McCombs Apologizes

STORRS – Connecticut running back Lyle McCombs was in an apologetic mood on Tuesday. The 5-foot-8 sophomore, a freshman All-American last season, admitted his arrest last week on a breach of peace charge became a distraction for the Huskies in their 19-3 loss at Rutgers.

McCombs and his girlfriend were arrested early Friday after an altercation outside a UConn residence hall. He has been accused of yelling, pushing and spitting at his girlfriend during an argument, police said.

UConn coach Paul Pasqualoni decided to punish McCombs by holding him out of play in the first quarter at Rutgers. McCombs entered the game in the second quarter and finished with 32 yards on 12 carries.

"I absolutely did create a distraction and I apologized for that," McCombs told reporters gathered at UConn's weekly football media luncheon. "I apologized to the team, the coaches, the fans, everyone."

McCombs said he has apologized to his girlfriend, Saslamarie Jones, and he hopes people can forgive him for the incident.

"It makes me and her seem like people we are not," a somber McCombs said Tuesday. "I am really sorry about it. It is uncharacteristic of me. I am looking to learn from it and hope and pray to move on and learn a big lesson."

McCombs has struggled this season but has still rushed for 484 yards. The biggest problem is his average of 3.6 yards per carry. He remains listed first on UConn's depth chart and is expected to start Saturday against Temple, despite a soft cast he was wearing on his left hand Tuesday.

Asked about the cast, McCombs said he suffered a slight strain while landing on his hand during the game at Rutgers. "I tried to brace my fall," he said.

Temple defensive end Kamal Johnson will not play for the Owls Saturday. He was charged with kidnapping and assaulting a 21-year-old woman before Temple's win over South Florida last week. Johnson has been told to stay away from the Owls' football team but he remains a student and has retained his football scholarship.

McCombs was asked if he felt fortunate just to be penalized for one quarter.

"Absoultely," he said. "Very fortunate." The decision has generated criticism of Pasqualoni, who was perceived as being too soft in this situation.

Pasqualoni said Tuesday he imagined McCombs himself had to distracted during the game, said Sunday there would no further punishment for McCombs from the football team. He is due to appear in Rockville Superior Court on Nov. 27. There could be additional sanctions from the university as he passes through the student review process.

"I have yet to find that out," McCombs said.

Like most of his UConn teammates and coaches, McCombs is frustrated by the team's inability to run the ball this season – and and with a 3-3 start. The Huskies rank 112th out of 120 NCAA teams in rushing offense, averaging 102.17 yards per game.

"You've got to stay positive," McCombs said. "It's a test of our character at this point. We're guys that don't give up. We're going to keep pushing through it, keep pushing through it and see where it gets us in the end.

"We all know we're better than [3-3]. We're better than what our record shows – last year and this year. We've got some figuring out to do and some work to do this week."

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