Back to Sack

STORRS, Conn. – After missing the first three games of the football season with a right knee injury, Connecticut defensive end Jesse Joseph is back and ready to play against Buffalo Saturday.

Joseph, who led the Huskies with 8.5 sacks last season, was injured in preseason drills and missed starting assignments for the first time in his career. He was wearing a brace and doing rehab exercises during camp in late August and rejoined practice last week.

"It was just a little banged up," Joseph said Tuesday. "It happened during practice. All that matters now is that I'm back and I'm going to do as much as I can."

Redshirt junior Teddy Jennings filled in for Joseph the first three games and had good numbers, earning the praise of the coaching staff. Jennings, 6-5 and 248 pounds, has 15 tackles, including five tackles for loss for a team-high 25 yards. He also has 1.5 sacks for 15 yards and one pass breakup.

In his first two seasons at UConn, Joseph played and started in 25 games. As a freshman in 2009, he started all 13 games and became the first true freshman to start for the Huskies since 2004 – and the first on defense in UConn's Football Bowl Subdivision history.

Coach Paul Pasqualoni said it would mean a lot to the Huskies to have Joseph back. UConn's defense has played very well at times but given up some big plays. Joseph gives UConn another big-time weapon to line up next to Kendall Reyes and lots of depth at defensive end with Trevardo Williams and Jennings.

"Jesse is a real quality player," Pasqualoni said. "Jesse is one of those guys who delivers every day. He's as consistent as they come."

Joseph, 6-3 and 262, is focused on the future – not the three games he missed. And he is looking forward to become part of the defensive game plan for Don Brown, UConn's first-year defensive coordinator.

"We've still got games," he said. "I missed three games. I'm trying to be optimistic about this. I still have enough time to do what I can to help the team out and make a difference.

"I'm anxious. That was all I was waiting for during the summer time. That whole month of camp was like, ‘I can't wait to play a game.' Unfortunate things happen, but you can't look at that now. I'm looking forward to playing this game on Saturday night."

UConn is 1-2 after consecutive losses to Vanderbilt and Iowa State. With Buffalo and Western Michigan coming up, the Huskies have a chance to rebuild some momentum before starting the Big East season Oct. 8 at West Virginia.

"We have to eliminate those big plays," Joseph said of the UConn defense. "That's our biggest concern right now. We're working to take away those big plays that change the game around."

During the first three games, Joseph said he tried to keep his mind prepared and he offered some tips from the sideline, based on his observations.

"Was I a pain? A little bit," Joseph said. "Sometimes. Coaching like Coach Hughes. But it's all love."

Hank Hughes is UConn's defensive line coach.

The Huskies (1-2) pla


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