- Boo boo watch: Courtney Avery and AJ Williams are back at practice. This is not a drill.
- Boo boo watch part 2: Taylor Lewan didn't practice yesterday but will today. He's fine. Mario Ojemudia will be the most limited of the boo boo watchees. I don't know if he'll play.
- The offensive line is in an introspective phase. Changes might occur as early as this week. However, the bye week presents a much better opportunity to shake things up.
"Good practice yesterday. Thought we came out and competed very hard, which you expect every day. But I thought we physically were getting after each other, and we'll do the same thing today. We've got to play the run better, run the ball better, same old stuff you always hear, but it's the truth and it is what it is. I liked how we came out and competed with each other."
Noticeably different from last week?
"On a Tuesday? Probably a little bit."
A lot players said last Tuesday was lackluster. Can you tell that?
"They would know best if they felt that way. Maybe it's an individual thing, too."
Can you talk about UConn's defensive front?
"Yeah they're a big front. Not quite Notre Dame big in some ways, but they're a big front. Active in the linebackers. I think Smallwood is a guy who is their main bellcow when it comes to tackling and getting the ball on the ground. Just reading some of the comments Paul has made, I know they want to play better against the run also. I'm sure they've worked their tails off like we are."
Did Taylor Lewan practice?
"He didn't do anything yesterday. He did some alternate conditioning stuff, but he'll practice today. He's fine."
The rest of the guys?
"Yeah. AJ [Williams]'s back. Courtney [Avery]'s back. Trying to think of who else. We limited Cam a little bit yesterday. He practiced but limited some snaps and some reps, but he'll be back."
"He might be the only guy that will be playing a little more hurt than others."
Chuck Long said Akron seemed to be timing your snap count a bit. Did you see that?
"I think at times we all get caught in doing that. We've done it to teams, and it's just something when you're in the gun there's a little more problems with it than when you're under center. We'd like to be under center a little more."
How much of an effect does jumping the snap count have?
"You have to be right. That's the whole thing. James Hall was as good as anybody when he was here, and it can affect you a little bit and that's why if you can get some silent counts that we'll use and also get some under center snaps that are beneficial."
MGoQuestion: You said the punting game was going to go under a microscope this week.
MGoQuestion: What did see this week?
"Well you know, with Matt [Wile]. I would say him because he struggled the most, really. He did a good job yesterday, and he did it throughout the weekend, figuring out where he's at and why. All these guys have a guru who they talk to or they work with in the summer. So I know he got in touch with his [guru] and talked to him about some things and they evaluate the tape. You have all the technology today. It helps him."
MGoPleaseSaySpreadPuntSoIDon'tHaveToAskAboutIt: Did you do anything differently with regard to coverage or protection?
"No the coverage was fine. And the protection, really -- it was more missed assignment or miscommunication than anything else that really shouldn't have been there. Because we've worked the looks so much. Dan [Ferrigno] always does a good job of showing looks that we think are most advantageous to the protection and also how to change the protection."
With the offensive line, what sort of changes are you considering?
"I think we're in a unique situation a little bit because of the bye week. When that comes, I think you have the ability to put some guys in there maybe who haven't played as much but you think are competing very hard during the week. It's a great week to see where they're at and maybe a little more high pressure. Obviously the best five guys are going to play. The guys who deserve it on a daily basis are the ones that are going to play. This would be a week to do that because then you have another week to keep working."
You have a lot of runs that don't go very far, but you're fourth nationally in rushes of over 20 yards.
"I didn't know that. I don't look at those kinds of things."
How important is it to get those intermediate rushes of 6, 7, or 8 yards?
"I think it'd be interesting to chart about six different teams and see where they're at with that. I think it's obviously important on first downs if you can buy yourself a waste down on second down, but put yourself in position so your second and third down are a little easier. Now I didn't know that statistic. When you say that the big play statistic, that's your receivers as much as -- obviously the front's doing a good job, but those guys down the field doing a good job."
You guys have struggled on the road the last couple years. What are the things that plague your team on the road?
"Turnovers. Turnovers. Turnovers. That's what's plagued our team."
Why is that cropping up more on the road?
"I don't know. I have no idea. You wouldn't think it would. It did last year."
You mentioned defenses doing different things up front to confuse the offensive line. How much does the physical matchup factor into that now?
"I think they've been pretty physical. When they're targeting guys and getting on the right guys, I know there's some technique issues here and there that don't make a guy as physical. His hips get high and the angles that you want to play with. But Kyle [Kalis] is pretty physical. And Graham [Glasgow]. Those two guards are physical guys. We go against them every day. I think sometimes guys are hesitant to let it go like they do in practice. That's a learning step for young football players. We've got Ondre [Pipkins] and Willie [Henry] on our side of it. When they just let go and go play, it's amazing. So you don't want them thinking too much and you want them to know that they're going to make a mistake, but if you play hard enough, you'll play through them."
How important will this week to restore Devin's confidence?
"I think getting back on the field helps. Getting back into a competition helps. You know, you hopefully do a good job as a team taking that last game, win or lose, and 24 hours or 48 hours after that, make sure you focus on the next challenge. That's how we talk about it as a team. Do you want him to remember some of the decisions that weren't so good? Sure. But you really want him to move forward. My biggest thing always with a quarterback is they have help out there. Rely on your help. There's 10 other guys. The defense is going to play hard. Let it come to you."
How do the mistakes compare from one game to another? Is Devin making the same mistakes or are they different?
"I think every game's a little different because of what they give you. Again, they're not just all on him. There's routes that are cut short or not the right route run in there. There's probably a little pressure sometimes. Someone gets in your face, you know. Those things are all part of it."
Who are the guys that could contribute on the offensive line?
"Chris Bryant's a guy that we've been excited about. He's been banged up a year ago. Had a little bit early in fall camp and probably right in the middle. He got a little banged up again, but he's back and playing awfully hard. Ben Braden's another guy. We like what he's doing. And Erik Magnuson. I think all those guys are doing a nice job and they're all improving."
How is Willie Henry doing? He played a lot Saturday.
"Yeah Willie has done some nice things. We'll continue to roll those guys through, but I thought Willie is starting to understand about big boy football and how you have to play."
Just want to clarify -- do you anticipate starting the same five against UConn and then reshuffling during the bye?
"I don't know yet to be honest with you. We have another practice and we'll still compete and we'll see what happens."