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JOE D’S NOTEBOOK 9/17/2013

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(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

MICHIGAN WEEK- TUESDAY: The top of the game notes says it all: 11 NATIONAL TITLES 42 BOWL GAME APPEARANCES 42 BIG TEN TITLES 134 YEARS OF MICHIGAN FOOTBALL. Yes, this is not just another home game for UConn. It’s the biggest in the history of The Rent. Michigan comes to town this Saturday night for an 8:12 nationally televised kickoff.

The Wolverines have found their way again under Brady Hoke after the forgettable Rich Rodriguez era. They are 3-0 and ranked 15th in the country despite late Saturdays close call at home against Akron. In Devin Gardner they have a red-shirt junior quarterback who is playing extremely well. I’ll get into Michigan later in the week.

But this post is about UConn and the opportunity the Huskies have. Sure, people are disappointed about the 0-2 start. But fans can’t think they are more invested than the players and coaches. Nobody wants to see this thing get turned around more than them. They haven’t been very good in the first two games. But that’s all it is , two games. Are the odds against them this week? Of course they are. But Saturday is why you play or coach college football. The chance to compete against the best. A legendary program,national TV, the spotlight shining brightly on little ole’ East Hartford.I think we will learn a lot about this team against Michigan. How hard they compete will tell us a lot about the direction for the rest of the season.

UConn won’t be at full strength for this game with Shakim Phillips,Kevin Friend and Graham Stewart all listed by Paul Pasqualoni as questionable. I have listed them in what I think is their order of importance. Phillips is the big play threat in the offense, when Friend hasn’t played, that side of the offensive line has struggled. And while Stewart is a starter, Jefferson Ashiru played pretty well in his stead against Maryland.We should know more about their status later in the week.

There is a lot that UConn has to do better on Saturday night than in the losses to Towson and Maryland.Offensively, they need to run the football.Pure and simple.If they are able to run, they won’t have to be so heavily reliant on the pass.Chandler Whitmer has to make good decisions with the ball. Throwing into double and triple coverage will lead to bad things for the Huskies. And UConn has to capitalize when and if the defense turns the ball over to them. They scored only three points of the three Maryland turnovers. That’s not enough.

A lot more to come later in the week. Our game coverage will begin at 6:30 on Saturday night.

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