UConn Preps for Rhode Island

When head coach Randy Edsall came to UConn in the fall of 1998 he had no idea he'd be sticking around for 11 years. With Saturday's game under his belt Edsall will become UConn's longest tenured football coach, passing J.O. Christian with 122 games at the helm of the Huskies. Edsall's 60 wins are just six shy of the program record and his 11 years at UConn are tied for ninth longest in the FBS.

"I never thought I'd be here for that many games when it all first started," Edsall said. "I don't really think about stuff like that but it's been great that I've been able to be in this place for that long."

            In his 11 years at UConn Edsall has led the Huskies from 1-AA obscurity to a share of the Big East conference championship, a national AP ranking and three bowl appearances in five years, including victories in the 2004 Motor City Bowl and the 2009 International Bowl.

Huskies' oldest rival

            William McKinley was president, Dracula was published and Boston opened the first underground metro in North America.

            Sound like a history lesson?

            These are simply some of the events that happened in 1897, the first time that UConn – then known as the Storrs Agricultural College – faced rival Rhode Island in football.

            While the rivalry no longer carries the weight it once did – the Huskies have moved up to the FBS and no longer schedule the Rams on a regular basis – the two teams have faced off 93 times, UConn leading the series 50-35-8.  In fact, the teams used to compete for the aptly named Ramnapping Trophy, stemming from an incident back in the 1930s when several UConn students kidnapped the URI mascot Rhodey the Ram.

            Though UConn has won 12 of the last 16 meetings, including a 52-7 drubbing at Rentschler Field on Aug. 31, 2006, Edsall doesn't want his team to look past the game.

            "You can't look at the opponent, where they're from or anything like that," Edsall said.  "You have to go out and prepare the same way you do every week to give yourself an opportunity to win.  You have to earn the right to win every week in terms of how we perform on the practice field."

            The Rams' plus-7 turnover margin is ranked No. 1 in FCS.

Injury updates

            Zach Frazer (leg) remains out of the lineup Saturday but will likely return after UConn's bye week to open up play against Pittsburgh.  Linebacker Scott Lutrus (shoulder) is still a bit more up in the air.  Lutrus was listed first on the depth chart at husky linebacker but was listed as questionable for the third straight week on Sunday.

            "The thing with our medical staff is that they aren't going to put anybody on the field if they aren't healthy and ready to go," Edsall said.  "Sometimes there's injuries where you just don't know.  When you talk about injuries to nerves, they can be a bit ornery and you don't know how they're going to react."

New ends, same result

            While losing starting defensive ends Cody Brown and Julius Williams to the NFL may have hurt most teams, Edsall has proven he has the depth and the recruiting prowess to quickly make up for losses.

            Senior Lindsey Witten has been an anchor on one end of the front four with seven sacks through the Huskies' first three games of the season.  After starting just seven career games in his first three years in a UConn uniform Witten has proved to be more than up to the task, being named the Big East defensive Player of the Week after UConn's win against Ohio and being named to the Big East Weekly Honor Roll following the Huskies' 12-10 loss to North Carolina.

            On the other side of the line true freshman Trevardo Williams and Jesse Joseph have combined for 17 tackles and two sacks.  Williams and Joseph enrolled in the university in January and took part in Edsall's spring practice and off-season weight training.  When Joseph started at defensive end in UConn's season opener against Ohio he became the first true freshman to start for Randy Edsall since 2004.

            "They got a long way to go I tell you what," Edsall said.  "But both of them are very mature for two true freshman.  They grasp concepts and they understand what the work ethic is all about.  Neither of them hardly say a word, they're my kind of guys, they just work and keep their mouth shut.  The advantage for them is they got here in January. 

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