Posts Tagged ‘uconn football’

Are You Ready For Some Huskie Football?

// August 3rd, 2011 // 3 Comments » // Uncategorized

The 2011 Big East Conference poll came out on Tuesday, and the UCONN Huskies, with new head coach Paul “George W Bush/Will Ferrell’s bastard love child” Pasqualoni, find themselves ranked 6th.

The rankings aren’t too surprising as all five teams above the Huskies have elite players coming back at QB, or RB, or both.

billstewarteersWest Virginia, despite a coaching fiasco that saw Bill Stewart shoved aside like an anorexic girl at Old Country Buffet, has QB Geno Smith coming off a season where he threw for over 2700 yards and 24 touchdowns.

South Florida, who has turned a corner under head coach Skip Holtz, have a dual threat QB in BJ Daniels, to go along with their stellar D. Holtz has demonstrated the coaching chops that would make his legendary father proud. If only Lou were still coherent enough to remember he had a son.

Pittsburgh returns QB Tino Sunsieri and RB Ray Graham, who should both thrive under new head coach Todd Graham’s offensive system. Graham’s spread should be able to lay waste to Big East D’s not exactly known for their toughness.

Syracuse has starting QB Ryan Nassib coming back, and despite losing stud RB Delone Carter, they return their top five WR’s and four starters along the OL. Doug Marrone has the Orange on the way up, and in a wide open Big East they should continue to improve.

sfb-091027-ap-collaros2jpg-6047590935e04ea9_largeCincinnati boasts perhaps the most talent at the QB position, and if Zach Collaros can display some of the game he showed a few years ago while spelling Tony Pike, the rest of the Big East could be in trouble. Collaros can hand the ball off to 1000 yard rusher Isaiah Pead, or air it out to DJ Woods who had just shy of 900 receiving yards last year, making the Bearcats a very dangerous offensive team in Butch Jones’ second season.

That brings us to UCONN.

There are big questions at QB, with Mike Box, Scott McCummings, and FWG favorite Johnny McEntee all vying for snaps. Box, who is the only one who saw snaps in 2010, will probably be the starter, but if he struggles it could be a short leash with the athletic McCummings, and the talented McEntee waiting in the wings.

The Huskies have developed a proud tradition at RB under former head coach Randy Edsall, with Donald Brown and Jordan Todman at the top of the list. Edsall didn’t leave the RB cupboard completely bare for 2011. USC transfer DJ Shoemate is very talented, but a bit fumble prone.

Despite these two, rather glaring question marks, there are quite a few reasons for hope.

Junior Ryan Griffin is one of the nation’s top TE’s and should help whoever ends up under center.

Seniors OT Mike Ryan and C Mike Petrus will provide stability along the offensive line. They are among the best at their respective positions, which will be invaluable with inexperienced players at QB and RB.

DT Kendall Reyes is in the running for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, which goes to the nation’s best defensive player. If he continues to build on a solid 2010, he could be the kind of playmaker that a young defense can rally around.

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The Big East has proven to be unpredictable in the past, and this year should be no different. The UCONN Huskies have gotten used to a winning tradition the last few years, and I don’t expect that to go fade away just because Randy Edsall isn’t roaming the sidelines. There is something about competing, and winning, that rubs off on people. It’s kind of like crack, or sex. Once you have a taste for it, you will do just about anything to make sure you can taste it again.

The Huskies will be a competitive team under Paul Pasqualoni, who brings the most wins in Big East history along with him, if a few pieces fall into place they could find themselves in a bowl game again this winter.

——Corey

FWG Interview: UCONN QB Johnny McEntee

// February 14th, 2011 // 4 Comments » // Uncategorized

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The Fat White Guy Network presents an exclusive interview with UCONN QB and Trick Shot Specialist, Johnny McEntee.

Corey: Johnny I have to know, what took longer to practice; the trick shots or the glorious awkward white man dance we get just before the four minute mark?

Johnny: The dance did take some time to master but the trick shots took literally all day.

C: Did you grow up wanting to blow people’s minds? Or did it happen by accident one day? Like how they discovered LSD and Chocolate Chip Cookies?

J: The way this has blown up is kind of an accident. We made it as a joke for around campus and for our own friends but never expected it to get like this. I never knew chocolate chip cookies were an accident.

C: Seems you aren’t the only one in the mind blowing business. Story goes that Ruth Whitman, who ran The Toll House Restaurant, ran out of baker’s chocolate one night while trying to make cookies. She improvised by chopping up a bar of semisweet chocolate, hopping the chocolate would melt throughout the cookie. The small bits held their shape and the Chocolate Chip Cookie was born.

C: With your trick shot video burning up the internet, do you feel added pressure going into next season? I mean it’s going to be hard to miss receivers isn’t it?

J: I’m just waiting for the first time I throw an incompletion at practice and the coaches yell at me and say well you can do it blindfolded.

C: With you new found fame, and place in the public eye, are you worried that you have jumped the shark on a potentially lucrative career as a traveling hustler?

J: I think this is just one week of fame and will die down very soon. The video is cool but not that cool. I probably just opened a door to more football trick shot videos and will probably get out done very soon.

C: I know I still remember all those McDonald’s commercials with Bird and Jordan trying to outdo one another in a game of horse. I see an annual competition with someone challenging you. Maybe play it live at haft time of the Super Bowl…I will get back to you on that.

C: I am sure we all have a favorite shot. Mine would be the bomb from across the arena where we can barely see you. But what is your favorite?

J: My favorite is the pool shot. Shooting pool is one of my favorite things to do and the fact we actually pulled that one off was very exciting for me.

C: What was the hardest shot to pull off?

J: The one when I hit both uprights and the crossbar all in a row. Any football player knows that one is the hardest.

C: How has the trick shot video changed you?

J: Not one bit. I just have more friends on facebook now.

C: Are you worried that girls are going to want to see trick shots on the first date now?

J: I sure hope girls don’t want to see trick shots on the first date. I would hate to hit a girl in the face when she asks me to knock a water bottle off her head.

C: So what’s next for you? Talk Show Circuits? HBO Special?

J: That’s it. Time to get back to real football.

It is refreshing to see someone get widespread recognition and shy away from the shameless self promotion, the reality TV, and soulless attempts to milk their fame for all its worth. Whether Johnny is right and this video is forgotten in a week or two, his modesty and desire to just get back to playing football make him worth remembering. He is the type of athlete those of us at The Fat White Guy Network are proud to know.

Thanks for the time Johnny. Best of luck on the field this year.

Randy Edsall To Maryland: My Take

// January 4th, 2011 // 10 Comments » // Uncategorized

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They were waiting for him to arrive.  The 2011 Fiesta Bowl was barely in the rear-view mirror, with Oklahoma holding the trophy, holding their fairy tale ending.  So the 25 players and assistant coaches, sitting in aisle and window seats were just waiting.  Assistant coaches received a call from the operations director, “No suits on the flight, head man won’t be riding back.”  A lapse in the dress code?  Something had to be going wrong.

Over the past decade of UConn football he’s been known by many names; Savior, Leader, Headman, Randy, Coach,  During that same time period, the grumblings of other coaching offers came and passed, with UConn, it’s players and staff (and alumni) feeling safe.  They’d found the man that took them from toiling in obscurity, to Division I, then the Big East, two shares of a conference championship, five bowl games, and most importantly guiding them through the traumatic death of Jasper Howard.  So where was he now?

Apparently to the ACC.

I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Randy Edsall since my recruitment in 2004, 5 seasons under his tutelage and now as a working professional straddling a delicate line between media personality, blogger, and alumnus; ending up in his cross hairs for breaking “stories” about a coaching change and the proud recipient of several voice mails and stern calls, the take away message was, “If  you want the story, I’ll give it to you.”  No, the irony of that moment is not lost on me now.

I sit here in Arizona, less than 24 hours removed from “the announcement” in a hotel room with several alumni, all texting and calling and reaching out to former coaches and players, one part consolement, another part searching for justification, explanation.  After tapping the resources of our contact lists, which includes athletic department officials, former and current coaches/players the consensus was: No one knew.

Not assistant coaches waiting on a plane, athletic department officials now scrambling for a replacement, not players sitting in hotel rooms, or recruits scattered across the country.  No one.

For this I feel sad, I feel betrayed, I feel a little lost.  Then again, this is the business of college football.  For a long time I’ve had the distinct pleasure of looking at the coaching carousel in the NCAA, hunched over a laptop striking keys with disdain, turning my nose up at the notion that my alma mater (the birthplace of FWG) would ever be a ship under a different captain.  My ignorance was bliss, as I argued with fellow alums and media members that, “Randy has already turned down offers from Notre Dame, Syracuse and Georgia Tech…if he didn’t take those proverbial dream jobs he’ll never leave UConn.  Not to mention he’s got the AD in his corner, a brand-new facility, and the hearts/minds of the Connecticut population.”  I’d also start pulling on the heart strings of his tenure in Storrs, “He’s built something there, he’ll be a lifer…”

Those words now echo with a twang of stupidity, the sting of blissful ignorance.  In reaching out to coaches former and current, a new light was shed.  Those jobs he “turned down”?  Well, he was third on the list for Notre Dame (they wanted Brian Kelly from the beginning).  Georgia Tech?  That was a negotiating move with UConn.  And those lovable losers with all that tradition at Syracuse?  They wouldn’t pay him the kind of money he was looking for.  So as it turns out, Maryland was a real opportunity to jump at, and he did.

There are a lot of things about the decision that I don’t agree with, namely the fact that his coworkers, the men he’d shared 70 and 80 hour weeks with for over a decade had no clue; not so much as a text message.  Yes, these are people who work in a fickle profession, but they are men with kids and families.  That hurts.  The lessons I learned from my time with Coach Edsall are many: hardwork, determination, unrelenting commitment to a goal, but above all else: do the right thing all the time.

I wish this decision was that black and white: did Randy live by his mantra?  Was this the right thing?  Unfortunately life is not that cut and dry, there are layers; shades of gray.  The Maryland job makes sense on a monetary level, but also on a personal one.  With Coach Edsall’s father passing away in 2008 there has been a strong draw to get closer to home, closer to his family.  I understand that emotion as a person, especially knowing Coach Edsall and his commitment as a family man; it was something I loved about him and a big part of what brought me to Connecticut.

I remember an exact conversation on my recruiting visit, sitting in his office as my Dad asked, “I can’t pick up a paper without seeing your name mentioned for every and any coaching position.  Will you stay here at UConn?  What’s to keep you from leaving?”  Edsall looked my my family in the eye and said, “I can’t tell you that if the right opportunity presented itself I wouldn’t leave.  But I can also say I’m not actively looking to leave UConn.  We’re trying to build something here…”

That was a stark contrast to the answers of coaches across the football ranks, from the Atlantic 10 to ACC who told me, “You know son, I see myself here forever.  This is my home.”  Precisely all of those coaches have moved on.  So if Edsall kept his word, if he spent another 6 years building the program, if he thought his work was done, then why do we feel slighted?

I’m sure some of it has to do with the way it was handled; coaches kept in the dark, or possibly the direct contrast to how Jordan Todman had to stand up and address the team about his NFL intentions yet Edsall remained silent. But I have a feeling it is because UConn, while a program that has officially arrived,  is still one in its infancy of its history.  UConn is in the process of creating its own traditions, learning the lessons of major college football, writing the story of football in Connecticut.  Unfortunately, this is one such chapter no one wanted to read.  UConn having known so much success, has only known one man.  All major programs have coaching changes, this was UConn’s first major transition.

I wish Edsall nothing but the best (except for one week in 2012 and 2013) and I know he will have an uphill battle against the media in Connecticut (nothing like an easy target).  I also know he’ll bring the model for success he instituted at UConn to UMD.  The bottom line is that this stings, and I’m not sure I agree with the way he handled the respective careers of his staff (then again I’m not sure that’s even his responsibility, but after 10 years I have the inclination that it is).  Things could have been worse, he could have pulled a Brian Kelly and abandon his team before their moment in the limelight.  This wasn’t executed cleanly by any means, I won’t contest that.  I won’t even say I’m in anyone’s corner.  I am a product of Randy’s belief in me, a student of Hank Hughes and Todd Orlando’s and I owe an untold amount to Drew Wilson and Jerry Martin, but mostly I’m a UConn guy and I always will be.
For the players, and fans like me, remember that it’s about the University, not one Coach.

UPDATE:
UConn Strength Coach Drew Wilson, previously rumored to be replacing Jerry Martin as UConn’s head of strength and conditioning has accepted a position as the head strength coach in charge of football at the University of Maryland .

Wake Up! UConn Is Going To The Fiesta Bowl: Suck It WVU

// December 6th, 2010 // 4 Comments » // Uncategorized

west-virginia-red-neckI’ve had a lot of proud moments as a Husky:  UConn’s first bowl appearance and win, defeating South Florida and fan’s charging the field, winning a share of the Big East in 2007.  But when Dave Teggart nails a 52 yarder, I think all those on the field moments were replaced by one felt as a fan.  Supreme vindication, is how I would describe it.  UConn reaching the pinnacle of college football, while simultaneously silencing the critics, the nay-sayers, the doubters of the team-that-could in Storrs, CT.  My hat is off to you.

Besides the simultaneous dropping of 80,000 jaws in West Virginia, the other best part of this victory is that they won this game (and played the entire season) the UConn football way: tremendous grit, never-say-die attitude, and with bone crushingly stingy defense.

There is more coming with the discussion of the BCS, primarily how the Huskies will fare against Oklahoma, but before we get into that we need to pause and think about just what Randy Edsall has accomplished:  He recruits his way, he runs an entire program his way, he’s taken a team from 1AA (Oh, the glory days of the Yankee Conference) to a BCS Bowl game.   He practices in a 54 million dollar facility that sits in the shadow of Memorial Stadium.  A physical juxtaposition that offers the most poignant of metaphors:  a new era has taken hold, while the previous one is a not so distant memory.

It is a proud day indeed.  I’ll see you in Arizona, kids.

Wake Up! Hung Over From Michigan - UConn (Courtesy of Ted’s Bar)

// September 7th, 2010 // 5 Comments » // Uncategorized

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Woke up this fine Tuesday morning still reeling from the weekend.  Was it really possible that of the three games I bet on I lost ‘em all?  Sure enough Michigan, Notre Dame, and Boise State all had their way with me.  Besides the Michigan game (which we’ll get into later), a lack of preparedness is why I called the Notre Dame and Boise games all wrong.  This is what you get for betting with your heart, like marriage and baby making these should not moves of passion but rather cold, calculated decisions.  I hate Notre Dame (there I said it) and I wanted to believe Purdue would deliver some Karmic justice to Brian Kelly (The Great Abandoner of ‘09).  I should have known that BK would have his guys ready to go.

As far as Boise, well not much can be said there.  They execute well on every play.  Something that UConn failed to do.  In the media since Saturday there have be prognostications about a backslide for the program, how UConn was “out classed.”  They couldn’t be more wrong.

Talking about the loss with several of the UConn players, one theme was prevalent: they didn’t execute.  Offensive linemen missed a few (key) assignments and just as they started to get their legs underneath them things like a fumble, dropped ball in the end-zone or botched snaps took the wind right out their sails once again.

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Defense wasn’t much better, as Michigan seemed to set the tone and UConn’s historically stingy defense was facing 2nd and 3rd downs with short yardage, instead of the 2nd and 3rd -n- long’s that they’ve made a living off of the past 10 years.  I will say this for the Wolverines, they came ready to play.  More ready than Rich-Rod has had them since his tenure began.

The really rule of football is taking 24 hours to celebrate or mourn a loss.  If I know one thing about Randy Edsall (and I claim to know just a few) it is that UConn football always bounces back after a loss with some of their best football.  Players almost always respond from an embarrassing loss like this past one with extra effort, extra focus, extra film: It is something UConn football prides itself on.

Watch out, Texas Southern

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FWG With Jason Page On ESPN Radio: College Football and Hot Girlfriends

// August 18th, 2010 // 2 Comments » // Uncategorized, wob

Talking college football, careers, and having a hot girlfriend in Hartford with Jason Page on ESPN Radio.

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News Out Of UConn: Edsall Coaching Safeties…The Player’s Perspective

// August 12th, 2010 // 10 Comments » // Uncategorized

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ESPN:
Edsall coached defensive backs early in his career at Syracuse and then with the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars. UConn appears loaded this season at most positions, but safety could be the weak link, and Edsall is regarded as one of the game’s best teachers.

Normally I don’t like to agree with the “media types” because so often “they” have it very wrong.  But on this one, they are right.  Edsall taking over coaching duties for the safeties is the best move he could have made as a “CEO” (his words, not mine).  The safeties, with the departure of Vaughn and McClain are a weak point, this much you already know.  But, here at FWG we (I) like to go the extra mile.  To answer the question you probably won’t see answered anywhere else which is, how do the player’s feel?

Remember a few years back when Coach Lyndon Johnson had some medical issues and was sidelined during Spring football, Edsall installed himself as the Husky linebacker coach.  Well like was miserable and excellent for those guys.  Imagine being held to an even higher level of accountability (the head coach is now running your position).  In that sense it is torture, the cold sweats, the nervousness, the man that holds your fate in his hands is personally evaluating every snap you take.  I can even remember linebacker Scott Lutrus telling me, “I can feel the head man’s breath on my neck.”  But on the other side of it, it presents an opportunity learn from one of the best teachers in the game.  It is also a chance to see your coach as a person.

So often in college football, you are close with your academic staff, position coach, and of course strength and conditioning.  The head coach is wrapped up in all matters of the organization and unless you are an integral part of the team’s success (hat tip, Donny Brown) then the time you spend one on one is minimal (unless you’ve skipped class, then it is all too personal).  Edsall will be holding these guys to a level of accountability they’ve never seen (especially for such a young group).  But he is also the best man for the job, and for that they are incredibly lucky.