Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Last open practice in the books

With Friday's media session canceled, today was the final open practice of training camp. Here's what happened.
  • It was a double-session day, and the media was at the morning practice. That meant Zach Frazer and Scott Lutrus were among the starters with light days, the backups got most of the work and there wasn't much to see in terms of action.

  • We knew Mike Box was the leader to become Frazer's backup. Edsall confirmed Box has the edge. Expect Johnny McEntee to be the third quarterback as the season opens. Leon Kinnard got work at QB and receiver today, and didn't look great at either position.

  • Andrew Opoku was moved to tight end to help a depth need there. He played a lot of wide receiver in high school and at Fork Union prep. Since arriving in January, he's now moved from safety to linebacker to tight end. Perhaps we'll see him at all 22 positions before he's finished, and he can pull a Bert Campaneris and play them all in one game. Edsall said he liked what the Husky linebackers were showing (Jory Johnson, Martin Hyppolite and David Kenney), and the coaches decided Opoku could be more valuable at tight end. Opoku said running and catching are easy for him, it's the blocking he needs work on. Edsall doesn't think Opoku will be ready to contribute at the position by the season opener.

  • Bret Manning suffered an ankle injury, and was in a boot. Edsall lists him as day-to-day, but an X-ray is scheduled for later today.

  • Twyon Martin caught lots of heat from Edsall in spring practice because the coach didn't feel Martin was working hard enough. Martin took it very personally, and vowed to renew his commitment to the game. It started with shaving off his dreadlocks for a more conservative appearance. "I felt it was time for a new look," Martin said. "I want to be a new man, and that's part of it." Where does Martin stand on the depth chart? That's something even Martin isn't sure about, as he's spent as much time working with the second team as the first. Edsall said he sees the changes in Martin's work ethic and attitude, which bodes well for him lining up alongside Kendall Reyes at defensive tackle.

  • There has been separation at the tailback position, though Edsall reserved comment until seeing the results of the final scrimmage on Wednesday. Todman should be safe at starter; how Shoemate and Robbie Frey are worked in to share the load will be interesting.

  • The wide receivers are in a similar situation. Edsall says seven will likely travel to road games, but only four will get the bulk of the action. Michael Smith, Kashif and Isiah Moore were identified as the top three by Edsall. No. 4? Probably Nick Williams. The last three are, in some order, Dwayne Difton, Gerrard Sheppard and Tebucky Jones, though Edsall said Jones is expected to redshirt the season.

  • Kijuan Dabney and Jerome Junior returned to full practice, although Harris Agbor and Mike Lang spent a good deal of the day working with the first team. Edsall seems somewhat concerned about where his secondary stands with Michigan just around the corner. But he says his players are "listening" "learning" and "doing everything asked of them". It's been said before, but Byron Jones has impressed Edsall, as has Ty-Meer Brown.

  • Edsall spent more time than usual talking about the freshmen. Mike Osiecki and Brandon Steg are likely to redshirt; fullback Reuben Frank has put himself in the mix to play right away, as has tailback Lyle McCombs, though likely on special teams. Yawin Smallwood was moved to middle linebacker, and the offensive linemen (Gus Cruz, Greg McKee, Mark Hansson) have shown themselves bigger, stronger and with more ability than in years past. "It's the best freshman class we've ever had," Edsall said. "No doubt."

  • We knew training camp was tough on the players...double sessions, extreme summer heat, so much learn in a short time frame. But Edsall said the coaches are just as excited to be done with training camp as the players, mainly because it means no more sleeping in the office. Not one coach on staff goes home during the preseason. Days begin at the crack of dawn, and don't end until 11:30 or midnight. Sometimes, they'll stay up until 1 or 2 talking shop. Then, Edsall walks across the hall and goes to bed on an air mattress in his office. Some coaches live in the dorms until students get back to campus. "That's the way it is with training camp," Edsall said. "That's how I was brought up."

  • Matt Millen spent the morning patrolling the practice field at the Shenkman Center along with some other ABC producer-types. No, he wasn't searching for another wide receiver to draft in the first round or another ethnic group to offend (assuming on that last one). He'll be doing color commentary for the season opener at Michigan. Sean McDonough, who'll handle play-by-play, arrived a little later. Also good to see West Haven High coach Ed McCarthy and his coaching staff taking in practice today. McCarthy, now in his 40th (40!!!!) season as a head coach, also spent a little post-practice time chatting with Sio Moore, who be coached for a year before Sio moved to North Carolina.

4 Comments:

Blogger UCONNFAN said...

Chip,

You mentioned Frank will likely see playing time this fall - I assume in a special teams role?

Also Smallwood was moved to middle linebacker - where have Osiecki and Steg been playing? Osiecki I believe in middle too and Steg weakside?

August 24, 2010 11:04 PM 
Blogger Gary said...

I wasn't planning on commenting on this particular post, but then I came to read the comment already posted and say the word verification word is "mungral". Great word, not used enough in this day and age.

Also, let me once again cast my vote in favor of weekly chats and the picks pool.

August 25, 2010 7:45 AM 
Blogger UCONNFAN said...

I'm with Gary.

August 25, 2010 10:18 AM 
Blogger Chip Malafronte said...

We have two for picks so far..

UConn Fan, Frank is in the mix to see action at fullback behind Sherman as well as ST.

Osiecki has been middle...I believe Steg weakside, but not 100 percent on that...

August 25, 2010 11:48 AM 

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