had a really good year' probably his best year. [Running back] Ray Graham is kind of a special guy. He had that injury against us last year and he's clearly come back from that injury and I think he is playing really good football. I like Devin Street. I think he's good and [Mike] Shannahan. I think he's pretty good. They've brought in the Wisconsin zone running game and doing a really good job with running the ball. They run the zone play and do a very good job of it. I think it's very conducive to what they're doing with the backs they have."
What are the main differences between the Wisconsin and Pittsburgh offenses?
"It's not so much zone-read [at Pittsburgh], it's zone. Which mean they run to the center a great deal more and there is shotgun, but not as much shotgun. So it's a little bit more under the center and it's a little more traditional quarterback taking the snap and going back to hand off to the tailbacks. They run inside and outside zones."
Does Nick Williams need to take more chances in the return game?
"When you get a pretty good kicker and you get a little bit of wind behind you, it's awfully hard to get a kick-off. We have to do a better job of holding people up on a punt return."
Redshirt Sophomore Wide Receiver Geremy Davis
On working on improving:
"I am just trying to do the best I can. I am paying close attention to what the coaches are saying and trying to execute. I am working hard at trying to get more yards after the catch; it's just the little things that help us win the game. Hopefully these losses turn into wins."
On studying film and learning from it:
"There is never a perfect game. You can always go back to the film and learn something. It might just be one little thing but it is something. Anything to help the team win."
Redshirt Junior Kicker Chad Christen
On being mentally prepared:
"A lot of it is mental. I know what I can do physically. I know how far I can kick it and what range is good for me. I need to go out with confidence and try not to think too much."
On improving after the Temple game:
"I absolutely lost confidence after the Temple game and the misses. I just didn't feel myself heading into the game. The overtime miss was all mental. I was able to learn from that and really bounce back."