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Charlie Strong Talks Bye Week, Previews UConn

Al Messerschmidt

Weekly press conference highlights (video available here):

--The bye week came at a great time for us because we had some guys banged up who were able to get some much-needed rest. It also gave the guys a chance to get out to some high school games, which they enjoy.

--Really likes the way the team has come together and developed as a football team. We lost a game we shouldn't have lost but we're still 7-1. Really like the way the running backs are coming along. Those guys have a great relationship and a great vibe together. Still trying to get the right side of the line solidified.

--Lamar Atkins has done a great job in his new position of fullback both blocking and catching the football.

--We have 15 sacks between Mauldin and Smith. Two years ago we had 15 sacks for the whole season, and we still have five games left this year.

--Even with Wallace kicking well, our special teams could be a lot better. Our coverage needs to be better and we need to get more out of our return game.

--The week off helped DeVante but he still needs some treatment to get ready for Friday. He'll be about 90-95% for the game. Kai DeLa Cruz did not practice yesterday but we're going to keep getting him treatment and hope that he can go on Friday.

--Marcus Smith isn't just running through open gaps to get to the quarterback, he's been beating guys 1-on-1. He's developed and gained a lot of confidence and he's been really fun to watch. If he gets to that next level then he's going to have to play outside linebacker.

--It's great for the offense to have multiple tight ends who can make plays because play action and boots are so important to our offense.

--UConn's record doesn't really show how good they could be. They have a great running back in McCombs and a guy on defense in Smallwood that we couldn't block at all last year. Anytime there's a coaching change and some turnover, guys lose their confidence and it's hard to stop the losing. I told our players that we can't look at their record, we have to worry about ourselves.

--Our guys understand how important every game is. We know we can't waste any opportunities.

--I've been telling our team that even since the loss to UCF that I still think they're the best team in college football. You have to believe that. There's still a lot of football to play. I've been telling our guys that everybody remembers the month of November.

--We're in the position we are because of what we did. It's our fault. Now we're sitting around hoping that someone can do something to help us out because we didn't get the job done. It's not a helpless feeling because there's still a lot of football to be played and we're focused on what we have to do. All you can do is handle your own business.