Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Edsall releases depth chart

Here's the official depth chart heading into preseason camp. I think it needs a few more positions listed as "OR". This thing looks like something my wife would put together. She hasn't been able to pick a movie or restaurant in the eight years I've know her. Needless to say, aside from quarterback and tailback, the chart isn't exactly decisive. Looks like a certain head coach wants to see a little more fire from the o-line and pretty much everywhere else.

STORRS, Conn. (April 28, 2009) – University of Connecticut head football coach Randy Edsall has released a depth chart for the Husky team coming out of spring practice.

“This is where we are after spring ball and headed into summer workouts and preseason camp,” says Edsall. “Some positions need to be solidified and there can be changes made to this before we have a gameday depth chart for our opener against Ohio University on September 5.

“Zach Frazer is our number one quarterback coming out of spring practice and he has earned that spot. However, as we continue over the summer and into fall camp, there is still competition at that position, like there is at each spot on the team.”

89 John Delahunt RFr. 6-3 255 OR
94 Ryan Griffin RFr. 6-6 247 OR
81 Corey Manning RFr. 6-4 245
93 Derek Chard Jr. 6-3 231
84 Yianni Apostolakos RSo. 6-4 255

73 Dan Ryan RSr. 6-8 305 OR
72 Jimmy Bennett RFr. 6-7 300

66 Mathieu Olivier RJr. 6-4 287 OR
74 Alex LaMagdelaine RSr. 6-2 303 OR
92 Scott Schultz RSo. 6-3
67 Clark Maturo RFr. 6-4 309

57 Moe Petrus RSo. 6-2 295 OR
70 Gary Bardzak RSo. 6-2 295
62 Ben Chapman RFr. 6-2 274

78 Zach Hurd RJr. 6-7 300 OR
60 Erik Kuraczea RFr. 6-1 318
63 Adam Masters RFr. 6-4 283

79 Mike Hicks RSr. 6-6 325 OR
71 Mike Ryan RSo. 6-5 323
76 Zac Zielinski RFr. 6-7 333

83 Isiah Moore RSo. 6-0 191 OR
29 Marcus Easley RSr. 6-2 210
11 Brian Parker RFr. 6-3 204

82 Kashif Moore RSo. 5-9 178 OR
80 Michael Smith So. 6-0 190
86 Alex Molina RJr. 6-2 200

3 Brad Kanuch Sr. 6-0 193
88 Gerrard Sheppard RFr. 6-1 201
85 Kevin Poles RJr. 6-0 204

10 Zach Frazer RJr. 6-4 225
12 Cody Endres RSo. 6-3 225
18 Johnny McEntee RFr. 6-2 212
16 Casey Turner RFr. 6-4 234

23 Jordan Todman So. 5-9 190
2 Andre Dixon RSr. 6-1 210 OR
22 Meme Wylie RSo. 5-10 214 OR
44 Robbie Frey RSo. 6-0 198
40 Nathan Sherr RSo. 5-10 197

49 Anthony Sherman Jr. 5-10 237
47 Anthony Davis RJr. 5-10 235
39 Bret Manning RJr. 5-11 246
37 Joss Tillard Jr. 5-10 215

26 Marcus Campbell Jr. 6-2 228
91 Jesse Joseph Fr. 6-4 238 OR
96 A.J. Portee RFr. 6-3 230
48 Trevardo Williams Fr. 6-2 221

99 Kendall Reyes RSo. 6-4 277
54 Alex Polito RJr. 6-5 272
53 Ryan Wirth RFr. 6-2 267

4 Twyon Martin RSo. 6-1 272
52 Brandon Dillon RSr. 6-3 292
75 Beau Brunelli RFr. 6-2 252

9 Lindsey Witten Sr. 6-4 248
56 Mike Cox RJr. 6-2 245
98 Ted Jennings RFr. 6-6 227
97 K.C. Chambers Fr. 6-5 242

32 Scott Lutrus RJr. 6-2 230
19 Kijuan Dabney Jr. 6-0 215 OR
28 Jory Johnson RFr. 5-11 204

95 Greg Lloyd Jr. 6-1 241
10 Greg Robinson RJr. 6-1 242
55 Jerome Williams RFr. 6-0 245
41 James Healy RFr. 5-8 212

8 Lawrence Wilson RJr. 6-1 226
46 Sio Moore RFr. 6-1 221
17 Matt Ashmead RSr. 6-2 230
39 Mark Hinkley RFr. 5-11 218

42 Robert McClain Sr. 5-9 196
5 Blidi Wreh-Wilson RFr. 6-0 184
21 Gary Wilburn RSo. 5-11 197

33 Robert Vaughn Sr. 6-0 202
25 Harris Agbor RSo. 5-10 185 OR
27 Aaron Bagsby RSo. 6-1 190
30 Matt Edwards RFr. 5-11 187

37 Jonathan Jean-Louis RSo. 5-11 203
15 Jerome Junior RFr. 6-0 212
28 Emmanuel Omokaro RSo. 5-10 208
40 John Yurek Rso. 6-0 198

6 Jasper Howard Jr. 5-9 171
24 Dwayne Gratz RFr. 5-11 189

13 Desi Cullen Sr. 6-2 200
38 Dave Teggart RSo. 6-0 208

38 Dave Teggart RSo. 6-0 208
13 Desi Cullen Sr. 6-2 200

Punt Return
6 Jasper Howard Jr. 5-9 171
42 Robert McClain Sr. 5-9 196 OR
21 Gary Wilburn RSo. 5-11 197

Kickoff Return
44 Robbie Frey RSo. 6-0 198
23 Jordan Todman So. 5-9 190

13 Desi Cullen Sr. 6-2 200
10 Zach Frazer RJr. 6-4 225

Long Snapper
95 Derek Chard Jr. 6-3 241
40 Nathan Sheer RSo. 5-1 197

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Wrapping up a busy Sunday

I may have just broken the world record for most phone calls made in a 45-minute span. I could use a Powerade right now. And a shower. Ever break a sweat talking on the phone? OK. I'm a bit woozy and rambling.

Feel free to scroll down to previous posts and see all the players with Connecticut ties who signed free agent contracts. Quite frankly, it's impressive. Four for UConn, one for Yale, and three state residents playing for other programs all latched on with NFL teams tonight. Add in two the two drafted players (Shaughnessy and Knighton), and that's 10 kids to the leagues today alone. Fourteen including the four Huskies' taken on Saturday. Wow. That just may be a record, too.

Julius was at his grandparent's house in Georgia, and he said it was a long day. "I expected to be drafted. But I'm not disappointed. This is a good opportunity. Jacksonville actually called a few picks before the draft ended. They said they couldn't draft me, but still wanted me as a free agent. I spoke to my agent, and we thought this was the best opportunity. My agent had calls from Jacksonville's GM and head coach, and seemed really interested. I had a good visit with them when I went down there, and I think I have a good chance to make the team."

Williams said Denver, San Diego, Atlanta and Green Bay also made free agent offers tonight.

Deleston said he had the Bears and Patriots on two different phone lines at the same time, both with offers. He felt the Pats were already stacked at his position, and that Chicago was the better fit. He thinks he can be a productive special teams player for the Bears.

Jacksonville plans to use Lorenzen as a tight end. He may need to bulk up about 30 or so pounds.

Signing rolling in

Dahna Deleston to Chicago, Keith Gray to Carolina and Tyler Lorenzen to Jacksonville.

Will have a couple of quotes up in a minute.

Also, courtesy of John Silver, Kory Sheets of Bloomfield via Purdue to the 49ers.

Julius Williams signs

Julius was undrafted, but signed a deal with the Jaguars, according to his agent.

Chris Vaughn (Louisville) and Bobby Abare (Yale) sign deals

Matt Shaughnessy of Norwich, a defensive end at Wisconsin, and Terrence Knighton of Windsor, a defensive end at Temple, were the only players with Connecticut ties drafted today. Shaughnessy went to Oakland in the third round (71st overall), and Knighton went to Jacksonville with the very next pick.

Some happenings after the draft. New Haven resident Chris Vaughn, who played wide receiver at Louisville, signed a free agent deal with New Orleans. Yale linebacker Bobby Abare signed with Kansas City.

One more. Windsor's Chris Baker, a defensive tackle at Hampton University in Virginia, signed a free agent deal with Denver.

Should hear where Julius Williams signed soon. Waiting on other UConn guys, too.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

An historic day for UConn

What a day for UConn football. Four players taken on day one of the draft. Only USC, with five, had more. Methinks this might be a bit more enticing as a recruiting tool for Randy Edsall and his staff than the International Bowl win over Buffalo. Just a hunch.

And there's more to come. I fully expect Julius Williams to be taken Sunday, with Dahna Deleston possibly sneaking in as well. That could give UConn six draft picks, more than the entire Division I-A era combined.

Edsall, who manages to give scholarships to kids none of the "big guys" want, summed it up perfectly on Saturday night.

"It's amazing," he said. "These kids, hardly anybody else recruited. You can take those rankings and throw them out the window. It's about finding kids with athletic ability, and work ethic and good character. If they're willing to buy into that, it's amazing what can be accomplished. Today was a testament to that."

Some other nuggets from Edsall tonight. He said he spoke at length with Colts president Bill Polian before the International Bowl, when Donald Brown was still on the fence about declaring early.

"There was one team that really wanted Donald, and they were nervous because they didn't think he would get to them with their pick," Edsall said. "They were concerned about Indianapolis, and lo and behold, Indianapolis took him. But I had spent a lot of time talking with Bill about Donald."

Edsall is excited Bill Belichick got Darius (and Butler is pumped, too), and very happy Will Beatty landed in New York. Edsall spoke with his mentor, Tom Coughlin, about both Will and Cody Brown, and said he was hoping one of them would go to the Giants when their second-round pick arrived.

As for Sunday, Edsall thinks Julius and Dahna get picked, and feels Keith Gray might have a shot at the draft, too. He also said Tyler Lorenzen and Steve Brouse could have opportunities to sign free agent contracts and get into camps somewhere.

Pats interested in Butler as a receiver? Maybe.

It took a while, but just got off the phone with Darius Butler. He said he got pretty nervous as the night wore on and his name wasn't called. "I expected to go anywhere from 15-40, and I went 41st," Butler said. "It was pretty crazy. But it's definitely exciting."

Butler said he spoke with several of the Pats big wigs when they called tonight, including Bill Belichick and owner Robert Kraft. The team was very interested over the past few months, and Belichick has said he loves Butler's athleticism.

Butler said he expects to play corner in New England, but someone (he can't recall who) from the team asked him about the possibility of playing wide receiver. "You know how the Patriots use their players, they like a lot of athletes in their system," Butler said. "But someone did ask me about playing receiver, though I doubt they'll put me in there."

While Butler didn't know who asked him about receiver (his mind, understandably, was racing) he said it definitely wasn't Belichick.

Will Beatty just went 60th to the Giants. Cody Brown at 63 to Arizona.

Butler to Pats

Second round, pick No. 41 overall.

Little surprised he went late. Not suprised it was New England. Belichick really liked him.

Here's a little of what Donald had to say

Just finished a call with Donald. He's obviously thrilled and excited. One interesting thing is that he said he had "Zero" contact with the Colts in the months leading into today. He spoke with the team's sports psycologist at the NFL Combine in February, "and that's the last I heard from them. I really wasn't expecting to be taken by the Colts. " His agent, however, thought otherwise. "He told me to watch out for the Colts, they were his sleeper pick. That was the case. It was a big surprise."

Colts president and head coach speak on Brown

Here's what the Colts had to say about Donald Brown.

Colts president Bill Polian. "He's a scintillating player. We lost Dominic Rhodes, we replaced him with Donald Brown. He's a guy who is a game-breaker.

Polian on Brown joining Joeseph Addai in the backfield, "Because of (Brown), Addai will have a longer career and be a more productive player."

Colts head coach Jim Caldwell. "One of the first things he asked me after we made the pick was about offensive installation. He wanted the playbook for the upcoming weekend (rookie mini-camp). It's important to have two backs in the system because of the work load in our system, you need at least two."

Donald Brown to Colts

Peyton Manning. Joe Addai. Reggie Wayne. Dallas Clark. And now, Donald Brown, who, as the 27th overall pick by Indianapolis, becomes the first UConn player ever taken in the first round.

More to come soon. Darius Butler's name will be called any minute. Will Beatty will have a longer wait.

Will update after Donald Brown's conference call at 7:30.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Lutrus arrested

Newly-elected UConn football captain Scott Lutrus was arrested by UConn police early Friday morning and charged with interfering with an officer. His older brother, Kyle, 23, was also arrested. According to the police arrest log, officers were dispatched to a report of a fight near the entrance to Celeron Square Apartments. Upon arrival, officers attempted to detain the brothers, they became combative. Both resisted and began fighting with officers. Scott Lutrus, who turned 21 on Thursday, was arrested, and later released on a $500 bond. Kyle Lutrus was charged with two counts of interfering with an officer and second degree breach of peace.

The brothers are both due in Rockville Superior Court on May 5.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Spring Game is in the books

Some quick postgame notes and observations:

  • Huge day for Stratford's Marcus Easley. Ten catches, 169 yards and two touchdowns. Not bad for an un-recruited walk-on, who, Randy Edsall said, won't be a walk-on much longer. Coming out of Bunnell High, Easley was a solid basketball player and received football offers from Sacred Heart, SCSU and some smaller Massachusetts programs. He got into UConn based on academics, and decided to walk-on as a sophomore. Edsall said Easley is fast, but needs to work on transitioning that speed to the field. "He have to get him to play at the speed he runs at," Edsall said. "If he can do that, he'll be a big factor in what we want him to do. There's playing speed, and there's 40 speed. He has good 40 speed, he has to play at his 40 speed."

  • Another player with local ties who had a strong day was outside linebacker Sio Moore, who grew up in West Haven before moving to North Carolina for high school. Moore finished with 16 tackles, including three for losses. Edsall likened harnessing Moore's talent to breaking a wild stallion. "He has tremendous ability," Edsall said. "“I have to be careful what I say about Sio. You can’t really compliment him because he doesn’t know how to handle it. But he has as much natural athletic ability and speed as we’ve had in any outside linebacker in the program since I’ve been here."

  • Zach Frazer and Cody Endres each said they plan to head into the offseason thinking they are the starter. Randy Edsall hinted he may make a decision which will be the guy by Monday or Tuesday. My gut feeling is he won't let them twist in the wind all offseason.

  • The backup defensive backs had some problems today, and Edsall admitted UConn is a little thin at the position right now after losing two players to the NFL and another, Dahna Deleston, who'll probably get a shot along with Darius Butler. Conversely, how about those starting defensive tackles? Twyon Martin and Kendall Reyes will be forces for the next three seasons.

  • Captains Desi Cullen, Robert McClain, Scott Lutrus and Anthony Sherman make sense. Cullen is a punter, but is as much of a leader as anyone. Edsall mentioned how Cullen played linebacker in high school and organized team bible study at UConn. Asked about it later, Cullen said he made up the part about playing linebacker. "I played soccer and kicked in high school," Cullen admitted. "I just told people that to get them jacked up."

That's it for now. It's 3:30 p.m., and I've had nothing but coffee today (no food in the press box, and I needed to apply for another mortgage to afford the Runway concession stand prices). I need to eat.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Captain quandary

Sitting here in the office ready to crank out a spring game preview for the paper, and started thinking about who might be named captains for the season. Figured I'd throw out a few names, and maybe get some input from you all.

There are 12 seniors (Dixon, Kanuch, Witten, Cullen, Ashmead, Easley, Vaughn, McClain, Dillon, Ryan, LaMagdelaine, Hicks).

Naming two offensive captains and two defensive captains seems to be the trend (even though there were 22 captains in 2007...maybe it was only six, seemed like more).

Defense is loaded with leaders, and it's hard to pick two. I trimmed it down to Witten and McClain, with Vaughn also a possibility, as is Lutrus if they decide to go with a junior. Offense is a little trickier. Make that a lot trickier. Tough to even guess where they might go since none of the seniors have starting jobs locked up as of yet. Would they name the punter a captain? Or Frazer, who also hasn't been named the starter yet? Or Dixon, whose been suspended twice for violating team rules in the last two years? Or Easley, a walk-on?

I'm baffled.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Another depth chart.

Need a depth chart for Saturday's Blue-White Game? Good luck. There won't be anything official. The format hadn't even been determined as of Tuesday. But here's an updated prediction on what we might see, taking into account injuries and practice performance this spring.

First-string offense
QB: Zach Frazer
TB: Andre Dixon
FB: Anthony Davis
WR: Isiah Moore
WR: Michael Smith
WR: Kashif Moore
C: Moe Petrus
LT: Dan Ryan
RT: Mike Hicks
RG: Zach Hurd
LG: Mathieu Olivier
TE: Ryan Griffin

Second-string offense
QB: Cody Endres
TB: Jordan Todman
FB: Bret Manning
WR: Gerrard Sheppard
WR: Brian Parker
WR: Marcus Easley
C: Gary Bardzak
LT: Adam Masters
RT: Mike Ryan
RG: Erik Kuraczea
LG: Alex LaMagdelaine
TE: John Delahunt

First-team defense
DE: Lindsey Witten
DE: Marcus Campbell
DT: Kendall Reyes
DT: Twyon Martin
LB: Greg Lloyd
LB: Lawrence Wilson
LB: Scott Lutrus
CB: Jasper Howard
CB: Robert McClain
S: Robert Vaughn (injury permitting)
S: Jonathan Jean-Louis

Second-team defense
DE: Mike Cox
DE: Trevardo Williams
DT: Brandon Dillon
DT: Ryan Wirth
LB: Greg Robinson
LB: Jerome Williams
LB: Kijuan Dabney
CB: Dwayne Gratz
CB: Blidi Wreh-Wilson
S: Aaron Bagsby
S: Jerome Junior

Special teams
FG: Dave Teggart and Desi Cullen
P: Desi Cullen and Dave Teggart
KOR: Robert McClain and Jasper Howard
PR: Jasper Howard, Robert McClain, Dwayne Gratz and Kashif Moore

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Practice notes: four days to spring game

Busy day at practice again.
  • Brad Kanuch was hurt during a drill, and went off in pain with an apparent shoulder injury. While running full speed, he was pushed in the back by cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson and was sent sprawling (nearly taking out Shawn Courchesne of the Hartofrd Courant on the sidelines). Randy Edsall said it was "dumb" on Wreh-Wilson's part, since it was a thud drill (meaning players can hit each other, but are supposed to remain on their feet). "It gives me another teaching moment on Thursday," Edsall said.

  • Jordan Todman, Marcus Campbell and Dwayne Gratz weren't allowed to practice today because they missed a class on Monday. Edsall's new policy is to keep players out of practice instead of the typical 6 a.m. running drills. "That was too easy," Edsall said. "This has a little more bite to it." Meaning, you miss practices, it increases the chances of someone sliding into your job, especially if you're in competition for a spot. Todman was kicked out of practice Saturday for throwing the football at Twyon Martin, so he's not exactly winning points with the coach. And Dixon had a pretty good day today.

  • Beau Brunelli (kneecap) also went down Tuesday. Injured Anthony Sherman (hamstring), Robbie Frey (shoulder), Yianni the Greek (knee), Alex Polito (ankle), Jesse Joseph (groin) and Billy Ferriter (concussion) will all miss Saturday's spring game. Moe Petrus may have been feeling ill -- he was hurling into a garbage can early in practice -- but finished the day. Maybe some bad capricola and provolone from Jersey Mike's. No wait, that was my sandwich from this afternoon.

  • Those anxious to see promising tackle Jimmy Bennett on Saturday will have to wait until the season opener. He isn't playing Saturday because he has a funeral to attend.

  • Edsall hasn't named his return men yet, but said he's got a lot to choose from. Reggie McClain, Jasper Howard and Gary Wilburn will be returning punts. Todman, Kanuch, Frey, McClain, Gratz and Kashif Moore are all on kickoff return.

  • Kashif had a bad day. He got yelled at by Edsall for not securing the ball on a run after the catch, which caused him to fumble. On the next play, another mistake got him yanked for Gerrard Sheppard. Sheppard had a terrific day, but Edsall wasn't in a complimentary mood. "Kashif Moore got a little sugar after Saturday's scrimmage, and he came out today and stunk the joint out," Edsall said. "It's tough to give any of these guys sugar because they get fat and happy." And by giving sugar, Edsall means compliments. Not candy bars. Or kisses on the cheek. Just wanted to clear that up. Let's move on.

  • Desi Cullen as your place kicker? Dave Teggart as the punter? It could happen, though unlikely. The two have been diversifying this spring to help in case injuries occur, and have been very good. The Kentucky Hammer crushed a 56-yard field goal today, and Teggart has been doing a nice job punting. Edsall said it's possible Cullen could be kicking long field goals this fall. That's not to say Teggart hasn't been doing the job, but Cullen can blast them just as long. "He's been killing them," Teggart said. "We both want to be the best we can be, and we're really pushing each other."

  • Others who stood out: Ryan Griffin made a pretty catch in traffic. McClain had at least two interceptions. Cody Endres and Zach Frazer both made some nice throws. Sheppard made a pair of deep grabs up the sidelines.

  • Still no rush on the depth chart. Or naming a starting quarterback. When Edsall's ready to name someone, he'll do it, no matter who thinks the job's already sewn up.

  • Teggart was saddened by the death of Mark "The Bird" Fidrych, the charismatic Detroit Tigers pitcher who was the AL rookie of the year in 1976. Teggart is from the same town (Northborough, Mass.) and, like Fidrych, starred for the Algonquin Regional baseball team. Fidrych even coached Teggart a little during his Little League days. More on this in tomorrow's Register.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Discipline rules the day

Following up with the early edition of the Runway notes:
  • Lesson learned. Both Jasper Howard and Jordan Todman understood why they were booted today. Howard said he's glad it happened so him so the younger corners like Dwayne Gratz and Blidi Wreh-Wilson could see that kind of thing isn't tolerated. Todman echoed those sentiments. Randy Edsall's take: treat the scrimmages as a game. Both plays were worth 15-yard penalties, and could have cost a victory (Todman's more than Howard's. Edsall's problem with Howard was that it was an individualistic showboat). It didn't help that several high school coaches and players were watching. "It was a good teaching moment," Edsall said.

  • Injury updates: Jesse Joseph and Robbie Frey might be done for the spring with injuries. Joseph pulled a groin, Frey has a shoulder problem. Lutrus (strep) might be back by Tuesday. Mike Cox returned to the scrimmage, and should be fine. Robert Vaughn injured his neck about a week ago, and re-injured it Saturday. He'll be questionable. Also, former UConn baseball player Billy Ferriter, trying to make the squad as a walk-on, is out for the spring with a concussion.

  • Some of Edsall's comments regarding the scrimmage: Zach Frazer threw the ball "real well" and the offense was "much better today. Guys made a lot more plays." The defense "hurt themselves with penalties". The battle for the starting tackles is really something to watch. "Mike Ryan and Jimmy Bennett have earned the right to get more work and to see where they stand." The two younger players rotated in with incumbents Mike Hicks and Dan Ryan. Gary Bardzak also saw some time at center for the first team.

  • Some real positives today with the passing game. Frazer, playing with the first team, looked good. But the Moore receivers, Kashif and Isiah (we need a good nickname for them) were making things happen. Kashif had some nice runs after the catch. Isiah made at least one spectacular grab on a deep out, going over the cornerback to haul it in. Great athletic play, great body control.

  • Defensive notes: Jonathan Jean-Louis has been starting alongside Robert Vaughn at safety. Aaron Bagsby took over for Vaughn when he went down. Kijuan Dabney filled in for Lutrus today. Robert McClain made a pretty interception. Jerome Junior came up to crush Nate Sherr on a run late in the day.

  • Erik Kuraczea said he's getting his grades together, which has earned him more practice time of late. The former Ansonia star is working with the second team, but has his eye firmly on a starting position for the upcoming season. "I've been working to lose some weight, and I still need to get stronger." Kuraczea weighs 315 as of now, and is shooting for 300 by summer. As for his strength, he added 80 pounds to his squat and is now pushing up 680 pounds. His bench press is over 400 pounds.

  • Last week, I wondered how they'd handle the signage on I-84 if one basketball team won a title and the other didn't. Question answered. They've already got the 2009 national champions sign posted for the women. Sorry, men's team. That Final Four appearance just ain't gonna cut it around here. Let us know when you accomplish something worthwhile.(Sarcasm intended).

Happy Easter to everyone. See you Tuesday.

Early edition: Saturday scrimmage notes

Here's the early edition from this morning's scrimmage. More to come:

  • Jasper Howard managed to get himself kicked out of practice for the day after an interception of Zach Frazer and 60 yard return for a touchdown. Getting a 15-yard penalty for excessive celebration will do that. Howard pulled an unnecessary leap over the goal line and tumbled into the end zone. Surprise, surprise. It didn't go over well with the head coach. The wide smile on Howard's face further infuriated Edsall. "You're done for the day, No. 6!" Edsall screamed. "Act like you've played the game before! Take your pads off and get out!" Howard, as he was jogging off toward the locker room, muttered, "They still can't touch me."

  • Jordan Todman also got booted. After being stopped short on a third-down run, he heard a comment from defensive tackle Twyon Martin and threw the ball at him. It wasn't a big scene like with Jasper -- I didn't even realize Todman was gone until I saw him in the doorway in street clothes with Howard later.

  • About 30 minutes later, Howard and Todman returned to the field, where Edsall put his arm around each for a fatherly lecture. Both returned to their respective sidelines, but in sweats.

  • Only one recruit at the scrimmage, but it was a big one. Arie Kouandjio, a 6-5, 310-pound offensive lineman from DeMatha High in Maryland, has offers from Boston College, Rutgers, Pitt, North Carolina, Penn State and Maryland. He will visit Cal next weekend. Kouandjio exited the UConn weight room nodding his head in approval, and had a long chat with athletic director Jeff Hathaway on the sidelines. After a few minutes wondering why Hathaway was at a practice, Joe D'Ambroso clued me in that Hathaway is also a DeMatha alum.

  • Scott Lutrus didn't play today because of strep throat. Anthony Sherman remained out with his hamstring injury. Mike Cox and Robert Vaughn both went out with injuries on consecutive plays during a goal-line situation.

  • Dave Teggart drilled a 46-yard field goal with plenty of room to spare. Robert McClain returned punts and Dwayne Gratz played cornerback in Howard's spot after he was booted from practice.

  • Former UConn quarterback Matt DeGennaro was among those watching practice today.

  • Still nothing definitive on the offensive line. Mike Hicks and Dan Ryan started with the first team, but it was Mike Ryan and Jimmy Bennett rotating in later with the 1s.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

A rough draft of the depth chart

Randy Edsall has yet to release a depth chart this spring, and said Tuesday he's in no hurry to do so. Combining my own observations and notes with what Edsall has said over the last week, here's my guess at what the chart will look like heading into preseason camp this summer. Even used the Edsall 'OR's for spots that will probably still be undecided.

Zach Frazer OR Cody Endres
Casey Turner
Johnny McEntee
Chip sez: Still not much separating Frazer and Endres, but I think Frazer has the inside track. For now.

Jordan Todman OR Andre Dixon
Meme Wylie OR Robbie Frey
Chip sez: We could well see a two-back rotation this fall, dependent on matchups and opponents. Wylie seems to be ahead of Frey, and will have some role in the offense.

Anthony Sherman
Anthony Davis
Chip sez: Sherman has been slowed the last week, but could emerge as the top fullback in the conference. And as an unabashed, flag-waving Italian-American, you've got to love two backs named Anthony. They are honorary Paisans.

WR (top three)
Michael Smith
Isiah Moore
Kashif Moore
WR (second tier)
Gerrard Sheppard
Brian Parker
Brad Kanuch
Marcus Easley

Chip sez: Improvement still needed by everyone, but depth is much better with addition of redshirts Isiah Moore, Sheppard and Parker. Dwayne Difton, Michael Lang and Malik Generett will get long looks come August.

Moe Petrus
Gary Bardzak

Jimmy Bennett OR Dan Ryan

Mike Hicks OR Mike Ryan

Zach Hurd
Erik Kuraczea

Mathieu Olivier OR Alex LaMagdelaine

Chip sez: Bennett and Mike Ryan making moves to unseat fifth-year seniors Dan Ryan and Mike Hicks. They are part of the future of the line, if it's as close as Edsall says he may decide to go young now. Kuraczea's lack of practice time due to academics slowed his chances to make a move this spring, but he may push come preseason. LaMagdelaine must remain healthy.

Ryan Griffin
Yianni Apostolakos OR John Delahunt OR Derek Chard
Chip sez: Inexperience is the theme here, but there is talent. Griffin is a big boy. Yianni may be the best play-maker, but he's plagued by injury.


Lindsey Witten
Mike Cox OR A.J. Portee OR Ted Jennings

Marcus Campbell
Jesse Joseph OR Trevardo Williams

Chip sez: Campbell and Williams have sprinters speed, Joseph has certainly impressed Edsall. Witten is looking like a leader and could be a captain this year. Portee and Jennings could be in the mix for the two-deep, as well. To be honest, I haven't seen or heard enough to make an accurate judgement on backups yet.

Kendall Reyes
Alex Polito
Beau Brunelli

Twyon Martin
Brandon Dillon
Ryan Wirth

Chip sez: Reyes and Martin have been outstanding. Polito's injury is a setback, but we've seen what he is capable of on the field. Dillon is also looking strong (and fit).

Greg Lloyd
Greg Robinson

Lawrence Wilson
Sio Moore

Scott Lutrus
Kijuan Dabney

Chip sez: I have Moore penciled in, but that could be my bias for the former West Haven resident. Moore has looked good, but Jerome Williams, Matt Ashmeade and Jory Johnson have all been running equal reps.

Jasper Howard
Dwayne Gratz
Gary Wilburn

Robert McClain
Blidi Wreh-Wilson
Harris Agbor

Chip sez: Lots of inexperience behind Howard and McClain, but there's a lot of speed and athleticism. Wreh-Wilson only played one year of high school football (he was a soccer player), but is progressing quickly. Gratz is wiry with good speed. Should be a fun group to watch.

Robert Vaughn
Jerome Junior

Aaron Bagsby
Jonathan Jean-Louis

Chip sez: Jean-Louis might be even with Bagsby for the second starting spot at safety, a position that may not be decided until summer. Junior's had a nice spring. On a side note, UConn needs more players with the initials 'J.J.'

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Practice 10 in the books.

Tuesday practice is over. Lets get right to it.
  • On Saturday, Randy Edsall hinted changes in the depth chart were possible. Today, Isiah Moore took Marcus Easley's spot as starting wide receiver. Jimmy Bennett and Mike Ryan were elevated to the first team, sort of. Both rotated with Dan Ryan and Mike Hicks at the tackle spots. Edsall said it was a way to see that the two younger players could do against the first team, and could prelude a permanent change.

  • Bennett is excited about the chance, but admitted he wasn't very good today. "Crappy" was the term he used to describe his performance. There's no question he needs to get physically stronger, as Bennett said and Edsall echoed, but he's athletic and strong enough for now. Bennett's squat is up to 455 from 360 when he first arrived.

  • As Randy Edsall spoke of Isiah Moore's work ethic after practice had cleared out, Moore was off in a corner -- helmet on and in full pads -- catching tennis balls out of a machine. He wasn't the only player who stayed for extra work. Zach Frazer and Gary Bardzak remained to work on snaps. But Moore was the last to leave the practice field.

  • Moore has a quiet confidence. He knows he still has a lot of areas to improve, but also knows he's been elevated for a reason. "Last year watching from the sidelines, I could see the receivers playing inconsistently," Moore said. "I thought that I could be that guy; that I can catch the ball; that I can make plays after the catch and score touchdowns." He's also wary of the importance of spring ball to make an impression, as the freshmen recruits like Dwayne Difton arrive in August. "We've got some 4-star guys coming in, and this is my chance to get into the rotation," Moore said. "This is my chance to show I can make plays."

  • Anthony Sherman remained out with a tight hamstring that isn't serious. Yianni the Greek is improving, but unlikely to be ready to practice before spring is out. K.C. Chambers likely won't be allowed to do contact drills with his fractured wrist in a cast. Jerome Junior turned an ankle after a big hit levied against tight end Ryan Griffin, and hobbled off for treatment. It didn't appear serious.

  • Edsall said Trevardo Williams and Jesse Joseph, the other two true freshmen in spring camp, are pushing for a chance to play this fall. Edsall has been thrilled with Joseph. He said Chambers will likely red shirt the season.

  • Edsall on today's practice, which included mostly drills, "The offense was better today. The kids are picking up the offense, and that's what I'm looking for. They're handling what we;ve put in on offense pretty good, and I'm happy with where we are after 10 days." The defense has looked outstanding.

  • Lindsey Witten looks like a different person from the wiry freshman thrown into the lineup in 2006. He's a thick 248 pounds, and plans to get up to 255 by the fall. That would be a full 50 pounds gained from the 205 he played at as a freshman. "I expect him to be an every down player," Edsall said.

  • Some highlights from drills included a looooong catch and run by Alex Molina. Also, Meme Wylie has been rolling off big plays this spring. On Saturday, Edsall downplayed it by saying they've come against the second-team defense. Today, Wylie took off for another 75-yard score against the 1s. Jordan Todman and Andre Dixon are going to get the bulk of the work, but Wylie will have a role in the offense. A couple of big licks made by the safeties, including the shot on Griffin that Junior was hurt on.

  • Watching Desi Cullen and Dave Teggart try to take snaps in an offensive line drill was a treat. Standing a few feet away on the sideline, I had to cover my mouth to keep from laughing too hard. It's not easy to handle those snaps, as the two kickers showed. It took about seven tries apiece before one wasn't fumbled. At one point, Cullen lined up over center and put his whole head under Moe Petrus' ass to get a better look at the football. (This isn't a family blog, is it? Can I say ass? Guess we'll find out.) It looked like he was crouched over searching for a contact lens. "You don't have to look under there like that, Desi," Edsall said, somehow managing to keep a straight face.
Down in my familiar post-practice position in the bowels of Gampel. Inside, they're setting up for a mass showing of the NCAA women's basketball final. I don't envision a rowdy crowd showing up. But what do I know?

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Pre-Final Four reading: Saturday scrimmage notes

Early scrimmage at the Shenkman Center, perfect to get work done early and home in time for the Final Four. Some observations:

Changes coming on the depth chart. Randy Edsall, looking almost exclusively at individuals during the spring scrimmages, said some should be in place by Tuesday.

Nothing's set in stone, but he raved about the play of wide receiver Isiah Moore (who had a great scrimmage) and Jesse Joseph. "Jesse is one guy who's really elevating himself," Edsall said. "We've seen it consistently all spring." Moore is the best bets to move up to starter. Isiah was outstanding Saturday. Joseph, a true freshman who enrolled in January, is everywhere. Expect to see him with the second team.

There could be doings on the offensive line, too. Jimmy Bennett may overtake Dan Ryan at left tackle this week. Mike Ryan and Gary Bardzak are also pushing the veterans. "The first-team defensive line dominated the first-team offensive line, and the second-team offensive line dominated the second-team defensive line," Edsall said. The offensive line knew it underperformed Saturday, too. "At least they're being honest with themselves. They better understand last year is over and it's a new year. The expectations for some guys who are fifth-year seniors like Mike Hicks and Dan Ryan, and Moe Petrus whose been around a year, and Zach Hurd, they should be playing better than what they are. I don't know who they think they are or what they think this is all about. They want to keep going that way Kuraczea and Bennett and some other guys might step in front of them. if they want to send me a message, they're sending it to the wrong person because the message I send back to them will be a lot stronger."

  • Jordan Todman and Andre Dixon split carries with the first team, but the more impressive backs today were Meme Wylie and Robbie Frey. Wylie reminds me of Dave Meggett (dated reference, but that's who comes to mind). He's thick, shifty and quick, and seems ready to make a contribution this season. He scored three touchdowns in the scrimmage, including a 75-yard catch and run on a swing pass. There was a couple of blocks to help free room, but most was Wylie. Edsall said not to read too much into it because the runs today were done with the second team.

  • Kashif Moore had an up-and-down day. He made a few plays, but had some drops, too. Nice day catching the ball for Gerrard Sheppard, and Isiah Moore too. Isiah had a 90-yard touchdown reception from Zach Frazer, making a nice mid-air adjustment to make the grab, then racing to the house. He's ready to make the leap. The dropped balls don't bother Edsall at this point. He'll just go with the guys who are catching the ball. "At times as a coach, you're going to get on them about that. But the players have to understand they're making their own bed in practices and these scrimmages. We're evaluating each one of them, and we'll make changes necessary."

  • Defensive tackles Kendall Reyes and Twyon Martin got rave reviews from Edsall for their performances this spring.

  • The offense stepped up a bit to Edsall's mid-practice challenge. After a brutal beginning, Edsall shouted for someone on offense to make a play. It got a little better afterward. Cody Endres underthrew Isiah Moore, allowing Blidi Wreh-Wilson to step in and knock the pass away. "He's got him beat! Make the throw!" Edsall told him. Shortly after, Endres aired one out to Kashif Moore. Kashif couldn't make the catch, but it wasn't because of the throw.

  • Anthony Sherman didn't play, still bothered by a tight hamstring. Kijuan Dabney played with the 2's. Desi Cullen kicked all the field goals.

  • Marcus Campbell flashed his speed off the line of scrimmage and put good pressure on the quarterback. Tight end Ryan Griffin caught a big completion from Frazer.

  • Moe Petrus had his problems today, and Edsall let him know. "You look like a freshman today!" Edsall said. "All-American, my butt! Stop reading your press clippings." Well, Petrus is still a freshman, but you get the point. I'm sure Moe did as well.