UConn Football News & Notes From Tuesday Press Conference

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What’s goin on’?

Real quick, we’re going to get down to the bottom of this who-is-calling-the-plays stuff – that’s tomorrow’s story along with how offensive coordinator, the one who is really calling all the plays and has called them  – according to the man himself-  T.J. Weist, will also talk about the job he thinks he’s done as the OC in two games…

Sean McDonough, Chris Spielman and Shannon Spake will be in the booth and the latter on the sidelines for ABC Saturday night at Rentschler Field…. 

RT Kevin Friend, LB Graham Stewart and WR Shakim Phillips (hamstring) are all listed as questionable for the game Saturday against Michigan but Phillips said Tuesday he was playing.

“It feels a lot better than it did Saturday,” Phillips said. “I’m just doing rehab about three times a day and trying to get back as fast as possible.”

Phillips said the he felt the hamstring pull about 20 yards away from the 75-yard catch and run for a touchdown he had late in the fourth quarter against Maryland.

The official number of seats added to Rentschler Field for this game is approximately 2,200 and with them the game is sold out meaning the largest crowd to see a football game in East Hartford will be on hand Saturday night, 8 p.m. on ABC.

On the run game, we hear from running backs coach Kermit Buggs: “We’ve got to continue to make sure we press the holes. We missed a couple and then we’ve got to finish our runs. We’re letting one guy stop us; we’re not breaking any tackles. Those are the things I keep harping on daily. We’ve got to be a little bit more powerful. We have to make some holes when there aren’t holes and we’ve got to get me four. Every time we touch the ball our goal is to get four yards so we’ve got to start doing that…

Buggs on No.1 back Lyle McCombs’ size (5-8, 175) being a factor; “It definitely has some bearing on it,” Buggs said. He’s a quicker back that needs more space, not going to be able to run through as many tackles but we’re trying to work on that, working on keeping his pad level down and working on his strength with the strength staff and coaches. That’s a part of it but we’re trying to make it better.”

Buggs on trying to get others in the game such as Max DeLorenzo and Martin Hyppolite and can freshman John Marriner get some burn: “We’re working and we’ll see what happens but right now those three guys (McCombs, DeLorenzon and Hyppolite) are the guys but, personally, I’ve got to myself, have a little more confidence in myself to use them. Lyle has been the guy but I’m trying to slowly get those guys in…and Martin is a bigger back and Martin ae bigger backs who may be able to run through some tackles so I have to have more confidence in myself to get those guys in the game more.”

Cornerbacks Coach Darrell Perkins on his corrnerback duo of Byron Jones and Taylor Mack so far: “In the first game there, they each gave up a play, a deep shot we wanted but outside of that I think they’ve been solid. Byron was at safety last year. I think he’s starting, in that game against Maryland, I think he showed he’s starting to get his rhythmn back over there so I think for both of them their best football is ahead.

“I tell them every day we need to keep working but stay confident and work in a way you know you’re going to be successful. I tell them their mindset always has to be in the right place, too because If something bad happens whether it be your individual play or we lost a game everything is still out in front of us if we stay positive and keep working…their ability and athleticism will win out.”

Michigan Coach Brady Hoke on what the heck happened in the 28-24 win at home over Akron: “No.1 I think you always, the guys who you’re playing against, they’re going to play hard and at Michigan, you’re always going to get everybody’s best shot. I also think they did a great job of coaching and preparing their team and I think they’ve got some talented guys on the football team. That being said, you know, I think as the head coach, I need to do a better job preparing this Michigan football team. For us not to take care of the football, not to do a better job in some of the aspects of whether it’s playing tighter coverage or not giving up big plays or getting a little more pressure on the quarterback or running the ball more successfully, those are things that start with me and our staff so we’ve got to do a better job of coaching.”

Well, that was interesting, eh?

Here is Hoke too on his thoughts about UConn: “I can tell you they’re a big football team and they’re a physical football team. You look at their offensive line and their starters who are back. I think the quarterback is very accurate with the football. He throws a great skinny post and the seam routes and he long ball, Chandler [Whitmer], does. Lyle McCombs is an impressive guy running the ball. We had a young man named Drake Johnson who got hurt early in our first football game and he really reminds me of Drake a lot in how he gets in and out [of] cuts and accelerates. The receivers, Phillips had 10 catches a week ago and you watch him work in route running and so they’ve got some playmakers on their offensive team and defensively we’ll have our hands full up front. We’re young at the three interior positions. I think Paul [Pasqualoni] does a great job of coaching and we’ll have our hands full for sure.”

Pasqualoni on the opportunity with Michigan coming in and what it means: “It’s exciting, exciting for everyone in the state of Conencticut to have a team like Michigan, high level, perrenial, top 20 team with tremendous tradition coming in here. That’s exciting. For our program where we are, from a non-conference standpoint, the idea of bringing in high level Big Ten opponents, Southeastern Conference opponents, Big 12 opponents, ACC opponents, I think that from our program, from a recruiting standpoint, excitement standpoint, from the notion that you come to UConn you will have a chance to compete against the best and be the best it’s important.”







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