UConn Steps Out for the Blue and White Game

EAST HARTFORD --- Randy Edsall walked into the interview room about 15 minutes after UConn's annual Blue-White Spring Football Game at Rentschler Field, saw the stat sheet laid out for him on the podium, and instantly crumpled it up and tossed it over his shoulder.

He laughed as he did it, which was a relief, because if he or anyone in the crowd of about 9,000 put too much stock in the offense's ineptitude Saturday, it would make for a long and miserable summer.

"Today, as I've said all spring long, is one of those situations where we're looking to evaluate this day along with the other 14 days that we've already had," Edsall said.

It was just another day, in other words. That's especially good news for Matt Bonislawski and D.J. Hernandez, who, if anything, did more to boost the stock of reserves Dennis Brown and Billy Cundiff than to help their own cause.

Bonislawski was 3-for-13 with three interceptions while directing the second-stringers. Hernandez went 12-for-28 and fumbled three times, with two of the fumbles being returned for touchdowns by Rhema Fuller and Rob Lunn. Hernandez was under fire from the first-team defense all day and was sacked seven times.

"D.J. has got to just settle down and not try to make plays all the time," Edsall said. "He needs to go back and be a quarterback and let things develop and take things that are there and try not to rush things. The same thing with 'Bones.' They just have to relax a little bit."

Hernandez, who goes into the summer workouts with a slight edge on Bonislawski, realized the offense faced an uphill battle against a defense that has seen every offensive play 50 times over since spring workouts began March 18. The sophomore said his confidence remains high, and that he'll continue to work hard during the off-season.

"I have to keep my eyes downfield a little longer," Hernandez, a sophomore, said.

Bonislawski was just glad to see Saturday end.

"I really couldn't get anything going," the senior quarterback said. "All this spring wasn't really as bad as it was today. I thought offensively we had a good spring overall, but then today we didn't do really well."

The offensive stalwarts were few and far between. Redshirt freshman running back Donald Brown returned the opening kickoff 83 yards for a touchdown and finished as the top rusher with 57 yards on 22 carries. Nollis Dewar caught five passes, Dennis Brown threw a touchdown pass to third-string tight end Matt Gray, Lou Allen had a five-yard touchdown run, and all three kickers --- Matt Nuzie, Tony Ciaravino, and Graig Vicidomino --- made field goals.

On the other side of the ball, defensive tackles Rhema Fuller and Rob Lunn returned Hernandez fumbles for touchdowns. Defensive end Jason Ward forced two fumbles, intercepted a pass, and recorded two sacks. Middle linebacker Ryan Henegan also picked off a pass, while Stanley Williams scored from 15 yards out after Andre Dixon blocked a Chris Pavasaris punt.

Edsall said Ward has moved back ahead of sophomore Cody Brown and into the starting lineup after a steady spring.

"Cody has to learn to bring it on every snap," Edsall said.

At midfield before the game, and once he got his microphone to work, Edsall announced the captains for 2006: seniors Allan Barnes, Terry Caulley, Fuller, and Jahi Smith. Caulley, a running back, and Fuller are starters, while Barnes and Smith are special teams players.

"They've all been in the program four or five years and they've done all the right things ever since they've been here," Edsall said. "They're good students and good people."

Edsall said no one was hurt during Saturday's game. Among the Huskies who did not play were wide receivers Brandon Young (knee) and Ellis Gaulden (knee), running back Larry Taylor (knee), fullback Anthony Barksdale (shoulder), Barnes (shoulder), defensive end Kelvin Quarles (knee), and starting guard Immanuel Hutcherson, who returned home to Florida following the death of his grandmother.


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