The UConn Huskies are starting their game-week preparations for Thursday night’s season opener against FBS opponent Towson at Rentschler Field (7:30 p.m.) and at Sunday’s press conference, head coach Paul Pasqualoni pronounced the team ready to go.
He also announced that the players had voted for captains for the 2013 season and elected left guard Steve Greene, linebacker Yawin Smallwood and defensive tackle Shamar Stephen as tri-captains.
“These guys are all outstanding individuals,” Pasqualoni said. “Program guys that I think exemplifies the student-athlete. They’re all really serious about school, they’re serious about football. The commitment they’ve made to football and to the program. They each have a chance to be excellent leaders this season.”
When asked about what kind of leader he expects to be, Smallwood wants to be a “follow my example” kind of player.
“I’m kind of quiet but I’m just trying to get the best out of every single one of these players,” Smallwood said. “I’m just trying to push everyone to be the best they can be. That’s my job as captain.”
Smallwood said that his captain/defensive partner, Stephen, is the same way.
“Shamar is kind of a quiet guy but once he’s on the football field, he’s a real tough guy out there,” Smallwood said. ”He’s just trying to get the best out of players, like myself. We’re just out there trying to compete and be the best players we can be. He’s always motivating players around him, trying to get the best out of them.”
Pasqualoni said that safety Andrew Adams recently underwent shoulder surgery and could be lost “for up to eight weeks.” He also said that freshman linebacker Junior Joseph (knee) probably won’t play for at least two weeks.
“We’re getting back to being healthy,” Pasqualoni said. “I’m optimistic that will have our team together by Thursday. We have a chance to be pretty healthy. We’re practicing well but we need to rest up and get ready. That’ll be tough because school is starting up do there’s a lot going on.”
The head coach is also hopeful that tight end Sean McQuillan (concussion like symptoms) could be cleared to play. That’s likely a game-day decision, however.
A few of the media spoke with Towson head coach Rob Ambrose for a few minutes Sunday. Now starting his fifth season with the Tigers, the former Huskies offensive coordinator (2006-08) and quarterbacks coach (2002-05) told a funny story of being asked while still at UConn, to look over a potential contract for a future game.
“It was many, many moons ago, I can’t remember exactly when but I was in a sitting on a charter flight at Bradley getting ready to take off,” Ambrose said. “(Then assistant Athletic Director) Neil Eskin comes by and hands me a stack of papers and says, “I need you to look at this,” and I say, “What is it?” and he says, “It’s a contract for a game.”
So I say, “Why the hell am I looking at this?”
He goes, “Well, it’s for a game against Towson. Years down the road.” Neil goes, “Mike Hermann wants you to look at it.” I go, “Who the hell is Mike Hermann?”
He said, “He’s the AD at Towson.” And I’m like, “I got nothing to do with any of this, take that away from me.”
Ironically, the contract was for this year’s game, something that Ambrose joked about.
“You know what? After the fact, I really wish I would have looked at the contract better,” he said. “UConn needs to pay Towson more money.”
Then, Ambrose got serious for a moment.
“It’s another great opportunity to play a really good football team, get some more national exposure and take a little bit of a paycheck,” he said. “I can tell you we’re not chartering (to Hartford) because we’re not getting paid that much money. The travel back and forth kind of sucks but … it’s a good opportunity.”