Notes from Thursday’s conference call with Paul Pasqualoni

INJURY UPDATE – The only nagging injury question heading into this week’s game against Rutgers (Saturday, noon, SNY) was center Alex Mateas’ ankle but UConn head coach Paul Pasqualoni said in his Thursday conference call with reporters that Mateas was ready to play.
“Alex is doing good. He’s practiced well this week. He’s 100 percent and we’ll get him going,” the Huskies coach said. “He had a pretty good week of practice. The plan going in with (backup center Tyler) Bullock was to play two guys, so we’ll play them both in this game and hopefully have a good productive game inside.”
Bullock started last week against Buffalo and played well, according to Pasqualoni.
“I thought that Tyler, for stepping in and being the starter, first time this year, did a good solid job,” Pasqualoni said. “There’s some things that obviously, he’s going to get better at as he goes but I thought he did a good job.”

BLACKOUT – The game is nearly (if not, already) a sellout. Rutgers is encouraging its fans to wear black as the team unveils its new black uniforms and it’s safe to say that the Scarlet Knights probably still have a major chip on their shoulder from last season’s 40-22 UConn win that cost Rutgers a share of the Big East title and a possible BCS bowl bid.
So the Huskies can expect some serious hostility on Saturday at High Point Solutions Stadium in Piscataway, N.J. That being said, Pasqualoni isn’t worried.
“I know this, I know that’s there’s players on this team that have been in that kind of atmosphere,” he said. “They know all about crowd noise and hostile environments. It’s a part of the game, part of conference play and I would say that once the game starts, it’s the same old, same old. Once the game starts, your focus is on the game, what your job is and what you’ve got to get done.”

RIVALRY GAME? YOU BET – With last year’s Huskies win and with four of the last six games being decided by four points or less, UConn and Rutgers has become a pretty good college football game in the Northeast.
“The UConn Rutgers game, long before I got here, has become a pretty exciting game in the Big East conference,” Pasqualoni said. “It’s really an exciting game in the Northeast.”
Especially in the sense that, there aren’t any other teams in the region to have a rivalry with.
“The geography of things has splintered, BC’s (Boston College) no longer around (in the ACC), Penn State’s in the Big Ten, Pitt and Syracuse are moving on (to the ACC), so, for those of us who are accustomed to football in the northeast, quality football, I think that this game is becoming a pretty exciting game.
“I think our players and their players, especially the kids that we have (18) from New Jersey, know each other pretty good, so that all adds to it but again now, when the game starts, you can throw all that stuff out the window because it’s not going to be a factor.”
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