Scouting UConn: Q&A with coach Randy Edsall

Rutgers opens Big East play Friday against Connecticut as the Scarlet Knights try to end a two-game skid and also start the conference season off in a big way. On the other side, the Huskies have won two straight, including last week's 40-21 defeat of Vanderbilt. In this Q&A segment, UConn coach Randy Edsall talks about the series, some of the Huskies' health issues and much more.

Scouting UConn
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m., Rutgers Stadium, ESPN
Record: 3-2
Coach: Randy Edsall (69-67 12th season)
Offense: Pro-style
Defense: 4-3
Key players: RB Jordan Todman, QB Cody Endres, WR Michael Smith, WR Kashif Moore, RG Zach Hurd, C Moe Petrus, PR Taylor Mack, MLB Lawrence Wilson, WLB Sio Moore, DE Jesse Joseph, CB Blidi Wreh-Wilson, CB Dwayne Gratz.

Opening statement:
"First time we had an SEC team here and we beat them, so that was good. I thought we played well defensively except for about a three minute stretch in the game. Hopefully, we can play a sixty minute game.

Offensively, I thought Jordan Todman played very well, and Cody did a good job throwing the ball, but again, we still just need to be more consistent. In special teams, we gave up too many returns. As we came out of the game against Vanderbilt, we had some injuries that have come up.

"(Junior defensive end) Marcus Campbell is out for the year with the knee, and Jeremy Davis, and then last week (freshman linebacker) Yawin Smallwood had his shoulder operated on so he's out for the year. And (unior tailback) Kelmetrus Wylie had surgery on Friday with his knee, and he's out for year.

"(Backup tailback and special teams ace) Robbie Frey had surgery, a scope on his knee, so we're expecting him to be out probably two-to-three weeks. And then (sophomore offensive tackle) Jimmy Bennett will have hand surgery and probably on Thursday and that's a four-to-five week situation.

"We're going down to Rutgers on Friday night to play, and it's going to be a tough environment there. We're looking forward to getting the Big East conference started and we know we have a tremendous challenge as we go down there and play them."

On why games with Rutgers have been so close?
"I don't know. We've had a lot of close games with them going down to the end, and it's one of the teams making a play. They have been very, very competitive. For whatever reason, I don't know, but they all have been very competitive."

On the uncertainty whether Chas Dodd or Tom Savage will start at quarterback for Rutgers:
"You watch on film and you see when Mohamed [Sanu] is in there, they're running the ball and he's throwing it a little bit. Then Tom is in there, and if Tom isn't going Chas is a guy that's been in there. So, you look at the film and see what each guy can do and you try to go and you put a game plan together accordingly, for really, what you're going to see, and that's all you can go by."

On being the first Big East game of the season?
"I think anytime that you're on Friday night, or Thursday night, there's nobody else on and you're the only teams playing, I think there's always added excitement. You get a chance to showcase your conference and showcase your own team. This is something that's really benefited and aided the Big East Conference in terms of the exposure that we've gotten. We're just fortunate that the conference people and ESPN thought enough of us on to have us and Rutgers on his Friday."

What does UConn quarterback QB Cody Endres needs to improve?
"We have a tremendous challenge. Rutgers' (defense) is playing very, very well. They're only giving up 80 yards a game rushing, they're second in the country in scoring defense. So, we know that we have a tremendous challenge ahead of us to try to generate yardage and generate points.

"I just think the biggest thing Cody needs to continue to do is deliver the ball on time, get the ball to the right receiver and be a leader for us."

Can you discuss your confidence in backup running back D.J. Shoemate and the need for someone to step up because of injuries?
"It's not D.J. It's everybody. Martin Hypolite has to now that Robbie Frey is out. I have confidence in all of them. It's just that they have to go out there and prove it and perform and produce.

"We always make sure we have three tailbacks ready to go in the game. The three that we have is Jordan, is Martin and is D.J. All three of those guys get repetitions during the week and do things because we feel it's important to make sure we have three ready to go during the game.

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