Media Day: Huskies Settle into Underdog Role

NEWPORT, R.I. -- Here is Team A's profile: Returns 17 starters including its quarterback, potentially two 1,000 yard backs, and a deep an experienced offensive line. The defense is among the top in the conference and has a pair of freshmen All-Americans moving into their second year at linebacker.

There is strength and depth upfront on the defensive line and the secondary is loaded with talent. Team A is the defending co-champion of a BCS conference. The coach was sought after by another bigger and more established BCS program in the offseason and stayed put.

So, what is your prediction for Team A in its conference this year? Should be shaping up as a pretty good year. Where is Team A expected to finish this year? Sixth place in an eight-team conference. You're joking, right?

Nope. Dead serious.

If the University of Connecticut football team played the underdog role last season to its remarkable run to a share of the Big East Conference now they can play the "no-respect" card this fall. UConn was picked to finish sixth in the Big East in its preseason media poll behind co-champ West Virgina, South Florida, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Cincinnati at the conference annual media day gathering in Newport, R.I. Louisville and lowly Syracuse picked up the rear.

Incredibly enough, a Pittsburgh team that has lost to UConn for three of the last four years, including a shellacking last year in Pittsburgh, was picked third in the conference and even nabbed a first-place vote. Pittsburgh has endured two straight losing seasons and still has big questions at the quarterback position among others.

UConn only went 9-4 and was Big East co-champions along with West Virginia. So much for past performance being an indicator.

"We aren't sexy," UConn football coach Randy Edsall said. "People asked how (UConn) did it? We weren't sexy. We don't have a 2,000-yard thrower or 1,000-yard rusher. But, what is football all about? It's about scoring more points, not turning it over on offense. I played quarterback. I understand offense. If you can play very good defense and are solid on special teams and can run the football — year in and year out you can win."

Co-Captain Darius Butler isn't surprised at the slight from a panel of media members who vote in the preseason.

"I don't pay too much attention to it Butler said. "You hear it from the parents and media. We are used to it by now. If anything, it gives us a chip on our shoulder and more motivation."

Butler has found a group of believers however.

"Depends on who you talk to. People who have seen us play they think we deserve what we got," Butler said. "But those who just hear the name Connecticut and see us being this other school, they see it as a fluke. We are used to not getting respect."

The Huskies' slight in Newport isn't entirely unexpected. UConn was out-gained in many of its Big East games and late season blowout losses at C incinnati and West Virginia and a loss in the Meineke Car Care Bowl to Wake Forest sowered the perception.

"This day and age everything is about impressions, the glitz, glitter and glamor," Edsall said. "The ones who are very steady they don't get the credit they deserve because they are not flashy and not sexy. That was a formula that worked a year ago. We won't deviate too much, but some things we can do to take advantage of our personnel."

The Huskies kick off summer camp on Friday and while Butler and Edsall were dismissive of the sixth place selection co-captain Cody Brown had another take.

"Well, we were picked to finish seventh last year," Brown mused. "We improved in that standpoint."

Husky Notes:

*Defensive tackle Brandon Dillon will rejoin the team for summer camp on Friday. Dillon was an academic casualty this spring but worked on his school work enough to regain his eligibility. Dillon will help round out the defensive tackle rotation as he is likely to regain his spot in the rotation backing u p starters Rob Lunn and Alex Polito while vying for time with Twyon Martin, Scott Schutlz and Jarrell Miller.

*The receiving corps is on the mend and Edsall said that both receivers D.J. Hernandez and Brad Kanuch are healthy. Hernandez missed most of the spring with a wrist injury. Kanuch was out the entire spring with a quad injury. The news on Ellis Gaulden is also better. Gaulden has had an injury-plagued career but is set to return to practice this week, though he will only participate in one session.

*In addition to being the quarterback, UConn's Tyler Lorenzen spent part of the summer working as an intern at Merrill Lynch in Hartford. He and former teammate Bobby Fry worked there this summer. Fry was offered a job shortly after his internship completed. Lorenzen wants to take a shot at pro football, but if that doesn't work out, would like to make Merrill Lynch home.

UCONN Playbook Top Stories