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UCF Notebook and Weist presser recap

What would you expect to hear from an 0-6 team? Bitterness? Helplessness? Negativity? How about honesty, analysis and an upbeat attitude? Interim coach T.J. Weist shared all of those and more while talking to the media today about the Huskies' winless half-season and upcoming game against no. 21 UCF.

Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

It's no secret UConn's season has essentially morphed into utter disaster.

New coach, new quarterback, same ole "L" posted in the box score.

The next two games are likely to be the Huskies' toughest tasks of the season, with games at UCF and home versus Louisville. So, how are the Huskies feeling about all of this?

Unhappy, no doubt. But while they prepare for Saturday's contest, the answer is actually rather upbeat and positive.

Weist on 0-6

"We feel like if we can do things right," Weist said. "We have the talent really to beat any team on our schedule."

Following the next two contests, the remaining slate for UConn consists of SMU, Temple, Rutgers and Memphis. Believe what you will about the talent level being able to pull out six wins, but there's no debating how the people inside the building feel.

"Our players are not down. Our players are excited. Our players are together...they know they are not an 0-6 team."

At the same time, the interim coach acknowledged that notching the first of those wins would be the toughest feat of the season.

"This is our biggest challenge of the year."

Talk from the trainers room

Graham Stewart (ankle) and Taylor Mack (shoulder) still appear to be a week or two away from playing.

Marquise Vann and Ryan Donohue will compete for an outside linebacker spot in practice leading up to this Saturday. Donohue suffered a concussion last week.

Freshman wide receiver Brian Lemelle is still not 100 percent with bad ribs, but will continue to play.

No update on suspension of running back Joe Williams.

Shakim Phillips built his confidence by returning to the gridiron last weekend, and Weist believes he'll play faster this weekend.

UConn is still evaluating the cardiac issue sidelining right guard Gus Cruz, who is described as week-to-week. It is highly unlikely he'll play.


UConn is amongst the worst teams of all the FBS in rushing the passer. The Huskies own five sacks through six games and only three of them belong to the defensive line. Given that start signal callers Blake Bortles and Teddy Bridgewater await the Huskies, Weist was asked about what defensive coordinator Hank Hughes has up his sleeve to solve the problem.

"We've talked about that...I think he's got a good plan...we've simply got to get more pressure."

Along the lines of his earlier sentiment, Weist declared he believes that there is enough talent along the front to generate more pressure. He cited Reuben Frank as an exception athlete and the fact that the coaches are working to get Frank into the game more often.

UCF first thoughts

The newly ranked Knights present a multitude of problems for their opponents, all of which were on full display last Friday when UCF upset then no. 8 Louisville on the road. The most impressive facet of the Knights' comeback you ask? According to Weist, it was quarterback Blake Bortles. The gunsliger's effective response to many high-pressure situations in that game drew Weist's praise specifically to his maturity. That kind of maturity and performance in critical situations is exactly what the new coach is looking from freshman Tim Boyle.

Weist stressed that the Huskies have to an excellent job of tackling UCF running back Storm Johnson, who he described as a big, NFL-type power back. Johnson has taken more than half of the Knights' hand-offs this season for 564 yards and eight touchdowns. He owns a 5.4 yards per carry average on the year.

On the other side of the ball, the UConn coach sees a very solid unit that he describes as difficult to gameplan for

"They're an exxecution defense... they're very well-coached," he said. "They disguise well. Don't take many chances blitzing...don't see players out of position."

Extra, extra

Weist revealed he's considered relying on UConn's offensive staff for help with the playcalling. He stated that he has to do better and wants the offense to be less predictable.

After spending more time with his defense over the last couple of weeks, he described back-up linebacker Jefferson Ashiru as one of the team's most consistent, dependable players.

After two shaky statistical performances in his first ever collegiate starts, Boyle still has the full confidence of the coaching staff and will remain the starter.