Notes & Quotes: Huskies prep for No. 13 Houston fresh off bye week

Houston quarterback Kyle Postma (3) celebrates with Chance Allen, center, and teammates after scoring a touchdown during the fourth quarter of an NCAA college football game against Memphis, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015, in Houston. (David J. Phillip/AP)

After three weeks of summer camp and 10 straight weeks of game play, the Huskies had their bye last week. It could not have come at a more perfect time, according to head coach Bob Diaco.

“It’s good to get back to game week,” Diaco said, “although it was a much-needed week for the players and the coaches and the rest of the staff that serves the team. That bye week came right at the right time. So we took that. We took our time. The players had a chance to recharge their batteries, mind, body and soul.”

Diaco even mentioned a few players by name who took advantage of the days off.

“I would say the players had a chance to just rest,” Diaco said the most important part of the bye week was. “I know that Bryant (Shirreffs) feels better than he’s felt in a long time, I know Arkeel (Newsome) feels better than he has in a long time, Junior Joseph, Andrew Adams. Those are four or five guys who have had real impact plays throughout the course of the year.

“And then I think everybody just had a chance to mentally rest a little bit and come back together with an energy and an excitement.”

Houston’s quarterback position

Last week against the Memphis Tigers, Houston came back from a 20-point first-half deficit to win and in the process stay undefeated.

Greg Ward Jr., the starting quarterback for the Cougars, left the game just before half time due to an ankle injury and did not return. Sophomore Kyle Postma came into the game and led the Cougars to their 10th victory of the season.

Ward Jr. participated in practice on Sunday, according to the Houston Chronicle.

“It’s the same offense,” Diaco said of both quarterbacks seeing time on Saturday. “It really is. I don’t see the offense changing at all. I think that coach’s offense is what he does and it isn’t going to look much different. It might feature a play here or there more than another one but the offense really didn’t change and it doesn’t change. Technically the approach is no different. And I expect to see Ward.”

One win from bowl eligibility

With one more win this season, the Huskies will become bowl eligible for the first time since going to the Fiesta Bowl in the 2010-11 season.

After head coach Randy Edsall left the program after that season, the Huskies have been in rebuilding mode and this is their first chance since then to make it back to a bowl game.

“It’s on everyone’s mind so to not address it a bit you’re avoiding the elephant in the room,” Diaco said. “We haven’t spent a lot of time talking about it. You mention a few things and you don’t need to pile on."

To add to the motivation of winning on Saturday, it will also be Senior Day for the Huskies. UConn will honor 16 student-athletes during a pregame ceremony.

“I mean it’s a big deal for that reason,” Diaco said. “It’s a big deal because it’s Senior Day. It’s a big deal because there’s bunch of seniors that have poured so much into their experience here to work to change the circumstances and just be ultra-coachable. That feeling for me, for them is what I’m drawn to and I think the rest of their brothers are drawn to the same cause.”


Matt Zampini is sports editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at matthew.zampini@uconn.edu. He tweets  @Matt_Zamp.