By PAT EATON-ROBB. Associated Press
STORRS, Conn. (AP) _ Connecticut and West Virginia were expected to be two of the teams battling this season for a Big East championship.
But the Huskies (3-4, 0-2) have yet to win a conference game and the Mountaineers, (5-2, 1-1) are coming off a 19-14 loss at home to Syracuse that dropped them out of the Top 25. Both teams are looking to Friday’s matchup in East Hartford as a chance to regain momentum.
“I can’t wait to get back on the saddle,” Mountaineers coach Bill Stewart said. “I want to play, and I want to make amends. We want to get back to Mountaineer winning.”
West Virginia is 6-0 against Connecticut, winning 28-24 last year in a back-and-fourth game in Morgantown.
But Husky linebacker Scott Lutrus said that just gives his team added incentive.
“We want to win every game, but West Virginia’s one we’ve never won before,” he said. “It’s a huge game for us.”
The Huskies, who are 3-0 at home, are trying to bounce back from consecutive conference losses at Rutgers and Louisville. That was a 26-0 beating in which the team managed just 195 yards in net offense.
Connecticut saw its revolving door at quarterback take another spin this week, after a head injury sidelined redshirt freshman Mike Box. Box had taken the job last week after junior Cody Endres was kicked off the team for drug use. Endres had taken over for an ineffective Zach Frazer midway through the Huskies fourth game. Now Frazer, a senior transfer from Notre Dame with 13 career starts, gets the ball back.
“Zach’s been around,” Edsall said Wednesday on his weekly radio show. “He’ll go out and perform and go out and do all the things that we need to do to help us get a win.”
A lot of that might involve turning around and handing the ball to junior running back Jordan Todman, who is averaging 140 yards a game on the ground, and six yards per carry.
But if West Virginia really wanted to know what UConn was working on this week, all the Mountaineers had to do was go to the Internet. Edsall said a student living in a dorm that overlooks the
Huskies’ practice field posted a blow-by-blow description of Tuesday’s practice on a message board. He’s now thinking of moving all practices inside.
West Virginia is hoping to have its offense back at full strength this week. The Mountaineers’ running game has dropped off since tailback Noel Devine injured a toe on Sept. 25 against LSU.
“He’s not 100 percent, but he’s very, very close,” Stewart said. “He’s been uncharacteristically tackled in the open field, and I emphasize uncharacteristically. He’s such a shifty little guy and he’s had trouble pivoting.”
A win would keep West Virginia very much alive in the hunt for a Big East championship. Lose, and it will be much more difficult.
“It puts pressure on you and you need to step up, bottom line,” West Virginia junior left tackle Don Barclay said. “We’re
coming into the second half of our season and this is where you see
teams go one way or another. If we’re going to do that, we need to
buy in and give a lot of effort. You either go one way or
AP Sports Writer John Raby contributed to this report from
Morgantown, West Virginia
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