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UConn Plays Host to #11/12 South Florida


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http://www.uconnhuskies.com/AllStories/MFootball/2007/10/23/20071023.html

THE COACHES

CONNECTICUT HEAD COACH RANDY EDSALL

A veteran in his 25th year of major college coaching with three years in the NFL, Edsall has tackled the challenge of bringing a former NCAA Division I-AA team up to par with the BIG EAST in a six year span head on, guiding the Huskies to victory in the 2004 Motor City Bowl. He has compiled a 47-52 career record in his ninth season at UConn, including wins in 36 of UConn’s last 58 games. He is 1-3 vs. USF. Immediately prior to becoming UConn’s head coach in 1998, Edsall served as defensive coordinator at Georgia Tech in 1998 under George O’Leary. Edsall began his coaching career at his alma mater, Syracuse, from 1980-1990, working under Frank Maloney and **** MacPherson in a variety of capacities. Among his highlights at Syracuse was being a part of the 1987 team that went undefeated at 11-0-1, tying Auburn, 16-16, in the Sugar Bowl. Edsall moved on to Boston College where he coached defensive backs under Tom Coughlin from 1991-93 before following Coughlin to the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars, staying on the First Coast through the 1997 season. Edsall is a native of Glen Rock, Pa., and graduated from Susquehannock High School. He was recently inducted into the York Area Sports Hall of Fame.

SOUTH FLORIDA HEAD COACH JIM LEAVITT

Charged with a task comparable to that faced by UConn, Jim Leavitt is 76-44 in his 11th season at USF and 3-1 vs. UConn. The only coach that the Bulls have ever known, USF began play in 1997, officially joined Division I-A in 2001, became a member of Conference USA in 2003 and made a fruitful debut in the BIG EAST in 2005, going to the program’s first ever bowl game (Meineke Car Care) that season. Prior to USF, Leavitt worked under Bill Snyder at Kansas State (1990-95) helping that program’s historic transformation from Big 8 doormat to national power. His six K-State teams went 44-23-1 after the school posted a 22-86-1 record during the 1980s. He also worked as an assistant at Missouri (1978-79), Dubuque (1980-81), Morningside College (1982-87) and Iowa (1988-89). Leavitt graduated from Mizzou in 1978 after earning All-Big 8 honors in both football and baseball, leading the Big 8 in 1977 with a .386 batting average. Born in Harlingen, Texas, Leavitt moved often as a military child but the family settled in St. Petersburg where he starred at Dixie Hollins High School.

RADIO & TV COVERAGE

AMERICA BEHOLDS CONNECTICUT

For the second time, UConn will have a football game televised regionally by ABC. The other was during the 2005 season, also at home against USF. Terry Gannon, Davie Norrie and Quint Kessenich have the call of Saturday’s game which airs locally on WTNH TV-8 in New Haven.

RADIO COVERAGE

For the 16th consecutive season, WTIC 1080-AM in Hartford serves as the flagship station for the UConn Radio Network. WTIC is the state’s only 50,000 watt signal and can be heard in 23 states and parts of Canada. Veteran UConn announcers Joe D’Ambrosio (play-by-play) and Wayne Norman (color commentary) return to call the action with Kevin Nathan on the sidelines. The UConn pregame show begins 90 minutes prior to kickoff and is hosted by Bob Joyce, while at home games, the UConn Tailgate Show will air two and a half hours prior to the game with Arnold Dean. The UConn Football Radio Network also includes WILI 1400-AM in Willimantic, WXLM, 102.3-FM in New London, WLIS 1420-AM in Old Saybrook, WMRD 1150-AM in Middletown, and WLAD 800-AM in Danbury. UConn football games are also broadcast over the internet at WTIC.com.

SERIES NOTES

BULLS ON PARADE IN EAST HARTFORD

UConn is 1-3 against South Florida all-time. The only previous game between the schools in East Hartford was UConn’s only win, a 15-10 decision on Nov. 26, 2005. In that game, Lou Allen ran for a 60-yard touchdown on the third play from scrimmage and UConn held that lead throughout on a frosty 33-degree afternoon. The teams met for the first time on Oct. 28, 2000 at Memorial Stadium in Storrs with the Bulls taking a 21-13 victory. UConn returned the trip on Oct. 13, 2001 and faced the Bulls at Raymond James Stadium during USF’s inaugural I-A season. The Huskies, still transitioning to I-A, fell 40-21. Last year, Matt Grothe’s 228 total yards helped the Bulls to a 38-16 win at RJS. All-time UConn is 2-4 against teams from the Sunshine State. Both of UConn’s other meetings with Floridian teams came in 2002 when the Huskies beat Florida Atlantic, 61-14, on Nov. 2 in Storrs but fell, 48-14, to No. 1 Miami on Oct. 5 at the Orange Bowl.

TAMPA BAY BRIDGES

UConn has 13 players from the state of state of Florida but none hail from the Tampa Bay area...USF’s Courtney Denson and UConn’s Dennis Brown both started at quarterback at Miami Central High School during their prep careers. Brown was a sophomore and followed in Denson’s footsteps after he signed with Auburn, transferring to USF in 2004. USF’s Sabbath Joseph also played with the pair at Central...UConn’s Jasper Howard attended Miami’s Edison High School as did USF’s Richard Clebert, Marc Dile and Brouce Mompremier...USF brothers Keith and Kevin McKaskill attended Tallahassee’s Godby High School with UConn’s Ellis Gaulden...USF assistant head coach Dan McCarney was the head coach at Iowa State from 1995-2006, a span that included both UConn’s landmark 37-20 win over the Cyclones in Ames on Nov. 23, 2002 and also current UConn quarterback Tyler Lorenzen’s tenure there as both a quarterback and wide receiver from 2004-05. Prior to ISU, McCarney was the defensive coordinator at Wisconsin where one of his linebackers was current UConn defensive coordinator Todd Orlando.

HOME SWEET HOME

UConn is in the middle of a three-game home stand as the Huskies play host to Louisville, USF and Rutgers in consecutive weeks. It is UConn’s first three-game home stand since the 2004 season when the Huskies had a run of four straight home games from Sept. 25 until Oct. 23. The Huskies are 4-0 at home thus far in 2007 and are 22-8 all-time at Rentschler Field since its gates first opened in 2003.  

UCONN VS. RANKED TEAMS

This week, UConn is facing a ranked Division I-A team for the 11th time overall and looking for its first such win. UConn has defeated several teams that were ranked during a season, including last week’s victory over Louisville. USF is the first actively ranked team that UConn has faced this year. The Bulls will be the fourth ranked team to play at Rentschler Field and the second-highest ranked behind only the 2006 West Virginia Mountaineers who came to East Hartford ranked No. 4.  

SQUAD NOTES

6-1 GETS HUSKIES INTO THE MIX

UConn’s 6-1 start to the 2007 season is the fastest the team has burst from the gates since 1998 when the team opened the year at 7-1 en route to the school’s only appearance in the Division I-AA Playoffs. Since making the jump to Division I-A (since renamed the Football Bowl Subdivision), UConn had gone 5-2 through its first seven games in 2004 but never better. The Huskies have been 6-1 or better through seven games only three times since 1945.

HUSKIES GAIN BOWL ELIGIBILITY

For the third time in the past five years the Huskies are bowl eligible. UConn was also bowl eligible in 2003 when the team went 9-3 as an independent and was not chosen and in 2004 when UConn was 7-4 and went on to win the Motor City Bowl. Although eligible, UConn is not guaranteed a bowl bid and more wins can increase both the likelihood and prominence of a potential UConn bowl game. The BIG EAST Champion receives an automatic bid to the Bowl Championship Series. The second selection will go to either the Konica Minolta Gator Bowl (Jacksonville) or the Brut Sun Bowl (El Paso). The third pick is made by the Meineke Car Care Bowl (Charlotte). The fourth and fifth picks go to the PapaJohns.com Bowl (Birmingham) and the International Bowl (Toronto). Any remaining teams enter into a national pool searching for possible, but not guaranteed, at large bids.

HUSKIES EARN FIRST EVER BCS RANKING

On Sunday, UConn earned its first ever spot in the weekly BCS standings, checking in at No. 23 in the rankings that ultimately decide who will play for the national championship. The BCS rankings are a combination of the USA Today Top 25 Coaches Poll, the Harris Interactive Poll and the average of six computer rankings (excluding the highest and lowest computer rank). UConn is 29th in the Harris Poll, 28th in the coaches poll and is tied for 16th in the computer rankings, earning the Huskies a BCS average of 0.1360.

STILL UNRANKED BY AP AND COACHES THOUGH

UConn received 26 votes in this week’s AP Top 25 Poll and 75 in the USA Today Coaches’ Poll. UConn first received votes this year in the Sept. 23 AP poll when the Huskies received three. The team cracked the coaches’ poll’s votes column the following week. UConn also received votes in both polls at various times during the 2003 and 2004 seasons but has never earned a national Top 25 ranking. Prior to this season, UConn’s last national poll votes came in the final polls of the 2004 season following an 8-4 finish and 39-10 win over Mid-American Conference Champion Toledo in the Motor City Bowl. The Sept. 23 Harris poll was the first time that UConn had ever received votes in that BCS component’s three-year existence.

ONE FOR THE MONEY, TWO FOR THE SHOW...

At 2-0, UConn is the last remaining undefeated team in BIG EAST Conference games this year. It is the first time that UConn has ever been 2-0 in league play since joining the league in 2004. The Huskies split their first two league contests in 2004 and 2005 while losing each of its first two last season.

IT ISN’T OVER...

UConn rallied from 10 points down in the fourth quarter to defeat Louisville, 21-17, on Oct. 19 getting the game-winning touchdown with 1:32 to play as Andre Dixon forced his way into the end zone. The clinching play came when Danny Lansanah intercepted Brian Brohm with 15 seconds remaining in the game. The contest marked UConn’s seventh win in the FBS (I-A) era (since 2002) where it overcame at least a 10 point deficit. It marked UConn’s eighth win of the I-A era where it came from behind in the final quarter and the third in which it did so while erasing a double-digit deficit. The Louisville game was also the fifth time in this period which UConn won with a score in the game’s final two minutes or in overtime. It was UConn’s second fourth quarter comeback win of the year (UConn trailed Temple 17-16 in the fourth quarter). UConn last had multiple fourth quarter comeback wins in the same season in 2003 when the Huskies had three (vs. Kent State, Akron and Rutgers).

TURNING THE PAGE

One key to UConn’s early success in 2007 has been its impressive +11 turnover margin as the Huskies have created 20 turnovers while giving the ball away just nine times. UConn’s ratio ranks second in the nation in this critical category. Demonstrating its importance, seven of the nation’s top 10 teams in terms of turnover margin have at least a 6-2 record. In 2006 UConn was -1 on the season in turnover margin. UConn has made the most of its opportunities this fall too, holding a 64-14 edge over its opposition in points off of turnovers.

EDSALL ERA HITS THE CENTURY MARK

Saturday will be the milestone 100th game in Randy Edsall’s nine-year tenure as head coach at Connecticut. He stands at 47-52 overall and a fairly remarkable 38-28 (.576) through the first 66 games of UConn’s tenure at the FBS (Division I-A) level. Edsall is the fourth coach to lead the Huskies into 100 career games, joining J.O. Christian (121), Tom Jackson (119) and Robert Ingalls (106). On a national level, his nine-year tenure at UConn is tied for the 18th-longest tenure at his current school of any coach at an active FBS school. The longest active tenure is Joe Paterno who is in his 42nd year as head coach at Penn State. Within the BIG EAST, only USF’s Jim Leavitt at 11 years has been in his current position longer than Edsall. The six members of the coaching hire class of 1999 who are still at those schools is an especially strong one, also including Tommy Bowden (Clemson), UConn graduate Kirk Ferentz (Iowa), June Jones (Hawaii), Bob Stoops (Oklahoma) and Tommy Tuberville (Auburn).

UNDEFEATED SEASON ALIVE THROUGH FIVE

UConn was 5-0 after five games for the first time since 1995, prior to the team’s move to then-Division I-A status. That season, the Huskies set a school record with six straight wins to open the season. The Huskies do have two longer unbeaten streaks to open a season coming in 1924 (6-0-2) and 1928 (4-0-3). The Huskies had never previously started better than 2-0 in the I-A era. The Huskies also had never previously started better than 2-0 during head coach Randy Edsall’s nine-year tenure at UConn. Edsall though has seen a longer streak in his coaching career as he was the defensive backs coach at Syracuse in 1987 when the then-Orangemen went 11-0 before tying Auburn, 16-16, in the Sugar Bowl.

WINNING FIVE TIES FOR THREE

Winners of each of their last five games before losing at Virginia, the Huskies tied for their third longest winning streak of the Division I-A era with a run of five straight wins from Nov. 20, 2004-Sept. 10, 2005. UConn won seven straight from Oct. 25, 2003-Sept. 11, 2004. The Huskies also have a I-A era streak of six wins (Nov. 2, 2002-Sept. 6, 2003) to their credit. Within the context of a single season, it was UConn’s longest winning streak since closing the 2003 campaign with five straight wins.

HUSKIES ONLY LOSE ONCE IN NON-CONFERENCE PLAY

UConn finished its 2007 non-conference slate on Oct. 13 with a 4-1 record, defeating Duke, Maine, Temple and Akron but losing at Virginia. It ties for UConn’s best non-league slate since joining the BIG EAST Conference in 2004. The Huskies went 4-1 that year followed by a 3-1 mark in 2005 and a 3-2 record in 2006. UConn was last undefeated in non-conference play in 1998 when the Huskies downed Colgate, Yale and Hofstra to go 3-0. UConn will likely never eclipse the school benchmark for non-conference wins as in 2003, competing as an independent, the Huskies went 9-3 on the year, all of which were non-conference games.

A SEPTEMBER TO REMEMBER

UConn went a perfect 5-0 in the month of September marking the first time in school history that the Huskies have ever won five games in a single calendar month. UConn had previously won four games in a month on numerous occasions, most recently in November of 2002 when UConn beat Florida Atlantic, Kent State, Navy and Iowa State. The last time the Huskies completed a full calendar month without a loss was when the squad went 3-0 in November of 2003 with wins over Western Michigan, Rutgers and Wake Forest. UConn’s last perfect September was in 1998 when the Huskies downed Colgate, Maine and Yale to open the season at 3-0. This year was UConn’s fifth perfect September of all-time with a minimum of three games played.

AND THEN THERE WERE 11

Prior to losing to Virginia on Oct. 13, UConn was one of the last 11 remaining undefeated teams in the nation. The others were Arizona State, Boston College, California, Cincinnati, Hawaii, Kansas, LSU, Missouri, Ohio State and South Florida. The list is now down to just five (Arizona State, BC, Hawaii, Kansas and Ohio State).

TAKING THE HARD ROAD AGAIN

Last fall UConn played what the NCAA ranked as the nation’s sixth-toughest schedule, battling seven bowl teams, including two BCS participants and four teams that won 10 games during the regular season. The Huskies are facing another tough slate in 2007 as five of the team’s final six games will come against teams that won bowl games a year ago in Louisville (Oct. 19), USF (Oct. 27), Rutgers (Nov. 3), Cincinnati (Nov. 10) and West Virginia (Nov. 24). All of those teams have been ranked during some point in the 2007 season. While the first half of the slate did not feature any bowl teams from a year ago, it did include a pair of road games in ACC country as the Huskies traveled to Duke (Sept. 1) and Virginia (Oct. 13). UConn is one of just four BCS conference schools this year to play two road games against BCS conference foes. UConn joins Florida State (at Colorado and Florida), Louisville (at Kentucky and NC State) and Pittsburgh (at Michigan State and Virginia).

ONLY THE YOUNG CAN PLAY

UConn has played a total of 17 freshman, including six true freshmen, so far in 2007. The six true freshmen are Aaron Bagsby, Marcus Campbell, Kijuan Dabney, Jasper Howard, Greg Lloyd and Anthony Sherman. Redshirt freshmen Scott Lutrus and Lawrence Wilson both started the first five games at linebacker while fellow redshirt freshmen Mike Cox, Anthony Davis, Doc Goudreau, Zach Hurd, Mathieu Olivier, Kevin Poles, Alex Polito, Derek Rich and Greg Robinson also have all seen action this season.

BRAVE, CRAZY, MOSTLY YOUNG

For the second straight year, UConn is seeing plenty of underclassmen in prominent roles. The 2007 Huskies have just two senior starters on the offensive side of the ball (WR Larry Taylor and RG Donald Thomas) and three on defense (DT Dan Davis, LB Danny Lansanah and CB Tyvon Branch). The youth is especially evident at the offensive skill positions where UConn will likely start a pair of sophomore receivers (Terence Jeffers and Brad Kanuch), a sophomore tailback (Donald Brown) a redshirt freshman fullback (Anthony Davis) and a JuCo quarterback (Tyler Lorenzen). If games truly are won in the trenches, UConn should be in great shape for 2008. Of the 10 offensive linemen on the preseason two-deep, nine are expected back next fall and the same can be said of seven of the eight two-deep defensive linemen.

JUST FOR STARTERS

UConn has been fortunate to have a fairly consistent starting lineup this fall. The same 11 have started all seven games on defense while the core of the offense has remained the same thus far. No UConn player started all 12 games last year at the same offensive position. Conversely, six Huskies started all 12 games at the same defensive position. UConn started a total of nine different offensive linemen last past year, including five players making their first career start. It was tough a season ago but has created a measure of depth that is helping UConn in 2007. Eight different Huskies started a game in UConn’s defensive backfield in 2006. A total of 21 different players started a game on offense, 10 of which were making their first career start. A different offensive line combination started each of the final four games. UConn started 17 different people on defense in 2006 and has used four different place kickers last year.

OUR DOCTORS DID NOT FEEL GOOD

UConn came through its 2007 fall camp and the first month of the regular season with very few injuries of note and, while always a welcome event, it was even more welcome than usual in Storrs after the injury bug hit the Huskies hard in each of the past two seasons. Some of UConn’s busiest staffers in 2006 were its athletic trainers and physicians, much like in 2005. Out for the whole 2006 season from the preseason were WR Seth Fogarty (foot), WR Ellis Gaulden (knee), S Jahi Smith (multiple concussions) and DE Jason Ward (foot). Players who saw action this past year but were knocked out for the season due to injury included OT William Beatty (lower leg), TE Martin Bedard (elbow), DE Cody Brown (arm), C Keith Gray (shoulder), QB D.J. Hernandez, OT Mike Hicks (ankle) and WR Brandon McLean (ankle). TE Dan Murray missed the first three games with a high ankle sprain and was limited by the injury in the first few games that he did play. LB Ryan Henegan missed the first two games with a hamstring injury. TB Terry Caulley played with a broken bone in his hand after missing some action while LB Dontá Moore played through a broken arm suffered on Sept. 30 against Navy. Another pair of contributors to miss some time as the season progressed were S Allan Barnes, who missed a pair of games with a hamstring injury, and CB Darius Butler who missed the Syracuse game with a hamstring injury. WR Larry Taylor did not play against Cincinnati following a concussion suffered at Syracuse and CB Ernest Cole also missed the Cincinnati game due to a knee injury. WR Robert Theoudele was not available for the final four weeks with a shoulder injury. FB Deon Anderson missed the season finale at Louisville with a stinger. This trend, unfortunately, continued from 2005 when 18 different players from UConn’s preseason two-deep missed at least one game due to injury.

THE QUARTERLY REPORT

In three of the four quarters UConn has simply dominated its opponents this year while merely controlling the other. UConn has outscored its opponents 38-21 in the first quarter in 2007, 66-10 in the third quarter and 64-20 in the fourth quarter. The closest quarter this season for UConn has been the second, during which it is only outscoring opponents 52-38. The four quarters add up to a 220-89 advantage for UConn in scoring margin this year. UConn held a first quarter shutout streak of 87:38 stretching from the opening drive of the season opener at Duke until the final seconds of the first quarter of the Virginia game on Oct. 13.

ROAD WORRIERS

While UConn is 22-8 all-time at Rentschler Field, the results on the road have not always been as joyful for the Huskies although the team hopes that tide is turning. The Huskies won each of their first two road games this year, taking contests at Duke (Sept. 1) and at Pittsburgh (Sept. 22), UConn’s second BIG EAST road win of all-time. UConn won a single road game each year from 2004-06 and last won multiple road games in 2003 when the Huskies took four games away from Rentschler Field with victories at Army, Buffalo, Kent State and Wake Forest. Of UConn’s 28 losses in the Division I-A era, 17 have come on the road. During the combined 2004-07 seasons, UConn is 5-12 on the road but 17-7 at home with an 1-0 mark at neutral sites (Motor City Bowl vs. Toledo). UConn is 2-9 in BIG EAST road games with the lone wins coming at Rutgers on Nov. 25, 2004 and at Pittsburgh on Sept. 22.

AFTER BREAKTHROUGH 2006, BIG EAST IS BACK FOR MORE

Following its 2006 reemergence on the national scene after posting a 5-0 record in bowl games, including its second consecutive win in a BCS bowl, the realigned BIG EAST is showing that it is here to stay in 2007.

* The conference has three teams in the top 25 of the polls this week including two in the top 11. Overall, five of the BIG EAST’s eight teams (63%) have been ranked at some point this year and six of the eight (75%) have received votes in the polls at some point this season (all but Pittsburgh and Syracuse).

* Road wins over fellow BCS conference opponents is always a good measure of success and the BIG EAST has four so far this year with Louisville winning at NC State, West Virginia winning at Maryland, USF winning at Auburn and UConn winning at Duke. The four wins by the BIG EAST are the most of any conference. The ACC, Big 12 and Pac-10 each have three BCS road wins while the SEC has one.

* Overall, the BIG EAST has seven wins thus far over teams from other BCS conferences, the four mentioned above plus Cincinnati’s win over Oregon State, USF’s victory over North Carolina and West Virginia’s win over Mississippi State. The BIG EAST’s seven wins matches the ACC’s seven for the most of any BCS league even though the BIG EAST has the fewest teams to accumulate these wins. The SEC has six while the Big Ten and Big 12 each have five wins over BCS conference schools so far this year.  

* The BIG EAST has five of the top 20 teams nationally in total defense, four of the top 10 in passing defense and four of the top 21 in scoring defense. Five BIG EAST teams are averaging at least 34 points per game on offense and five are averaging less than 20 points per game defensively. BIG EAST teams occupy five of the top 14 spots nationally in turnover margin.

BIG EAST PERFECT IN BOWL GAMES

The BIG EAST Conference tied the record for best bowl record in 2006, going a perfect 5-0 as a group. It was just the third time that a conference has gone 5-0 in bowl games. No league has gone undefeated playing in more than five bowls, but the SEC in 1996 and Big Ten in 1998 matched the BIG EAST’s 2006 accomplishment. Highlighting the five wins were victories over both of the ACC’s division champions as Louisville downed Wake Forest in the FedEx Orange Bowl and West Virginia took down Georgia Tech in the Toyota Gator Bowl. Additionally, Rutgers topped Kansas State of the Big 12 in the Texas Bowl, USF downed East Carolina in Birmingham’s PapaJohns.com Bowl and Cincinnati beat Western Michigan in the inaugural International Bowl at Toronto’s Rogers Centre.

HUSKIES EARN HIGH MARKS AT OBEDIENCE SCHOOL

For each of the past three years, UConn has been one of the least penalized teams in the country. UConn was a disciplined squad in 2005 as the Huskies led the BIG EAST in 2005 in fewest penalty yards at 47.2 per game (519 yards in 11 games). This average ranked 23rd in the nation. In addition, UConn’s 68 penalties on the year narrowly ranked second in the league, just one behind Syracuse’s conference-low total of 67 accepted infractions. UConn’s discipline in 2006 was in the same fashion, with just 65 penalties on the year for 511 yards. The 511 yards and 65 penalties were both the fewest in the BIG EAST. The Huskies ranked 33rd and 43rd in the nation respectively in those categories. Thus far in 2007, UConn is second only to West Virginia in the BIG EAST in both fewest penalties and yards.

CONN-TROLLING THE FLOW OF THE GAME

A telling sign of UConn’s strong performance on both sides of the ball during its brief tenure as a Division I-A program has been its ability to both record and prevent long drives. Since the start of the 2002 season, UConn’s offense has strung together 53 scoring drives of at least 80 yards while the Husky defense has surrendered just 29 such marches. UConn also holds a 14-5 advantage over its opponents in the number of 90-yard and over drives since becoming a I-A program.

HUSKIES DOMINATING ON BOTH SIDES OF THE BALL

Over the past 58 games, UConn has outgained its opponent 41 times, including four of the seven games in 2007. This stretch, like many UConn trends, dates back to a disheartening 28-24 loss at Vanderbilt on Oct. 26, 2002. Over this 58 game span, UConn has averaged 393.6 yards per game of total offense and 318.6 yards per game of total defense. So far in 2007, UConn’s total offense edge over its opponents is close to 100 yards at 365.3 to 272.3.

CONNECTICUT’S SIX CAPTAINS  

The UConn team selected a school-record six team captains for the 2007 season, Darius Butler, Dan Davis, Keith Gray, D.J. Hernandez, Danny Lansanah and Larry Taylor. The diverse group features three players on each side of the ball and one player from each of the three defensive positional groups, spreading the leadership roles evenly. The group consists of three seniors and three juniors. Butler, Gray and Hernandez are the first juniors to serve as a team captain at UConn since Roy Hopkins and Jamal Lundy held the honor in 2001. Lundy was reelected as a captain in 2002 but Hopkins was not. UConn had never previously had more than four permanent captains, a sum used in 1979, 1991, 1992, 1998, 2001 and 2006. The six ties for the most nationally with San Diego State while Wisconsin has five permanent captains and one rotating game captain.

NFL ALUMNI WATCH

Three former Huskies have made active rosters for NFL teams on opening day in 2007. Alfred Fincher (2001-04) was the backup middle linebacker for the New Orleans Saints while Dan Orlovsky (2001-04) continues to battle to be the number two quarterback for the Detroit Lions behind Jon Kitna. Fullback Deon Anderson (2002-06) was a sixth round selection of the Dallas Cowboys and has made the 53-man roster for that proud franchise for his work at fullback and on special teams. Additionally, four former Huskies found themselves in preseason training camps Ray Blagman (Arizona), James Hargrave (Detroit), Tyler King (Jacksonville) and Sean Mulcahy (Cincinnati).

EAGLE SCOUTS

Each week head coach Randy Edsall issues an award for the Scout Team Players of the Week. In recognition of their often-overlooked hard work, those players earn a spot on the Husky travel squad and  the dress list for that week’s game. The weekly honorees are listed below.

DUKE: Ellis Gaulden (offense), Harris Agbor (defense), Doc Goudreau (special teams).

MAINE: Gary Bardzak (offense), Scott Schultz (defense), C.J. Marck (special teams).

TEMPLE: Nathan Sherr (offense), Doc Goudreau (defense), John Yurek (special teams).

PITT: Robbie Frey (offense), C.J. Marck (defense), Kendall Reyes (special teams).

AKRON: Zach Frazer (offense), Jarrell Miller (defense), Alex Molina (special teams).

VIRGINIA: Alex Molina (offense), Alex Folson (defense), Glen Mourning (special teams).

LOUISVILLE: Mike Ryan (offense), Jarrell Miller (defense), Jameson Davis (special teams)

GAME BALLS

After each UConn victory, head coach Randy Edsall awards game balls for the team’s top performer on offense, defense and special teams. The 2007 recipients are listed below.

DUKE: Tyler Lorenzen (offense), Cody Brown (defense), Desi Cullen (special teams)

MAINE: William Beatty (offense), Scott Lutrus (defense), Tyvon Branch (special teams).

TEMPLE: Andre Dixon (offense), Dahna Deleston (defense), Tony Ciaravino (special teams).

PITT: Donald Thomas (offense), Lawrence Wilson (defense), no special teams recipient.

AKRON: Andre Dixon (offense), Dan Davis (defense), Tyvon Branch (special teams).

LOUISVILLE: Andre Dixon (offense), Scott Lutrus (defense), Larry Taylor (special teams).

ACTIVE CAREER LEADERS: Larry Taylor (8), Darius Butler (3), Andre Dixon (3), Tyvon Branch (2), Cody Brown (2), D.J. Hernandez (2), Danny Lansanah (2), Scott Lutrus (2), Lou Allen, William Beatty, Donald Brown, Tony Ciaravino, Desi Cullen, Dan Davis, Dahna Deleston, Tyler Lorenzen, Donald Thomas, Lawrence Wilson.

NEW WALK-ONS INCLUDE TWO LITTLE INDIANS

Of the new walk-ons who joined the program prior to the 2007 season, two have a connection to the Cleveland Indians, one of them real and the other fictional. Mike Conroy was a first round draft pick by the Indians in 2001 out of high school and spent six years in the team’s organization, most of them with Lake County of the South Atlantic League. A native of Scituate, Mass., Conroy played for six years at the single A level batting .248 before retiring and going back to school to fulfill his dream of playing college football. Conroy is one of seven former minor league baseball players currently on Football Bowl Subdivision rosters. Meanwhile, Oliver Bernsen is the son of actor Corbin Bernsen who is perhaps best known for his role as Indians third baseman Roger Dorn in the movie Major League. A native of Studio City, Calif., Bernsen’s mother, Amanda Pays, is also an actress while his grandmother, Jeanne Cooper, is the matriarch of the soap opera The Young and the Restless in her role as Katherine Chancellor. Also, his grandfather, Harry Bernsen, produced several movies including Three the Hard Way starring NFL legend Jim Brown. The younger Bernsen was looking for a school in the northeast where he could pursue acting.

BOND, CARL BOND

In alumni news, former Husky Carl Bond (1995-98) has a role in the movie “The Game Plan†starring Dwayne “The Rock†Johnson and Kyra Sedgwick. Bond plays the part of "Sanders" on the fictional Boston Rebels, and also serves as a double for actor Morris Chestnut.  Bond also previously appeared in "Invincible," another Disney football film. At UConn, Bond was a second-team Division I-AA All-American in 1997 and a two-time All-Atlantic 10 pick at wide receiver.  He led UConn with 61 catches, good for 1,004 yards, and a team-high 11 touchdowns as a senior in 1998 to help lead the Huskies to the I-AA quarterfinals.

YOU KNOW GRAY IS MY FAVORITE COLOR

In an effort to help combat the heat at Duke by avoiding dark colors, the Huskies wore their white uniforms with silver pants in Durham as opposed to the customary national flag blue pants on the road. After defeating the Blue Devils, the team captains decided to keep the same look for UConn’s second road game, Sept. 22 at Pittsburgh, and the combination again resulted in a win. UConn wore this ensemble at Virginia on Oct. 13 as well but lost the game. Prior to this season, only once had UConn ever worn that combination. That other instance was on Oct. 5, 2002 when UConn dressed as such for a game against No. 1 Miami in the Orange Bowl, losing to the Hurricanes, 48-14.

TANGLED UP IN BLUE

For the Louisville game on Oct. 19, UConn wore an all-blue ensemble for the first time in almost exactly a year after last wearing it against West Virginia on Oct. 20, 2006. UConn’s win over the Cardinals marked its first win in an all-blue uniform since downing Temple on Oct. 23, 2004.

WHISTLE WHILE YOU WORK

In recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, all BIG EAST officials will be using special pink whistles during October, including Saturday’s game vs. USF. “BIG EAST football officials are behind this cause 100-percent,â€Â said league Supervisor of Officials John Soffey.  Ã¢â‚¬Å“Anything that we can do to raise awareness of this cause is good for everyone.  Our officials are pleased to contribute in a small way.â€Â

OFFENSE NOTES

TJ, KANUCH AND TYLER TOO

UConn’s offensive unit is a young one as the group features just two seniors on its two deep in wide receiver Larry Taylor and right guard Donald Thomas. Meanwhile, the silver lining to a rash of injuries the past two years is that UConn is youthful yet experienced at the skill positions in particular. True sophomores Terence Jeffers and Brad Kanuch were thrown into the fire last fall and both proved to be dependable pass catchers, starting each of the final eight games of the year. Another sophomore, Donald Brown, will start at tailback after earning All-BIG EAST recognition last fall as a freshman. His backups are a sophomore in Andre Dixon and a junior in Lou Allen, a bruising tailback at 238 pounds. UConn has a pair of freshman at fullback and a quarterbacking corps that features a junior (Tyler Lorenzen), a sophomore (Dennis Brown) and two freshmen (Cody Endres and Notre Dame transfer Zach Frazer). Each of UConn’s top three tight ends will also return next fall yet starter Steve Brouse in particular already possesses a wealth of gameday experience.

HUSKIES WASTING LITTLE TIME TO GET ON TOP

UConn has scored on its opening drive in four of its seven games this year. At Duke, Tony Ciaravino hit a 30-yard field goal on the opening drive. Against Temple, Donald Brown had an eight-yard touchdown run and, at Pittsburgh, Lou Allen had a one-yard plunge. Tony Ciaravino hit a 45-yard field goal at Virginia. One exception came against Maine when Ciaravino missed a 51-yard field goal. However, UConn was still on the scoreboard very early against the Black Bears as Scott Lutrus scored a touchdown on a 25-yard interception return on the game’s second play, coming at the 14:12 mark.

LINING THEM UP

The UConn offensive line is in the interesting position of being both young and experienced at the same time. The Huskies have just one senior on the two-deep yet also have eight players with previous game experience at UConn, including seven people who have started games on the offensive line for the blue and white. The lone senior of the group is senior Donald Thomas at right guard, a former walk-on. Entering the 2007 season, William Beatty (9), captain Keith Gray (5), Mike Hicks (10), Alex LaMagdelaine (10), Dan Ryan (7), Donald Thomas (1) and Trey Tonsing (8) had all started games for the Huskies. UConn head coach Randy Edsall has often called this the best line UConn has had since the senior-laden group that pushed the Huskies to the 2004 Motor City Bowl. Better yet, this 2007 edition of the line will be back in near entirety for more in 2008.

HERNANDEZ RECEIVES NEW ASSIGNMENT

D.J. Hernandez started six games a year ago at quarterback and had fair success, highlighted on Nov. 11 against Pittsburgh as he spurred UConn on to 46-45 double overtime victory in one of the program’s most thrilling games as the Huskies erased a 31-17 fourth quarter deficit at Rentschler Field. Hernandez completed 20-of-29 passes for 164 yards with a career high four touchdowns and no interceptions but it was his work running the ball that was more noteworthy. His 17 carries were good for 130 yards while he also scampered in for the game-winning two-point conversion. Hernandez’s on-field leadership was crucial in the rally to win the game. He led UConn on touchdown drives of 98 and 77 yards in the fourth quarter, the latter capped with a touchdown pass to Dan Murray with just three seconds remaining in regulation. Still, with the addition of Tyler Lorenzen and Dennis Brown able to play after redshirting in 2006, Hernandez quickly found himself in the third spot on the depth chart at quarterback midway through spring practice. Too athletic to sit on the bench, Hernandez approached Edsall about playing at wide receiver and the results have been a tremendous positive for the team. Using his athleticism and in-depth knowledge of the offense to his advantage, Hernandez has made a smooth transition to his new role and has been one of the team’s top receiving threats in 2007. The move also allows Edsall to use him on special teams while Hernandez has shown a passion for downfield blocking and participating in some of the contact that he was deprived of when wearing a red quarterback jersey in practice. His smooth transition and the character and leadership he displayed in making it helped get the junior elected as a team captain.

DJ GOES TRIPLE PLATINUM

D.J. Hernandez caught a 57-yard touchdown pass at Duke in the season opener on Sept. 1. It was UConn’s longest passing play since Hernandez threw a 61-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Young in the 2006 season-opener against Rhode Island. The scoring grab also put him in very elite company as Hernandez became just the fourth player in school history to catch a touchdown, rush for a touchdown and throw for a touchdown in their UConn career, joining Keron Henry (2001-04), Tory Taylor (1995-98) and Ken Sweitzer (1978-81).

FROM IOWA TO CONNECTICUT VIA SAN DIEGO

Tyler Lorenzen took a circuitous route to being named UConn’s starting quarterback. The native Iowan and first-team All-State quarterback signed with his beloved Iowa State out of high school but the Cyclones tried to switch him to wide receiver. Wanting to play quarterback, he transferred to Palomar Community College near San Diego where he was named a first-team JuCo All-American last fall after completing 229-of-332 passes (69-percent) for 2,960 yards with 26 touchdowns and three interceptions. Lorenzen joined UConn in January after carrying a 4.0 grade point average at Palomar and was named the starting quarterback on August 14. At Duke, he became the fourth different starting quarterback for UConn in the past four opening days. D.J. Hernandez started last year’s opener, Matt Bonislawski was under center when the 2005 season began and Dan Orlovsky started the third and final opening day contest of his illustrious UConn career in 2004.

TYLER RE-TRACES HISTORY

In his starting debut on Sept. 1 at Duke, Tyler Lorenzen was very impressive in leading the Huskies to a 45-14 win. Lorenzen earned the offensive game ball and a BIG EAST weekly honor roll mention after completing 22-of-30 passes for 298 yards with a pair of touchdowns and an interception. He also rushed for 56 yards, giving him 354 total yards on the day. The 298 yards were the most by a Husky since Dan Orlovsky’s school-record 445 at Syracuse on Oct. 30, 2004 while also ranking as the most by a first-time Husky signal caller since Ryan Tracey threw for 340 on Sept. 2, 2000 in his first start.

HUSKIES TAKE TO THE AIR

UConn’s passing attack has shown dramatic improvements thus far in 2007 compared to 2006. Through seven games, UConn is averaging 199.9 passing yards per game and has an efficiency rating of 133.29. Last year UConn averaged just 141.0 yards per game and had a 103.94 rating. The passing attack has been more effective moving the ball when it counts too. UConn has picked up 65 passing first downs through seven games this year as opposed to just 49 at this juncture of the 2006 season. The Huskies are ranked 43rd nationally in passing efficiency after finishing both the 2005 and 2006 seasons 104th in that category. UConn has 16 big passing plays through the first seven games (20 yards or longer) after having a total of just 17 for all of the 2006 season.

SHARING THE WEALTH

Through three weeks, four UConn wide receivers (D.J. Hernandez, Terence Jeffers, Brad Kanuch and Larry Taylor) had over 100 receiving yards on the year. Last fall it took six games for the Huskies to reach that plateau with tight end Steve Brouse going over the century mark against Army to join Kanuch, Taylor and Brandon Young. Through four games, UConn has two receivers (Hernandez and Kanuch) with over 200 receiving yards on the year. Last year, UConn did not have two 200-yard receivers for the season until after game nine with Larry Taylor hitting the plateau on Nov. 11 against Pitt.

DEFENSES DREADING DIXON

Sophomore Andre Dixon saw his first significant action of his career at tailback against Temple on Sept. 15 and made the most of his opportunity. Dixon ran for 129 yards on 21 carries against the Owls. Dixon is now one of four active UConn players who have a 100-yard rushing game to their credit as a Husky, joining Lou Allen (2005 vs. USF), Donald Brown (four times) and D.J. Hernandez (2006 vs. Pitt). He continued to shine against Akron on Sept. 29 rushing for 116 yards and a touchdown on just 12 carries wile catching four passes for 52 yards and a touchdown. On Oct 19 against Louisville, he enjoyed his third 100-yard rushing game, gaining 115 and scoring the game-winning touchdown with 1:32 to play.

A BUNCH OF BALL HOGS

The UConn offense has done a wonderful job thus far in 2007 of maintaining possession of the ball. The Huskies have just nine turnovers on the year, tying for 10th in the nation. Only three of the turnovers have been interceptions thrown, a sum that ties for first nationally.

WHAT CAN BROWN DO FOR YOU-CONN?

Donald Brown burst onto the scene last fall as he became the only freshman at any position to be named to the All-BIG EAST team as voted on by the league coaches. Brown averaged 134.6 rushing yards per game in his five BIG EAST starts. He made his first career start on Oct. 29 at No. 15 Rutgers on national television and about 20 minutes from his hometown of Atlantic Highlands, N.J. The freshman was hardly star struck as he ran for 199 yards and two touchdowns on 28 carries. Perhaps more impressive was the competition this 199-yard rushing game was done against. Rutgers had not allowed a 100-yard rusher since Walter Reyes of Syracuse did it on Oct. 2, 2004. The Scarlet Knights entered the game ranked 12th nationally in rushing defense, yielding just 78.4 yards per game. In his second game, against Pittsburgh, Brown ran the ball 43 times (one shy of the school record) for 205 yards and two touchdowns while also making four receptions including another touchdown. Brown’s 205-yard effort against the Panthers is the second-best by a freshman nationally in 2006, trailing only Wisconsin’s P.J. Hill’s 257-yard performance against Northwestern on Oct. 7. Brown capped his season with a 122-yard effort on 21 carries at Louisville.

FINISHING IN THE RED IS GOOD

You wouldn’t want your financial ledgers to be full of red ink, but UConn’s Division I-A era success is in part due to finishing its time in the red zone in style. Since 2002, UConn has tallied on 215 of 252 (86%) of its red zone possessions. Of the 37 non-scoring drives, 24 came as a result of a missed field goal attempt. UConn has gotten off to a solid red zone start in 2007 by going 25-for-29. UConn had a stretch of 20 successful red zone scores from Sept. 1 until Oct. 13.

PITT HAD NO CHANCE TO CATCH UP AT HEINZ FIELD

UConn took control of the team’s game at Pittsburgh early on Sept. 22. The Huskies scored 27 first half points to take a 27-7 edge into the spacious locker room at Heinz Field. It was the most points that UConn had ever scored in the first half of a road BIG EAST game. The previous high was 21 at Rutgers on Nov. 25, 2004. It was the most points that UConn had scored against any Division I-A team in the first half since tallying 30 against Toledo in the 2004 Motor City Bowl. It was the second-most points that UConn had ever scored in the first half of a BIG EAST game regardless of site. UConn scored 31 points in the first half against Temple at Rentschler Field on Oct. 23, 2004.

DEFENSE NOTES

DEFENSE AMONGST THE NATION’S BEST

UConn’s defensive unit has been amongst the best in the nation early on this year. The Huskies are sixth nationally in total defense yielding just 272.29 yards per game. The Huskies rank third in scoring defense at 12.71 points per game, a sum that would be still lower were it not for a kickoff return touchdown at Duke and a fumble return touchdown by Louisville. UConn is ninth in passing defense (174.14 ypg) and 10th in passing efficiency defense with an 99.67 rating. The Huskies are 18th nationally against the run at 98.14 yards per game. UConn is 18th with 7.57 tackles for loss per game. UConn’s 16 interceptions rank third nationally while its 20 total turnovers gained ties for 11th.

PICK-SIX. PICK-12. PICK-18.

The Huskies have already returned three interceptions for touchdowns this season. Darius Butler ran one back 36 yards for a score at Duke on Sept. 1 while Scott Lutrus scored on a 26-yard interception return on Sept. 8 and Lawrence Wilson had a 51-yard score on an interception at Pittsburgh on Sept. 22. The three touchdowns tie the school record set in 2002 and matched in 2004 when Justin Perkins returned two interceptions for touchdowns and Alfred Fincher also had one. In 2002, Jamal Lundy, Razul Wallace and Chris Meyer all had interception return touchdowns. Butler’s interception return for a touchdown at Duke was the second of his career and ties Perkins for the school record. Butler’s other interception return touchdown was an 84-yard run-back at Army on Oct. 1, 2005, part of a three-interception day for the then-freshman.

PASS DEFENSE=PASS OFFENSE

UConn’s passing defense as generated almost as many points as it has allowed. UConn has surrendered just six passing touchdowns in 2007 while returning three interceptions for touchdowns.

A SWEET 16 FOR HUSKIES

UConn’s defense has intercepted 16 passes through the first seven games of the year. In 2006, UConn intercepted 12 passes all season while the Huskies managed 14 in 2005. The 16 interceptions rank third in the nation to date. UConn’s four interceptions at Pittsburgh on Sept. 22 tied the Division I-A era school record set at Iowa State on Nov. 23, 2002 and equaled at Army on Oct. 1, 2005. UConn made three interceptions against Louisville on Oct. 19. The Cardinals had been intercepted just four times all year entering the game. The Huskies have recorded at least one interception in each of their last nine games dating back to the Nov. 18, 2006 tilt at Syracuse.

RUNNING IT IN HASN’T BEEN AN OPTION EITHER

UConn has allowed just three rushing touchdowns through the first seven games of the year, a sum that ties for fourth in the nation. A year ago, UConn yielded two or more rushing touchdowns in six separate games as UConn ranked 105th in the nation against the run at 179.58 yards per game. UConn presently ranks 18th nationally at 98.14 yards per game.

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