Nov. 19, 2013
STORRS, Conn. - The University of Connecticut football team is back in action this Saturday for its final road game of the year when it takes on Temple at Lincoln Financial Field at 7:00 p.m.
The game will be seen on ESPN3 and heard on the UConn IMG Sports Network. Temple brings a 1-9 record into the game and a 0-5 record in the American Athletic Conference while the Huskies are 0-9 and 0-5.
CLICK HERE for the UConn media notes.
UConnHuskies.com will once again host a live chat during the game and for more information on that please scroll down. Tuesday was media day in Storrs and her are quotes and videos from the event.
Interim head coach T.J. Weist
Opening statement: “Going into Philadelphia Saturday night, we have to play with more effort and more desire to help us make more plays. I think we went into last week’s game knowing that their offense was going to move the football and we had to tackle. At the end of the game, we didn’t make tackles on some short passes. We did a better job in the third quarter with our running game, possessing the football and keeping their offense off the field. That’s an emphasis for us going into every game. We need to have longer drives and keep our defense off the field and not put them in bad field position. Our time of possession was better. Our running game was better, and at times, Casey Cochran handled the offense well. He could have made better decisions on some of the throws he made to help us get more points. We’re excited about going to Philadelphia. We’re excited about playing this team. We have three opportunities left to prove we’re not a winless team.”
On his evaluation of the run game: “The backs ran better. I think everybody has played better and played more consistent. We’re always striving to adjust to the front-seven that we’re seeing. With a true freshman and redshirt freshman we’re going to see pressure. We’ve done a better job handling that pressure and getting into the right run reads against different looks that they bring. Obviously, when they bring pressure they’re probably going to bring more defenders than we can block so I think Casey did a good job getting us in and out of plays at times. Doing better, especially in the third quarter, in the passing game really helps.”
On what he has seen from the Temple team in recent weeks: “They play better football. They’re coming together more as a team and they’re a well-coached team. You can look on the film to see that. I think the quarterback has been playing better. You can see that they’re in games late. It’s hard to say, when you watch film you can really feel the consistency or team unity but it seems to me like they’re playing more as a team, which makes them dangerous. That can make us dangerous. If we come together more as a team and we start playing with all three units together that’ll make us dangerous.”
On if he thinks this team is getting better: “There is progress. It’s not enough so we’re not satisfied. Losing hurts and we’re never going to accept it. It’s a battle. Instinctually, it gets harder and harder each week. Some of these guys are young so this is all they know. They only way to do this is to finish. We need to finish every play, every drive and every quarter.”
On Temple linebacker Tyler Matakevich: “He’s tough. That’s the first thing. When I say tough, I’m talking about mentally tough. He gives effort and when you turn the film you don’t see a change in his play. He plays hard all the time and he plays physical. You can’t say that about the majority of defensive players. It’s the mentally tough players that are the special ones and that’s what he is in my mind. He’s the kind of linebacker that you want.”
On what he saw from Casey Cochran against SMU last weekend: “We saw qualities in Casey from a leadership standpoint when he was leading the offense and getting them in the right plays after recognizing defensive formations. When he threw the ball well, he threw it well. When he threw it bad, he threw it bad. He made his two bad decisions late in the game but we were pleased at what we saw. He’s a guy with good leadership abilities, good physical skills and makes sound decisions for us. Up until that last interception, he had made good decisions. He did try to squeeze some throws in there early, because he was trying to make plays. He is still a redshirt freshman quarterback making his first start. You can’t just throw a guy in there for the first time and after he makes some mistakes say okay he’s done. He threw it on time. We were pleased with that but he has to get better. He can’t have turnovers and turnovers cost us the game. That’s the first thing that has to happen. We can’t have turnovers by anybody.”
On Yawin Smallwood: “Well he’s obviously one of our best leaders on the team. Obviously he leads our defense with his playmaking abilities and his tackles, but he also leads our team from a mentality standpoint. He comes to work every day serious about everything that he does. He’s a very competitive individual, which rubs off on everybody on the team. There are a lot of times when I want to have a player talk to the team, or get the team motivated, I’ll count on him, because he can motivate the whole team by what he says, by his approach to the game, by his mentality. He’s definitely a great leader for us. He’s what you want as a linebacker because he comes to work, just like I said earlier. He hasn’t had the production, the tackles he was having earlier in the season in the last couple of games. We’ve been in more of a nickel situation, more of a spread out situation from that standpoint. He’s got the character, he’s got the mentality, he’s got the physical ability, he’s got the approach that we want – he’d be a team captain on any football team.”
On Ryan Donohue: “I thought he played well early in the season. I think the fact that the other linebackers were playing so well –Yawin [Smalllwood], Jefferson [Ashiru], Marquise [Vann] – limited his playing time. Now he’ll be able to step up and make some plays for us and give him his chance to be a starter and to make tackles. I’m excited to see him. He’s a physical player, he’s always ben physical in practice. When I got here in the spring he was getting more tackles in the spring than any player because he’s so physical. It’s hard to hold him back. And that’s what you want. In practice you want players you have to hold back, players you have to say stop, stop tackling, stop hitting so hard. He’s always been one of those players.”
On the pass rush against Garrett Gilbert and SMU: “It was improved. It was definitely improved. It was tough at times because you focus so much on pass rush that a couple times we lost contain and allowed them to get a couple good runs. But I think it improved, with our sacks, and it has to. We knew that this game if we took some chances blitzing and it hurts because they have so many weapons on the perimeter with their great receivers. So we knew we had to get more pressure from four down lineman. The guys that were rushing without blitzes had to get pressure and it did improve.”
On stopping Temple QB P.J. Walker and the Temple offense: “Every team’s has got some pretty good receivers. We’ve got some good receivers. It comes down to the quarterback: how efficient he is, how well he gets his weapons involved. He does a good job from that standpoint. As you’ve said, he has improved the last three or four games. So that’s our plan on defense: we’re going to tackle them. You’ve got to tackle them when they run, you’ve got to tackle them when they catch it, you’ve got to put pressure on the quarterback. Nothing’s changed from that standpoint. We’ve got to play solid defense and we have to get the ball back. There’s no special playing because they are throwing the ball better, they are throwing the ball well. That’s what it comes down. You don’t do those things, then we’ll get the same results.”
On the challenge they will face against Temple in the final road game of the season: “I thought down the stretch offensively and defensively we came together. Playing Central Florida I knew how tough they are. I know how mentally tough they are because I’ve watched them on every drive, score on almost every drive. They play with a lot of confidence. I say their defense is the best defense we faced all season, including Louisville and including Michigan. That was the best defense we faced. They were tough, they were smart, they were consistent. I think that’s part of mental toughness. I know how mentally tough a physical Central Florida was, along with being talented. You put all three of those things together, that’s a tough team to face. So for Temple to play them and put up the numbers they did, and being a game where they had a great chance to win, I know they’re a tough football team.”