STORRS - The UConn football team will be without one of its lead dogs for an extended period of time.
Quarterback Tyler Phommachanh, who left the Huskies’ loss to Vanderbilt with a left knee injury, will be out “indefinitely” according to interim coach Lou Spanos.
Phommachanh, a freshman from Stratford, was listed on top of the depth chart the team released early Tuesday for its game against UMass Saturday in Amherst. Later in the day, however, Spanos told reporters that Phommachanh would be out of action
Spanos would not confirm whether the injury would keep Phommachanh out for the remainder of the season.
“Right now, it’s indefinitely. We’ll see how it progresses throughout the remaining weeks of the season,” Spanos said.
Steven Krajewski, the sophomore who nearly led UConn to a dramatic comeback win over Vanderbilt, will likely start against the Minutemen in Phommachanh’s place.
UConn tight end Jay Rose said Krajewski’s performance against Vanderbilt - he threw for 264 yards and two touchdowns, while running for another score - gives the Huskies continued confidence moving forward.
“That was huge. We talk about this week-in and week-out. Football is a vicious game, sadly. Things happen,” Rose said. “You have to prep like you’re the starter every week. Steve does that.
“We expect that at every position but obviously quarterback is a real important position. For him to do that, it put more confidence in our offense.”
Best of the worst
UConn (0-6) has lost 30 of its last 31 games against FBS opponents. It’s last win came against UMass Oct. 28, 2019.
The Minutemen haven’t won a game since then, either, making this week’s game something of a battle of the bottom-feeders.
That Saturday’s game is perhaps both teams’ best chance at a win is not lost on some of the participants.
“It’s a big game for all of us. It’s a big game for our players, it’s a big game for UMass, it’s a big game for UConn,” UMass coach Walt Bell said Tuesday. “There’s a lot on the line for a lot of people.”
On the UConn side, they’re mostly downplaying such talk.
“It’s just another game. We go week-in and week-out. That’s it. We’re trying to go 1-0,” Rose said. “We don’t look behind, we don’t look ahead.”
The Huskies have reached into their proverbial bag of tricks in recent weeks, running a number of creative plays on offense. Rose, a quarterback at Southington High School, has thrown the ball on two of those trick plays.
He admits he was a bit surprised when he was called on to throw two times against Vanderbilt.
“The fact that we called two last game, it did surprise me a little bit,” Rose said. “In practice everyone takes it serious. It’s all business. When we rep it, everyone knows what they’re doing, they know how to execute it.”
Spanos gave a rather cryptic answer when asked if there were more trick plays in the Huskies’ future.
“The game of football is ever-evolving. Yet, history repeats itself,” Spanos said.
The coach did admit that players from all over the roster have been asking him if they can get in on the trick play action.
“We had a couple defensive players who said ‘Hey coach, I can play offense,’ ” Spanos said.
Bell is 1-20 as UMass coach. Spanos is 0-4. … The teams have met 73 times previously. UMass leads the series 36-35-2. … UConn linebacker Jackson Mitchell is tied for the national lead in tackles with 61. … UConn freshman Joe McFadden is one of only four players nationally handling kickoffs, place-kicking, and punting for his team this season. Jordan Stout of Penn State, Cameron Dicker of Texas, and Matt Araiza of San Diego State are the others.