Tag:Paul Pasqualoni
Posted on: September 9, 2011 10:49 am
Edited on: September 9, 2011 10:49 am
 

RB Shoemate (ankle) back in lineup for UConn

Posted by Chip Patterson

Connecticut running back D.J. Shoemate has waited a long time to step into the spotlight at the collegiate level. The former five-star recruit was regarded spent time getting shuffled between positions at USC before transferring to Connecticut just in time for Jordan Todman's breakout season. The senior entered the 2011 season penciled in as the starting running back, but missed the opener because of a tweaked ankle. Luckily, head coach Paul Pasqualoni does not penalize players for injury.

"A player here, in our system, does not lose his position because of an injury," Pasqualoni explained on Thursday. "So when that player is 100 percent healthy he comes back, he goes back to where he was when he got hurt."

Shoemate currently shares the No. 1 position on the Huskies' depth chart with redshirt freshman Lyle McCombs. McCombs made the most of his opportunity against Fordham, rushing for 141 yards and four touchdowns. Even considering the opposition, McCombs looked very sharp and comfortable carrying the load at running back. If Shoemate is 100 percent and can offer his projected production, the Huskies will have an opportunity to rely on the rushing game once again.

A good rushing game will be crucial for Connecticut, who still has not named a starting quarterback. Pasqualoni plans to rotate McEntee, McCummings, and Nebrich once again when the Huskies face Vanderbilt on Saturday night in Nashville.
Posted on: September 4, 2011 2:57 am
Edited on: September 4, 2011 3:07 am
 

What I learned from the Big East (Sept. 3)

Posted by Chip Patterson

1) Connecticut finally has an answer at running back. Connecticut does not have a clear-cut answer for quarterback. That was obvious with head coach Paul Pasqualoni's use of Johnny McEntee, Michael Nebrich, and Scott McCummings during the Huskies opener against Fordham. However, the game might have answered the team's concerns about replacing 2010 Big East Player of the Year Jordan Todman. Senior transfer D.J. Shoemate was replaced last minute by redshirt freshman Lyle McCombs because Shoemate got "banged up" in practice late in the week.

The switch could end up having an effect on the Huskies season, because McCombs certainly looked like the best choice possible for starting tailback on Saturday. It was the first collegiate appearance for the Staten Island native, and he made the most of every opportunity. By the time all the damage was done McCombs racked up 141 yards on 24 carries with four touchdowns. Regardless of opponent, those are impressive numbers for anyone's NCAA debut. If McCombs can keep it up, Pasqualoni may have found a great building block for this new chapter of his seasoned career.

2) It's not always pretty, but the Orange get it done. Doug Marrone was celebrated by the Syracuse football community for returning to his alma mater and bringing them back to the postseason. The Orange's 8-win season was considered by many to be a sign of things to come for a once-storied program. However peeling back the shiny reviews of last season reveal a grimy, hard-nosed battle through the regular season. Syracuse simply found ways to win, and most of the time it was not pretty.

With only 20 letterman and over half of his defensive starters gone from that team, the gritty "find a way to win" style appears very much a part of Syracuse football. Wake Forest appeared to have Thursday's game won, and even fans in the Carrier Dome agreed and were heading for the exits as the Orange trailed by 15 points in the 4th quarter. But the fans that stayed got see Ryan Nassib and Antwon Bailey lead the Syracuse offense to 22 straight points in the final quarter + overtime to pull off the win over the visiting Demon Deacons. The Orange may have been slowly reversing the trend of their home struggles, but certainly not the one of winning ugly.

3) USF made a statement to the conference with upset of Notre Dame. Skip Holtz was forced to spend most of his time with the media this past week answering questions about playing at his alma mater and the school where his father spent 11 years as the head coach. But the story of the game ended up being mother nature, with two different delays due to storms in the area. But more than six hours after kickoff, a statement was made with South Florida's 23-20 victory over No. 16 Notre Dame. The Bulls, who have pulled off five straight 8+ win seasons, are ready to compete for a Bit East title.

The Fighting Irish had plenty of internal issues, including a mid-game quarterback switch during one of the delays, but USF showed up unintimidated and prepared. Holtz seemed excited about his defense heading into the season, and Saturday's performance legitimized his sentiments. The Bulls defense forced five Irish turnovers, and found a way to turn them into enough of a lead to secure a huge confidence-booster for a program looking to break through to the elite. Next for the Bulls will be three more non-conference games before kicking off the conference schedule with one of the most difficult challenges on the slate: a road test against Pittsburgh

4.) What the Dana Holgorsen era looks like at West Virginia. We will find this one out Sunday afternoon when the Mountaineers face in-state rival Marshall. Kickoff at 3:30 p.m., check back after the game because this is something we definitely want to learn.
Posted on: August 30, 2011 10:06 am
 

Paul Pasqualoni still not naming a starting QB

Posted by Chip Patterson

Connecticut football fans have spent much of the offseason debating what their team will look like when they take the field on Thursday to kick off the season against Fordham. They'll have a solid defensive line led by Kendall Reyes, Sio Moore will try to lead a young linebacking corps, D.J. Shoemate will try and fill the shoes of the conference's leading rusher Jordan Todman, and the Huskies return three of their top four receivers.

But we still don't know who will throw them the ball.

The Huskies entered fall camp with four quarterbacks competing for the starting job: freshman Michael Nebrich, junior Johnny McEntee, redshirt freshman Scott McCummings, and sophomore Michael Box. Box, the only quarterback with game experience in 2010, decided to transfer recently narrowing the race to three signal callers. When head coach Paul Pasqualoni met with reporters on Monday for his first game week press conference, he revealed no new information.

"What I would say is that we're going to have three quarterbacks ready to play in this game," Pasqualoni said. "Obviously it's a new staff, new system on offense, defense and special teams. Were very very anxious to get a good week in. I think we've had three good days so far this week and we need to have a real good day [Tuesday]. [Tuesday] is kind of our dress rehearsal for Thursday."

Desmond Conner, of The Hartford Courant, reported last week that Nebrich and McEntee had been receiving most of the reps with the first-team offense. But Pasqualoni believes the three quarterbacks remaining are all ready to go, and even has suggested that his decision won't be known "until pre game warm-ups."

The Huskies will kick off against Fordham at 7:30 p.m. at Rentschler Field.
Posted on: August 22, 2011 12:44 pm
Edited on: August 23, 2011 8:41 am
 

Nebrich, McEntee closing in on UConn starting job

Posted by Chip Patterson

Connecticut enters the season returning seven offensive starters from the squad that gave the program its first BCS bowl berth last season. But one huge question mark for the Huskies going into the 2011 season is the quarterback position.

New head coach Paul Pasqualoni did not name a starting quarterback at the end of spring practice, letting freshman Michael Nebrich, walk-on junior Johnny McEntee, sophomore Michael Box, and redshirt freshman Scott McCummings all compete for the job over the summer and into fall camp. With just ten days until the Huskies' season opener against Fordham, it looks like McEntee and Nebrich are starting to separate themselves from the competition.

Desmond Conner, of The Hartford Courant, writes that the two quarterbacks have been the most consistent in camp and - more importantly - have been getting the most reps with the first-team offense. McEntee, known by many as "Trick Shot Johnny" after his impressive YouTube video went viral, is a traditional pocket passer whose accuracy in camp has lived up to his video fame. Nebrich, on the other hand, was a touted dual-threat quarterback out of Virginia who opted to graduate high school a semester early to enroll at Connecticut in January. Conner writes that Pasqualoni has not ruled out the possibility of rotating two quarterbacks, and if he decides to Nebrich and McEntee should compliment each other well.

Just for the heck of it, here's Trick Shot Johnny one more time (over 6 million views and counting)


Posted on: August 18, 2011 6:33 pm
Edited on: August 20, 2011 8:58 pm
 

PODCAST: Big East season preview

Posted by Chip Patterson

The Big East gets criticized often on the national level for being the one of the weaker BCS conferences, but with new coaches and high-octane offenses 2011 could be a bounce back year for the league. I join Adam Aizer to sort through the many story lines in the Big East and try to make sense of a league that has had 5 different teams win a share of the conference championship since 2005.

Subscribe to the CBSSports.com College Football Podcast on iTunes

If you are having trouble seeing the player, you can download the MP3 HERE

Posted on: August 2, 2011 1:50 pm
Edited on: August 2, 2011 1:51 pm
 

Big East Media Day: Coaches Highlights

Posted by Chip Patterson

Big East Media Day got started in Newport the the release of the preseason media poll and opening remarks from commissioner John Marinatto and all eight head coaches. Each coach was given several minutes to address the media and share some thoughts on the upcoming season.

Pretty much every coach spent some time talking about the competition in the league. It was pointed out several times that 5 of the 8 teams have earned a share of the conference title since 2006, and all eight teams have earned at least one bowl berth in the last two years. Also many of the coaches expressed their excitement for the arrival of TCU and the topic of the upcoming media deal negotiation was not ignored. Other than Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano, no other coach has been in his current post for longer than three seasons. The anxiousness to get into fall camp was another common theme, particularly for new coaches Todd Graham, Dana Holgorsen, and Paul Pasqualoni.

Below are some highlights from each coach's time at the podium.

Rutgers - Greg Schiano

- Schiano acknowledged the late-season collapse from 2010. "The wheels came off," he explained to the media. "We'll return Rutgers football to its winning ways, to bowl games." The Scarlet Knights had been to five straight bowl games (winning four in a row) until 2010's last place finish.

- One of the weakest points in Rutgers' offense a year ago was the offensive line. With new offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti, Schiano believes the Scarlet Knights will return to being a "power football team." Says they've made some schematic changes to the line, but also believes they "are a better group than we were at any time last year."

- Highly touted running back Savon Huggins has become a star in the Rutgers football community before even setting foot on campus. Schiano made no promises about the starting running back position, but instead listed the entire group and said that Huggins will "make for great competition" when camp opens.

West Virginia - Dana Holgorsen

- "Excited to get to do this a year early" was the closest Holgorsen came to mentioning former head coach Bill Stewart. However he did spend a considerable amount of time complimenting the work of defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel. While the Mountaineers lost seven starters from the defensive unit to the NFL, Holgorsen believes they have a "good nucleus" of players coming back to lead the 2011 edition of Casteel's defense.

- Holgorsen said that quarterback Geno Smith has picked up the new offensive system well. While Holgorsen has only been head coach since June, he's been working with the offense since his arrival in Morgantown before spring practice. He said that Smith's challenge now is "to make everyone around him better."

- "Tavon Austin is a dynamic kid who can touch the ball in a whole bunch of different ways," Holgorsen said of the junior playmaker. He made it clear the Mountaineers plan on putting the ball in his hands as much as they can.

Syracuse - Doug Marrone

- With an 8-5 finish and a Pinstripe Bowl victory, the Orange are fresh off their most successful season since 2001. Marrone, entering his second year on the job, made it clear that the goals for the program are to create a foundation and "become a competitive team year in and year out" in the league. The media projected the Orange to finish fourth in the conference, but well behind West Virginia, Pittsburgh, and USF.

- The Orange lost a lot of talent on defense, and Marrone made it clear that there will be lots of competition over the next month in camp. While the unit is solid at defensive end and safety, it sounds like the interior line, outside linebackers, and corner back positions are up for grabs.

- There was no update on the medical status of Prince-Tyson Gulley or any team decision regarding recently arrested wide receiver Marcus Sales. It has been reported that Gulley has been released from the hospital and is recovering at home, but the coach made no statement on either situation.

Charlie Strong - Louisville

- Strong won over the Cardinals football community in his first year by taking the team back to the postseason for the firs time since the 2006 season, when the Cardinals were Big East champions. He was able to deliver a bowl game experience to a team that had 25 seniors, with 14 in the starting lineup. Strong made it clear that the Cardinals will be looking for players to step up this fall, filling in for the mass exodus of players from the two-deep.

- There is no hiding the lack of experience at quarterback for the Cardinals. Junior Will Stein has the most experience of the group (2 starts), but Strong made sure to mention dual-threat freshman Teddy Bridgewater and wildcard QB Dominique Brown as well. In spring practice it looked like Stein had a lead on the job thanks to his comfort with the offense, but clearly every candidate will get a shot to earn snaps this fall.

- Strong said that the defense will likely be the team's strength this season, particularly the defensive line. Three starters return from last year's unit, and the entire two-deep has game experience. The Cardinals also return both starting safeties, most notably 2nd team All-Big East sophomore Hakeem Smith.

Paul Pasqualoni - Connecticut

- It seems odd that one of the "first-year" coaches was present for the first season of Big East football in 1991, but such is the way things have worked out for Connecticut's Paul Pasqualoni. He pointed out how different the league is now, noting that the diversity of champions in recent years contrasts to the conference's inception - where Miami took 9 of the first 13 Big East titles.

- With no starting quarterback (Pasqualoni has decided to let all four candidates continue to compete into fall camp), there has been an emphasis placed on the offensive line. The Huskies did a fantastic job moving the ball with Jordan Todman in 2010, and Pasqualoni hopes that USC-transfer D.J. Shoemate will be able to find similar success this fall.

- Expect multiple looks from the Huskies defense this season. Explained that he and defensive coordinator Don Brown (formerly with Maryland) have different backgrounds and are "merging" their systems. There will be some 3-4 and some 4-3 as the Huskies continue to develop the linebacker position. Pasqualoni says that he has an "outstanding defensive line," anchored by all-conference defensive tackle Kendall Reyes.

Todd Graham - Pittsburgh

- When Graham took the podium, it was impossible not to recognize his feeling of pride after being introduced as the Pittsburgh coach. He opened talking about how far he has come, from coaching middle school football 25 years ago to now finally being a head coach in a BCS AQ conference. He mentioned his great memories as an assistant at West Virginia (his first collegiate job), and expressed his excitement to return to the conference. He also indirectly gave credit to former head coach Dave Wannstedt, saying he "has a lot of respect for the job that has been done before him" to bring this team together.

- Graham used the phrase "high-octane" several times during his remarks, and Panther fans should get excited for what it could mean for the offense this fall. Not only will it lead to exciting football, but Graham actually believes that it will better suit quarterback Tino Sunseri as well. According to Graham, moving the returning starter back into the shotgun "accentuates" his talents.

- For all the talk about Graham's new "high-octane" offense, he was sure to point out his excitement for the defense, which returns most of a unit that ranked 8th nationally in 2010. In addition to the returning starters, the coaching staff is excited about the development that they saw this spring on the defensive side of the ball. Graham also singled out senior nose tackle Myles Caragein as "the leader of this football team."

Buch Jones - Cincinnati

- Unlike the rest of his colleagues, Jones spent no time going over personnel or specific team outlook in his opening remarks. Instead he commented mostly on his admiration for the conference and pleasure to be coaching the 5th oldest college football program in the nation. Leadership is clearly a theme of his right now, although he called it "misunderstood" by many in America. It was confusing, I know. I'm guessing he is saving all his specific football chatter for the afternoon.

- One remotely football topic Jones covered involved his opening remarks was returning an entire defensive unit. He described that it is "one thing to be older, but we have to be better," when referring to the returning defense. The Bearcats ranked near the bottom of the conference in most defensive categories, and must improve if they want to turn around last season's 4-8 performance.

Skip Holtz - USF

- I'll give the second-year Bulls' coach one thing: he deliver a straightforward and enthusiastic message. "We were three plays a year ago from winning 11 games," Holtz said. "But we were three plays away from probably winning four." The Bulls went to overtime twice in 2010, and played in seven games decided by 8 points or less. Holtz, who described his first year on the job as "a blur," clearly understands how close the conference competition can get in the Big East.

- Holtz spent a considerable amount of time praising the university's leadership for their efforts in USF's growth. From facilities to funding, the entire athletic department has benefited from an initiative by the school to become more than a "commuter school." According to Holtz, seeing the campus-wide push has created a sense of excitement around Tampa.

- Speaking of excitement, Holtz identified the Bulls' late season wins over Miami in Coral Gables and Clemson in the Belk Bowl as victories that created a "snowball effect" for the team. He said the way the team came together and finished the season created a lot of excitement about the future. But Holtz knows it is still too early to make any projections regarding the 2011 season.

"From August 3 to September 3 we are going to learn a lot about this football team," Holtz explained. "I think that the next month will determine the amount of success we have [as a football team]."

Posted on: June 21, 2011 12:13 pm
Edited on: June 21, 2011 1:08 pm
 

UConn's Pasqualoni speaks on player stipends

Posted by Chip Patterson

After spending six seasons on the NFL sideline, Connecticut's Paul Pasqualoni has been getting back into the groove of being a head coach in college football. A big part of that in the offseason is the public relations grind. Pasqualoni made the short trip to Bristol this week spend time at ESPN participating in various programming for the network. In his appearance on First Take, Pasqualoni weighed in on the challenges of creating more money for scholarship athletes.

"I think we would all like to see the players be able to receive a stipend," Pasqualoni told First Take's Dana Jacobson. "Now having said that, it's a very difficult thing to do. If you do it for a I-A football player then to be fair you have to do it for all scholarship players. Of all the I-A teams in the country, and there's probably over 120 of them, maybe 40 of them are operating at a level of profit. I don't know exactly how you fund it, when you start talking about every student athlete and giving them a stipend."

Pasqualoni spent 17 years with the Syracuse football program, with 13 of them as a head coach. At 61, he is one of the more seasoned coaches in the game and it is refreshing to hear an even-keeled look at the situation. When Mike Slive or Jim Delany give their opinion on the issue, it always feels loaded (because it is). Many people would like to see scholarship athletes receive a stipend for their hours put into college athletics, which often leaves barely enough time for academics and no chance of a part-time job. But the logistics of creating, managing, and regulating that money is still something that needs to be agreed on before any additional stipends are put in place. Change, in general, can take a long time with issues involving money. But with the NCAA, there is no telling how long it will take for those discussions to take place in a serious manner.
Posted on: June 2, 2011 11:22 am
Edited on: June 2, 2011 11:28 am
 

UConn senior WR ruled academically ineligible

Posted by Chip Patterson

As the defending Big East champions, the Connecticut Huskies will expect everyone's best shot when they make their rounds back through conference play in 2011. Unfortunately, with a brand new coaching staff and lacking many of the key players from 2010's campaign - things could be a little more difficult. At the end of spring practice, head coach Paul Pasqualoni still had not decided on a starting quarterback, leading to some doubters in the Huskies ability to pass the ball next season. Things became even more difficult on Tuesday when Pasqualoni confirmed that leading receiver Mike Smith was academically ineligible to participate in the fall.

"Michael will be, obviously in the program," Pasqualoni told the Hartford Courant. "He will be in practice each day. He just will not participate in games."

Smith started in all 13 games last season, leading the team in catches (46) and yards (615). Right now the coaching staff is hoping that the senior will stick with the team, taking a redshirt year in 2011 and returning for his final year of eligibility in 2012.

"I do think this is a year that he can use to improve himself all the way around and then still have a final year of eligibility," Pasqualoni said.

Connecticut really doesn't have an adequate replacement for running back Jordan Todman - who in addition to anchoring the Huskies offense, ranked second nationally in rushing. With Smith's ineligibility, the Huskies enter camp looking for true leaders at the quarterback, running back, and wide receiver positions. The defensive line will be a strength, but they will need to be outstanding unless someone shows they can produce points in East Hartford.
 
 
 
 
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