First off, see my report from the Spring Game today below.

I confused a couple of people who asked me tonight because I didn't know what day of the week it was. So I wanted to tell them, and all of you, that my story on the HOF ceremony will be in Sunday's paper.


All the spring stuff from today's game (well for now anyway, I have lots more in the recorder) is below, I just wanted to add 2 things.

1) I'd like to thank Len Gengel not only for what he's doing in Haiti, but for his speech last night. It was stunning.

2) In case there were any doubters, three different sources (and all different ones from the last report here) have told me in the last 2 weeks or so that Ken Horton is in fact coming back.


On the spring game of course.

Offensively, it was a show of efficiency and ability. The quarterbacks missed something like three passes all day, and Gunnar Jespersen looks much more comfortable that he did last year. Having never played football I don't always get how that works, but sometime between November and now the light went on. Not that he was bad last year by any means, but he doesn't look like a guy figuring things out anymore.

Raul could still very well be the number one wideout come the fall, but Denzell Jones made his case for the spot. He is a physical and athletic specimen with the speed to beat corners and the height to jump over anyone he doesn't beat. No wonder this kid is a jumper on the track teams.

Take a minute and look at my story at newbritainherald.com. No, that's not just a cheap plug. Look at the picture, taken by the talented Mike Orazzi. Jones came down with the ball. I think, with a few more months of training on routes and the "little things", Jones could be a force.

Coach McInerney said after the game the plan was still to make Jones the QB in 2012, but if today was any indication, I'd almost rather let someone else be the QB and have them throw Jones the ball all day.

Not that Central needs to throw all the time. Kevin Woolfolk looked wonderful, and Central's offensive line has the chance to be very good, returning four starters. I will admit that McInerney pulling Brian Fowler at halftime (who I spoke to after and is fine) worried me a little, but everyone tells me his injury shouldn't be the recurring type. Still, having Woolfolk and Chris Tolbert around to ease Fowler's load will do wonders for Central.

You might be able to tell from my story that I'm torn about the defense. I started the story with the intention of being more critical than I was, partly in an attempt to be fair to the opinions of those who thought it was OK and partly because it hasn't been fully taught yet.
So I'm willing to change my F to an incomplete, but there were certainly few A's to be given out. The front seven has the chance to be solid, but the secondary is a work in progress.

What did you guys think? Shoot me comments or questions here or at mstraubblog@hotmail.com.


Ring ceremony is 1:30 p.m. Captains will be named, and I'm sure Mac will have a mic emceeing the events. I'll have one story today since I'm going to the HOF dinner tonight. I'll have a big story on that in Sunday's paper then something more on football. SHOULD have plenty of time to blog as well. We'll do lots of football.

Anything you want to know about the football team, hit me at mstraubblog@hotmail.com


First, one more offensive note. I forget if I mentioned that Mac thinks Gunnar has made a "huge jump." We'll see how that looks today. I kind of figured he would with more time with the system.

We'll see how the new defensive staff looks today, though I don't expect any or at least many changes in the philosophy. Mac did imply there would be some more (or at least different) blitzes, and says the D will look very similar to UConn's.

"We were pretty good in our base defense but we weren't very good with our blitz stuff," McInerney said. "We tried to attack last year, it just didn't work well. I think we've done a lot of good things that I feel really good about. Some of the hard part (about playing defense this spring) is that we're going against the best offense in the NEC."

Mac likes the D-Line, though obviously Rich Royster will have to be replaced. By the way, I'll be mentioning that at several points during the season... please, please, I hope no one takes offense to any wordings I may use. Going to try really hard to be sensitive. Obviously, his loss as a human is what matters most, and I'll be talking about how CCSU plans to honor him as soon as it tells me, but from a football standpoint he must be replaced. Central can't play with 10 on defense. So please don't think I'm being cold.

Linebacker will be a strong point with Lawton Arnold and Isaiah Boddie. Markeith Crenna is someone to keep an eye on. Central has the chance to be very young in the secondary, so we'll see how that looks. It's a little scary. But the good news is there are a number of options, increasing the chance of finding some good ones.


Going to do part 2 of what to watch for in the morning, but I'm not leaving you empty-handed.
I have an answer to a question, and half a scoop.

You wanted me to ask Mac about Central's scheduling philosophy. He told me, as I've told you before, that he wants to play better teams at home, but it's very difficult to get those teams to come here for a variety of reasons.

One of those, besides getting someone to come play a road game for the reasons I outlined yesterday, Central has limited chances to play home games because it has to go play games like at UMass to make money. So take two chances off the table right away. Or at least one a year.

So I did some further digging, and here's what I know for now. The Southern game worked out because Central needed a home game and Southern had an open date. But CCSU.... and here's your half scoop.... is hosting Patriot League teams the next two years. I don't know who yet.

My GUESSES are Fordham and Colgate.

Defensive breakdown in the morning.


There wasn't room tonight for a full spring preview, so I'm going to post a bunch of stuff here.
Here's some now, and I'll post more after deadline tonight that you can read before the game.
First, a quote from the coach on the team's progress in spring.
"Offensively I think we're way ahead of the curve," McInerney said. "We have four senior offensive linemen. The one position that's open really is the right tackle position."
Redshirt Dave Sabilia was the first of the bunch McInerney mentioned of the group competing for the job, but we'll see if that means anything.

One key he mentioned is that a good performance in the spring won't win anyone a job. He has said in the past that the spring can produce leaders in the clubhouse for jobs, so we'll see how that develops. I'll have a better feel in the week after the spring game.

The other position to watch is wide receiver. McInerney thinks Raul DeBenendittis will have a "breakout year," so I'm looking forward to seeing him work with QB Gunnar Jespersen. It may be that I was close but incorrect in that CCSU needs a No. 2 to emerge, not a No. 1. Matt Tyrell anyone?

Speaking of QB, Denzell Jones is the "heir-apparent," according to McInerney. He will play receiver this year, then move to QB next year. There is NO plan to do the 2-QB thing, but, like last year, I'll believe it when I see it from a Mac team.

As I said earlier, Brian Fowler is in fine form. Looking forward to seeing him. Worried about the shoulder getting hit, but as long as he's not, he'll be fine. Nate Pagan is developing into "a stud" according to Mac. It would be nice to see him have a bounce back year. Kevin Woolfolk provides depth. Dennis Spadaro should be at fullback Friday and in September.

That's a look at the offense, I'll turn the field around to the other side of the ball later tonight.


The first of quite a few to come ASAP, but for now he's an easy one.
Brian Fowler is back and ready to be the main back this year. No lingering health issues, and he hasn't been held back during spring practice.


Ya, I know, it happens to me every spring. I have all the grand plans to blog, spend time coming up with all this stuff I want to tell you, then end up having to do more non-CCSU stuff in the spring and never get to much of it.
And this year, helping out with the Cats coverage has taken me further away. But before I go to bed tonight, let me try and get some blogging done.

I thought while I try and reclaim all the thoughts and plans I had, I would just do a mailbag for now, which I'm writing after watching CCSU's Evan Scribner debut with the Padres. Two scoreless innings of a debut by the way.
Instead of typing out the full questions, I'm just going to touch on some things for tonight. So read close, your question is probably covered, even if you don't see the question itself listed.

Going back to some of the wrap up stuff on hoops: I think CCSU's biggest focus is shoring up the PG position. Devan Bailey can't play the underclassman card anymore, it's time for him to step up. As Howie said last month, defense is nice, but it can't be the only thing the PG does. There are two freshmen coming in who could push him. But competition might be the best thing for him.

Another player I was asked about is Joe Efese. For him to see more time, the recipie is simple, He has to rebound better, and he must stay out of foul trouble. There are times when it feels like he can pick up a foul while checking into the game for the first time.
But those two things can tend to come with experience. If he matures, he can be a force. We've all see him do it (see the end of his frosh season). Now he has to do it consistently. His development could be a big key next year.

My prediction on a lineup would be Horton, Speech, Simmons Bailey and Ptacek with Baskerville, Efese, Allen and a freshman or two giving Central some rare depth. It's going to be weird seeing a Central team with a big frontcourt rotation (at least in the form of options) and a lack of experienced guards.

As for football: I'll have lots more to say about this by early next week. Going to spend Wed. on campus, looking forward to talking to a lot of people and catching up on things.
I'll be better able to answer a question about Brian Fowler's return by then, but I expect him to go right back to being the top back. His injury wasn't a knee where you'd worry about him losing speed. You just worry about it getting hit the wrong way.
Running backs tend to get tackled a lot in football you know.

I will definitely try and ask about the schedule philosophy. But I'll give you the same answer for now I often do, because it is the main problem smaller schools have. Remember, there are two sides to these things. Would CCSU love a UMass to come here for a football game? Sure.

But why would a bigger team come here to play in a (for now at least) very small stadium in a no-win situation? We'll use UMass as an example. If they win, great. If they lose, they get ripped. You're happy to play that kind of game at your place, but not on the road.
So I don't think it's an issue of Central not trying to get some big name school to come here and play football. It's just a lot easier in hoops where one loss is much less likely to harm your season. UMass hoops comes here and gets drubbed? They have 28 other games to fix it. Football, one bad loss and your playoff dreams are greatly damaged.

Without having seen them yet, I will say that I expect the Devils to go back to a run-heavy type of attack. There are questions at receiver (not that there aren't good options, but there isn't a clear cut stud No. 1 yet) and Fowler is a beast. Gunnar Jespersen can run, too.
Plus, as much as he might even want to change, I can't see Coach Mac doing so. He's a run and get stops kind of coach.
The question is, can he be an FCS Tournament coach this year?

Ok, that's it for your 2 a.m. blog. Lemme see what I can dig up this week and get back to you. And congrats again to Evan Scribner on fulfilling a dream.


I know is coming: No, CCSU isn't going to take UMass's football spot. It's not ready for that kind of jump.


Anonymous, you're completely right. Just been exceptionally busy. There's football stuff coming next week leading up to the spring game. I just literally haven't had time to do it this week.


Cooking up a nice feature on the resurgent softball team and a notebook on the baseball team. Both teams are heating up just in time for the warm weather.


Now that I have a couple days off I can do some updating here. Which I will, on multiple sports.

But for now, here's the football schedule for next year. Fans will probably be dissapointed with the Southern game, but you should make a trip to UMass.

Sat, Sep 03 Southern Connecticut, New Britain, CT 12:00 p.m.
Sat, Sep 10 at James Madison, at Harrisonburg, VA TBA
Sat, Sep 17 at Wagner College, at Staten Island, NY 1:00 p.m.
Sat, Sep 24 Monmouth, New Britain, CT 12:00 p.m.
Sat, Oct 01 Sacred Heart , New Britain, CT 12:00 p.m.
Sat, Oct 08 at Massachusetts, at Amherst, MA TBA
Sat, Oct 15 at Duquesne, at Pittsburgh, PA TBA
Sat, Oct 22 Albany, New Britain, CT 12:00 p.m.
Sat, Oct 29 at St. Francis (PA) , at Loretto, PA 1:00 p.m.
Sat, Nov 05 Robert Morris, New Britain, CT 12:00 p.m.
Sat, Nov 19 at Bryant, at Smithfield, RI 12:00 p.m.


Still plan on doing a much longer one of these, but I didn't want to keep you waiting for some insight any longer. Been going through one of our busier stretches at work, and hope to have a routine soon that will let me get back to this and finish up hoops talk.

I have lots of email to get to, too.

But as promised, here's one of our last man-to-man's of the year. I'll have a more detailed one soon, including quotes.

Justin Alexander: I know fans will be disappointed since some people see a taller guy and get excited. Don't give up on him. Coach Howie Dickenman hasn't. I don't know that he's ever a star, but he might start to help next year.

Terrell Allen: I loved what Howie said about Allen being too nice, I thought it was a really honest comment. I think you might start to see more of what you saw at the end of the year next year, but after Joe Efese's strugles this year, we've learned not to get too crazy abotu a run at the end of the year.

Devan Bailey: Dickenman was harsh in his assessment of Bailey when I talked to him last week. He's going to have to score more if he wants to play next year. It's that simple.

Chris Baskerville: Starting to come on, I think he starts next year, at least early.

Joe Efese: It's in him, we've seen it. But he has to stay out of foul trouble and must be more active early. Sometimes you can wait for the game to come to you, and sometimes you have to go get the game. Or in Joe's case, get some rebounds.

Ken Horton: No reason he doesn't win player of the year again next year if he plays the full season. Has a chance to make himself some good money if he has one more big year.

Mark LaPorte: Make the fans happy and shoot it! Unless the shot clock is off.

Robby Ptacek: Interesting to see if healthier feet get him back to being aggressive. CCSU needs the Robby Ptacek who draws fouls and uses that ability to make the d respect him and let him get more shots. Also, has to make some more of those open shots.

Vince Rosario: Is going to a DII school, hopefully local.

De'Angelo Speech: I think being able to settle into a position will help him get consistency. My pick for most likely to break out next year.

My starting 5 next year: Horton, Baskerville, Speech, Robby Ptacek and a freshman. I'll pick Kyle Vinales for now.

That leaves a VERY deep bench of Dave Simmons, Bailey, Allen and the freshmen.