PRESS CONFERENCE NEWS & NOTES: Bryant Shirreffs, Chris Britton, Defending BC’s Offense & More

The offensive style that UConn will face at Fenway Park on Saturday is not the finesse, spread out the field, pass-happy offense that has given the defense fits for the majority of the season. Boston College likes to run and they will do it a lot, specifically with New London native AJ Dillon, who is averaging 176.5 yards per game over the last four outings. Those games came against some fairly substantial and talented team defenses, including Florida State, Louisville and NC State.

“They still spread the field out, but they aren’t a team that throws it 50-times a game,” Edsall confirmed on Tuesday morning during his weekly press conference. “Steve [Addazio] would rather run it 80-times a game. We will be playing an opponent that is a very physical football team that likes to run the ball and uses a lot of play action.”

Rain is in the forecast for Saturday, so a wet field with new grass laid down in certain areas of the baseball diamond, could make for a messy surface. Edsall is clearly impressed with Dillon based on the film he’s seen.

“He’s strong, powerful and physical,” he said. “He had 36-carries last week, so he’s durable. You can’t tackle him high, you do that, you’ll get taken for a ride.”

The Huskies, specifically up front, will need to continue to tackle well, something that was much improved during this past week’s game against UCF.

“It didn’t seem to show up as much,” Edsall said after having a chance to review the film. “It’s a mindset, it’s guys running to the football. One of the things I was concerned about [last week] was RB Adrian Killins last week, with his speed. He never got loose. The other guy [Otis Anderson] got loose and that was because we didn’t have a guy coming hard enough on the blitz and another guy in the hole that missed the tackle. We’re going to have to tackle well this week. It’s well documented, Boston College always has a big offensive line. I told the team this will be the most physical test of the year. We’re going to have to step it up on both sides of the ball big time.”

SUBSTITUTION PATTERNS WILL BE AFFECTED

On Saturday, both teams will be on the same sideline due to how the field is laid out at Fenway. It’s an unusual circumstance, but one that the Huskies will practice with during the week.

“You can’t go past the 45-yard line, but we’ll still do the things we do,” Edsall said. “The [officials] will need to give you time if the other team substitutes, so you need time to run your guys on. Guys can go up the end zone and back up the sidelines. It’s just something that you need to adjust to, and if they aren’t subbing, you’ll have a hard time subbing.”

Edsall mentioned that it will be an ACC crew doing the game, as it is a UConn home game. That means reviews will be handled by the American.

“I don’t ever talk to the officials,” he said. “I’ve given that up after the last few weeks, it doesn’t do any good. There’s no sense. I’ll just leave it at that.”

WILL YOUTH SEE MORE TIME?

“I’m going to play the guys that I think give us the best opportunity to win,” he said. “If that happens to be a younger guy, then we’ll do that. We’re pretty much tapped out in how many young guys we can play anyhow. In terms of the roster, there’s really nothing there to add.”

SHIRREFFS CAREER COMES TO AN END

Head coach Randy Edsall stopped midway through his press conference this morning to announce that QB Bryant Shirreffs would be done for the season.

“He won’t be playing the rest of the year, he still has [concussion] symptoms,” Edsall said. “He came in and told me he thinks it’s in his best interest. He hasn’t been cleared, still has the concussion and he said basically he was going to be done and whatever he can do to help the team, that’s what he’s going to do. I told him I really appreciate everything he’s done this year, how competitive he is and how much he tried to do everything he could to help the team win. He’s tough, did the things he had to do and the way he handled the situation was outstanding in terms of being ready to go in that first game and coming through. He’s at peace with himself and is appreciative and glad that he came back. I’m glad he did because to me, he had a good year. He went out and did a lot of good things to help the team win.”

“We talked about that this morning when he came in,” Edsall said. “Everybody’s career is going to end at some point in time and when it does, the one thing you want to be able to do is walk away healthy and he’s going to be able to do that. I know he’s at peace with himself from the standpoint that he did everything he could to be the best teammate and player that he could be. That’s the thing that’s important because football ends, but now you need to go on with life. He’s going to be well-equipped to do that and be successful. It’s hard. You play a game since you were really young, but for him, he’s at peace with himself and he understands that this is something that he really didn’t have any control over. It’s the nature of the sport and he’s at peace with himself. He appreciates what the game of football has done for him as a person and how the game and the sport has helped him grow and develop as a young man. Where that will lead him, now being a father and down the road.”

I’ll have much more on Shirreffs and the impact his career has had on UConn football in the coming days.

IMPORTANCE OF MATCHUP WITH BOSTON COLLEGE FOR FOOTBALL IN THE NORTHEAST & NEW ENGLAND

During Edsalls first stint at UConn, it was well-chronicled how he wanted to start a yearly trophy game with Boston College. While we aren’t at that point yet, he knows how important this game is for football in the region.

“We have a chance to play Boston College who have had a really good history in football at the highest level,” Edsall said. “We’ve only recently been introduced to this level however many years ago it was. It’s a chance for us to compete against them and hopefully get a win. It’s good just being here in the northeast and in neighboring states that we get an opportunity to play them. We need to take advantage of that opportunity and see what happens.”

He does still want to see BC on the schedule each season, something he made a point to mention this week.

“I’d have no problem playing Boston College on a yearly basis,” Edsall said. “But I’m not a guy that makes those decisions.”

SANTANA STERLING WILL START IN CHRIS BRITTON’S ABSENCE

Another injury plagues the UConn linebacking corps, as Chris Britton suffered a concussion in Orlando. His loss was immediately felt even a week ago as the very first play after Eddie Hahn took his place, Otis Anderson hit the hole and scampered 65-yards for a touchdown that made it 35-17 early in the fourth quarter. JUCO-transfer Santana Sterling will get the start and Edall shared what he likes about his game.

“[He’s a] smart guy, understands how people are going to attack you,” he said. “He has a nose for the ball and is usually where he’s supposed to be.”

MATT SCHONVISKY / SITE CREATOR

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3 years ago
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