Breaking Bread With T.J. – 11/26

Breaking Bread With T.J.

While we didn't actually break bread with him because of an early press conference (10 a.m.), UConn Huskies interim head coach T.J. Weist held his weekly press conference on Tuesday and he talked about a variety of different subjects.

In his opening statement, he talked about how Saturday's win was a great team victory. The team rallied well in the second half and that the second half was more indicative of the season.

He said the big turning point in the game was the Tim Willman fumble recovery at the end of the first half.

He stated that the second half was by far the best half of football they've played all season long. This was because all three phases of the game (offense, defense, special teams) clicked.

He said the message has been the same at halftime. They played sound fundamental football in the second half. Before heading out to the field, he said Yawin Smallwood got the defense together and redshirt freshman quarterback Casey Cochran got the offense together.

He said since he took over, they've come together at the 50 yard line at the start of the 4th quarter to refocus. He said didn't have to do any talking as the team captains were doing it for him without him asking.

He said it was very encouraging to see game won by veteran leadership.

Weist stated that they need to take the momentum from the win and bring it into the game against Rutgers on Saturday. The win is in the past, time to focus on the next battle ahead.

He said it was a big weight lifted off of their shoulders. The team has done a good job of staying together. He said it was a short-lived celebration, they got right back to work on Sunday.

The focus on defensive front was to finish and they took one play at a time. He said Smallwood's interception was him doing his job.

Weist said Cochran was timid in the first half. But he put his feet in the ground and got them to play together as one unit and made sounder decisions. He said Cochran needs to continue to prove himself.

He said Casey has done a great job from a leadership standpoint and that he still gives this team the best chance to win at the present time.

With all of the injuries, it's been the next man up and those players have been stepping up.

He hopes to get Jhavon Williams back this week. As of right now he's day to day with a concussion.

He said Tyree Clark had a good game playing in the nickel defense. He has confidence in all of the secondary. He has the trust in Clark that he will cover all of the receivers and be in the right place at the right time.

Weist said he made Lyle McCombs a captain. He's been a great leader and part of the group that's been motivating the team every day.

He said that finishing on a winning note will give them good momentum going into next year. The first focus is winning the final two games and rewarding the seniors. Winning out would help them with recruiting, give them momentum for next season.

He said the win against Temple was a testament to the things they've done all season long. He was not surprised that they came back in the second half.

He said it's always a disappointment when they lose and don't score points.

He said they looked at the second half as being 0-0 and starting over. He told the players they need to wake up and realize they can win. They had nothing at stake except their pride. He said why can't we come back and win and why can't we believe we can do this. He said players bought into it and that's when Cochran and Smallwood grabbed the two groups.

He said while watching film they broke down both halves and corrected mistakes first on Sunday.

He talked about Chas Dodd starting at QB for Rutgers now. He said it will be interesting how RU responds to him. He said fundamentally, there's not a lot of difference between Dodd and Gary Nova. He doesn't make a specific defensive game play for either QB. He said they will look at old film on Dodd. He has beaten UConn before.

He said E.J. Norris did a great job of in place of Sean McQuillan and Spencer Parker, who played but was limited with an injury.

He said the teams' toughness is getting better, their mental toughness that is. They are learning how to fight through adversity.

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