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No quit in UConn football as it looks for turnaround

By Chuck Banning

Publication: The Day

Published October 16. 2012 4:00AM
Michael Dwyer/AP Photo
UConn cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson, right, breaks up a pass intended for Temple wide receiver Deon Miller during the fourth quarter Saturday at Rentschler Field. Temple won 17-14 in overtime, leaving UConn to regroup before Friday's matchup with Syracuse.
UConn players not counting themselves out

Storrs - Are the players frustrated?

Absolutely.

But if you think the UConn football team, only days removed from its gut-busting overtime loss to Temple, is feeling sorry for itself, think again.

"We had a couple of bad bounces," cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson said Monday as the Huskies began a short week of preparation for Friday's nationally-televised Big East game at Syracuse (8 p.m., ESPN). "But if we just count ourselves out now, what's that going to do for us? If people want to hear us say we're feeling sorry for ourselves, that we don't want to keep playing, they're completely wrong.

"We have a strong group of upperclassmen and our coaches are very positive. When we come in here there's a positive atmosphere. As people, after the game, we were hurting ? but we came in (Sunday), we watched the film, we critically analyzed it, and we're ready to go back to work."

The Huskies (3-4, 0-2) self-destructed late against the Owls, blowing an early 14-0 lead, allowing Temple to tie the game with only 19 seconds remaining and then losing the game in overtime after place-kicker Chad Christen missed his fourth field goal of the day.

But Wreh-Wilson, one of four senior captains, said UConn was already looking forward to turning things around against the Orange (2-4, 1-1) at the Carrier Dome, where the Huskies have won twice in the series, including 23-6 during their last visit in 2010.

"There's a lot of 'what ifs' with this season so far," he said. "We really need to do a good job of eliminating that. I don't know if it's necessarily with preparation or anything like that, I think on Saturdays we need to realize that a win is precious. It's not something you just get handed.

"You have to earn it for 60 minutes. The defense ? we played 59 minutes and 41 seconds (against Temple) and before you look, you see a guy in the end zone scoring a touchdown. For us, if we had just finished that situation, it could have been a win instead of a loss and we'd be sitting here 4-3, but when we sit back and look at it, this short week's going to be good for us because we get to get after it again."

UConn coach Paul Pasqualoni said he's confident his seniors will keep the entire team focused.

"They've been in the deep end of the pool," he said. "They've faced adversity. We're looking for them to be in the front of the line, practice with a great sense of urgency and with a great sense of motivation. It's all about performance during the week and it's all about performance on Saturdays, so we're looking for them to have the best performances of their career."

Wreh-Wilson was adamant that wouldn't be a problem, not only for this week but the rest of the season.

"Every day's got to be an energy day," he said. "You've got to have a lot of focus and just really embrace every opportunity you have. I know for us (seniors), when we sit back and think of some of these games so far, it bites us a little bit. But we still have five games to play so we can still make some things happen."

• Tailback Lyle McCombs, who missed the Temple game with a sprained right wrist, is expected to play against Syracuse, Pasqualoni said, but reserve fullback Mike Osiecki (concussion) is doubtful.

c.banning@theday.com

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