Taking Stock; Huskies Recover After WV Loss

Not only did UConn get spanked 45-13 by 18th-ranked West Virginia on Wednesday night for the whole country to see, but it also added injury to insult on its way out of Morgantown. Coach Randy Edsall detailed the latest casualties during his weekly day-after-game teleconference Thursday.

Edsall said special teams standout Jimmy McClam and fullback Lou Allen suffered significant injuries in the Huskies' third consecutive loss, which evened their record at 4-4 and left them needing two wins in their finale three games --- at Pittsburgh, then home vs. South Florida and No. 24 Louisville --- to gain bowl eligibility.

McClam went down with a left knee injury in the third quarter. He was hurt while serving as the hawk on punt coverage, a job the true freshman had begun to excel at as the season went along. Edsall said McClam will have an MRI on his knee as soon as the swelling goes down, and the seventh-year coach did not sound optimistic about McClam's prospects for playing again this season.

 

McClam had been filling in for sophomore return man Larry Taylor on kickoffs. Taylor too is out with a knee injury, which occurred in a 28-17 loss at Cincinnati on Oct. 15, and will not play again this season.

In McClam's place, Darius Butler and Courtney Robinson returned kickoffs in the second half. Edsall did not say who would fill that role a week from Saturday when the Huskies face Pittsburgh.

 

"I'm leaning toward Darius right now," Edsall said, "but I have a couple of days to think about that."

 

Allen broke a finger during UConn's only drive that produced a touchdown Wednesday. Allen, in fact, did the honors, zipping in from one yard out, but he did so while playing in pain. The redshirt freshman has rushed for 259 yards and two touchdowns this season and had been seeing more action in recent weeks than The Artist Formerly Known As Brock (Cornell Brockington), who was a first-team all-Big East selection at running back in 2004.

 

Edsall did his best Thursday to take the latest dose of injuries with a somewhat sugary outlook.

"What else are you going to do?" Edsall said. "Certain guys are going to get opportunities based on (injuries), and we expect them to go in and play to the best of their ability."

 

The Huskies aren't hurting on the offensive line, but the offensive line has been inflicting serious wounds in the Huskies' efforts to establish a running game, keep a quarterback healthy, sustain a drive, and put up points.

Despite its healthy condition, the offensive line could be in for a change. William Beatty replaced tackle Craig Berry for a while during Wednesday's loss, and that move may signal changes galore on the horizon.

 

"That's an area that I've evaluated watching the tape," Edsall said. "I'm going to continue to evaluate that and if I feel there are some moves that I can make to make us better in these last three games, then I'm going to go ahead and do it."

 

Beatty drew praise from Edsall for doing just that. Still, the line isn't nearly mean or muscular enough for the coach's liking.

 

"I've stated plenty of times before that we're just not functioning well enough with the five guys up there," Edsall said. "It's one of those things where it could be one guy one play, another guy another play. We just have to be able to be consistent and drive some people off the ball."

 

Edsall said the line needs more strength, foot quickness, and athleticism.

 

Edsall also said defensive end Shawn Mayne (ankle) is probable for the Pittsburgh game, while special teams lineman Donald Thomas (turf toe) is questionable. He added that no decision will be made before Monday on whether next week's starting quarterback will be Dennis Brown or D.J. Hernandez.


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