Deshon Foxx played catch for about an hour Sunday with UConn quarterback Tim Boyle.
Catching Boyle's passes, that was something Foxx did not do the day before. The Huskies' junior slotback dropped potential touchdown passes in each half of the Huskies' 13-10 loss to South Florida on Saturday at Rentschler Field.
"Still have to work, should have those catches," Foxx said. "You have to bounce back, know what you did wrong and work at it. I was back on the practice field, running the routes I'm supposed to run, catching the ball the way I'm supposed to catch it. I was on the field the next day working with Tim on the routes, timing and all that stuff."
Foxx wasn't the only one who dropped passes. Boyle, the freshman, starting his first game, was 15 of 43 for 149 yards. Some of his passes sailed on him, but he also had at least half a dozen passes dropped, including three that could have been TDs.
UConn interim coach T.J. Weist said Tuesday that the Huskies are going to work to find playmakers on offense. Foxx (11 catches, 171 yards this season), will have direct challenges to his starting position from freshmen Dhameer Bradley and Brian Lemelle, who injured his ribs early against the Bulls and might not be able to go full tilt for Saturday's game (noon, ESPNU) at Cincinnati. The Huskies, who are 0-5 at Nippert Stadium, are 0-5 this season and 0-1 in the American. Cincinnati is 4-2, 1-1.
"We're going to have very competitive practices," said Weist, who also coaches the receivers. "We're going to have some decisions, especially offensively, and we're going to compete and put our best players on the field for a game against Cincinnati. ... The emphasis for the team is to create a more competitive situation so that we can find out what guys can really, truly make plays in some of those critical situations."
Bradley made a key 16-yard grab on the Huskies' final drive in which they were gunning for a potential game-tying field goal.
"Well, I like competition," said Foxx, a junior and first-year starter. "Competition brings out the best in the athlete. Whoever is the best is going to play. Coach Weist wants the best 11 on the field. I'm going to keep working to make sure I'm one of them."
He doesn't have much choice.
"Deshon is a great kid, works hard, does everything I ask," Weist said. "But he knows he's got to make those plays. And that's what I have to do. I have to find, not just great players or guys who make plays, not just good kids, not just hard workers, you've got to find the combination of all three: players that are smart; players that work hard and players that make plays."
Christen's Kicking Woes
Chad Christen has made 6 of 10 field goals this season and has had field goals blocked in back-to-back games.
"This week was a tough situation," said Christen, who made a 32-yarder, missed a 49-yarder and had a 47-yarder blocked in the third quarter Saturday. "It was a combination of things. I was having a rough day with the whole footing situation, changing my cleats here and there. Not to make excuses, but he [South Florida's Mike McFarland] made a good play. He got up there. When you're hitting a 47-yard field goal with a little bit of wind at your face, you're going to have to hit it a little bit lower to get the distance you need, so the guy made a great play. They had a middle block and they made a great play."
Christen slipped on the 47-yarder that he missed in the first quarter. His four misses are all from 40-49 yards. He is 5 of 5 from 30-39 yards.
Phillips Still Recovering
Wide receiver Shakim Phillips is unsure if he can play Saturday.
"Every game I'm out it's killing me — every game," said Phillips, who hurt his hamstring in the second game of the season.
He was back on the field for six plays against the Bulls before a twinge in his left thigh forced him out. "We didn't want to push it," Phillips said.
A transfer from Boston College, he has caught 15 passes for 255 yards and three touchdowns, including his 75-yard catch and run for a touchdown in the waning moments of the 32-21 loss to Maryland that stands as the Huskies' biggest offensive play of season. That is also the play on which he injured the hamstring.
On The Road
The freshman quarterback is going on the road, but isn't concerned
"Oh, I'm excited," Boyle said. "I'm really excited. I'm not worried about the noise. I'm not worried about playing at Cincinnati's stadium. I'm excited to play football on another Saturday and earn the respect of my teammates."
Here's how Boyle assessed his first start after evaluating the film.
"Just the nerves of the game increased my adrenaline, so I think balls sailed on me and I was getting a little anxious out there," Boyle said. "But taking drops, slowing the game down, trying to see the defense, that all started to happen in the second half, and I settled in. But taking control of the offense, making sure there's no confusion out there, trying to get the right play in there, making sure everyone is on the same page — I need to have a better control of the offense and just be a better leader." ... UConn players will wear a No. 77 sticker on their helmets in honor of Ben Flick. The Cincinnati freshman was killed in a car accident last month.