Breaking Bread With T.J. – 10/22

Breaking Bread With T.J.

UConn Huskies interim head coach T.J. Weist held his third weekly press conference on Tuesday and he talked about a variety of different subjects.

In his opening statement, Weist talked about how the next two games (UCF and Louisville) are the biggest challenge of the year and for the program. He also spoke about having to motivate the players better.

He also talked about the team having great energy and great enthusiasm in practice. He said they know they're not an 0-6 team.

He said he needs to be positive with the players but also brutally honest. They are still spending the same amount of time motivating the players. The players know the direction they're going in and can't accept losing. The minute they do that, it'll happen again.

Defensively, they need to try and get more pressure on the quarterback. He thinks DC Hank Hughes has great plan to do this in finding the best ways to get to the QB.

They will again use different combinations on the line and use Reuben Franks in different spots. The talent is there on the line but they need to finish and get pressure on the QB.

He stated that Tim Boyle was better in some areas. This time around there was more pressure on him and the crowd noise affected him. Cincinnati kept bringing pressure early and that Boyle is learning the speed of the game.

He didn't handle that pressure as well as he could have. A few of the eight sacks were on Boyle for holding the ball too long. He needs to learn from the pressure and that he has to move in the pocket when there is pressure.

He is still committed to Boyle as the QB. He is no longer a freshman, he is part of the team and will be held responsible for his actions like other players. If he were a senior, he'd be treated the same way he is now.

Weist stated the UCF QB has the football maturity, something that Boyle needs to improve on. The UCF QB had that edge in bringing them back against Louisville.

Every game has different challenges and UCF RB Storm Johnson is one of them. The defensive front needs to put pressure on the QB in passing downs and help slow or stop Johnson. Johnson is a strong back that can get up field fast. He's got good strength and good field vision.

UCF is a well coached football team. They disguise their defensive sets well. They execute them very well and don't take many chances.

Marquise Vann has stepped up and been consistent but there's still a competition between him and Ryan Donohue.

When you're 0-6, it's a competition every day at every position.

Lyle McCombs has stepped up as a punt returner. You don't have to worry about him being hit. And with Brian Lemelle's ribs not 100%, there's concern hence the switch to McCombs at PR.

Tyler Bullock was rusty in return. Had he not been suspended, would have likely started in the absence of Gus Cruz.

Weist said there is still no update on the status of Joe Williams who was suspended earlier in the season.

Jefferson Ashiru has been very dependable in absence of Graham Stewart. He gets to the football and makes plays.

As far as recruits, they talk to them about getting a degree from UConn, playing here and playing in the NFL. They are looking for players with great character and talent.

There's a plan in place to have someone call the plays. Shane Day, Mike Foley and Kermit Buggs will help out. He didn't state who exactly will do it.

Shakim Phillips is getting back to full speed. He got the confidence in his hamstring after being able to play at Cincinnati.

Gus Cruz is out this week and is still having his cardiovascular symptoms evaluated and is undergoing tests. Trust me when I say they aren't fun.

Graham Stewart is still questionable. He got worse running around.

Taylor Mack is questionable. He needs to get out there and get hit.

Noel Thomas is improving each week. He is very talented player. He was inconsistent early on but his play on special teams gave the Weist the confidence in him again.

Chad Christen is 0-for-5 from 40+ yards this season. He's okay. There's more pressure on him. Weist did say that maybe he needs to punt on some of them and play the field position game.

The staff is focused and understands the situation they are in. They are working together to try and get the win. Weist is keeping them involved in all the decisions. They need to continue to coach them with energy and be positive. These coaches are fighting for their careers. They're lives are in the hands of 18-23 year olds. This is the 8th school for Weist and it's hard on all of their families and kids.

The coaches all want to be here.

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