Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Dennis Brown and more on the left tackles.

Dennis Brown packed on about 25 pounds of muscle in the six months from the end of his freshman season to the start of practice last August. Primed to make Randy Edsall's decision on a starting quarterback a difficult one, Brown wound up being redshirted last fall.

He made the most of the down time, continuing his weight room sessions while analyzing hours and hours of game film. Once again in the running to nail down the starting job, Brown is showing Edsall he's made major strides in his understanding of the position.

"He understands the offense more than what he did before," Edsall said after Tuesday's open practice. "I think (the redshirt year) helped him from a strength standpoint and also helped him tremendously from a mental standpoint. He’s got excellent velocity on his throws. He has been pretty accurate. He just needs to get more and more repetitions. He does throw a nice tight spiral."

Of course, there's always room for improvement.

"He needs to work on everything," Edsall said. "All these kids need to work on everything. There’s nobody that’s just a complete player right now."

Brown says he's no stranger to hard work, whether it's the weight room, classroom or film room.

"It's just school and football right now," Brown said. "Since I've been (at UConn) I've stayed up here and just try and be around the coaches as much as possible. When I watch film, going over the games, I just pick out the mistakes and stuff like that. That's how you learn, from you making mistakes and other people making mistakes. You just put it in the back of your head, and sometimes that situation will come up in a game."

Left tackle frustrations

In football, left tackle is considered the most important slot on the offensive line. It’s usually the place for a team’s best pass blocker because he's protecting the quarterback's blind spot (if the quarterback is right-handed).

But just a week into spring practice at the University of Connecticut, coach Randy Edsall’s patience is wearing a bit thin with his best two left tackles.

First, two-year starter Will Beatty showed up out of shape after slacking off in winter weight room sessions. Then, Norwich’s Dan Ryan rolled an ankle after hurdling a bush at a local movie theater on Thursday.

One writer asked Edsall which ankle Ryan injured. "Do you think I'm in the kind of mood to know which ankle it was?" Edsall replied.

As a result, Beatty is behind the rest of the starting linemen in terms of strength while Ryan is in danger of missing extended time this spring. On Tuesday, Edsall moved Zach Hurd over from right tackle to help push Beatty, a talented player who is coming off a broken leg suffered midway through last season.

"It’s always hard for me because I’m supposed to politically say the right things, but I’m a little disappointed in Will," Edsall said. "He didn’t take advantage of his time in the weight room, where he could have gotten stronger. If you take a look at our other offensive linemen, you can see physically how much better they are than they were in the fall.

"He’s better on his assignments, but he should be a lot stronger. That’s a discussion I’ve had with him and a discussion I’ve had with his dad."

While recovering from his leg injury, suffered at South Florida on Oct. 7, the coaches scheduled extra time in the weight room for Beatty, a 6-foot-6, 280-pound junior to be who won a starting job as a freshman. Beatty showed up for the sessions, Edsall said, but didn’t put in the full effort needed. His power lifts don’t compare with those of fellow linemen Mike Hicks of Seymour or Donald Thomas of West Haven.

"I feel 100 percent," Beatty said. "Our depth at the position is a good thing because now there’s competition, and I’m fighting for my (starting job)."

Ryan, a 6-9, 313-pound sophomore to be, took over at left tackle when Beatty went down last fall. His mammoth size and rapidly improving technique put him in line to win the job for this season.

Now, he could miss the spring after injuring his ankle in the parking lot at the Buckland Hills cinemas. Edsall said Ryan tried to leap over some shrubs to get to his car and landed on a curb, rolling his ankle in the process. Ryan watched from the sideline with his ankle in a protective boot on Tuesday.

"It could be two weeks, it could be three weeks, it could be the whole spring," Edsall said. "I don’t know. I’m hoping to get him back, but I don’t know if he’ll be at full speed and be able to push off the way he needs to. It takes away from his opportunity to be competing for a starting position. I know accidents happen, but you sure as heck don’t want to be missing practice because you tried to jump over a bush."


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home