Nov. 12, 2013
STORRS, Conn. - The University of Connecticut football team returns to action on Saturday, November 16 when it travels to SMU for an American Athletic Conference game at 3:00 p.m. Eastern time and 2:00 p.m. in Dallas. The game will be available on ESPN3 and heard on the UConn IMG Sports Radio Network.
SMU brings a 3-5 overall record into the game and a 2-2 mark in the American. SMU lost to Cincinnati last week by a 28-25 score. SMU’s wins in the league have been against Memphis (34-29) and Temple (59-49). UConn has an overall record of 0-8 and 0-4 in the American.
UConn head coach T.J. Weist announced on Tuesday that redshirt freshman Casey Cochran (Monroe, Conn.) will be starting for the Huskies at quarterback. Cochran will be making his first career start after playing in a reserve role in four games this year.
Saturday’s game is the second-ever meeting between UConn vs. SMU with the Mustangs winning the other game by a score 31-30 on September 16, 1989. SMU scored 17 points in the game’s final five minutes for its first win since football returned to the schools.
UConnHuskies.com will once again host a live chat during the game. For information on the live chat, please see below.
Tuesday was media day at UConn and here are quotes and video from the day.
Head coach T.J. Weist
Opening statement: “Well first, going back to last week’s game, I think we wanted to start fast and we did. We moved the ball down the field but it was just unfortunate that we were in the situation where we fumbled the ball. We stopped them on defense. So the elements are there. If we can put some things together, put some plays together, our offense can get excited and our defense can get excited and really play good football. It’s all about momentum. Going forward, this week is going to be a great matchup. The best passing offense in the league is going against one of the better defenses. I’m really proud of our defense last week, holding the Louisville offense to 17 points and really, at times, shutting them down. We just have to have an offense that produces more points and holds onto the ball for longer to keep our defense off the field for us to have a chance to win. I think our team is excited. I don’t think we can be any more motivated or give much more effort than we have given. We just have to execute more and execute better. We have to work together as a team on offense, defense and special teams to put everything together. We have to learn how to win. We decided this week that we’re going to go with Casey Cochran as our starting quarterback. We think he gives us the best chance at this point in time. He’s done a great job the last few games, coming in and leading us to scoring drives. He’s made good decisions in practice throughout the whole fall. Tim Boyle is going to be our second team quarterback with some competition from Casey. It’s a unique situation that the minute Casey starts you have three different quarterbacks who have started at some point during the season. It’s going to be hard to say who is the second team guy. We’re going to take it day by day. We want to create competition.”
On why Casey Cochran was named the starter: “He’s made very smart decisions. He has shown the ability to handle pressure and handle it efficiently to make good decisions. As far as Tim is concerned, we’ve given him time to develop. He needs more time to develop to give us a chance to win. He did a good job from a focus standpoint. We are in no way giving up on any one of our quarterbacks. Tim still has to get himself ready to play. Any of our quarterbacks know that they are one snap away from playing the whole game. So that’s his approach and he’s been great about. Casey is a very smart quarterback and is one of the hardest working players on our team. He comes in and watches film more than any other player that we have. We went with Tim on the onset because we thought Tim had the better skillset for us. It came down to Tim really having to prove himself on the field and now it’s the same scenario for Casey. He’ll get his shot.”
On what Casey Cochran brings to this team: “Casey is very smart but he’s very football smart. You have to have smart, fast decision making. You have to decide what the initial pre-snap read is and make decisions in those three or four seconds. It’s not going to be any different for Casey than it was for Tim. They’re still going to bring pressure. There was probably a little bit more pressure on Tim because he is a true freshman. Casey is a redshirt freshman so they’re going to put the pressure on him too.”
On whether UConn quarterback Casey Cochran has been getting first team reps in practice this week: “He got a majority of the reps. We mixed it up a little bit. As I said before, we went back and looked at the film and made some decisions but it’s always kind of flexible. We have to feel out the situations. It’s not always cut and dry but we had to fix some things from last game so going forward he will get all the number one reps.”
On his thoughts about SMU’s offense under June Jones: “It’s impressive. You watch them go up and down the field, and they throw the ball all across the field and down the field. They do a good job with tempo, because you see them moving fast and spreading the ball out to multiple receivers. They have three of the best receivers in the league, and two of the best receivers in the country. You could tell that they’re very well coached, especially the receivers with their technique. They’ve got a variety of plays that they use."
On the state of UConn’s rushing attack: “I think we’re in a good position with Max (DeLorenzo) and Lyle (McCombs). They both do a good job of playing hard and being productive. We just have to find ways to run the ball. We have to be better in the passing game, so they can’t just load up and stop the run. It’s not a matter of Max taking Lyle’s job. They’ve both done a good job and we will continue with them.”
On what effect Casey’s performance in last week’s game had in him being named the starter: “It was part of the decision. We understand that it wasn’t against a first team defense. But we’ve also watched Casey all along in practice and we’ve seen his decision making in other situations. We just think it’s time for him to step up and get his shot.”
On his thoughts of Andrew Adams’ performance last week against Louisville: “He played very well. He plays with football maturity and competitiveness. He doesn’t say much and goes out and plays hard. Players look up to him just because of the way he handles himself and I think he’s going to get better and better.”
On if Casey’s skillset brings something new to the offense: “We will try some different things with our game plan. We’re not going to reinvent the offense, we just have to throw it and catch it better. There are always little things that all our quarterbacks do that are a little different.”
On if there are any other changes to the depth chart for other offensive positions: “We think right now that these are the guys from a depth standpoint that give us the best chance to win. I’ll probably play some more receivers. Some of the younger receivers have played better so we will play more of them.”
On the strengths of the SMU defense and its pass-rushing ability: “Their strength, they’ve got thee of the best linebackers, really in the league. Randall Joyner is number three in tackles and number one in forced fumbles along with their corner, Kenneth Acker, who is number one in pass breakups. So individually they’re very solid in different areas. Obviously they face that spread offense and every day they have to see it because I think our league is more spread now. I think at times they do defend it very well. It’s just like any other defense in that situation. They defend the run the well at times and they defend the pass well at times and if you can catch them doing one and then do the other one, you’ve got a chance. I think they do a good job with their twist game and at times with their pressure because they’ve got solid linebackers, and they’re very solid overall. There is some impressive things with their defense.”
On if SMU’s offense will put pressure on the UConn offense to score more: “No, I’m not going to sit here and say it’s going to be a shootout, because then I’m giving in to their offense and our defense. I’m planning on our defense shutting them down. Our offense has enough pressure just to score, let alone putting more pressure to score more.”
On if SMU is more execution or gameplan based: “If I had to characterize them as one or the other I’d probably say they’re more execution. They run a lot of plays on offense and they’ll mix it up to certain defenses. With this style of offense, a mix of the old Hal Mumme offense and how the spread has evolved these days, that offense kind of runs on its own. This offense tries to force you into certain defenses because they spread out so much. That’s what happens when you run this type of spread is that you dictate the defense.”
On Geremy Davis and his season: “He’s done exactly what I thought he would do from the beginning; he’s been a dominant player for us. It’s frustrating because we would like to get him the ball more, deep balls, crossing routes, screens, he wants the ball. He’s a very competitive player and he wants to make plays. He’s done a good job. You could say a player at his level with his skillset could be a little more selfish and say that he wants the ball more. He’s done a great job being unselfish. He comes out every day and works hard, works at his craft as he did all summer and all spring. Like I said, I think he and [Shakim Phillips] have been the hardest workers I have and he’s never stopped from that standpoint. Coming down on Sunday and works. He could be one of the best receivers in the country if we could work an offense that gets him the ball more he could be a guy that easily catches 10 balls a game.”