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JOE D’S NOTEBOOK

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(Photo Credit:  Jenneen Lee/WTIC Photo)

(Photo Credit: Jenneen Lee/WTIC Photo)

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 3: Is it a good thing or a bad thing that UConn had a bye week after their opening night loss to Towson. I said on the broadcast last Thursday that I thought it was better to get right back on the horse. Others disagreed, saying it was a good time to repair what was broken against the Tigers. And make no excuses, there was a lot that appeared to be broken. So in the midst of the first of three bye weeks this season, it’s a chance to dissect the defense, starting with the front four.

The losses of Trevardo Williams and Ryan Wirth were every bit as important as the loss of two linebackers and two corner backs. Williams left as the all time sack leader in UConn history, a force that opposing coaches had to game plan for. Wirth was the epitome of a 5th year senior who got better every year and bides his time until he got his chance. And Ryan made the absolute most of that opportunity.

It was nice to see #91 back on the field in the opener. Jesse Joseph tore his Achilles in the Maryland win and missed the last nine games of the 2012 season. As much as his physical skills were missed, his presence was missed even more.”Uncle Jesse” as some of his teammates call him because of his age. has been a four year starter. Joseph was nicked up during training camp and the coaches and trainers kept a watchful eye on him. It’s imperative that Joseph returns to the form of his first three years.

Tim Willman was one of the biggest surprises last season and in spring football. He has great speed for a defensive end and can drop back into pass coverage/ Willman works hard,and his continued development is critical this season.

Julian Campenni has been earning Paul Pasqualoni’s praise since camp opener. Julian showed up in tremendous shape and I think he has been the best defensive linesman since August.The 300 pounder from suburban Pittsburgh started the first two games a year ago and now is a fixture in the middle of the line. Campenni has the potential to be as good as any D-linesman in UConn history if he keeps improving.

It’s hard for me to believe it’s Shamar Stepehn’s final year. He started out injured last season and I don’t think he was even fully healthy. He made only 25 tackles, 10 for loss. The tri-captain has to be better this season.

I think the depth this year is the best it has been up front in a long, long time. Angelo Pruitt started the opener at defensive end with Willman. Angelo also had a good camp to build on what was a good spring. Converted fullback Reuben Frank has fit right in as a defensive end, which he played in high school. His quick feet and aggressive nature will fit in. Mikael Myers was able to red shirt last season and gain experience in practice. Myers had rave reviews coming out of high school and he is a big, big man. B.J.McBryde on the inside and E.J.Norris on the outside both played last season so Hank Hughes front four has 10 people who can contribute. They did not play well against Towson, getting beaten to the punch for 201 yards on the ground. It’s not all on the d-line, but they have to play better

Monday night is our first edition of the Paul Pasqualoni show and we are taking it out of the Burton Family Football Complex. The show will be held every Monday of a game week from 6:05 to 7 at Wood-N-Tap on Hartford Turnpike in Vernon.We will have 4 packs of tickets to give away for the Maryland game and other prizes so plan to join us.

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