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October 21, 2008
Teggart to handle kicking duties Saturday
STORRS, Conn. - Dave Teggart doesn't fully understand the handshake celebration that kicker Tony Ciaravino and Desi Cullen have after each time Ciaravino makes a field goal.
"I'm not as advanced," Teggart said. "I'm going to have to see what happens when I get in there."
He better start working on it. Teggart, a redshirt freshman, was named the starting kicker by head coach Randy Edsall on Tuesday, three days after Ciaravino missed three of four attempts, including the potential game-winner with 1:07 left, in a 12-10 loss to Rutgers.
Ciaravino, a senior, hasn't necessarily struggled with his kicks this season. After setting a school record with 22 field goals in 2007, he entered the weekend having made eight of his 11 attempts, with all three misses coming in bad weather at Temple on Sept. 6.
Though he made his first field goal attempt Saturday, a 19-yarder with the wind at his back, the next three went into the wind and two went off the uprights.
"It was a horrible day," Ciaravino said. "It couldn't have gotten much worse than that - maybe if I missed the first field goal before - but it couldn't get much worse than that."
UConn has had a spotty history with kickers since the transition to Division I Bowl Subdivision play. Matt Nuzie, who was named a semifinalist for the Lou Groza Award, given to the nation's top kicker in 2004, struggled for long periods of time with his accuracy and his distance.
Benched as a senior in 2006, Nuzie was eventually replaced by Ciaravino, who went on to his record-setting 2007 season. Now, Ciaravino faces the prospect of finishing his UConn career on the bench after Edsall met with special teams coach Lyndon Johnson this weekend.
"I've told Tony that he's got to take this the right way and know that if David doesn't do his job the right way, his opportunity would come again," Edsall said.
Teggart, a former youth soccer player, once made a 48-yard attempt in high school. He said he feels comfortable from a distance of approximately 55 yards - a good thing, given that the Huskies were 1-for-5 from longer than 40 yards this season.
With Edsall maintaining that there is little difference in Ciaravino and Teggart's abilities, he expects little drop-off in performance - as does Teggart.
"When my number's called, I'm just going to do what I've been doing - just make some kicks," Teggart said.
Clearing up misconceptions
Edsall began Tuesday's press conference by clarifying that the choice to restrict the quarterbacks from speaking to reporters was not "a conspiracy."
Rather, he explained that Zach Frazer, whom sources have confirmed did suffer a concussion late in Saturday's loss to Rutgers, has a class schedule that would not permit him to attend the press conference each week.
"What you have to understand is this: his first obligation here at the University of Connecticut is being a student," Edsall said.
When asked via e-mail Monday for the reasoning why Frazer and the other quarterbacks were not available, UConn sports information director Mike Enright simply said it was the coach's decision.
It is Edsall's policy to prevent reporters from speaking to true freshmen who have not yet played in a game.
No further updates were provided on Frazer's availability for Saturday's game. Frazer did not practice on Sunday, and Edsall was not expected to meet with doctors until late Tuesday to discuss options.
If Frazer cannot play, redshirt freshman Cody Endres would be making his first career start. Endres completed 4-of-5 passes against Hofstra for 49 yards in the first game of the season.
Improvement up front?
UConn's offensive line was dominated in the trenches by Cincinnati last season, leading to the Huskies' 27-3 loss to the Bearcats. That game had a strong impact on Edsall's call for more aggression and physicality up front - something he achieved by adjusting his personnel in the spring. UConn will get that test again this weekend against an identical Cincinnati defensive line. Running back Donald Brown, who gained 100 yards in the first half against Rutgers but finished with just 106 on the afternoon, was still distraught about that game on Tuesday. "I'm still pretty bitter about the game, just losing a game that I know we should have won," he said. The last time the Huskies played three consecutive road games was in 2000, when they traveled to Louisville on Sept. 30, Boston College on Oct. 7 and Akron on Oct. 21. A total of 35 days passed between home games; UConn's recently-completed home drought spanned 36 days.