|COLLEGE FB PACKAGE: Surprising Huskies not basking in 5-0 start|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 03 October 2007 14:20|
Don't tell Connecticut coach Randy Edsall that the Huskies are one of just three undefeated teams left in the Big East.|
``It's almost like you're 0-0,'' said Edsall of his team's 5-0 start, its best since 1995. ``We try to tell the kids we never look at the record and anything like that.''
Maybe, but the Huskies have already surpassed last year's win total and could become bowl eligible before Halloween. Though the teams the Huskies have beaten (Duke, Maine, Pittsburgh, Akron and Temple) are a combined 6-18, Connecticut does have the league's top-ranked defense. The Huskies are allowing 250.6 yards per game.
Still, Edsall has bemoaned his team's inconsistency. The Huskies managed just 18 yards rushing in the first half of last week's win over Akron, then rolled up 173 in the third quarter alone. With games against conference heavyweights on the horizon, Edsall is not exactly ready to place the Huskies among the league's elite.
``Each Saturday is like a trip to the bank, and we're hoping to deposit a win,'' he said. ``At the end of the year, we'll count 'em up and see how much we have.''
The Huskies are off this week. They play at Virginia on Oct. 13.
NEW-LOOK CARDINALS: Louisville coach Steve Kragthorpe promised changes following an embarrassing loss to Syracuse, and the new blood seemed to invigorate a defense that entered the game ranked 90th in the country in last week's win over North Carolina State.
Defensive lineman Rodney Gnat, freshman cornerback Johnny Patrick and junior Bobby Buchanan made their first career starts against the Wolfpack, with immediate results.
Patrick made his first career interception, Gnat provided pressure off the end and Buchanan had four tackles and a pass break-up. Kragthorpe also moved defensive tackle Earl Heyman to end, and he responded with a sack and a fumble recovery.
The defense could get another boost on Friday against Utah. Tackle Adrian Grady should return to the lineup after missing the North Carolina State game due to injury. Wide receiver Harry Douglas - who is second in the country in receiving yards per game - should also play. He missed the first game of his career last week with an apparent knee injury.
KEEPING SLATON FRESH: South Florida isn't all that appears capable of stopping West Virginia running back Steve Slaton. Cramps have also been a problem.
Slaton needed intravenous fluids during halftime of the Mountaineers' loss to South Florida, when he finished with a season-low 54 yards on 13 carries.
``I don't know if there's much you can do,'' coach Rich Rodriguez said. ``We load those guys up with Gatorade and all things you can do before the game. He's 190 pounds of muscle and sometimes in hot, humid conditions you can't replace your fluids fast enough.''
Rodriguez said Slaton's role in the team's passing game may also be a contributing factor. Slaton sometimes lines up at wide receiver in an effort to create a mismatch.
``Sometimes you get more running on pass plays than on running plays,'' Rodriguez said.
Slaton should be available on Saturday when the Mountaineers play at Syracuse.
FINDING HIS TOUCH: No. 20 Cincinnati thinks it has solved its most pressing problem.
The Bearcats have been trying to figure out how much to let quarterback Ben Mauk throw during practice. He needs to run plays to get ready for games, but his aching shoulder has forced him to miss one game and parts of another.
Mauk broke his passing arm and separated his shoulder during the season opener for Wake Forest last season. The arm still hurts from time to time, and coach Brian Kelly's challenge has been balancing the need to practice and the need to rest.
``We're experimenting with it,'' Mauk said. ``There's not too many quarterbacks who have broken their arm and dislocated their shoulder before.''
Mauk was the Big East's offensive player of the week after throwing for four touchdowns and 257 yards in a 52-23 victory over San Diego State, an indication that their current practice plans are working.
``I think we're getting close to finding out what works best in his routine leading up to game day,'' Kelly said. ``We're feeling better that he can do this.''
ROUGH WEEK: The conference had a 30-2 run against non-conference opponents come to a halt last weekend as Rutgers, Syracuse and Pittsburgh all fell. The Scarlet Knights were upset at home by Maryland. Syracuse, a week removed from shocking Louisville, lost to Miami (Ohio) and reeling Pittsburgh was no match for Virginia.
The losses - though offset by wins by Cincinnati at San Diego State, Louisville at North Carolina State and Connecticut against Akron - dropped the conference to 24-8 against non-conference opponents this year.
``I think anybody can beat anybody, and this past Saturday showed that,'' said Rutgers coach Greg Schiano. ``I think the league is very balanced. I think anybody can beat anybody. It's great for college football, not great for coaches' blood pressure.''
FIELDS FEELING FINE: When Joe Fields arrived at Syracuse, he envisioned himself following in the footsteps of Donovan McNabb as the next great Orange quarterback.
Three years later, Fields is making a major impact on the Orange - at safety. Fields switched from offense to defense just before the 2006 season. Now, with a full offseason to adjust, he's become one of the best defensive backs in the conference.
Fields is tied for second in the Big East with three interceptions and is tied for fourth with 42 total tackles.
``It's amazing how much difference a year makes,'' said coach Greg Robinson. ``Last year at this time he was in about his eighth week of being a safety, with five games and three weeks of camp. Now he's had spring ball, had training camp. He's playing better ... and he's just much more consistent. He can play safety at the next level.''
HONORS: South Florida's Ben Moffitt and Connecticut's Tyvon Branch joined Mauk in collecting player of the week honors.
Moffitt had nine tackles, two tackles for loss and two interceptions in the win over the Mountaineers. He returned the first interception for a touchdown, the first score of his career.
Branch was selected as the special teams player of the week after returning a kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown in the Huskies' 44-10 win over Akron.
AP Sports Writer Joe Kay in Cincinnati contributed to this report.
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