The final fourth of UConn's 2013 season is fortunately scheduled to take place entirely at home, sweet home—once the Huskies make their final trip of the season this weekend.
On Saturday, UConn will travel down to Philadelphia to tangle with Temple (1-9), who has kept the Huskies company in the basement of the AAC so far this season. Last week, the Owls nearly knocked off no. 18 UCF at home, 39-36, behind dynamic quarterback P.J. Walker.
However, the biggest storyline in UConn country will be the continued development of another signal caller, redshirt freshman Casey Cochran.
In the Huskies' 38-21 loss at SMU last weekend, Cochran completed 25 of 42 passes for 227 yards, two touchdowns and a pair of costly interceptions. His opening performance impressed interim coach Weist enough to earn him yet another start under center against the Owls. Weist lauded the youngster's leadership and grit repeatedly over his weekly press conference.
"We saw many qualities in Casey from a leadership standpoint," Weist said. "Specifically, in terms of leading an offense ... the way a quarterback should."
The coach also listed on-field decision making and timing of throws as qualities of Cochran's with which he was impressed.
Cochran is a small part of an underclassman group that the UConn headman has dubbed as having a "losing mentality". He stressed that the younger Huskies are motivated and fired up during the week of preparation, but are then easily let down on game day after poor plays.
"You can see it. You can feel it."
While this would seem to point to poor leadership on the field, Weist shared that linebacker Yawin Smallwood would be on a captain on any football team due to his ability to lead and command attention. He spoke for nearly a minute about his redshirt junior linebacker, who could depart the program after this season via the NFL Draft.
Weist praised the eldest statesmen on his team for their hard work and dedication to the program during these tough times that have yet to produce a win through nine games. He told the media that they have been pushing the hardest because they have the most left at stake—the little that remains of each their respective final collegiate seasons.
“Those are the guys that are most invested,” Weist said. “Those are the guys that everyone’s playing for. We’re playing for our seniors and we’re playing for our pride as football players. We’re playing for UConn. These seniors have worked hard their whole careers, four or five years and they deserve it."
The 13 seniors currently on scholarship, who will play their final game in a Husky uniform on Dec. 7 against Memphis, are C Tyler Bullock, OT Jimmy Bennett, OG Steve Greene, CB Taylor Mack, LB Ryan Donahue, DE Jesse Joseph, DT Shamar Stephen, DE Tim Willman, K Chad Christen, P Cole Wagner, RB Martin Hyppolite, OT Kevin Friend and TE Spencer Parker.
Talk from the trainer's room
Cornerback David Stephenson is scheduled to undergo knee surgery this Friday and will miss the remainder of the season.
Safety Ty-Meer Brown appears highly doubtful to play against Temple. He did not practice last week prior to the Huskies' game at SMU and has yet to take the field since.
After suffering injuries against SMU, linebacker Marquise Vann (knee) and right tackle Kevin Friend (concussion) are questionable.
Temple allowed 674 yards of total offense to UCF last Saturday, before falling on a last-second field goal, 39-36. The Knights bludgeoned UConn 62-17 nearly one month ago, but only marched their way to 527 yards by game's end.
Weist said he can tell Temple is a team that is coming together because of the way it performed against a rugged UCF defense, which he called the toughest the Huskies have faced all year.