Hernandez; Likely Starter Against Louisville

Randy Edsall has tried to pull fast ones in the past when it came to naming his starting quarterback. If the fix is in again this week, the UConn coach is truly a master prankster. All reports from all precincts, including the head coach's office, indicate that D.J. Hernandez will start Saturday against No. 16 Louisville at Rentschler Field as the Huskies make one last stand to become eligible for a bowl game.

"I said Bones is doubtful and he's still doubtful," Edsall said Tuesday.


Bonislawski reinjured, but did not break, his left collarbone in the second half of UConn's 15-10 victory over South Florida on Saturday. He didn't practice Monday and wasn't scheduled to do anything more than some throwing on the side Tuesday, according to Edsall.


The Huskies' coach consulted this week with team doctors, who expressed concern about Bonislawski's condition.


"Everything looked OK on the x-rays, but there's quite a bit of discomfort and quite a bit of soreness," Edsall said. "If he's only 75 percent, we're probably better off going with somebody who's 100 percent."


That would be Hernandez. He broke a bone in his left wrist against Cincinnati on Oct. 15 and has appeared only in a mop-up role against West Virginia on Nov. 2, but he flexed that wrist Tuesday and declared it completely healed.


"Good to go," the redshirt freshman from Bristol said.


Bonislawski could only wish he could say the same.


"I don't think I'd be able to get hit and last out there," said the junior who has started seven of UConn's 10 games this season.


Bonislawski barely made it through the South Florida game, according to Edsall.


"Bones was having problems getting the signals because of the pain," Edsall said. "He almost passed out on the field, he was telling me. He said the pain was so bad. We ran one play and the play that we signaled in, he didn't even get. He called something different because of how much pain that he had. I was tempted to take him out after he made the bootleg. I said to him, ‘Can you hand the ball off?' He said he could. I saw that he was hurting."


The situation may seem cut-and-dried in favor of Hernandez, but factors behind the scenes complicate the issue.


First is Bonislawski himself. He lobbied hard in Edsall's office Monday night to play Saturday. Edsall wouldn't make that commitment because of the pain Bonislawski is in, but the seventh-year coach will have to wrestle with temptation all week.


"This morning (Tuesday), Doc (Michael) Joyce was poking around there to make sure everything was OK after looking at x-rays," Edsall said, "and (Bonislawski) said he was pretty sore just from the poking around that Doc did. If you're getting sore after that, just imagine how it's going to be if you take a hit."


The second factor is the importance of the game, especially for the seniors. Their careers are on the line this week because a loss will eliminate UConn from bowl contention.

As senior middle linebacker Taurien Sowell noted, the time has come to lay it all on the line. With one game left (possibly), what would Bonislawski be saving himself for?


"The same way that defensive players came up to me when I was out and were telling me, ‘We need you out there,' I actually heard offensive players go up to Bonislawski and tell him, ‘We need you out there. It seems like the chemistry is better when you're out there,' as opposed to D.J.," Sowell said.


Sowell was quick to point out that he feels Hernandez is a capable substitute.


"Don't get me wrong. D.J.'s a competitor," he said. "He competes in everything he does --- off the field, on the field, weight room, whatever he does. It's a policy I guess that certain people hold that maybe someone else might not."


The third factor is Edsall himself. He pulled a fast one at Pittsburgh on Nov. 12, naming Bonislawski the starter less than an hour before game time. Thus, everything he says this week must be framed in that context.


"I don't really see anything happening where D.J. isn't going to be the starter this week," Edsall said.


Time will tell.

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