Nov. 15, 2011
STORRS, Conn. - The UConn football team is back in action after a bye last weekend and in plays host to Louisville at Rentschler Field for a noon kick-off on Saturday afternoon. The Huskies won their second straight home game with a 28-21 ictory over Syracuse on November 5 to improve to 2-2 in the BIG EAST and 4-5 overall. The Cardinals come in at 3-2 in the league and an even 5-5 overall.
Saturday's match-up will be televised on SNY and the BIG EAST Network. Live game audio can also be heard on WTIC-UConn Radio Network.
For a look at UConn's weekly media release CLICK HERE. UConnHuskies.com will also hold a live chat duirng the game. CLICK HERE to make reservations and join the chat!
Head coach Paul Pasqualoni held his weekly press conference Tuesday afternoon, below are quotes from the coach and selected student-athletes.
Paul Pasqualoni, Head Coach
“Formal preparation for Louisville started last week. We had some days of basic work, fundamentals, techniques, assignments. That type of work is always great to do. We also had a chance to get some more treatments and hopefully get refreshed, from a physical standpoint, and get rested up a little bit. Hopefully we’re fresh and moving in the direction of being healthy.”
Has the time off over the last few weeks been good for the team?
“I thought [the time off] was good. When you get to this point [in the season] it refreshes you. We gave the team a couple of days off over the weekend. They got a chance to get a little bounce back in their legs. Mentally and physically we hope to have refreshed the team. I also thought we moved around really well at practice yesterday. Today is really the first heavy day and we’ll see how we look out there today.”
Does having two games in five weeks bring you back to a preseason mentality?
“The way we’ve been able to organize those days [off] has worked out for us. Because at the same time, our guys have got academic responsibilities and we try to give them a little extra time to focus on school. When you have these days, at this level of football, there are a lot of great things that you can get done outside of football as well. The unknown is that you never know how you’re going to play after a true open week. I look at last week as our real bye week. Fortunately after being off we have a home game.”
Is the team aware of its favorable standing in the BIG EAST?
“The guys all know without saying it. I think they know the conference standings. They know that they’re going to need to really focus and not be distracted in regards to Louisville. This is the most important game of the year because it is our next game. There is no sense in looking at anything beyond this week, because it’s not going to matter. We’ve got to pay attention to Louisville. I hope we can go out [to practice] and focus on Tuesday, not even getting beyond today. Our approach has been, let’s get done what we have to get done today.”
Did the two quarterback system fit the situation against Syracuse or is it something we will see more of the rest of the season?
“We’ve had some success with [the two quarterback system] prior to last week. Sometimes when you get in the flow [of the game] and things are going good, there might be a few more snaps [for the back-up quarterback]. We’ve had about the same number of plays for Johnny [McEntee] and for Scott [McCummings] each week and that’s not going to change much.”
What can you tell from looking at the tape of Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater?
“Teddy [Bridgewater] is a special freshman. He does a great job of throwing the ball. His skill set is a big time skill set. He’s 6’2, nearly 200 pounds and he can move. He can hurt you running the ball, even though to me he is a true drop back, pocket passer. I think that he runs and manages the offense extremely well, when you consider he is just a freshman. He’s a young guy that is doing an exceptional job. I see him as being a really good quarterback in this league.”
What do you tribute to Nick Williams’ recent kick-off return success?
“We executed the blocks up front better. There was nothing new. I just thought that we flat out executed better and [Nick Williams] hit it up there pretty good and made a couple guys miss. He had a real good day, but it wasn’t anything more than that.”
What type of affect can a kicker like Dave Teggart have on a game?
“When we get into the tight games and play situational football, talking about the two-minute drill, and you need a field goal to win the game, I think it does a lot for the team having a Dave Teggart. We know if we get the ball within a certain range, it’s not a guarantee, but we’ve got a shot to make the kick to win the game. I think that David adds a lot to the team, regardless of whether it’s the end of the half or the end of the game.”
Can you talk about the kind of season Kendall Reyes is having?
“Kendall [Reyes] is obviously a big, athletic guy and doing a fine job in the leadership department with the team and the defense. What I like about Kendall is he is upbeat and positive and we know everyday what we have in Kendall Reyes. He comes in here every day with a positive approach, a smile on his face, willing to learn something new about football, and work on his craft every day. I personally think he is using his hands better than he ever has. On the defensive line in this day in age is really critical. Hank Hughes is doing a great job with him there.”
Would you say that Trevardo Williams has been one of the most improved players this season?
“Trevardo [Williams’] get off has always been good, but he’s getting better. He is doing a good job staying on the edge, using his hands, trying to knock the tackle’s hands down, and the other things he’s doing a real good job of is not standing behind the quarterback in the pass rush. In football, we refer to that as the worst place to be, with the passer in the pocket and the pass rusher behind him. Trevardo is doing a great job of stopping and coming back to the quarterback.”
With three games to play, where does this season measure up against your expectations?
“There is no question we lost some games by only a few points and we would have loved to win those games, to be honest. What we have done every week is we’ve competed. Every week, we’ve gone out there and fought hard, given effort, and tried to get better.”
What does Lyle McCombs mean to this team and how has he grown this season?
“[Lyle McCombs] has grown a great deal. The thing about Lyle is, he is bright-eyed, very smart, and very tough and that all helps. His skill-set is such that he can make people miss. He make a tackler miss, that’s for sure. He knows what to do and he likes to compete. He just likes to win and he’s a tough guy. He has meant a lot to us. We’re doing a good job of running the ball right now in the BIG EAST and he’s a big part of that.”
Has Johnny McEntee reached a point where you are confident in knowing what you’re going to get from him?
“So far, I think that [Johnny McEntee] has gotten better as the games have gone on. We’ve played better in the third quarter, pretty consistently this year, and maybe the reason for that is we settle down and he’s got a pretty good look at what he’s seeing. He doesn’t get nervous or rattled. He just keeps concentrating and stays after it. I know he’s going to keep working at getting his mistakes corrected and not letting them happen twice.”
With your ties to Penn State University, how hard is it for you to watch their situation unfold?
“For everybody it has been difficult. For me, there are a couple of sides to it. I am a Penn State alum. And I feel, as I’m sure all Penn State alums do, very bad about it. Secondly, I got in this business to be a college coach, to be an educator, to work with young people. I started off as an elementary teacher for seven years. My core values, ideals, and philosophical approach to my career is that as a teacher. Even when I went into the NFL, I still saw myself as a teacher. I have a 12, 11, and a nine-year old involved in sports every day. That part has been very difficult for me. Penn State is a great place. It is a great institution. The Board of Trustees is made up of very special people. They are looking out for the best interest of the institution and what it good for higher education. They have done what they feel is the best thing for Penn State. It is more than just a football school. There is a lot more to it than that. All in all, I would say it has been pretty difficult.”
#43, Lyle McCombs, RS Freshman, RB
On the week off:
“It gave the team a chance to get healthy. It was needed coming into the most important three game stretch of the season.”
On UConn controlling its own destiny in the BIG EAST:
“We’ve been working for this all year. The team has a positive attitude as far as the next three-game stretch.”
On playing at home:
“It is definitely an advantage that two out of these next three games are at home. We have to pull out the two home wins so we can go to Cincinnati with our heads high.”
#31, Nick Williams, Junior, WR
On giving UConn good field possession against Syracuse:
“I do think it was important in the game plan. Anytime you can get good field possession it helps the offense and makes it even easier to get into field goal position.”
On being hopeful to get more touches on offense:
“I hope to get more involved in the offense. I get really excited for anytime I can help out the offense.”
#57, Moe Petrus, RS Senior, Center
On last year’s game against Louisville:
“There were a few distractions and we didn’t come in and execute our plays at all. We weren’t able to get into a rhythm on offense and we couldn’t get our defense off the field.”
On scouting Louisville:
“They get after you. They are a young group of guys with something to prove. They are going to be a tough challenge for us but we are excited for it.”
On the Syracuse game:
“We had five turnovers and it’s hard to win a game with that many. But, we have been working on it and we are getting better. We only punted once and hopefully we can ride that momentum into the Louisville game.”
#11, Scott McCummings, RS Freshman, QB
On Syracuse game:
“It was a great game. I approached the game in a relaxed way; I just wanted to make a positive influence. I just let it come to me and I didn’t stress out about it.”
On scouting Louisville:
“They like to stack the box and defending the run. Besides that they are like any other team.”
On development as a quarterback:
“You probably know better than me. I am always going to be hard on myself and think I will need improvement.”
#48, Trevardo Williams, Junior, DE
On getting in shape and affect on game:
“I have better leverage and am making stronger tackles. I feel more confident with certain play calls and I don’t have to hesitate.”
On controlling destiny in BIG EAST:
“It’s there to take. We just have to believe it is there to take. We have to approach every game aggressively and confident. We need to execute our game plays successfully.”
Sio Moore, RS Junior, Linebacker
On the defense playing better lately:
“We had to get back to what we do best and how we normally do it. When it comes down to it, we know how to play defense around here. Once we get back to what we do, we are one of the top defenses around, certainly in the BIG EAST.”
On playing a freshman quarterback compared to an experienced player:
“To be honest, really the way we play doesn’t matter on who they have at QB. We want to make tackles, pressure the offensive line, cause turnovers… that’s our defense. We bring a strong rush no matter who we play.”
Are you disappointed in the results thus far after what you had hoped for in the spring for this defense?
“Not really. We could have played better at points this year. I definitely could have been better myself. We needed to understand the defense a little more and understand the support system of this defense. We’ve had some growing pains, but that happens to anyone. We have a solid D now.”
Kendall Reyes, RS Senior, Defensive Tackle
On not having the individual stats this year even on a solid defense:
“That’s part of the game. When you line four guys up and there’s five offensive linemen, someone gets double teamed. I am proud of my role out there though. It helps the team overall.”
On adding different moves on the defensive line to his game:
“I’ve always been just a straight bull rusher. I had to add to my game as the years go on now. It became real predictable. I have a long way to go, but I’m improving all the time at it.”
On being back in the hunt for the BIG EAST Title after starting poorly:
“The BIG EAST is crazy. One second you are out, then you are right back in it. Anyone can win it now. There are games to be played still for everyone. We have to win one game at a time though. It’s anyone’s in the league to win.”
Johnny McEntee, RS Junior, Quarterback
On the change from having a losing record to being back in the BIG EAST race:
“We still want to take it one game at a time but we know what we have to do. We put ourselves in a bad position early but we’ve managed to work our way out of it. I think if we get a big win this week that will really help our chances. Louisville has a pretty good team. We’ve got to work hard.”
What is it about this program that you do this every year?
“Yeah I’m not sure. We kind of have the approach that it’s not where you start but where you finish. It’s probably better to be playing your best football in November. I think each game you try to learn from it. Every season we somehow end up getting wins at the end to make a bowl game or win the BIG EAST.”
The majority of teams playing for the championship in this league have first-year quarterbacks. Do you think people are more prepared now to handle being a first-year quarterback? Why are teams relying on first-year guys like yourself?
“I’m not sure. I think that’s just the way it happened. I don’t think it’s much different than in past years. I’m sure those guys are working hard and their coaches are putting in the best player that gives them the best chance to win.”