CONNECTICUT HEAD COACH RANDY EDSALL
A veteran in his 23rd year of major college coaching with three years in the NFL, Edsall has tackled the challenge of bringing a former NCAA Division I-AA team up to par with the BIG EAST in a six year span head on, guiding the Huskies to victory in the 2004 Motor City Bowl. He has compiled a 36-41 career record in his seventh season at UConn, including wins in 25 of UConns last 36 games. He is 1-0 vs. Pittsburgh. Immediately prior to becoming UConns head coach in 1998, Edsall served as defensive coordinator at Georgia Tech in 1998 under George OLeary. Edsall began his coaching career at his alma mater, Syracuse, from 1980-1990, working under Frank Maloney and Dick MacPherson in a variety of capacities. Among his highlights at Syracuse was being a part of the 1987 team that went undefeated at 11-0-1, tying Auburn, 16-16, in the Sugar Bowl. Edsall moved on to Boston College where he coached defensive backs under Tom Coughlin from 1991-93 before following Coughlin to the NFLs Jacksonville Jaguars, staying on the First Coast through the 1997 season. Edsall is a native of Glen Rock, Pa., and graduated from Susquehannock High School. Last winter, he was inducted into the York Area Sports Hall of Fame.
PITTSBURGH HEAD COACH DAVE WANNSTEDT
Back where is coaching career began, Dave Wannstedt is 4-5 as head coach at Pittsburgh. He was also 87-94 in 11 years as an NFL head coach. In his 30-year coaching career he has been a part of 10 bowl teams, six NFL playoff teams, two college national champions and one Super Bowl champion. Wannstedt started his coaching career as an assistant at Pitt under both Johnny Majors and Jackie Sherrill from 1975-78, including the schools 1976 national championship team. After stops at Oklahoma State and USC, he served as Jimmy Johnsons defensive coordinator at Miami from 1986-88, helping the Hurricanes to the 1987 national title. He went with Johnson to the Dallas Cowboys, helping them beat Buffalo in Super Bowl XXVII. Wannstedt then served as the Chicago Bears head coach from 1993-98 and is the third winningest coach in the proud franchises storied history. Most recently, he was head coach of the Miami Dolphins from 2000-04. A native of Baldwin, Pa., he graduated from Pitt in 1974. As an offensive tackle, Wannstedt captained the Panthers 1973 Fiesta Bowl team.
RADIO & TV COVERAGE
WERE ON THE WB IN HARTFORD
This weeks game will be broadcast by ESPN Regional as the BIG EAST Game of the Week, shown locally on WTXX TV-20. Dave Sims (play-by-play) and John Congemi (color) will call the action. It is UConns fourth BIG EAST Game of the Week appearance, but its first league game after three non-conference contests.
For the 14th consecutive season, WTIC 1080-AM in Hartford serves as the flagship station for the UConn Radio Network. WTIC is the states only 50,000 watt signal and can be heard in 23 states and parts of Canada. Veteran UConn announcers Joe DAmbrosio (play-by-play) and Wayne Norman (color commentary) return to call the action with Bob Joyce on the sidelines. The UConn pregame show begins 90 minutes prior to kickoff, while at home games, the UConn Tailgate Show will air two and a half hours prior to the game with Arnold Dean and Kevin Nathan. The UConn Football Radio Network also includes WILI 1400-AM in Willimantic, WXLM, 102.3-FM in New London, WLIS 1420-AM in Old Saybrook, WMRD 1150-AM in Middletown and WLAD 800-AM in Danbury. UConn football games are also broadcast over the internet at WTIC.com.
THE SAME RIVER TWICE
UConn will play near the banks of the Monongahela River for the second consecutive week as the Huskies look to improve to 2-0 all-time against Pittsburgh. UConn took the inaugural meeting between the teams, 29-17, last Sept. 30 at Rentschler Field. The nationally-televised Thursday night game represented UConns first ever win in BIG EAST Conference play. This weeks game will be UConns first in the state of Pennsylvania during the Division I-A era, making the Keystone State the 14th different state to play host to the Huskies during their 22 road games since officially joining the I-A ranks in 2002.
ITS A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD
A total of 14 Huskies hail from the Keystone State and several of them are natives of the Pittsburgh area. Matt Bonislawski (Natrona Heights), Brandon Dillon (Woodbridge), Lawrence Green (McKeesport), Nate Tucker (Rochester) and Jason Williams (McKeesport) are all from western Pennsylvania...Also, UConn linebackers coach Todd Orlando is a native of Pittsburgh where he attended Central Catholic High School. He began his coaching career at Central Catholic and Fox Chapel Area High School...Fork Union Military has several alums in the game between UConns Afa Anoai and Brandon Dillon plus Pitts Raymond Kirkley and Conor Lee...Pittsburgh running backs coach David Walker was a teammate of Terry Richardsons in the Syracuse backfield from 1990-92. Scott Lakatos was the defensive graduate assistant on the 1992 team while Randy Edsall coached the then-Orangemen defensive backs on the 1990 team. Edsall was also Syracuses recruiting coordinator when Walker signed with the Orangemen...Pittsburgh Director of Football Operations Chris LaSala held the same title at BC when Edsall was there...Pitt assistant head coach Bob Junko was former Husky Tyler Kings father Steves position coach (linebacker) in college at Tulsa from 1970-72. Steve went on to a long career with the New England Patriots where he was a teammate of Pitt offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh from 1978-81...UConn assistant athletic trainer Andy Godek is a 2002 Pittsburgh graduate where he assisted with the football team...Edsalls administrative assistant, Joanne Fazio, is a Pittsburgh native.
ANGELS OF THE MORNING
UConn has won each of its last eleven games that have kicked off at noon or earlier, dating back to a 47-13 loss at No. 5 Virginia Tech on Sept. 27, 2003. In the Division I-A era, UConn is 17-4 overall in noon (or earlier) games. So far in 2005, UConn has defeated Army in a 12:00 p.m. kickoff. The 2004 season saw UConn post a 6-0 mark in morning games, taking home noon games against Murray State, Duke, Army, Temple and Buffalo, while topping Rutgers on the road in a rare 10:00 a.m. game on Thanksgiving morning. UConn won each of its last four nooners in 2003, topping Lehigh, Akron, Western Michigan and Rutgers, all at Rentschler Field, after the loss at Virginia Tech.
While UConn is 14-3 all-time at Rentschler Field, the results on the road have not always been as joyful for the Huskies, especially of late. Of UConn's 17 losses in the Division I-A era, 11 have come on the road. During the combined 2004 and 2005 seasons, UConn is 2-6 on the road but 9-2 at home with a 1-0 mark at neutral sites (Motor City Bowl vs. Toledo). UConn is 1-4 in road BIG EAST games with the lone win coming at Rutgers on Nov. 25, 2004 by a 41-35 count.
SENIOR DAY SUCCESS
UConn has won each of its last six Senior Day games regardless of site. UConn spoiled Senior Day last Nov. 25 at Rutgers and in 2002 at both Navy and Iowa State. The Huskies are 3-0 on their own home Senior Days in the Division I-A era.
HUSKY PLAYERS HOPE THEYRE LOOKING AT A FUTURE HOME
On Saturday, UConn will be playing in an active NFL stadium for the fifth time and is 2-2 in such games after defeating Toledo, 39-10, on Dec. 27, 2004 at Ford Field (home of the Detroit Lions) in the Motor City Bowl. UConn lost to South Florida in 2001 at Raymond James Stadium, home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and split a pair of games against Yale in 1973-74 at the Yale Bowl, which was serving as a temporary home of the New York Giants during the reconstruction of Yankee Stadium. UConn went 0-2 at Boston Universitys Nickerson Field in 1961-62 when the facility played host to the AFLs Boston Patriots. The Huskies have also played at six former NFL or AFL facilities in Franklin Field (Philadelphia Eagles, 1958-70), BCs Alumni Stadium (Boston Patriots, 1963, 1969), Harvard Stadium (Boston Patriots, 1963, 1970), Vanderbilt Stadium (Tennessee Oilers, 1998), Nippert Stadium (Cincinnati Bengals, 1967-69) and the Orange Bowl (Miami Dolphins, 1966-86).
GIVING IT THE OLD COLLEGE TRY
This week UConn will face the third of three former NFL head coaches on the 2005 docket as the Huskies meet up with a Pittsburgh Panthers team guided by former Chicago Bears (1993-98) and Miami Dolphins (2000-04) mentor Dave Wannstedt. On Sept. 17, UConn faced the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, under the direction of former Dallas Cowboys (1998-99) head coach Chan Gailey. Two weeks later, UConn went to West Point to battle a brave old Army team led by Bobby Ross. Ross previously coached the San Diego Chargers (1992-96) and Detroit Lions (1997-2000), guiding the Chargers to the 1994 AFC Championship and a berth in Super Bowl XXIX. Other former NFL head coaches currently heading up college programs include Florida Atlantics Howard Schnellenberger (Baltimore Colts), Hawaiis June Jones (Atlanta and San Diego), Kentuckys Rich Brooks (St. Louis Rams), Nebraskas Bill Callahan (Oakland), Oregon States Mike Riley (San Diego), South Carolinas Steve Spurrier (Washington), USCs Pete Carroll (NY Jets and New England) and Virginias Al Groh (NY Jets).
ITS HARD TO KEEP GOOD MEN DOWN
UConn is now 8-3 in games following a loss since Oct. 26, 2002. UConn did not avenge its last tow losses though as the Huskies lost to Rutgers, 26-24, on Oct. 22 a week after falling, 28-13, at Cincinnati on Oct. 15. UConn followed the Rutgers loss with a 45-13 defeat at No. 16 West Virginia on Nov. 2. The other exception during this stretch was last Nov. 13 when Georgia Tech beat UConn after an Oct. 30 loss at Syracuse. UConn had not lost three games in a row since dropping four straight from Sept. 28-Oct. 26, 2002, losing successive games against Ball State, Miami, Temple and Vanderbilt.
KINGS OF PAIN
Although head coach Randy Edsall will refuse to use it as a crutch, by Saturday, 17 players on UConns preseason two-deep will have missed at least one game this season due to injury. Starting fullback Lou Allen was added to the list this week after breaking a finger against West Virginia. The epidemic crested (hopefully) during consecutive games against Syracuse (Oct. 7) and Cincinnati (Oct. 15) when UConn lost a total of eight starters (QB Matt Bonislawski - collarbone, CB Ernest Cole - arm, DE Dan Davis - ankle, QB D.J. Hernandez - wrist, LB Danny Lansanah - stinger, LB Taurien Sowell - ankle, KR/PR Larry Taylor - knee and WR Brandon Young - ankle) to injury, several of them for the season. In addition to these eight, starting free safety M.J. Estep saw only limited action during the month of October with a broken thumb suffered at Georgia Tech on Sept. 17. UConn has spent the entire season without five members of its preseason two-deep in center Joe Akers (neck), DT Afa Anoai (knee), PK Tony Ciaravino (thigh), FS Ricky McCollum (shoulder) and LB Julius Williams (knee). Additionally, in practice the week following against Buffalo, UConn lost WR Ellis Gaulden for the year with a knee injury. Starting right tackle Craig Berry only played on three place kicks at Georgia Tech due to pneumonia and key special teamer Jahi Smith missed the Liberty game with concussion. In part due to these injuries, UConn has seen 19 different players make their first career start during the 2005 season, including three quarterbacks and 11 in all on offense.
The Huskies are 9-2 in November over the past four seasons combined, its entire tenure in Division I-A. UConns loss at Georgia Tech on Nov. 13, 2004 snapped a winning streak in the month of November that dated back to 2001, as UConn had posted a perfect 7-0 mark in the calendars penultimate month over the combined 2002 and 2003 seasons. In 2003, the Huskies were a perfect 3-0 in November with wins over Western Michigan (Nov. 1), Rutgers (Nov. 8) and Wake Forest (Nov. 15). Those wins came on the heels of a 4-0 November in 2002 as the Huskies topped Florida Atlantic (Nov. 2), Kent State (Nov. 9), Navy (Nov. 16) and Iowa State (Nov. 23). The Huskies defeated Buffalo (Nov. 20) and Rutgers (Nov. 25) in November of 2004. No. 16 West Virginia handed UConn a 45-13 loss on Nov. 2 to give the current November an inauspicious debut. UConns last November loss, prior to Georgia Tech, came on Nov. 24, 2001 when the Huskies lost to Temple at Franklin Field in Philadelphia in a contest that was rescheduled after the September 11 terrorist attacks. In addition to its 9-2 November mark, UConn is 1-0 in December play after defeating Toledo, 39-10, in the 2004 Motor City Bowl.
HUSKIES HOPE TO REVERSE TRENDS
It has been a tale of two seasons so far for UConn in 2005 as the Huskies rolled to a 4-1 start behind the nations leading defense and a ferocious rushing attack, but the team has faltered in the last few weeks. UConn will aim to reverse these trends immediately. Last year the Huskies also lost their opening game in November (at Georgia Tech) but regained itself to end the season on a three-game winning streak.
STAT FIRST 5 LAST 3
Rushing Offense 251.8 91.3
Total Offense 381.4 259.3
Scoring Offense 36.6 18.0
Rushing Defense 95.6 229.7
Passing Defense 129.8 179.7
Total Defense 225.4 409.3
Scoring Defense 9.6 33.0
Turnover Margin +8 -2
ONLY SECOND TIME FOR CONSECUTIVE 4-1 STARTS
UConn began the season at 4-1 for the second consecutive year after also starting the 2004 season on a 4-1 clip. The only other instance of UConn winning four of its first five games in consecutive seasons came in 1997-98.
The Huskies opened their 2005 season by outscoring their opposition 100-0 over a span of 122:27. UConn shutout Buffalo, 38-0, and Liberty, 59-0, to open the season, and scored a field goal on its opening drive at Georgia Tech in week three. The Yellow Jackets soon scored though when Taylor Bennett hit Calvin Johnson for a 42-yard touchdown on Tech's first play from scrimmage at 12:13. Stretching from Sept. 17 back to the 11:47 mark of the third quarter of the 2004 Motor City Bowl, UConn scored a total of 110 unanswered points over a span of 149:14.
SUMNER'S TIME DONE COME AND GONE, MY OH MY
With UConns next win, head coach Randy Edsall will pass Sumner Dole for fourth place on UConn's all-time coaching wins list. Edsall presently has 36, matching Dole's total from 1923-33. Also a renowned baseball coach who led UConn to the College World Series in 1957 and 1959, J.O. Christian is the torchbearer for UConn gridiron mentors with 66 career wins from 1939-49. Tom Jackson won 62 games from 1983-93 while Robert Ingalls' teams beat 49 opponents from 1952-63.
TURNING OVER A NEW LEAF
After standing at a pedestrian +1 in turnover margin after three games, UConn forced a combined seven turnovers against Army and Syracuse without committing one of its own. Despite a -3 mark at Cincinnati, UConn remains ranked 27th nationally with a +6 (0.75 per game) margin.
WE'RE GOING STREAKING!!!
UConn held a five-game winning streak prior to its loss at Georgia Tech on Sept. 17, one which stood tied with Oregon State for the fifth-longest in the nation at the time. This string (from Nov. 20, 2004-Sept. 11, 2005) was UConn's third winning streak of at least five games during its brief 42-game Division I-A existence. The Huskies rattled off seven straight wins from Oct. 18, 2003-Sept. 11, 2004 and six straight from Nov. 2, 2002 to Sept. 6, 2003. Prior to these three runs, UConn hadn't strung together five consecutive wins since taking seven straight from Nov. 19, 1994 to Oct. 14, 1995.
CONN-TROLLING THE FLOW OF THE GAME
A telling sign of UConn's strong performance on both sides of the ball during its brief tenure as a Division I-A program has been its ability to both record and prevent long drives. Since the start of the 2002 season, UConn's offense has strung together 39 scoring drives of at least 80 yards while the Husky defense has surrendered just 19 such marches. UConn also holds an 8-3 advantage over its opponents in the number of 90-yard and over drives since becoming a I-A program.
CONNECTICUT'S MOST SUCCESSFUL THREE-YEAR RUN EVER
The Huskies have posted .500 or better seasons in each of their past three campaigns, the school's first three Division I-A seasons, finishing at 6-6 in 2002, 9-3 in 2003 and 8-4 in 2004. The 23 combined wins over the 2002-04 seasons mark the winningest three-year span in school history. UConn had previously won 22 games over a three-year period three times, from 1996-98, 1987-89 and 1986-88. The school-record for most wins over a four-year span is 30, set from 1986-89 and matched from 1995-98. UConn would equal that mark with seven wins in 2005.
HUSKIES DOMINATING ON BOTH SIDES OF THE BALL
Over the past 36 games, UConn has outgained its opponent 29 times. The first exception came when UConn was outgained by Rutgers 455-321 on Nov. 8, 2003 in its home finale, a game the Huskies won 38-31. It happened three times in 2004, coming on Sept. 17 at Boston College when the Eagles held a 334-291 edge, on Oct. 13 when West Virginia held a 462-365 advantage and on Nov. 13 when Georgia Tech outgained UConn 410-225. The Yellow Jackets repeated the feat on Sept. 17, 2005 as did Rutgers on Oct. 22 and WVU on Nov. 2. This stretch, like many UConn trends, dates back to a disheartening 28-24 loss at Vanderbilt on Oct. 26, 2002. Over this 36 game span, UConn has averaged 428.2 yards per game of total offense and 315.6 yards per game of total defense.
After each UConn victory, head coach Randy Edsall awards game balls for the teams top performer on offense, defense and special teams. This years game ball recipients will receive a slightly different prize. UConn has switched to Nike 3005 model game balls from the Wilson GST model balls that the team used from 2002-04. In addition to the regular 2005 recipients listed below, Edsall presented a special game ball to strength and conditioning coordinator Jerry Martin after the Huskies defeated Syracuse, his alma mater.
Buffalo: Matt Bonislawski (offense), Deon McPhee (defense), Larry Taylor (special teams).
Liberty: Matt Bonislawski (offense), Danny Lansanah (defense), Matt Nuzie (special teams).
Army: Terry Caulley (offense), Darius Butler (defense), Graig Vicidomino (special teams).
Syracuse: D.J. Hernandez (offense), Shawn Mayne (defense), Larry Taylor (special teams).
Active Career Game Ball Leaders: Terry Caulley (5), Larry Taylor (5), Cornell Brockington (4), James Hargrave (3), Matt Nuzie (3), Matt Bonislawski (2), Dan Murray (2), Jason Williams (2), Allan Barnes, Darius Butler, D.J. Hernandez, Shane Hussar, Danny Lansanah, Shawn Mayne, Deon McPhee, Grant Preston, Graig Vicdomino, Brandon Young.
Each week head coach Randy Edsall issues an award for the Scout Team Player of the Week on both offense and defense. In recognition of their often-overlooked hard work, those players earn a spot on the Husky travel squad and the dress list for that weeks game. The weekly honorees are listed below.
Game Offense Defense
Buffalo OL Jared Pratt DB Terry Baltimore
Liberty WR Todd Dorcelus DL Brandon Dillon
Georgia Tech OL Dan Ryan LB Robert Theoudele
Army OL Lawrence Green LB Bernie Huzar
Syracuse FB Stanley Williams LB Robert Theoudele
Cincinnati OL Alex LaMagdelaine LB Bernie Huzar
Rutgers TE Rob Getek LB Carl Teague
West Virginia RB Donald Brown II DE Nate Tucker
AN ELITE EIGHT
UConn finished the 2004 season ranked 19th nationally in total offense (429.8 ypg) and 27th in total defense (327.42 ypg). Nationally, UConn was one of only eight well-balanced teams to rank in the top 27 of both categories, joining Auburn, California, Louisville, Oklahoma, Texas, Virginia and USC. All but No. 23 Virginia finished the year ranked in the top nine of both polls, while the Cavaliers did climb as high as number six during the season. The elite octet also includes three of the four BCS bowl game winners (USC - Orange, Auburn - Sugar and Texas - Rose).
A total of six members of the 2004 UConn football team, and eight former Huskies overall, worked their way into NFL training camps this fall. Three Huskies have made their respective squads, giving UConn three active players in the league for the first time since 1989 when Glenn Antrum (New England), John Dorsey (Green Bay) and Eric Napolski (Indianapolis) all carried the UConn flag in the professional ranks. Alfred Fincher was a third round selection of the New Orleans Saints and was joined there by free agent signee Keron Henry. Fincher broke his right hand in a preseason game but made his NFL debut on Oct. 9 at Green Bay. Henry was cut on Sept. 3 but briefly retained for the Saints practice squad. Dan Orlovsky was a fifth round selection of the Detroit Lions and was expected to make the club as the number three quarterback. Instead, he made the top backup to Joey Harrington in the wake of Jeff Garcias broken leg, suffered on Sept. 2. Orlovsky made his professional debut on Sept. 18 against Chicago. Tyler King (Arizona), Ryan Krug (New England) and Justin Perkins (Kansas City) all signed free agent deals but did not make their respective teams. Krug is presently serving his second tour with the Patriots practice squad. Uyi Osunde, a team captain in 2003, was in Buffalos camp after spending the 2004 season on the Bills practice squad, but was cut by the team on Aug. 28. Brian Kozlowski is suiting up at tight end for the Washington Redskins in 2005, his 12th season in the NFL.
FEWER FRESH FACES
With the development of the Husky program the past few seasons, UConn has been able to redshirt more players and rely less on true freshmen to make an immediate impact just months removed from high school. Only six true freshmen have seen action so far in 2005 (Anthony Barksdale, Cody Brown, Dennis Brown, Jimmy McClam, Courtney Robinson and walk-on Anthony Rouzier), all of them in either reserve roles or on special teams, except for the Browns. Cody started at defensive end at Cincinnati and Dennis at quarterback against Rutgers. Injuries forced Dennis into action while ramping up Codys role. Eight true freshmen appeared for UConn a year ago while six true freshmen played for the Huskies in 2003.
WE ARE THE WORLD
While the overwhelming majority of the 2005 UConn football team is comprised of players from the northeastern United States and Florida, the Huskies have a far greater international influence than a typical college football team with players hailing from three different foreign countries. UConn has two Canadian players, in the Quebecois duo of Shawn Mayne and Jason Ward. Offensive tackle Aloys Manga is a native of Duana, Cameroon while defensive tackle Deon McPhee is from the Bahamas.
Senior linebacker James Hargrave and defensive tackle Deon McPhee were named as team captains prior to the start of spring drills. It marked a departure for UConn which typically names captains after the conclusion of spring ball, but head coach Randy Edsall thought it was a better idea to have a leadership group in place earlier with such a young team. With only 51 varsity letters earned by the combined 2005 Husky squad, it ranks as the fifth least experienced in the nation.
WHAT CAN BROWN DO FOR YOU-CONN???
Against Rutgers on Oct. 22 UConn started its third quarterback in as many games as true freshman Dennis Brown stepped under center following injuries to Matt Bonislawski and D.J. Hernandez. For the second straight Saturday, a Husky signal caller made his first career start. Matt Bonislawski started each of the first five games of the year, but cracked his left clavicle against Syracuse on Oct. 7. Eight days later, redshirt freshman D.J. Hernandez made his starting debut at Cincinnati but fractured a bone in his left (non-throwing) wrist and missed the Rutgers game. Browns debut was steady even though it came is a losing effort. He completed more than half of his passes (18-of-35) for 192 yards with a pair of touchdowns and an interception, thrown deep down field in desperation with seconds remaining in the game. He also showed good mobility. Prior to this year, no quarterback had made a first career start for the Huskies since 2001. Dan Orlovsky had provided ample stability, starting each of UConn's last 41 games entering the 2005 season, including all 36 contests of the Division I-A era.
D.J. TURNS IT UP
Redshirt freshman D.J. Hernandez was elevated to starting quarterback in the wake of Matt Bonislwaski cracking his left clavicle (collar bone) on Oct. 7. Bonislwaski suffered the injury in the first quarter against Syracuse and Hernandez came on to guide the Huskies to a 26-7 victory, largely on the heels of his 86 rushing yards, averaging 5.7 yards on 15 carries with a touchdown. He made his first career start the following week on Oct. 15 at Cincinnati and completed 19 of his 43 passes for 191 yards with two touchdowns and an interception in a 28-17 UConn loss. He also gained 70 yards rushing in a gutsy performance as he played most of the game with a fractured bone in his left wrist that presently has him sidelined. Had the Cincinnati game gone differently, Hernandez would have became the first Husky signal caller to win on the road in his first career start since Sept. 30, 1995 when Shane Stafford led UConn to a 39-20 win at Yale. Just like Hernandez against Syracuse, Stafford saw his first significant game action in relief of an injured starter (Brandon Bailey), leading the team to 26 points in a home victory (26-25 vs. Buffalo) as a freshman. He went on to set many school seasonal and career passing records that stood until the Dan Orlovsky era.
Against Buffalo on Sept. 1, Matt Bonislawski became the sixth quarterback to make his first career start under Randy Edsall and just the second to win that game, joining Dan Orlovsky. Completing 11-of-18 passes, he was also only the second to complete over 50-percent of his passes, joining Chris Willis, and the second to throw multiple touchdowns, joining Ryan Tracey's three. Against Liberty on Sept. 10, he became the first Husky quarterback to win his first two starts since Brian Hoffmann won three straight to begin his tenure as a starter in 1998.
NEBRASKA IN BLUE???? HUSKIES LOOK LIKE THE HUSKERS
While UConn has featured a balanced attack the past three years, tilting slightly in favor of passing the ball, the trends have been drastically shifted in 2005. The Huskies have 370 running attempts to their credit at the moment, opposed by just 214 passing attempts for a ratio of 63-percent runs. In 2002, UConn was the epitome of balance, running both 421 passing and rushing plays after adjusting the team's sacks allowed, which the NCAA counts as rushing plays. UConn ran for 290 yards on 55 carries against Buffalo in the season opener on Sept. 1, both of which were highs for the Division I-A era, and has yet to look back. The Huskies surpassed each total a week later when UConn gained 376 yards on 62 carries against Liberty. The 376 yards on the ground against Liberty was the third best performance in school history and the best since gaining 394 at Yale on Sept. 30, 1995. UConn had not rushed for more than 290 yards in a game since scampering for 317 in a 45-7 win against Boston University on Nov. 1, 1997 during the Terriers' sad final days as a varsity program. The Huskies turned around and nearly topped the 300 mark again on Oct. 7 when they ran for 297 in a win over Syracuse on 58 attempts. Conversely, UConn's 15 passing attempts in the Syracuse game were its fewest since attempting just 13 passes against Massachusetts on November 18, 1995. UConn ranks 26th in the nation in rushing offense at 191.63 yards per game. The Huskies have not averaged more than 200 yards per game on the ground for a season since 1995 when UConn averaged 229.9 ypg.
A BONUS FROM BONES, D.J. AND DENNIS
On the season, UConn has received 409 yards rushing from Matt Bonislawski, D.J. Hernandez and Dennis Brown combined. Bonislawski's 26-yard touchdown run against Buffalo was the first by a UConn quarterback in 27 games, stretching back to Nov. 9, 2002 when Dan Orlovsky scored from one-yard out against Kent State in the final game at Memorial Stadium. It was the longest TD run by a UConn signal caller since Peter Lane scored on a 30-yard rush against Northeastern on Sept. 14, 1985 at Memorial Stadium. Hernandez's 86 rushing yards against Syracuse nearly made him the first Husky quarterback to cross the century mark since Oct.25, 1980 when Ken Sweitzer rushed for 120 yards against Maine.
THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT
UConn has an aggregate total of just 18 varsity letters earned by its current offensive players, tying for the second fewest of any team in the nation. Navy returns just a combined total of 17 offensive letters while UConn's 18 equals Louisiana-Lafayette. Although inexperienced, the current two-deep is loaded with some of the most talented players to ever come into the Husky program. UConn's recruiting has advanced dramatically with the ever-improving stature of the team and UConn's facilities. Proof positive that a low number of returnees can still be reason for optimism is the team in fourth place directly behind UConn and ULL...near-unanimous No. 1 Southern California.
TEACH YOUR CHILDREN WELL
A year ago, UConn was benefiting from an offensive line that combined to start an incredible 174 career games and powered the Huskies to the BIG EAST's top spot in both scoring and total offense. In 2005, seven of the 10 student-athletes on UConn's two-deep had never played a single down on the Huskies' offensive line prior to this season. Grant Preston (43 career starts) and Craig Berry (19 career starts) are the two veteran members of the line corps and have shifted roles to anchor the group from the tackle sports. Those two will be asked to help bring the unit along, in addition to position coaches Norries Wilson (centers and guards) and Dave McMichael (tackles). Randy Edsall has taken non-line duties off of the plates of both assistants so that they can focus more on the daily development of the linemen. Reports out of both spring practice and fall camp were that the group was progressing quickly, but practice experience is no substitute for game experience, something the group sorely lacks. In 2005, UConn has started redshirt freshmen making their UConn debuts at both center (Trey Tonsing) and right guard (Immanuel Hutcherson). The starting left guard was junior Matt Applebaum, a converted defensive lineman who had played sparingly in eight career games on defense. Of the five backups, three are redshirt freshmen and only sophomore left guard Brian Kersmanc (three games played) had ever seen action for the blue and white prior to the season opener against Buffalo. Redshirt freshman William Beatty made his first career start at Georgia Tech on Sept. 17 when Berry was slowed by pneumonia.
LET'S GET IT STARTED
UConn scored on its opening drive in each of its first four games this year and none of the last four. UConn is 3-1 when scoring on its opening drive and 1-3 when it does not.
UConn welcomed the return of junior tailback Terry Caulley in 2005. With his knee not yet 100-percent recovered from a serious injury suffered on September 27, 2003 at Virginia Tech, head coach Randy Edsall decided prior to the start of fall 2004 drills to air on the side of caution and redshirt Caulley for the season. Caulley, who played as a true freshman in 2002 when he was named to the Freshman All-America team, has two years of eligibility remaining. The shifty Caulley was leading the nation with 601 rushing yards in 2003 when he suffered a season-ending knee injury on a non-contact play as he made a cut on only his second carry of the game against the Hokies.
CAULL-ECTING 100-YARD GAMES
Terry Caulley has reached the century mark in 11 of his 23 career games played. His 11 career 100-yard rushing games rank second in school history, just one shy of equaling the benchmark number of 12 set by Vinny Clements from 1968-70.
LONG DISTANCE CAULLEY
Terry Caulley is one of only nine players in the country to average over 100 rushing yards per game (minimum 2,000 career yards. Caulley is averaging 105.0 yards per game as a Husky (2414 yards in 23 games). DeAngelo Williams of Memphis leads the list with an average of 135.1. Cornell Brockington is 25th on the list, averaging 70.2 ypg for his career.
HUSKIES CELEBRATE Y2K
UConn is one of just four schools in the nation to have two active players with over 2,000 career rushing yards. Terry Caulley has 2,414 to his credit while Cornell Brockington has gained 2,106 career yards on the ground for the blue and white. UConn is joined in this regard by North Texas (Jamario Thomas and Patrick Cobbs), Oklahoma (Adrian Peterson and Kejuan Jones) and TCU (Lonta Hobbs and Robert Merrill).
EDSALL'S RUNNING NON-ISSUE
While the depth chart includes an "or" at tailback between team-players Cornell Brockington and Terry Caulley, head coach Randy Edsall views this as a strength of his entire team as opposed to a lightning rod for controversy. Mutually respecting each other, both players are content to share time and Edsall will use both regularly, citing the creativity it will allow the offense to have by using the two weapons either situationally or in tandem. In releasing the depth chart on August 25, Edsall said "to me, we really don't have a starter in the traditional sense of the role. I feel totally confident in both (of their) abilities which they have each demonstrated consistently both in games the past few years and practices this fall. They are both going to get a significant amount of playing time this year. There isn't a true starter there. I look at them as equals for the most part and they can both do many things to help this team." A quick glance at the stats enforces this assessment. Entering the 2005 season, Brockington had 1,861 career rushing yards while Caulley had 1,854. Caulley had rushed for 22 touchdowns while Brockington had rushed for 21. Brockington had 41 career receptions for 295 yards and two touchdowns while Caulley had 39 catches for 286 yards and two touchdowns.
FINISHING IN THE RED IS GOOD
You wouldn't want your financial ledgers to be full of red ink, but UConn's 2004 late season success was in part due to finishing its time in the red zone in style. After going 5-for-5 in the regular season finale at Rutgers with all five scores being touchdowns and 6-of-7 in the Motor City Bowl, UConn scored on 43 of its 48 total red zone possessions last season (90%) with 27 touchdowns. UConn went on a similar tear to wrap up the 2003 season. The Huskies entered the Duke game on Sept. 11, 2004 having scored on each of its last 29 possessions in the red zone, dating back to its Oct. 18, 2003 game at Kent State. In the Division I-A era, UConn has tallied on 160 of 181 (88%) of its red zone possession with only one turnover during that span. Of the 21 non-scoring drives, 14 came as a result of a missed field goal attempt. UConn was a perfect 8-for-8 in the red zone against Liberty on Sept. 10.
SHARING THE WEALTH
Edsall has made a point of having a deep rotation at wide receiver throughout his time at UConn. The plan is the same for this year with senior Jason Williams the most experienced of a group that includes junior Brandon Young and several promising freshmen and sophomores. In fact, eight different Huskies caught a pass in the season opener against Buffalo even though UConn completed just 14 passes in the game. Through eight games, 13 different Huskies have caught a pass already in 2005 while UConn's 11 TD passes this year have been spread out to six different receivers. Regardless of who ends up in the mix, Edsall will keep them involved. During the 2004 season, 13 different Huskies caught a pass, nine hit double digits in receptions and nine different UConn players have caught a touchdown pass. In 2003, 15 different players caught a pass for UConn and eight Huskies hit double figures in receptions. A total of 10 different Huskies caught a touchdown pass in 2003. The stats were similarly diverse in 2002 when seven different Huskies caught at least 20 passes which tied for the fourth in the nation during the regular season. The shared receptions has also created an even distribution of receiving yardage. Despite the fact that UConn has thrown for 10,772 passing yards over the past three-plus seasons combined (256.5 ypg), the Huskies have had just 11 100-yard receiving games, with six different receivers reaching the plateau (Shaun Feldeisen, Keron Henry, Dan Murray, Williams, O'Neil Wilson and Young).
DAN-IMAL HAS NOSE FOR THE END ZONE
Dan Murray caught a pair of passes from his tight end position on Sept. 1 against Buffalo, both of them good for touchdowns. With 7:50 to play in the second quarter, Murray used his 6-5, 244 pound frame to pull down a 15-yard touchdown pass over an undersized Bull defender. Just minutes later, Murray repeated his feat at 4:15 on a 22-yard TD grab in the end zone. It marked consecutive regular season games with two touchdown catches for Murray. He put up career highs with six catches for 135 yards and two TDs on Thanksgiving Day, 2004, helping UConn cap its regular season with a 41-35 win at Rutgers. It was the first 100-yard receiving game by a UConn tight end since Brian Kozlowski had 151 at Boston University on Nov. 14, 1992. Murray's nine career touchdown receptions rank fourth in UConn history amongst tight ends.
YOUNG IS RESTLESS
The Huskies welcomed back one of their top wide receivers for the 2005 season. Junior Brandon Young suffered a foot injury in a bad automobile accident in his native Maryland the weekend before fall 2004 training camp started and missed the entire season. In addition to his 28 receptions and four touchdowns as a sophomore in 2003, Young also contributed as a kickoff and punt returner. He returned triumphantly to the starting lineup against Liberty, leading UConn with four catches, 61 yards and a touchdown. He also led the Huskies in receiving the following week at Georgia Tech. Young had one catch for 15 yards in the season opener against Buffalo.
HUSKIES STILL AMONGST TOP DEFENSES IN NATION
Through eight games, UConn ranks amongst the top 20 nationally in several defensive categories. UConn is third in the nation in both passing (148.50 ypg) and passing efficiency defense (92.83 rating). The Huskies are 13th in the nation in total defense, averaging 295.88 yards per game, and 18th in scoring defense (18.38 ppg). The Huskies lead the BIG EAST in all of these categories except for passing defense, in which it ranks second behind West Virginia. UConn is trying to become the first active member of the league to top the conference in total defense in consecutive seasons. UConn led the nation in total defense entering both the Syracuse (Oct. 7) and Cincinnati (Oct. 15) games.
THIRD DOWN INEFFICIENCY
UConn's opponents have found third downs this year to be a tough row to hoe. UConn leads the nation in third down conversion defense at 21% (23-for-112). Miami is second in the nation, but well behind UConn with a rate of 24-percent. Helping UConn to this has been steady first and second down defense, forcing teams to convert from longer distances on third down. Only 18 times this year has UConn's defense faced a third down and three yards or less (2.3 per game). Of 112 third down conversion attempts faced by the Huskies this year, 71 have been of seven yards or longer (63%). Teams haven't fared much better when going for it on fourth down against UConn either as the Huskies are 4-for-16 (25%) in fourth down defense, tying New Mexico State for fifth in the nation.
A SICKENING SIX-FOR-SIX
In each of the last six games, an injury-riddled UConn has featured a different starting lineup on defense. UConn has started a different middle linebacker in each of the last three games, a position that saw current New Orleans Saint Alfred Fincher start 35 of UConns 36 games between 2002-04.
UCONN DEFENSE RECORDS (DUNKIN') DONUTS
UConn's 38-0 shutout of Buffalo on Sept. 1 and 59-0 shutout of Liberty on Sept. 10 were historic on several fronts. Coupled with its 29-0 shutout of Buffalo on Nov. 20, 2004 in its home finale, UConn recorded shutouts in consecutive home games for the first time since a run of three straight home shutouts from 1967-1968. The Huskies closed their 1967 home slate with a 3-0 win over Holy Cross on Nov. 25 and began their 1968 home schedule with shutout wins over Vermont (21-0 on Sept. 20) and Maine (29-0 on Oct. 19)
The 59-0 margin was UConn's most lopsided shutout since the school's 125-0 victory over the Newport Naval Training Station in 1949
It marked the first time that UConn has opened its season with consecutive shutouts since 1928 when the Huskies rolled through their first seven games without allowing a score, before dropping a 51-13 contest at Boston College on Nov. 24, 1928...The Buffalo game marked UConn's first shutout in a home season opener since a 7-0 whitewashing of Vermont on Sept. 23, 1972
UConn now has at least one shutout in three of its four Division I-A seasons, along with the blankings of Navy in 2002 and Buffalo in 2004. UConn has not recorded a shutout in three out of four seasons since 1967-70
Prior to Buffalo, UConn last shutout the same team in consecutive seasons by stopping Maine in both 1967 and 1968
Looking beyond the borders of the Nutmeg State, the Buffalo game marked only the second time ever that a BIG EAST school has opened its season with a shutout of a Division I-A opponent, the other being West Virginia's 34-0 win at Pittsburgh on Aug. 31, 1996.
MOST DOMINANT DEFENSE IN A DECADE
UConn is the first school in a decade to open its season with consecutive shutouts. The last time any team shutout each of its first two opponents was in 1996 when Auburn beat UAB 29-0 and Fresno State 62-0 to open the season. This early success though isn't a harbinger of great things to come for the Huskies as that Tiger team, under coach Terry Bowden, went 5-4 the rest of the regular season, surrendering a pedestrian average of 27.7 points per game. The closest any team had come to matching those 1996 Tigers since then were Texas Tech (1998), Virginia Tech (1998) and Kansas State (2002), each of which allowed just three points in its first two games combined, each throwing a shutout in one game and yielding only a field goal in the other. With another shutout this season, UConn would be the first team since 2002 to record three shutouts in a single season. Kansas State, North Texas and Texas all accomplished that feat in 2002.
FOUR HOURS BETWEEN SCORES
When freshman Nicholas Chestnut scored for Syracuse on a 33-yard pass from Perry Patterson with 9:24 to play in UConn's 26-7 win over the Orange it did more than just break up a shutout for that particular game. It snapped a shutout streak of 170:36 to open the season at Rentschler Field and an overall home shutout streak of 233:27 of game action that covered almost four full games. Before the Chestnut score, UConn had posted three consecutive home shutouts as the last time visitors had tallied at Rentschler Field came when Temple's Phil Goodman caught a six-yard TD pass from Walter Washington with 2:51 to play in a 45-31 Husky win on Oct. 23, 2004. Had UConn held on to the shutout for the remaining 9:24 of the Syracuse game, the Rentschler Field shutout steak would have reached a full calendar year as the Huskies' next home game is on Oct. 22 vs. Rutgers. UConn also held an overall shutout streak of 149:14 earlier this year, dating back to the 2004 Motor City Bowl's third quarter, that was snapped at Georgia Tech.
THE QUARTERBACK MUST GO DOWN
One of the many benefits of the two lopsided season-opening wins was that it allowed head coach Randy Edsall to use many of his young players in game situations and let them gain experience. Not only did they figuratively get their feet wet, but they also performed well once they got on the field, something that has helped the team through its recent rash of injuries. A total of 20 different UConn defenders have factored in a tackle for loss over the first eight games and 12 different Huskies recorded at least a half of a sack. All of last season, 17 different UConn players recorded a TFL and nine different players had a sack, numbers that UConn eclipsed after just four games this fall.
USUALLY NO NEED FOR THE RED ALERT SIREN
In six of UConns eight games this year (excluding Cincinnati and West Virginia), UConn's opponents reached the red zone just six times out of a total of 88 drives One of the six possessions resulted in seven points for the Huskies when Darius Butler ran an interception back 86 yards for a touchdown at Army. In the other two games, UConn hasnt fared as well. The Bearcats found the red zone four times and West Virginia seven.
KING JAMES XXXII
Senior James Hargrave has done a solid job leading by example as the teams lone returning starter at linebacker and a co-captain. Hargrave tops the Huskies in 2005 with nine tackles for loss while ranking second with three sacks. He is tied for third overall with 43 total tackles. When UConn seemed to lack fire at Cincinnati on Oct. 15, Hargrave responded with a career-high 3.5 TFLs in a 28-17 loss to the Bearcats. Hargrave ranks fourth in UConn history with his 38.5 career TFLs after passing Alfred Fincher (2001-04) during the Cincinnati game. He has 251 total tackles in his Husky career.
BROWN NOSING A STARTING ROLE
Steady play by true freshman Cody Brown at defensive end this year earned him a start at Cincinnati, making him the first true freshman on either the offensive or defensive line to start a game in the Division I-A era. His play was one of the brighter spots for UConn defensively against the Bearcats as he made six tackles, including one for loss, and broke up a pass. For the season, Brown has 19 tackles, including four for a loss, with a sack, two pass break-ups and a forced fumble. He is by far the leading true freshmen tackler for UConn this year, as Jimmy McClam is second with just seven, mainly coming on special teams.
THE BUTLER DID IT. THE BUTLER DID IT. THE BUTLER DID IT.
Darius Butler tied a school, BIG EAST, and Michie Stadium record when he intercepted three passes in UConn's win at Army on Oct. 1. It is one of just two three-interception games in the nation this year to date and the first at UConn since 1984. Butler returned his interceptions for a school-record 122 yards, including an 86-yard touchdown. That run back was the third longest in school history and UConn's longest interception return since Dave Korponai ran one back 100 yards against Rhode Island on Nov. 17, 1962. Butler's 122 total return yards is the second-best effort in BIG EAST history, trailing only the 172 by Vann Washington of West Virginia on Oct. 29, 1994 against Louisiana Tech. The three interceptions tied, and the 122 yards broke, facility records for Army's fabled Michie Stadium which has seen many of college football's finest since it opened in 1924.
IT'S NO RUSE
True freshman walk-on Anthony Rouzier saw a start to his Husky career that none expected. A starter on the team's kickoff coverage unit, Rouzier played 23 snaps as a reserve linebacker late in routs of Liberty (14 plays) and Army (9). On those 23 defensive snaps, Rouzier has made two interceptions, returning one 51 yards for a touchdown at Army. It was the longest interception return by a UConn linebacker since Jamal Lundy scored from 62 yards out against Temple on Oct. 19, 2002. His touchdown at Army, coupled with Darius Butler's 86-yard interception return for a touchdown against the Cadets, marked the first time that UConn has ever returned two interceptions for a touchdown in the same game. With a rash of injuries, Rouzier was promoted to the regular back-up at middle linebacker prior to the West Virginia game and saw ample game action against the Mountaineers.
BUFFALO AND LIBERTY NOT GIVEN FREEDOM TO MOVE
During the Buffalo game, the Bulls did not run a single offensive play from UConn territory while Liberty ran just four plays (all in the first quarter) from UConn territory. Neither team even got close enough to attempt a field goal. This was made possible by UConn forcing punts on 17 of Buffalo and Liberty's combined 24 possessions, including 10 three-and-outs.
THEY CALL IT FOOTBALL FOR A REASON
In the past two-plus seasons, UConn's defense has done a far better job than its opponents of forcing punts as the Huskies have been able to receive 219 punts while booting the ball away just 167 times. In 2003, UConn forced its opponents to punt a staggering 85 times (7.1 per game). By comparison, the UConn offense punted just 60 times in 2003. Amongst the seasonal highlights, the UConn defense swarmed over Buffalo's offense forcing 11 Bull punts out of 13 UB possessions. The trend continued in the 2004 season opener as UConn forced Murray State to punt 11 times on its 15 possessions. In all, UConn forced 73 punts in 2004 (6.0 per game) while the Huskies punted 54 times. UConn looks to see more of the same in 2005 as for the second consecutive year, UConn forced 11 punts on opening day, this time the victim was Buffalo. A turnover on downs was all that prevented UConn from a perfect 12-for-12 mark in punt forcing against the Bulls on Sept. 1. UConn forced another six punts the following week against Liberty, seven at Georgia Tech and eight at Army. West Virginias six punts against UConn tied a season-high for the Mountaineers.
SPECIAL TEAMS NOTES
TAYLOR MADE RETURNS
Larry Taylor hurt his knee in UConns game at Cincinnati on Oct. 15 and the loss will be felt in the teams return game. Taylor ranks 18th in the nation in punt returns (12.30 average). A couple of weeks ago he also ranked seventh in kickoff returns, but has since fallen below the national minimum to be ranked because of both UConn's shutout wins the first two games and teams kicking the ball as far away from him as possible. Prior to the Army game on Oct. 1, Taylor was one of only two versatile players in the nation to rank in the top 20 of both kickoff and punt return yards, joining Brandon Williams of Wisconsin. He started the 2005 season off on the right foot with 118 punt return yards against Buffalo on Sept. 1, marking the eighth-best performance in BIG EAST history and the second-best ever by anyone not wearing either a Miami or Virginia Tech uniform. Taylor was not far off of the UConn record of 145 yards set by Joe Markus at Maine on Oct. 20, 1979. Taylor returned this fall after an electrifying true freshman season in 2004 during which he became only the second Husky ever (and the first since 1975) to return both a kickoff and a punt for a touchdown in the same season. Behind Taylor, UConn ranked 18th in the nation in punt returns in 2004 after finishing the previous season ranked 116th out of 117 Division I-A teams. Individually, he ranked second in the nation last fall by averaging 31.3 yards per kickoff return.
Diminutive true freshman Jimmy McClam saw his role grow over the course of the 2005 season both due to his progression on the field and UConns rash of injuries, a bug that claimed his 2005 season at West Virginia (knee). In the wake of Larry Taylors season-ending injury at Cincinnati on Oct. 15, he took over kickoff return duties and was an instant success in his first career start as a kick returner seven days later against Rutgers. McClam returned five kicks for 148 yards (29.6 average). The 148 yards tied for the fourth best single game performance in UConn lore and was not far off of the school benchmark of 165 yards set by George Boothe against Maine on Oct. 25, 1986.
ALL THE NUZIE THATS FIT TO PRINT
Having rode the rails through a roller coaster career, junior place kicker Matt Nuzie broke every major school career kicking and scoring record over a one-week span covering the Army (Oct. 1) and Syracuse (Oct. 7) games. Following an uneven freshman season and a slow start to his sophomore campaign, Nuzie caught fire and, by the end of the 2004 season, he was named a semifinalist for the Lou Groza Award and second-team All-BIG EAST. Nuzie ranked first in the BIG EAST, and eighth in the nation, in 2004 by averaging 1.67 field goals per game. His 20 made field goals set a UConn seasonal record. Nuzie capped a school-record streak of 10 consecutive made field goals with a 51-yard boot at Georgia Tech on Nov. 13, UConns longest since 1998. Against Duke on Sept. 11, 2004, he hit the game-winning field goal with 3:40 to play in UConn's 22-20 win. After a key miss at Boston College a week later, he rebounded. Against Pittsburgh he kicked his way to BIG EAST Player of the Week honors and a game ball. Nuzie hit on all three of his field goal tries and both of his extra point attempts. The highlight of the field goals was the 49-yard boot he hit as time expired in the first half after two "icing" time outs called by Pittsburgh.
WHO BUT HUSSAR???
Sophomore Shane Hussar fended off a challenge over the offseason from Chris Pavasaris to enter the 2005 campaign as UConns top punter. Troubled by nagging injuries as a true freshman last year, Hussar punted 46 times for a 36.9 yard average, playing in 11 of the teams 12 games. Hussar had the best performance of his young UConn career against Pittsburgh on Sept. 30, 2004 when he dropped five of his eight punts inside of the 20. Field position proved critical in the Husky win as UConn started drives at its own 39 as opposed to Pittsburgh beginning its marches at its own 22. He has punted 50 times in 2005 for a 39.2-yard average, but after a sub-par showing at West Virginia (34.2 average) has lost his starting job to Pavasaris for the Pitt game. Pavasaris averaged 41.0 yards on his three punts in Morgantown.
MOVIN ON UP TO THE EAST SIDE
The Huskies moved into brand new Rentschler Field in East Hartford for the 2003 season with the stadium opening its doors on August 30 when UConn defeated Indiana, 34-10. Conveniently located within miles of Interstates 91, 84 and 384, Adriaens Landing and downtown Hartford, the new home of the Huskies lies on 75 acres of land donated to the State of Connecticut from the historic Pratt & Whitney Airfield by company founder Frederick Rentschler. The new stadium boasts a capacity of 40,000 with 38 luxury suites in a massive press box tower which helps enclose the natural grass field. The $91.2 million construction project is an integral part of former Governor John Rowlands economic development program for the Hartford metro-area. While UConn football serves as the primary tenant, the facility also attracts other prominent events to Hartford. Rentschler Field hosted two concerts by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, September 16 and 18 of 2003 and one by the Rolling Stones on Aug. 26, 2005. Several prominent international soccer contests have been played on the pitch at Rentschler Field, most notably a World Cup Qualifier between the United States and Trinidad & Tobago on Aug. 17, 2005. Famed British clubs Liverpool and Glasgow Celtic played a match at Rentschler Field in July, 2004 while the soon to be gold medal winning United States Olympic womens soccer team played its final state-side exhibition in East Hartford on August 1, 2004 when the Americans defeated China, 3-1.
STARTING A COMMOTION
Swelling interest in the Husky football program as it gradually moved up into BIG EAST play can perhaps be best evidenced by the rise in attendance. For the 2005 season, UConn has sold in excess of 32,000 season tickets at Rentschler Field, selling out 3,800 student season tickets, a pair of staggering sums considering that the 2001 season ticket base was around 4,000. In 2002, fueled by a season-ticket base of 11,300, UConn ranked 23rd in the nation by playing to 97.58% of Memorial Stadiums 16,200 seat capacity. The burgeoning season ticket base more than doubled to 24,000 for the inaugural season at Rentschler Field and rose to 28,000 a year ago.
40,000 HUSKY FANS CANT BE WRONG
The Huskies sold out 12 of their first 17 dates at Rentschler Field and each of the last 10. UConn has played to 97-percent of capacity all-time in East Hartford, drawing 657,485 fans, or an average of 38,676 per game. UConn finished 2004 ranked 26th in the nation in attendance based on percentage of capacity, a sum that led the BIG EAST Conference and ranked ahead of Clemson, Boston College, Auburn and Kansas State, amongst many others. In fact, UConn sold more football tickets last year (275,129) than either mens (234,109) or womens (217,815) basketball.
RENTSCHLER FIELD PROVES FRIENDLY FOR HUSKIES
With its win over Buffalo on Nov. 20, UConn compiled a 6-1 home record at Rentschler Field last fall. The six home wins in 2004 set a school record for a single season. Six times UConn had won five home games in a season. UConn turned the trick last year and also managed the feat five times at Memorial Stadium, going 5-0 in 1986 and 1989 and posting a 5-1 mark in 1987, 1995 and 1998. UConn presently stands at 14-3 all-time at Rentschler Field.
CONSTRUCTION ONGOING FOR NEW CAMPUS FACILITIES
In addition to their new game day home of Rentschler Field, UConn is less than a year away from having a top-notch daily home as well. Construction is progressing smoothly in Storrs on the $42 million Burton Family Football Complex and Mark R. Shenkman Training Center. Due to open this upcoming summer, the two adjacent buildings will house everything from the teams locker room to coaches offices to a 120-yard indoor practice facility and an 85,000 square foot strength and conditioning center.
HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS
While UConn is 14-3 all-time at Rentschler Field, the results on the road have not always been as joyful for the Huskies. Of UConn's 16 losses in the Division I-A era, 10 have come on the road. During the combined 2004 and 2005 seasons, UConn is 2-5 on the road but 9-1 at home with a 1-0 mark at neutral sites (Motor City Bowl vs. Toledo).
RADIO/TV COVERAGE NOTES
ESPNS HOMETOWN TEAM
When ESPN got its start 25 years ago, it began by broadcasting all sorts of UConn events, including soccer games and swimming meets. The Bristol-based cable television titan returned to its roots last fall as it broadcast five UConn football games on its family of networks and the conglomerate will do likewise this fall. UConn made its seasonal TV debut on Sept. 17 when ESPNU carried the Huskies game at Georgia Tech. ESPNU also carried the Army game nationally on Oct. 1. UConn has appeared on ESPN2 twice (Oct. 7 vs. Syracuse and Nov. 2 at West Virginia) and will be on ESPN once (Dec. 3 vs. Louisville).
READY FOR PRIMETIME PLAYERS
Two of UConns five ESPN appearances will air in coveted weeknight slots during the prime-time viewing hours. UConns tilt with Syracuse on Oct. 7 is slated for an 8:00 p.m. kickoff while the Huskies debut game at West Virginia will kick off at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 2.
WORKING FOR THE WEEKEND
This season, for the second straight year, members of the UConn coaching staff will have plenty of time to relax on Saturdays while most of America is playing games. The team will have six Saturdays off during the 2005 season. UConn has three bye weeks (Sept. 24, Oct. 29 and Nov. 19), while three weekday games creates three more open Saturdays during the season (Sept. 3, Oct. 8 and Nov. 5). UConn also enjoyed six Saturdays off during the 2004 season, compliments of four midweek games and a pair of byes. In fact, in 2004 UConn played on every day of the week except for Sunday and Tuesday. These schedules stand in sharp contrast to the 2003 season when UConn was one of just eight teams in the nation to play its 12 regular season games consecutively with no byes.
FINALLY FAMILIAR FACES
Now in its fourth year as a Division I-A program and its second as a member of the BIG EAST Conference, UConns schedule is starting to take on an air of familiarity that hasnt existed since the Huskies left the Atlantic 10 Conference after the 1999 season. Of the 11 opponents on the 2005 schedule, UConn has previously faced 10 of them (all but Liberty). Each of the first three seasons at a I-A level brought an annual barrage of new faces to the Husky slate. Of the 36 games played by UConn from 2002-04, 16 of them inaugurated a new series. UConn went 10-6 in those contests, including its historic 39-10 win over Toledo in the Motor City Bowl. Prior to the year 2000 when UConn began its transition to I-A status, Rutgers was the only current BIG EAST team that UConn had ever faced and even that series lay dormant from 1983-2001.
WISHING IT WAS A DIRTY DOZEN
The NCAA schedule reverts back to 12 games for the 2006 season, news which will be welcomed by the Huskies. The NCAA permits only 11 game regular seasons in 2005. In the 2002, 2003 and 2004 seasons, UConn used its 12th game to post a monumental win. On Nov. 23, 2002, UConn posted a 37-20 win over bowl-bound Iowa State on Senior Day in Ames. On Nov. 15, 2003, the Huskies found more Week 12 magic with a 51-17 rout of Wake Forest, again on the road. The 2004 season was set up for 11 games but t