SLOWLY BUT SURELY – The hamstring feels a lot better but for WR Shakim Phillips, that’s not good enough. It has to be 100 percent.
“I want to be healthy for the rest of the season, so I’d rather let it heal now,” he said Tuesday.
Phillips, who caught 10 passes for 178 yards and a touchdown against Maryland, strained his left hamstring in the final strides on his 75-yard touchdown catch and run. He did not play against Michigan and continues to be “questionalble” for Saturday’s game at Buffalo.
“Honestly, it’s just taking time. I mean, it’s nothing you can really rush,” Phillips said. “We’re just doing treatments and trying to get better every day. It feels a lot better than it did last week. I’m happy that a bye week (Oct. 7) is coming up. It’ll give me more time just to heal and get ready for conference play. It’s frustrating because I want to be out there playing. But things happen and I just have to let it heal and get back out there when I can.”
COMING UP EMPTY — Leading 21-14 midway in the third quarter, UConn was driving for a chance to extend its lead over Michigan. A 14-yard pass from quarterback Chandler Whitmer to Geremy Davis had just given the Huskies a first down at the Wolverines 25 but on the first pllay, Whitmer was sacked for a loss of six yards. Tailback Lyle McCombs got four yards back on a rush and on third down from the Michigan 27, a pass in the flat to McCombs was sniffed out by linebacker Joe Bolden and McCombs was tackled for a loss of two yards.
Chad Christen’s 46-yard field goal attempt was wide left – his first miss in his last 11 attempts dating back to last season. And that continued inability of the offense to generate any points haunted the Huskies in their 24-21 loss to the Wolverines
“It’s unfortunate that we had a chance down in the red zone and we didn’t come out of there with anything,” UConn head coach Paul Pasqualoni said. “Anything there certainly would have helped us, no question about that. We just have to do a better job … we gave up a sack in the second half that hurt us and there were a couple of runs down there that I thought we had a chance to finish a little bit better but we didn’t. That could have helped us. I would just say … it’s the details, finishing things. The effort certainly was there. It’s just a matter of couple more first downs and finishing a couple more runs, getting the ball down in there and get a chance to score.”
BAD READ OR GOOD PLAY? — Early in the fourth quarter, still leading 21-14, Whitmer tied to make a big play with a seam pass to Geremy Davis. Falling back into coverage, Michigan linebacker Desmond Morgan jumped into the air and first deflected Whitmer’s pass before intercepting it and returning it down to the UConn 12. One play later, Michigan scored to tie the game.
Did Whitmer made a bad read? After watching the film, Pasqualoni thought otherwise.
“I think that the linebacker, really, really, really made a good play,” the coach said. “I mean a lot of times you can get that ball in there over the linebacker but this kid just went up and got it with one hand. Are you asking me did I wish he didn’t throw it? Yeah, it was intercepted, I wish he didn’t throw it but he (Whitmer) fit a couple of other nice tight ones in there over the course of the game, especially that last one (26 yards to Deshon Foxx on a fourth-and-29 play) where we almost got the first down on the last play. It’s a tight window there … tough decision.”
A GOOD IMPRESSION – UConn played host to several high-level high school recruits Saturday night at Rentschler Field that have the Huskies football program on their radar screens. Not only did they get a chance to experience the tailgate atmosphere in a special tent pre-game but they also watching UConn and No. 15 Michigan battle from the sidelines.
Watching the Huskies battle the Wolverines head-to-head and nearly pull off the upset, losing 24-21, the overall experience had to leave a lasting impression.
“It certainly was a very, very good night,” Pasqualoni said. “We had a lot of kids here and we had a great time with them in the tent before the game, had a great time with them on the sidelines and as disappointing as it was, they were all in the locker room after the game and we got a chance to talk to them and say ‘hi’ to them. I thought we got a lot out of it.”
And while Pasqualoni could only speak with the recruits for a few moments, he made sure to drive home the point of what it would mean to play at UConn.
“What I said to them was, ‘This is the kind of atmosphere, this is the kind of fan support, this is the kind of game-day conditions you’ll play in at the University of Connecticut,’ “ Pasqualoni said. “On our schedule, our conference will be a very tough conference and our non-conference opponents are going to be high level people just like what you saw tonight. “