Friday, November 28, 2014

UConn's first quarter woes prove costly

Time for the latest installment of the scary numbers of the week.

They don't come much more frightening than 13 as in the number of points UConn has scored in the first quarter this season or 0 which is the number of Football Bowl Subdivision teams other than UConn to be trailing entering the second quarter in every game this season. UConn also ranks dead last in points scored in the first quarter.

Five times this season the Huskies have given up multiple scores in the opening quarter and three times the Huskies failed to have at least 20 yards of total offense in the first quarter.

Wait, there is more. In four road games the Huskies have been outscored 49-7 in the first quarter and in all games the number is 101-13.That has led to troubles later in the game of the Huskies being forced to throw the ball and we all know what usually happens in those instances.

"What I'd really like to do is go on the road, play well and finish," UConn coach Bob Diaco said. "We've gone on the road and been inconsistent at times. We are on the road, Army starts out a particular way and there is this incredible surge down the stretch and we run out of time. South Florida begins the way it began, this kind of mess and inclement weather and it is a little bit of an adversity that the guys aren't necessarily ready for. We are learning lessons, I'd like to go on the road in our final road game and play as well as we can play and finish."

Diaco made mention that the American Athletic Conference trophy could be on site tomorrow since Memphis can clinch at least a share of the title. I asked him if he would use the opportunity to deny Memphis the chance to clinch as extra motivation. Diaco laughed and said, "I am not sure how much other stuff we are ready for. I'd like to think we can get to the point in our program's maturity that we can add some layers but we are just getting started on that. I don't want to heap too many things on."

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Samra quietly producing at UConn

Over the course of the season every UConn starting offensive lineman came into the weekly press conferences with one exception - Tyler Samra.

I decided to end that trend by requesting the junior guard and was glad I did.

With senior and three-year starter Gus Cruz losing his job to freshman Ryan Crozier, Samra is suddenly the second oldest starting offensive lineman only behind center and team captain Alex Mateas.

Samra has taken it upon himself to emerge as a leader on the offensive line and on the offense in general.

"Last year my playing time was minimal and this year I am a starter, it is giving me a whole new experience as far as my role as a leader which I will try to be next year," Samra said. "I am trying to take the role and do the best I can at practice. It is not just me but the entire line has progressed a lot. I think experience is a big part of it. In the beginning we had our issues but we have gotten a lot better in the last couple of weeks.

"I am here for everyone. I love the guys I play with. I take pride in being their teammate and if they ever have anything to ask, I will always do my best trying to help."

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

UConn's Whitmer, Cruz dealing with reserve roles

The season began with such promise for seniors Chandler Whitmer and Gus Cruz.

Whitmer, although he had already graduated, opted to return for one last season with the hopes to quarterbacking the Huskies to a bowl game. Meanwhile Cruz overcame a potentially career-ending cardiac issue to return to the starting lineup.

Now there is not only no bowl game for the two seniors to prepare for, but their respective roles on the team have been diminished.

It was a closely guarded secret until the first-team offense took the field against Cincinnati last week but both Whitmer and Cruz remained on the sidelines as sophomore Tim Boyle made his first start of the season at quarterback and freshman Ryan Crozier earned his first career start at left guard.

Whitmer, who started 16 straight games before losing his job to Boyle after UConn got off to an 0-4 start during the 2013 season, seems to be handling the demotion in stride.
"I have been through this a few times," Whitmer said. "I am just trying to be the best teammate I can be. I am not worried about being a starter, I know what the situation is. Tim has to get ready for next year, that is kind of the boat we are in. I have said it all along, that is my role here. My career is coming to a close but it doesn't mean I can't help out the younger guys and especially Tim to get ready for the future."
While there were signs that Boyle's role may increase in the final few games, the move of Crozier from reserve right guard to starting left guard was a bit of a shocker.
Things could have been awkward if Cruz, who started the first nine games of the season and 19 games over the last three seasons, chose to make it so. However, Crozier said nothing could be further from the truth.
"He handled it great, he understood everything," Crozier said. "Me and Gus have a good relationship and we still do,"

Crozier figures to be one of two true freshmen in the starting lineup when UConn plays at American Athletic Conference leading Memphis on Saturday as Ron Johnson has emerged as the featured back in recent weeks.

It hasn't been an easy transition for Johnson or fellow true freshman Arkeel Newsome, who have received larger work loads as the season has wore on. So what has been the biggest adjustment to the college game?

"I would say my pass protection," Johnson said. "It takes a lot of preparation, you are going against 240 pound (defensive players). In high school you get the ball on a consistent basis, I didn't block as much but in college it is a lot different."

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

UConn's Diaco: "I am going to get it done"

Let's make no mistake, first-year UConn coach Bob Diaco's glass is half full approach to things even as the humbling losses have rubbed fans and media the wrong way.

The weekly dissertations about how the Huskies continue to get better seems little like nothing but mindless chatter in the wake of the program's worst home shutout loss in 75 years and the fact that the Huskies have lost three games by at least 25 points this season.

Diaco has often used the Tuesday press conferences to spout rhetoric about how the Huskies are all about the process and that they continue to get better.

His message was a little different and more based in reality than in recent weeks.

"One of the greatest disappointment for me and the team, we really feel bad that the record is the way it is for UConn country," Diaco said. "That hurts. That hurts that our Husky fans are not enjoying these Saturdays like they should be, need to and will be. Then we have this whole collection of former players and former athletes at the school that have created this incredible force of success and tradition. They deserve better, they should not be worrying if they will be putting their letterman coat on or not. They should feel like 'yes, I am going to the water cooler today like a peacock.'

"I am looking for more, I am looking for more with the team and we are going to get it solved. The problem has been identified. I am not a problem identifier, I would like to think I am a problem solver so we have enacted an action plan to solve it. That is why I was brought here by Warde (Manuel) to get it done. I am going to get it done and I am excited about getting it done."

In the wake of two more players leaving the team (former starting linebacker Jefferson Ashiru and receiver Kamal Abrams), it was interesting to hear Diaco talk about one of his main goals is seeing that kids that come in as freshmen stick around to take part in Senior Day festivities which is ironic since only six seniors are on the most recent two-deep chart for offense or defense.

"My pressure is about the young men on the team," Diaco said. "That to me is the pressure that I feel, the men on our team, they need to be there with the flower trotting out to midfield with their papers in their back pocket handing their flower to their guardian, that is a pressure and that is a culture that was present and will be present again. I feel that pressure. Not that we are going to be 100 percent successful at it but we will be close. These Husky fans, they deserve better than the record shows at this point. It is an awesome fan base, one that I am proud to be a part of. I am looking forward to growing it."

Diaco has spoken often times about players needing to improve day by day, week by week so I asked Diaco is he has seen the same growth from himself, a first-time head coach.

"I have," Diaco said.  "The guy who showed up in the middle of December is not the guy who is standing here now. Hopefully in May I can say the same thing for the guy standing here. Every day you learn something new in that chair, every day a new thing is presented to you. It is exciting. I don't mean it in a disparaging way. It is a job I am really loving and enjoying. I am growing, just like Andreas (Knappe) at right tackle, I am growing in the same way."

As for news coming out of today's press conference, he said that Ashiru was not dismissed from the team but he left the team. He also wasn't ready to proclaim that sophomore Tim Boyle was going to see the same number of snaps he did against Cincinnati when he got his first start of the season but that he'd like that to be the case. Much of that will be determined by how Boyle looks in practice. Although Gus Cruz is still listed as the starter at left guard, he referred to freshman Ryan Crozier as the starter. Also, he spoke publicly for the first time about quarterback commit Tyler Davis since all the paperwork has been filed and he is set to enroll at UConn for the spring semester. After the press conference I asked Diaco for some clarification on the status of sophomore fullback Matt Walsh after he did not dress for the Cincinnati game so he could address some "corrective" issues. Diaco said he is back to competing without restriction and that Walsh will practice and is expected to play on Saturday.

UConn in the NFL Week 12 report

In a normal week the fact that Shamar Stephen was making his first career start with the Minnesota Vikings or Danny Lansanah continued his impressive season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers would headline the UConn alumni report. However, Sio Moore's rather well publicized celebration after a sack was clearly the most noteworthy moment.

Moore and Kahlil Mack, who figure to be bookend outside linebackers for the Raiders in the coming years, danced to their heart's content after Moore's third-down sack left the Kansas City Chiefs facing a 4th and 13 at their own 48. Veteran defensive end Justin Tuck had to call a timeout to prevent the Chiefs from running a play when two of the Raiders' 11 defensive players were seven yards behind the line of scrimmage. If not for the timeout the Chiefs would have had a free play to try to keep their final drive alive since the Raiders would have been called for an offsides penalty.

Tuck threatened to fight Moore had the Chiefs won the game because of Moore's lapse in judgment and other veteran Oakland players were critical of the second-year linebacker for not being more aware of the situation.

Lost in the hoopla from all of this is that Moore had a monster game with 12 tackles, two tackles for loss and the sack as the Raiders won their first game of the season.


Will Beatty, OT New York Giants: Started in 31-28 loss to Dallas
Donald Brown, RB San Diego: Had one carry for seven yards and two catches for 20 yards in 27-24 win over St. Louis
Darius Butler, CB Indianapolis: Had two tackles in 23-3 win over Jacksonville
Marcus Easley, WR Buffalo: Had two tackles in 38-3 win over New York Jets
Dwayne Gratz, CB Jacksonville: Had three tackles in 23-3 loss to Indianapolis
Ryan Griffin, TE Houston: Did not have a catch in 22-13 loss to Cincinnati
Danny Lansanah, LB Tampa Bay: Had seven tackles in 21-13 loss to Chicago
Robert McClain, CB Atlanta: Had six tackles in 26-24 loss to Cleveland
Sio Moore, LB Oakland: Had 12 tackles including a sack in 24-20 win over Kansas City
Dan Orlovsky, QB, Detroit: Did not play in 34-9 loss to New England
Kendall Reyes, DT San Diego: Had two tackles in 27-24 win over St. Louis
Anthony Sherman, FB Kansas City: Had one catch in 24-20 loss to Oakland
Shamar Stephen, DT Minnesota: Had one tackle in 24-21 loss to Green Bay
Jordan Todman, RB Jacksonville: Had two catches for 14 yards in 23-3 loss to Indianapolis.
Blidi Wreh-Wilson, CB Tennessee: Was inactive (back) in 43-27 loss to Philadelphia

Monday, November 24, 2014

Closer look at UConn's attrition

The subject of attrition with the UConn football program has been a popular subject this week. After the loss to Cincinnati UConn coach Bob Diaco said that 35 players are no longer with the team from the classes of 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013.

If you add in Shakim Phillips, who transferred in from Boston College only to go back to BC this season and Tom Rodick, who was medically disqualified and is the only member of the current freshman class no longer on the program, Diaco's math seems about right. By my math, there are 50 active players from those classes and 35 no longer around.

Here's the list with the current UConn players in bold

2010
Josh Alexander DB Waldorf, Md.  WEST VIRGINIA WESLEYAN 1 tackle, 18.5 yards on 13 kickoff returns
Ty-Meer Brown  DB McKeesport, Pa.  BOSTON COLLEGE Has 35 tackles and interception
Gus Cruz OG Manchester, N.H.  Started 19 games over last three seasons, lost starting job to Ryan Crozier
Geremy Davis WR Lawrenceville, Ga. Has most catches of any UConn player during FBS era
Reuben Frank DE Poughkeepsie, N.Y. Has started at fullback and defensive end for UConn

Mark Hansson OT Clearwater, Fla.
Byron Jones DB New Britain  Team captain and NFL prospect suffered season-ending shoulder injury as senior
Tebucky Jones WR Farmington  FORDHAM 67 catches for 999 yards and 10 touchdowns as senior for FCS playoff team
Leon Kinnard WR Reistertown, Md. TOWSON Had 54 catches during 2012 and 2013 seasons for Tigers
Jonathan Louis DE Brockton, Mass. MAINE 12 tackles and 1/2 a sack this season
Taylor Mack DB Powder Springs, Ga. Graduated after becoming starting cornerback for UConn
B.J. McBryde DL Beaver Falls, Pa.   Has 22 tackles this season for the Huskies
Lyle McCombs RB Staten Island, N.Y. RHODE ISLAND Fourth all-time leading rusher at UConn who had 665 rushing yards in six games at URI
Scott McCummings Natick, Mass.  Former wildcat quarterback had career shortened due to injuries
Greg McKee OT Chicago   Never played a game at UConn and was sentenced to year in prison last year for possession of child pornography
Andrew Opoku DB North Brunswick, N.J. DELAWARE 10 tackles and two fumble recoveries in 2014 season
Mike Osiecki FB Seymour   Career ended prematurely due to injuries
Bryan Paull OL Parkland, Fla.  Career at UConn shortened due to injuries
Angelo Pruitt DE Cincinnati  Former starter who suffered season-ending leg injury
Yawin Smallwood LB Worcester, Mass. Led UConn in tackles in 2012 and 2013. Declared for NFL draft, was taken by Atlanta in seventh round and now on Tennessee Titans' practice squad
Gilbert St.Louis DB Davie, Fla.  BALL STATE Has 33 tackles as senior at Ball State
Brandon Steg LB Coral Springs, Fla. Reserve linebacker has six tackles as a senior

2011
Kamal Abrams WR Dover, Del.   Had five catches this season before leaving team
Andrew Adams DB College Park, Ga.  Leads Huskies with four interceptions
Kenton Adeyemi DL Wethersfield   Has 27 tackles and four tackles for loss in '14

Jefferson Ashiru LB Powder Springs, Ga.  Former starter left program earlier this month
Julian Campenni DL Exeter, Pa.   Leads all defensive linemen with 33 tackles and five tackles for loss this season
Tyree Clark DB Tampa, Fla.   Former reserve DB had 12 solo tackles in '13
Max DeLorenzo RB Berlin    Second on team with 240 rushing yards
Deshon Foxx WR Lynchburg, Va.   Has UConn's longest run, reception and special-teams return this season

Dalton Gifford OL Fairhaven, Mass. Started five games at right tackle
Xavier Hemingway OL Powder Springs, Ga.  Started '13 season opener but no longer with team
Wilbert Lee DB Brooklyn, N.Y.   Top special teams player for UConn
Sean McQuillan, TE Glastonbury   Fourth on UConn with 16 catches

Michael Nebrich QB Burke, Va.   FORDHAM Completed 67 percent of passes for 3015 yards with 25 touchdowns and six interceptions. Has 60 TD passes in last two seasons
Paul Nwokeji OL Randolph, MA   Reserve offensive lineman at UConn
David Stevenson CB Stone Mountain, Ga.  Former reserve defensive back no longer with team
Marquise Vann LB Cincinnati   Team captain and leading tackler on '14 squad

2012
Brendan Battles-Santos DE Eastham, Mass. Left program between 2013 and 2014 seasons
Kyle Bockeloh OL Houston   Reserve offensive lineman with Huskies
Rennick Bryan OL Hillhouse   Left program and enrolled at Dean College
Jazzmar Clax FB Freehold, N.J.   Has one carry and four catches for Huskies this season
Casey Cochran QB Monroe    Led UConn to season-ending three-game winning streak in '13 but forced to retire due to multiple concussions
Jordan Floyd DB Bel Air, Md.   Has one tackle this season and three tackles in 20 career games
Drew Ghio OL Bristol 
John Green WR Miami    Former receiver moved to cornerback and has 11 tackles in '14
Ricky Gutierrez WR Hialeah, Fla.  Enrolled at Dodge City Community College after leaving UConn
Jon Hicks LB Palmyra, Pa.   Has 13 tackles this season for Huskies
Andreas Knappe OT Silkeborg, Denmark Started last five games at right tackle
Richard Levy OT Trenton, N.J.   UConn's starting left tackle
Ellis Marder DB Windermere, Fla.  Has seven tackles in 11 career games at UConn

Obi Melifonwu, DB South Grafton, Mass. Has 67 tackles in second season as a starter
Mikal Myers DL Newburgh, N.Y.   Reserve defensive lineman has 24 tackles including a sack in '14

E.J. Norris DE Upper Marlboro, Md.  Saw time at defensive end and tight end before leaving program
Bobby Puyol K North Palm Beach, Fla.  8 of 10 on field goals with a long of 44
Zach Rugg OL Windber, Pa.   Reserve offensive guard at UConn
Tyler Samra OG Wycoff, N.J.   Starting right guard and one of five offensive players to start every game this season

Neil Shortell TE Mission Hills, Kan.  EMPORIA STATE Had 40 tackles and three sacks in '13
Omaine Stephens LB East orange, N.J.  Has three tackles in seven games in '14
Jason Sylva LB 6-3 235 Marion, Mass.  WESTERN MICHIGAN
Wyatt Vinci LB Ridgewood, N.J.   DIABLO VALLEY CC Now a defensive lineman, he has 53 tackles and 10 tackles for loss at Diablo Valley
Chandler Whitmer QB Newnan, Ga.   One of four quarterbacks in UConn history with more than 5,000 passing yards
Jhavon Williams DB Wellington, Fla.  Starting cornerback has 27 tackles and six pass breakups this season

Joe Williams, RB Allentown, Pa.   ASA COLLEGE Ran for 1,093 yards and had 1,394 all-purpose yards

2013
Tim Boyle QB Middlefield   Has started five games at UConn
Dhameer Bradley WR New Castle, Del.  Has 28 career catches at UConn
Chris Britton, LB Harrisburg, Pa.  Redshirting this season
Folorunso Fatukasi, DL Rockaway Park, N.Y. 24 tackles and 2 1/2 tackles for loss

Jordan Fuchs TE New York      INDIANA Enrolled at Milford Academy and then signed with Indiana. Has three catches for 31 yards and a TD.
Javon Hadley DB Miami    Has three tackles this season
Sha-ki Holines, DE    UMASS Has 33 tackles and two sacks this season
Tommy Hopkins, OL Hawthorne, N.Y.  Reserve offensive lineman
Cory Jasudowich LB North Branford  NEW HAVEN Had five tackles in 11 games for Chargers
Junior Joseph, LB Sinking Springs, Pa.  30 tackles and four tackles for loss in nine games this season
Richard Lagow QB Plano, Tex.   CISCO COLLEGE Threw for 412 yards in win over Arkansas Baptist in September
Brian Lemelle WR Harrisburg, Pa.  Has five catches during 2014 season
Thomas Lucas WR Silver Springs, Md.  Has nine catches for 122 yards
Josh Marriner, RB Chesapeake, Va.  Has 91 rushing yards
Tommy Myers, TE Coventry   Has two catches
Cole Ormsby DL Windsor    Leads UConn with 2 1/2 sacks
Kyle Schafenacker OL Cooper City, Fla.  Reserve offensive lineman with Huskies
Cameron Stapleton DE Brooklyn, N.Y.  Has seven tackles this season
Jalen Stevens LB Goose Creek, S.C.  Has seen special-teams work this season
Jamar Summers, DB Orange, N.J.   Moved into starting spot after injury to Byron Jones and has 21 tackles

Kivon Taylor, QB Atlanta   FOOTHILL COLLEGE Threw for six TDs and ran for four more
Noel Thomas WR Norwalk    Third on team with 22 catches and has team-best four TD receptions
Quinn Thompson TE Edinboro, Pa.   BALDWIN WALLACE
Matt Walsh, FB Madison    Has seen time at fullback and on special teams
Chasz Wright OL Hylton, Va.   PENN STATE Enrolled at Milford Academy and then signed with Penn State

Davis happy to be back on field for UConn

Neither the final numbers on the scoreboard (41-0 in favor of Cincinnati) or in the receiving department (2 catches for 1 yard) was what Geremy Davis was hoping for but after missing the last 2 1/2 games due to an ankle injury, the record-breaking senior receiver wasn't about to complain.

"I praise God, he has given me faith throughout my injury," Davis said. "They gave me the go (ahead) and I was ready to go.

"It is frustrating, you wonder why but you say God has a plan for everything and I am happy to fill the role mentally to help my teammates out telling them what I see out there and what they see and be a leader out there."

Davis already has more catches than any UConn receiver since the Huskies moved up to the FBS level and he needs five more receptions to break into the top five on UConn's career charts.

The last time the Huskies played Memphis all Davis did was set a single-game UConn record with 15 receptions in the 2013 finale, He'd love to end the season by leading the Huskies to wins over Memphis and SMU before he turns his attention to opening the eyes of NFL scouts.

"We have two more games, we will keep fighting and fighting however we end it, we end it," Davis said. "It's been a struggle but there have been some ups too so we are going to keep fighting and go out with a boom."

MEMORABLE RETURN FOR HUGHES
It hasn't been the easiest of seasons for former UConn defensive coordinator Hank Hughes.

The Bearcats had games when they gave up 563, 710, 610 and 621 yards in the first five games of the season and Cincinnati fans were quick to voice their displeasure.

Cincinnati has shown tremendous growth on defense in recent weeks and the Bearcats allowed a season-low 129 yards in Hughes' return to Rentschler Field.

Cincinnati coach Tommy Tuberville knows it was a big day for Hughes.

"It is awfully hard to go back and play against your former team, players he knew and it was probably an advantage for us a little bit knowing the personality of the players, speed and quickness," Tuberville said after Saturday's game. "He spent 13 years here and we are glad he won the game. He felt emotional in this game, I watched him during the week and talked to him about it. I have done it, I coached against kids I recruited but it is not easy."

OFFENSE WAS DOWNRIGHT OFFENSIVE
I'm sure few reminders are needed about how ugly Saturday night's game was for the home team. The 129 yards of total offense matched the lowest output during UConn's time playing at the FBS level. It was also the second time this season that the Huskies failed to hit the 135-yard mark in a game. There have been 22 games between FBS teams this season when a squad had 135 or fewer yards. Wake Forest is on the list four times while Eastern Michigan, UConn and SMU are on the list twice.

Team    Opponent Date               Plays Pass Rush Total yards
Baylor vs. SMU 08/31                         97  91  -24  67 
UTEP vs. UTSA 10/25                        64  32  38  70 
LSU vs. La.-Monroe 09/13                 72  77  16  93 
Texas vs. North Texas 08/30               74  15  79  94 
La.-Monroe vs. W. Forest 08/28          85  97  -3  94 
C. Mich. vs. Eastern Mich. 11/01        78  76  21  97 
Louisville vs. Wake Forest 09/27         81  122  -22  100 
Oklahoma vs. Kansas 11/22/                68  84  19  103 
Ole Miss vs. Memphis 09/27               79  81  23  104 
UCF vs. SMU 11/22                            85  50  66  116 
Clemson vs. Wake Forest 11/06          79  112  7  119 
Florida vs. Missouri 10/18                   79  20  99  119  
Arkansas vs. LSU 11/15                      65  87  36  123 
Florida vs. Eastern Mich. 09/6            86  45  80  125 
Florida St. vs. Wake Forest 10/4         74  86  40  126 
Ohio St. vs. Kent St. 09/13                  87  79  47  126 
Cincinnati vs. UConn 11/22                84  81  48  129 
South Fla. vs. UConn 09/19                71  88  44  132 
Ohio vs. Buffalo 11/05                        74  106  28  134 
East Carolina vs. Temple 11/01           88  70  65  135 
Michigan St. vs. E. Mich. 09/20          79  115  20  135 


Sunday, November 23, 2014

Boyle gets his chance for UConn

 
While it was hardly a surprise to the members of the team, there were a few raised eyebrows when sophomore Tim Boyle trotted out with the starting offense on the first drive of the game instead of senior Chandler Whitmer, UConn's starting quarterback for the last eight games.
 
"We hadn't seen him do if he could start in a game, we hadn't seen it yet," Diaco said of his decision to start Boyle. "Nothing against Chandler but we wanted to see what Timmy would give us. He is going to get better and better and he needs to get better and better. The only way to get better and better is to play."
 
The final numbers were not pretty as Boyle finished 13 of 21 yards for 70 yards and had minus 25 yards rushing despite being sacked only twice. Whitmer was 1 of 5 with an interception and finished with 11 passing yards. At a team the Huskies managed 129 yards of total offense, matching the lowest output since the Huskies began playing at the Football Bowl Subdivision level in 2002.
 
"We had a good game plan I thought we were going to be able to execute," Boyle said. "Turnovers and execution were the culprit, I think once we start executing and handing onto the ball, we can do some good things."
 
Since Cochran's retirement Boyle has been limited to just one series while Whitmer received the bulk of the work. With an extra week to prepare the decision was made to insert Boyle as the starting quarterback as well as giving true freshman Ryan Crozier his first career start at left offensive guard.
 
"Once I saw my role increase in practice I thought I was going to play more and I was going to get the majority of the snaps, not necessarily the start," Boyle said. "Chandler and I have been rotating on and off and see what does from there but nothing predetermined. It is always good to get more snaps. I know this sounds bad but the more mistakes you can make, the game of football is about making mistakes and not trying to make them twice, trying to learn from them. I think the more snaps I get the more mistakes I am going to make. It is weird to say but down the road it is probably going to help me a little more.
 
"He (Whitmer) is right on my side, he has been positive. Like you guys say today, he is still battling through all the adversity he has had to go through. It is very tough and I respect him for it but he has been right there by my side the whole time."
 
Boyle made it clear that he is focusing on the remainder of this season and not about being the Huskies' quarterback of the future.
 
"It is more settling into the game," Boyle said. "You can ask any quarterback, it is tough in the beginning of the game to try to get into a rhythm especially when you are going 3 and out and have turnovers like that. More towards the end of the game I had more confidence in myself, I started seeing things a little easier. I am nowhere (near) where I need to be, where I want to be and that is going come down to film study and working hard in practice. I think the hardest thing for me is to just see the defense and make the right decision. I have a long way to go but I think it has increased my confidence level."
 
Diaco said that Crozier beat out Cruz for the starting left guard spot and another intriguing aspect in terms of playing time is that Arkeel Newsome, who had at least three carries in every game when he was healthy, did not get a carry.
 
"Things are starting to mount on these guys, they have finals, school every day, they are in football," Newsome said. "We are not having a great season and and and and it is just building on them. Arkeel, his class and company, they are doing a fantastic job but it is hard, you are young, you are homesick, some are working through it better than others. Arkeel is going to be a great player." 




Tough day all around for UConn

When the day began the biggest news was the departure of juniors Jefferson Ashiru and Kamal Abrams.

It wasn't long before that was replaced by 60 minutes of miscues and one of the worst losses in UConn football history.

Three of Cincinnati's scoring drives in a 41-0 win started in UConn territory meanwhile the Huskies were shut out at home for the first time since 1978 and the 129 yards of total offense matched the lowest total since UConn began playing at the FBS level.

"You can't do that," UConn coach Bob Diaco said. "They are going to move the ball, you have to make them move the length of the field. Short fields and turnovers, that is the hallmark of how you get beat."
UConn coach Bob Diaco shook things up by giving sophomore Tim Boyle the start at quarterback while true freshman Ryan Crozier got the call at left guard for his first career start. The only seniors to start on either offense or defense were receivers Davis, making his return after missing the last 2 1/2 games, and Deshon Foxx and defensive end/outside linebacker Reuben Frank.
The Huskies, coming off their two best rushing games of the season, were held to minus 10 yards on the ground in the first half and finished the first half with nine yards of total offense. Cincinnati had nine double-digit yardage plays in the first half and finished with 248 yards of offense in the first two quarters.
Before the game it was confirmed that junior receiver Kamal Abrams and junior linebacker Jefferson Ashiru have left the team continuing the attrition within the program.
Eight different players who started games and with remaining eligibility are no longer with the program. Going one step further, 12 other scholarship players with remaining eligibility who were on the roster at the end of the 2013 season are no longer with the program.
Quarterbacks Kivon Taylor and Scott McCummings, running backs Lyle McCombs and Joe Williams, defensive backs Ty-Meer Brown, Tyree Clark and David Stevenson, tight ends E.J. Norris and Quinn Thompson, offensive lineman Xavier Hemingway, defensive lineman Michael Boland and receiver Shakim Phillips join Abrams and Ashiru as the players on the roster for the 2013 season finale against Memphis who are no longer with the team. That doesn't include injured former starters Byron Jones, Casey Cochran, Dalton Gifford and Angelo Pruitt with Gifford the only one expected back for the 2015 season. Diaco said that 35 players from the last four recruiting classes are no longer a part of the program. Some of that is his doing but much of it happened before he arrived.
"Everybody's got their own reason why, we are just trying to grow and build our culture," Diaco said.
"We want to teach and develop. Do you have a picture of it? I am honored to coach this team. I am honored to be here. If I had to make this choice again 200 times, I would make it again 200 times. I love the guys that are in that locker room, I want to serve them. I also analyze the signing classes of 2010, '11, '12 and '13 and there are 35 players that showed up for active ready duty for UConn Husky football, be student-athletes at the university that are no longer here, that is a fact or no longer able to participate. I don't know the stories."
Sophomore fullback Matt Walsh did not play but he is not among the departed Huskies according to Diaco.
"We had some very slight corrective conversations here and tomorrow he is with the team," Diaco said. "He is a great kid, a great teammate and he is going to do a good job and fulfill his potential."

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Tough night for UConn commits

UConn commits Frank Battle and Nazir Williams were hoping to extend their senior seasons and move a step closer to helping their teams to state titles.

However, it wasn't to be.

Battle failed to catch a pass for the third consecutive game as Belen Jesuit fell to Killian 31-0 in the Florida 8A regional semifinals. In the last three games Belen completed just three passes including just one in the loss to Killian.

Meanwhile Williams had two catches for 14 yards and a 41-yard pass completion as Bridgeton fell 20-6 to Delsan in the South Jersey Group III semifinals. Williams did have a role in Bridgeton's lone score as he caught a pass and pitched it to Cappadonna Miller. Miller raced the final 35 yards for a touchdown late in the first half.

Also, Ian Campbell's Pequannock team lost to Waldwick/Midland Park 21-7 in the North Jersey Group 2 semifinals.