Saturday, April 17, 2010

Spring Game is in the books...some notes

Pretty lousy day for football. Not just wet and overcast, but windy and cold. It definitely affected the crowd, which fell quite a bit short of Randy Edsall's goal of 20,000, which he said he wanted to see here earlier in the week. Attendance was announced at 2,500.

Some news and observations from the day.
  • There was a nice opportunity for the media to catch up with the honorary coaches for today. A few interesting nuggets: Dan Orlovsky has already told Randy Edsall he wants to return to UConn as a coach when his NFL days are finished. "I’ve already expressed to my wife that I want to live up in this area just so I can coach at UConn," Orlovsky said. "That’s definitely in my thoughts and plans, to come back and coach. It would be a dream come true.” Donald Brown and Tyler Lorenzen haven't been back on campus since last year's Pro Day. Lorenzen was resigned by the Saints, and reports to mini-camp Monday. He was also fitted for his Super Bowl ring. Brown had to settle for an AFC championship ring. Neither really knows what to do with the rings once the receive them.

  • Fincher, Krug and Orlovsky certainly took their duty as an honorary coaches seriously. On several occasions, Fincher was on the field barking at players. All thought the Huskies weren't playing with enough toughness, and that message was relayed to the current team afterward. All of the former players had the opportunity to say something to the team after the game, and Fincher's remarks were among the sharpest. "He told them he needs to see, and this was his observation, he needs to see more leadership," Edsall said. "He needs to see guys that want to separate themselves and want to work."

  • Were the current players listening? This quote from Kijuan Dabney says the message was heard loud and clear. "That message was pretty solid," Dabney said. "Those guys coming where they come from, and the talent level we have now, they know we can do some special things. We just appreciate being able to nick and pick with them when they're around the team. Those guys are champions. There's a reason they went to the NFL or have good careers. It's because of their character. If anyone knows coach Edsall, he only recruits players with good character. If you have bad character, you can't play football at UConn. To hear those guys say we have to fire to give more enthusiasm, it's something else to learn from. They've been around football for a long time, you have to take in what they tell you."

  • It was a rough day for the secondary, and it didn't take long to see. Jerome Junior bit on a play fake from Zach Frazer on the first play from scrimmage, allowing Kashif Moore to separate and catch a 70-yard touchdown bomb. Both Edsall and Frazer mentioned the defense was limited today -- blitzing wasn't allowed, Blidi Wreh-Wilson's injury didn't help -- but both conceded there's work to be done. Edsall said it was a matter of "eyes being in the wrong place" with the secondary, and that was easily correctable. Edsall also mentioned new defensive backs coach Darrell Perkins did a good job this spring.

  • Safety Kijuan Dabney said the wide receivers deserve credit for their performance today. "Don't get me wrong, it's not like we're going against a bad offense," Dabney said. "All our receivers run a 4.3 or 4.4, so with the smallest mistake they're running by you. It's not like they only run the ball, they have multiple dimensions. Just with JT, Meme and a quarterback like Zach and Kashif and Smitty on the outside. You read your keys, and if you make a mistake you're going to be in trouble. I won't make any (excuses), we took the field with our 11, we should have played tighter. It's a good tool to learn from. We have to get to the ball faster, get to the quarterback faster and hold our own responsibility."

  • Could Michael Smith take over for Marcus Easley as the new long threat? Five catches for 207 yards, including touchdowns of 69, 75 and 57 certainly make a solid case. "I asked him if he went to K-Mart last night for a blue-light special on some speed. Not the drug kind," Edsall said, noting he has to be careful with words. "Not K-Mart, I went to Wal-Mart," joked Smith later while wearing a pair of old school low-cut blue Chuck Taylors. Frazer has been more accurate, especially with the long ball this spring. But Edsall said those types of plays are what happen when you have a running game. Defensive backs know they need to come up to stop the run, and that moment of hesitation can open things up deep.

  • Smith specifically mentioned Easley and his performance at last year's spring game (10 receptions, over 100 yards). "I got to watch Marcus do it," Smith said. "He excelled at catching the deep ball. I believe I can do it."

  • Among the young players Edsall was pleased with this spring were Jonathan Jean-Louis, Tervin Brandon, Adam Masters and Sio Moore.

  • Leon Kinnard said he's still a quarterback, but that the coaches could move him around to see where his best fit is. That could mean more packages like the game's second play, where Kinnard threw a halfback option pass to Dwayne Difton for 48 yards. Or, perhaps he will switch positions. Kinnard is an obvious weapon, and Edsall will find a way to get him on the field.

  • Kinnard is thrilled to simply be back playing football after missing 18 months to surgeries for a dislocated ankle, fractured fibula and torn hip labrum. "It's great to be on the field again," Kinnard said. "I spent three months on crutches, couldn't really rehab until the fourth month. I lost a lot of leg muscle during my recovery. This is my ultimate goal to get here and succeed. Now that I'm here, I just want to work hard. From these last four weeks, I feel good. Obviously, I'm not where I want to be yet. But I feel I will eventually get there."


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home