Pasqualoni Wants Clean Opener

Connecticut coach Paul Pasqualoni held a teleconference call with the UConn football beat writers Tuesday to discuss the Huskies and their preparation for Thursday night's season opener against Massachusetts. Here are some of the highlights.

- On the decision to name OG Adam Masters, WR Nick Williams, LB Jory Johnson and CB Blidi Wreh-Wilson team captains on Monday: "It was hard because there's so much leadership there [with 17 seniors]. I talked to all the seniors and explained to them that I did want to select captains. I explained that I thought our best leadership would come from the senior group. . . . But I told them in each area of the program, we do have good leadership. Having explained that, the team decided, we decided, those four would be our captains. And that's the way it worked out."

- Pasqualoni said Tuesday's practice would be a key one. "It's a big practice in terms of execution. We review the whole game plan today. The only player we won't have is [defensive tackle] Shamar Stephen."

- Could Stephen (knee sprain) be ready to go against North Carolina State on Sept. 8? "I don't know. He's got a long weekend here. So we'll evaluate early next week and see where we're at. We'll make a decision at that point."

- On expectations for LB Sio Moore in his senior season: "I'd just like to see him continue to grow as a linebacker. The linebacker position is not the easiest place on the field, that's for sure. . . . We've got an awful lot on Sio's plate. What I've liked about Sio this preseason is that he's come in each day with a high level of focus and trying every day to really, really focus on practice and moving on to the next play regardless of what happened the previous play, not getting distracted and moving right on to the next play as quickly as possible. With the tempo and speed of the game and all the no-huddle offenses we're going to see starting this week that's going to be really important. It's always been my belief that the less distracted you are, the more competitive player you are."

- On the one-two punch of Lyle McCombs and Martin Hyppolite at tailback: "It's good. As a coach, I've never known when the season started with the first game, you never know exactly what kind of team you have. The bottom line is you don't really know until you start playing games. What I do know is that we know a lot more about the tailback position now than we did a year ago. A year ago, I had no clue."

- On what he is looking for out of the first game, other than a win: "I'd like to see us play smart. I'd like to see us not turn the ball over, not do dumb things. I'd like to see a minimum of penalties and I would like to see great effort in all three phases of the game. If we can get that out of this week I think we have a good start."

- Asked if any true freshmen might see playing time Thursday, Pasqualoni said yes and named DE E.J. Norris, OG Tyler Samra and S Jordan Floyd.

- On having two productive tight ends, John Delahunt and Ryan Griffin: "Those two guys are steady. They aren't up or down. They are focused. They are two staples, solid pillars on our team and guys who lead by example. They don't talk much but in most cases about 100 percent of the time your actions speak louder than your words. Delahunt is a little bit better blocker but can catch the ball well, has made some big catches here and Griff is a better pass receiver. He's kind of a crafty, tight end route runner but he can block and has made some big blocks. He's willing to go in there to be a blocker. Their skill sets are slightly different but they are very interchangeable."

- On freshman QB Casey Cochran and the cast on his non-throwing hand: "I haven't kind of checked on it a while just because he practices every day with the cast on and I had even forgotten he had a cast on it. But he's out there doing everything and doing a good job. As soon as the Doc says the cast can come off, then we'll get it off. Casey's with the travel squad and getting either mental reps or when we can get him a rep in a drill he gets a rep."

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