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Q & A with the UCONN BLOG!

See what our friends on SB Nation's the UCONN BLOG have to say about Warde, their team, and predictions for the game this Saturday!

Hello Paul.  Welcome back to Upstate New York!
Hello Paul. Welcome back to Upstate New York!

Thank you to UCONN Blog for the question and answer seen below. I have included my responses that I sent as well.

1. What does the fan base think of how Warde has transitioned into UCONN and how has he executed the position so far?

I think the fan base has received Warde well, despite the lack of a desired invitation to the ACC. He lobbied hard with UConn president Susan Herbst to get in, but the other university presidents ultimately felt stronger about Louisville.  Otherwise, Warde has been a constant presence at games, and last season, he hired our new beloved men's basketball coach Kevin Ollie to a long-term extension. This is probably his most positively reviewed move to-date. From this view, he's done a very good job.

2. So what was everyone watching the game against Maryland thinking (or screaming) when you see Edsell on one side and Pasgualoni on your side of field?  Was the Pasqualoni a planned mediocrity?

Buffalo fans see Orange scores as well with closeness and did not understand this hire.  Can you explain this to me and how crazy when you beat Louisville last year but lose to Temple?

Most fans in the stadium that night booed Edsall, though there was a smattering of cheers. The focus before and after the Maryland game oddly enough lie more on the UConn sideline, as fans really hoped to avoid an 0-2 start with Michigan coming the following weekend.

Our previous athletic director made the hire, so you'd have to ask him. If I were to venture a multi-faceted guess, Pasqualoni's hire was a product of his many ties to Connecticut high school coaches for recruiting, NFL experience as a position coach and coordinator where he coached multiple Pro Bowlers  and his 14 years leading Syracuse that you referenced—when he actually reached 9 bowl games and endured only one losing season as a head coach.

3. Does the UCONN coaching staff not believe in offense?   D can only carry a team so far.  Team has talent but when does it reach its potential?

Like most teams, UConn should reach its potential around the middle or later portion of its season. Now this past January, the program hired new offensive coordinator T.J. Weist, who previously served as the wide receivers coach at Cincinnati. While higher levels of production have yet to come after three games against very athletic fronts, there are encouraging signs on the tape. Improvement will start with consistency along the offensive line.

4. What players to circle in the guide to watch that has a chance to play on Sunday’s?

Middle linebacker Yawin Smallwood will be a high draft pick next April, and defensive tackle Shamar Stephen could be a late selection as well. Other Huskies to watch are running back Lyle McCombs, receivers Geremy Davis and Shakim Phillips and cornerback Byron Jones.

5. What are the fans prediction for this game?

Given their previous success against the Bulls in the past and recent near-upset of Michigan, fans are very confident that the Huskies will pull out a win on Saturday.

And here are my answers to their questions.

1) Sooo this is awkward, we have your old Athletic Director. What were your guys' thoughts on Warde Manuel and his time at Buffalo?

Warde took a program that when it entered Div. 1 sports, it floundered in all areas.  Both on the field and the class room.  Warde immediately changed the culture that you will get an education while playing sports at UB.  Warde will really be known as the AD who hired Turner Gill and brought the only really positive time for UB football.  Let’s be honest, UB football has been the doormat for other football teams. Under Turner, we won the MAC division, beat a then rank #13 team at the MAC championship, and went to UB’s only bowl game (for the life of me I cannot remember what bowl game and what was the result?  Hmm let me think!)

Warde is in a very tough spot.  To take over a program that was run by the basketball program and the fans expect the team to still be great.  I am a football fan and UB has an AD who is a basketball person.  UB’s AD hired Bobby Hurley and that has made a splash but he seems to have focused more on repositioning UB as New York and basketball and letting the football team to its own island.

Give Warde time and he will build UCONN the correct way.  The fans at UB really appreciate the heavy lifting he did.  He will be missed in Buffalo

2) There are rumors swirling that with Pasqualoni on his way out and with Manuel's history with Turner Gill that Gill might be on his way to UConn. He was obviously the most successful coach you've ever had, but can you tell us a little bit more about the man, the coach, strengths, weaknesses, etc.?

I am very lucky to have the pleasure to meet Turner and have a relationship  with him and many of the coaches that are the sidelines at Liberty.  It makes sense for Warde to reach out to Turner.   Warde obtained the UCONN position for having a very quiet program as far as student activities with increase scores, national media pouring down on UB with Turner, and being a large character that people liked.  Now, we would have loved to see Warde do more for Buffalo but he had a brief stint.   I wanted to have Warde bring back hockey and lacrosse.  I wanted UB’s basketball team to do better.  That being said, the best run UB ever had was under Warde.  I thank Warde for his efforts and I sure hope that he lifts UCONN to another level.  Enough about Warde you traitor!

Turner, just my feelings, is at a good spot right now.  Turner is a very religious individual and being at Liberty I believe he feels at home.  Also, Liberty is working to move to the FBS level.  If Turner came to UCONN, you would receive a person who will genuinely connect with every player and get the most out of their talents.  A tireless worker who will not leave one stone unturned.  A coach who will bring a very skilled staff. Turner is a fierce competitor who will force the team to be competitive.   I believe that part of Turners problem at Kansas is he had to hire many ex-head coaches to appease the fans and media.  That clearly did not work and so does the Charlie Weiss debacle.  The failure at Kansas will be bantered by UCONN fans.

All the limelight did take away from the program and Turner had one foot out of the door his last year at UB.  Also, UB lost its senior year the best running back Amherst had ever seen.  James Starks missed his entire senior season.  Ask Green Bay fans today how they feel about Starks and injuries.  The Kansas experience grounded Turner and I really believe made him an even better coach.  UCONN and the community would be so lucky to have Turner as the head coach.  Also, when he walks into a recruits home in Florida or Texas and turns around the IPAD starts the highlight reel and says, "Oh yeah, that was me back in the day!’ certainly helps.

Pasqualoni looks like he should be adjusting my spine and not a head coach.  That being said, UB’s head coach looks and talks like a head coach and he can’t win either.

3) How has Buffalo looked this year overall, taking into consideration the wide disparities between the quality of Ohio State and Baylor vs. Stony Brook?

It has been a very rough beginning for UB and its fans.  It is hard for many to understand how the largest University in the State of New York system with the size and scope has to be the patsy for the "big time" teams and make sure the million dollar checks clear and the team returns beat and bruised.  Last year Buffalo played a good Georgia team tough and had them on the ropes.  We lost respectively to Georgia and the rest of the season was just fair.  Same this happened again this year, we looked respectable against Ohio State only to get beat down by Baylor.  Then to take a FCS Stony Brook into five overtimes to finally get our first win of the season.   Yes we do have a win.

This is to be the season that UB was going to shine because of the incredibly talented seniors on this team.  Many fans, including myself, expected a loss to Ohio State, possibly a W against Baylor, and then a big win over Stony Brook.  Actually, many people chalked up a W over UCONN this year.  Much of that changed looking at the results of your opponents and the way you  fought overrated Michigan.

4) What are Buffalo's biggest strengths and weaknesses?

The first strength is the play of the UB linebackers.  This also bleeds into the next question but keep an eye of Khalil Mack, number 46.  Projected to possibly be a first round pick.  He had a career day against Ohio State.  Google Mack interception Ohio State.  Watch the athleticism of first catching the pass and secondly running from the QB and WR and making an amazing play to get in the end zone.  That being said, Baylor did an amazing job of scheming to limit his effectiveness but Baylor is also a point producing machine this year.  He will wreak havoc in your backfield.   Buffalo was also to have a great running attack with Senior Bo Oliver.  Bo with a light season would have virtually owned every record in UB history.  Bo had a very tough game against Ohio State and maybe that was to be expected.  Hurt in the game against Baylor and did not play against Stony Brook.   UB is stating his is likely to play but I will believe it when I see it.  He did have two full weeks off.  The secondary was to shine but has been sub-par, to be kind.

5) Any impact players we should be keeping our eyes on?

Also keep an eye on WR #19 Alex Neutz.  He was unstoppable against Ohio State (their #1 DB was suspended but still going against #2 at the time talent) and was a few yards  short of the all-time UB of receiving yards in the first half against Baylor.  He was "rested" in the second half with the majority of starters.  Another player, DB #22 Najja Johson also coming into the season with a chance to play on Sundays next year.  He has struggled this year but UB fan’s are hoping that was more on the talent vs. the player.  A key matchup will be how Najja handles you top receiver.    Again, the best player on the field this Saturday will be #46 Mack.  Enjoy watching him.   Also, UB has 5 straight years of a new starter at QB.   That is not good.  QB is Joe Licata, a local Buffalo Boy who set state records in high school and came in late last year and won 3 of 4.   Decent game against Ohio State, decent game against Baylor, and really struggled against Stony Brook.  Looking for a breakout game for Licata.