A little to add

Haven't confirmed the report that Josue Paul is out until October, I will tomorrow when I'm there all day for various things. Hopefully I'll get more details as well.
One thing we have discovered. Josue doesn't have any court dates or convictions, so that doesn't appear to be the issue.
More important is what this does to the receiving corps. Richie Martin has broken out a bit, but they'll need someone like Rafal Garcarz to step up immediately now.

One man short

Just got this nugget, and let me anticipate the questions I'm going to get by telling you that, for right now, what I'm about to say is literally all I know:

WR Josue Paul has been suspended for what I've been told was a "violation of team and athletic department rules."

Only other thing I can add is, from what I've been able to gather so far, I wouldn't expect it to be a week-long absence. Could be awhile.

Football follies

First off, sorry to be getting to this so late at night (it's 2 a.m. as I type), but I got pressed into duty at the paper and didn't get to think about the scrimmage.
Or was it because I don't want to? The sooner that gets erased from my memory banks the better. It was icky. Now in the team's defense, some 20 players were out (I believe it was 13 to the sickness going through the team and seven due to injury), but there wasn't much to be excited about, either.
I will say that the lines look good. The front seven is apparently further along than I thought it would be with all the changeover, and the O-Line isn't far off.
The quarterback situation being settled wasn't a surprise. Gunnar, barring injury, was set to take the first snap at UNH some time ago, it's just formal now. Though again, remember that Mac saying he's not going to shift QBs as much is like me saying I'm going to skip having that piece of cake on the table. He believes it at the time, but just can't do it.
To his credit though, he has mentioned the Jones will see some time during games. I think it's more during certain plays than splitting time, but who knows?
I'll post more things throughout the weekend as I get time, but for now I'll give you a general overview of what I think so far.

The good: CCSU showed some depth, and young depth. That means, while this year could be dicey if things don't break right, next year is shaping up quite nicely. But again, I haven't figured this team out yet, don't ask me about 2011.
(except for the question I got today about next year's schedule. I know I have it here somewhere, let me get back to you on that).
The lines might not be the problem areas I thought they'd be. But I'd like to see some more before I say that for sure.
There were some potential breakout types. Garcarz is going to be a star someday. White looked like he wants to be a factor at some point at QB, and some D-Linemen look ready to step up.

The bad: Please, before I get 19 nasty e-mails and we end up having a big debate (I'm not ready for those in August), let me be clear and say I'm not at all saying Gunnar is a bust of any kind. The coaches believe he will be fine, and I have no reason to doubt them. Also, did I mention it's August? But in his dress rehearsal he wasn't great. Though to be fair, he avoided turnovers. If he just avoids mistakes and Fowler and Co. are the backs we expect them to be, isn't Central's offense automatically no worse than it was a year ago?
Anthony made a really nice catch at one point and looked comfortable at TE. Will they use him much? Not sure. But I don't think that will be because they think he'll hurt the team.
All I can think of now as we get past 3 a.m. I have plenty of quotes and notes to get through, so I'll have more coming.
Keep the questions coming to mstraubblog@hotmail.com.

A couple of scrimmage thoughts

I'll have lots more in the next couple days, but I'll just let some initial thoughts fly here.

There's clearly work to be done. Fumbles, drops, ugh. It's been ugly at times.

Jake White has looked really good, though I don't expect Gunnar to be challenged yet.
Jones is out sick, so we haven't seen him yet.

Fowler is out as well, but other backs have looked strong. Newington's Nate Pagan has several nice runs. Some of the freshmen have looked like, well, freshmen.

The receivers have been hit and miss, lots of drops. I was going to mention one kid in particular who has three drops (two real drops and one he could have caught but was tougher), but he's not wearing the correct number, so I have to find out who he is after.

Overall, I'm sure Mac will say it "looked like football," but it hasn't been championship football. Of course, it's Aug. 25.

Check back here Thursday and beyond

Ok, so here's the deal.
The day I had scheduled to go and get a ton of interviews and thoughts on football, practice got cancelled. I'm hitting the scrimmage tommorow, talking to everyone I can, and we'll go from there.
Also, big women's soccer in the paper Thursday.
I expect some people to stay around after the scrimmage to see one of the best women's soccer teams in New England.

Anyway, here's a response to a question I got (email me at mstraubblog@hotmail.com) which details my summer and my plans for next week.

The question was why I haven't been arguing with the "boarders" much of late.

A:To be honest I haven't been checking the board too much during the summer, which is the time of year I have to do the most non-CCSU related stuff.
I'm going to the scrimmage Thursday, after which I will talk to as many people as I can and try and get some good stuff for ya.
I promise now that the season is going I will start responding to more things.

I was asked if I had some "insightful speculation" for you guys.

A: Do I think Mac will open it up more? no. He says he will every year, and I'll believe it when I see it.
I don't know how insightful I am, but I'll have lots of speculation for you by Friday I promise!

Last question of the day was about the "Comeback kids" mentality from a year ago.

A: As for the Comeback kids... remember one thing: They weren't TRYING to let the other team get ahead!

Now we're rolling

It's August and I'm starting to get football questions. Thanks for checking in Big Blue.

Let me give you a couple of thoughts on your questions. First off, I'm going to practice next week and will talk to as many people as I can. I'm going to start by trying to get a story with or about coach Stowers. But remember, he's very familiar with Mac and vice versa, and coaches tend not to hire people who disagree with their philosophy that often.

I'll say this for now: I think you pretty much answered your own questions. You're always going to see a run-first team with Mac here. Run and defense first. The option talk, as I said the other day, means you'll see some Denzell I think right away. Especially in option/wildcat type things. But again, I'll have a much better sense of this in the weeks to come.

As to your TE question. Again, for now this is just my opinion... (ducks head preparing for Hud to throw things at him)... I don't see the TE being a big part of the offense this year. To say CCSU is young at that spot is an understatement. And, well, let's just say the TE is not usually a key to Mac's offense.

That isn't to say it shouldn't be or that it won't. As I said, it's a little early for these kinds of answers. One of the main goals this early in camp, especially with a young team, is to figure out what you have. Julbes might turn out to be the next Antonio Gates, we'll have to wait and see. And I've been wrong before.
But no, I don't expect this to be a big TE year.

I think you hit it on the head, Gunnar and Denzell are the two most likely to see time at QB this year. Again, barring injury, I'm 99 percent sure Gunnar will start and Denzell will see spot situational duty in year one. As to comparing their styles... I think what Mac said about how he'll use each is self-explanatory. But I'll have a better opinion after I see Denzell in person. I've seen him play basketball, but never football.

I will pass along my note from the winter though. When I mentioned that Denzell was coming to CCSU, two of my colleagues who have seen him play in high school both said it was a great get for Central. We'll see.

Anyway, all I have for now. Thanks for reading this as always. Two ways to get a hold of me... well, there are more, but you can't have my cell phone number. Sorry, bad training camp humor.
Email me at mstraubblog@hotmail.com or leave comments here. I haven't had lots of time to check the message boards of late, so it's better to contact me directly than leave stuff for me there. But I'll hit those when I can as well.

For now, back to work and my cherry Pepsi.

Camp notes

Ok, as promised, a few things to munch on as camp begins in earnest today.

Talked with Mac the other day... if I get a chance tomorrow I'll add his quotes, but I'm home today. Still, wanted to give you some things to watch for.

First off, the detail everyone is the most interested in: Gunnar is the QB heading into camp. Mac did say Denzell will contribute. I think you'll end up with him doing short-yardage/wildcat type things to start, and could eventually work his way into the now traditional QB platoon. His development will be interesting to watch.
Mac wants to name a starter fairly early in camp, before the transition from instillation (which he says is moving quickly) to preparation for the opener takes place in a couple weeks.

Mac told me he loves the O-Line. Only the center spot appears open, though as usual, every spot will be competed for in camp he said. With Fowler back and the line in good shape, this team should be able to run the ball well.

To me, the two biggest areas to watch are the WR's and the D-Line. There are some names there, but I think there's some gelling that has to get done on both units.

We'll get a better look in the next few weeks, but I think the secondary could be a strength. If so, and CCSU can pound it on offense and force the opposition to go to the ground as well, the Devils could be in a lot of games. Low scoring ones. If that happens, it could come down to something as basic as offensive execution down the stretch.

Camp stuff ahead

Hey guys, I didn't forget about you. Due to space issues and time issues, we didn't get to run the football preview. But I'm going to put the thoughts I have from the preview here Tuesday, which still works because it's the first full day really.
It's about 1 a.m. Tuesday now, and I desperately need to sleep, it's been a LOOONG weekend. So when I wake up and get situated (I'm off Tuesday).... it's football talk. Send me any questions you might have, too, but I think I'll have all the answers there are so far in my notes.
Talk soon.

Up and running

I know, every year I tell you guys I'll be able to keep this thing going in the summer, and every year I get tied up with other stuff and can't.
So what's new in Devil land? Oh wait, I'm supposed to tell you that!
Kidding. While I have been doing lots of other things for the paper as I do every summer, I have been able to keep tabs on the CCSU sports scene.
I'll have lots to say about NEC hoops soon, got the chance to get a great head start this year on all that stuff. But it is football season.
So here's the plan. I'll have a camp preview this weekend (likely in Sunday morning's paper, which is the first day of camp), then I'll be checking in periodically with Mac and the boys as summer turns to fall.
I hope you got to read the things I wrote about my sitdown with Paul. I tried to ask every question you guys asked me. Paul was very gracious with his time and was pretty open about things I thought. Yes, there was still some vagueness in some of the answers, but he is still feeling things out. And from what I've heard from my little birdies, he is definitely a man of action. I think you'll see lots of little changes as opposed to one major thing. He also wants ideas. He even wanted to hear some of mine during our talk. So he is not a guy who thinks he has all the answers.
I went surfing the CCSUfans board as well as my email (mstraubblog@hotmail.com send me questions, particularly football ones, NOW!) looking for questions, and I didn't see too many that I haven't covered. I checked in on the hoops coaching staff, and Howie told me to check back soon.
I think I've answered this before, but I was asked so maybe not. From everything I've heard from everyone I've asked, Victor was not forced out. I think, even if he wanted to, Howie couldn't do that. He loves Victor. I talked with Victor last year at the Blue Devil run and he sounded like he was already thinking about getting out of the business then. I also saw him at a team function I attended this summer, so there certainly wasn't any hard feelings.
As for football: I've said already a couple times that this could be a down year. Anytime you get coaching turnover AND a new quarterback in the same year, it's going to be difficult. Plus, this being an even year, Central has the bulk of its big games on the road.
I think Gunnar will start, but I think you'll see the freshman play as well. But I've learned two things over the last four-plus years of covering Mac. He will rely on running and defense first, and he will play more than one quarterback.
My gut says coach Stowers won't be here more than a year, as a bigger job will come, but I've been wrong before. I'll ask any questions I can about the new coaches and maybe do some profiles as camp goes on.
You do have to give Devils credit for another tough schedule, with a trip to UNH and another to Youngstown State. I just fear, for their sakes, that this is the year they should have gone light.
Speaking of schedules, back to hoops for one second. I saw questions about the schedule, which I know I've already printed. There might be one or two non-conference games in there I haven't uncovered yet, but the big ones I've talked about.
And no, there isn't a 7-game set with Savannah State this year. It's best-of-nine. Ha.
One thing I read that I THINK is incorrect, but I will check again to make sure: I read on the board somewhere that the CT 6 game is 7:30 like last year. I was told instead that it would be closer to 6 p.m. It's the middle game, and I was told that the whole thing was starting earlier, with CCSU going around six. But I'll see if there's been changes.
I mentioned Dave's extended absence, but they're still hopeful they can get him back by the second semester. I think I know what' s up, but want to confirm obviously before I write anything. Ken is looking strong. I expect a HUGE year out of him. We'll see.
Anyway, as always, shoot me questions here or at mstraubblog@hotmail.com. It's time to get back to work.