Tuesday, March 15, 2011

First day of spring (football) arrives

Spring practice is here. With the new regime, new faces, and endless football team-related news since the season ended, it feels like the Fiesta Bowl was about nine months ago.

I'm up in the Shenkman Center today, and here's a few notes and observations from Day 1 of the Pasqualoni era in Storrs.

  • Johnny McEntee is getting a good look at the quarterback position today, as did the rest of the QBs on the roster. Pasqualoni said afterward that's simply his style. "That's a conscious effort," Pasqualoni said. "That's just the way I've done it all my life. It's not anything unique to this job because its our first day here, it's just the way I think we're supposed to do it. We're coaching every player, there's no compromise on that regardless of if you're a first team player or one of four entering freshmen."

  • The quarterback and tailback jobs are wide open, Pasqualoni said. It will be a spring-long competition, and that will continue to the preseason.

  • D.J. Shoemate got plenty of work with the first-team offense at tailback. Lyle McCombs was not at practice, and is still suspended.

  • Lots of number changes this spring, which is always confusing. Sio Moore is now No. 3. Kashif Moore has the No. 6. Leon Kinnard is No. 8. Gratz is No. 7.

  • Mike Ryan and Adam Masters not dressed and watching from the sidelines. Ryan is still recovering and will be out a while, Masters is expected back shortly.

  • George DeLeone has quite a presence in practice. Don Brown, too. He pulled a Fred Sanford-esque "this is the big one" after a missed interception, even falling to the ground in mock desperation. The players noticed, and it made an impression. "You see coach Brown rolling around on the ground," Blidi Wreh-Wilson said. "It shows the kind of guy he is. We're just out here trying to contest every throw, and he's letting us do it the way we feel comfortable doing it."

  • The players are comfortable with the coaching changes. Practice had a different vibe than an Edsall-run practice, and it was something even the media could feel. "For me, when the new coach came, it was change for me and change is good," Wreh-Wilson said. "The only real difficult part is the terminology and getting used to the signals. But seeing the way Maryland played (under Brown), those kids were just out there playing," Wilson said. "You don't have to think about anything, you just get the call and go. It takes all the thinking out of football and it makes you play fast."

  • Saw lots of Jerome Williams playing alongside Sio Moore at linebacker, with Yawin Smallwood at the other backer spot.

  • D.J. Shoemate understands not only the opportunity this spring, what with the starting tailback slot there for the taking, but that this is his last chance to be a real contributor -- something he says he hasn't felt like he's done since his high school days. He said he spoke with a lot of family, friends and even picked the brains of ex-teammates at USC to see how they prepared and how he could best prepare himself mentally as well as physically. "My dad told me 'you've been at the top, you've played in the Army (high school All-American) game, you've played with some of the best at SC. There shouldn't be a reason why you can't compete, and contribute and be the guy here," Shoemate said. "Going back to high school is one of my cherished moments in life, where I felt like yeah, I'm actually contributing, I'm actually putting the team on my back and trying to lead my team. So I'm trying to get back to that point."


Anonymous junglehusky said...

Good stuff Chip. My multitasking skills will be tested this month - men's and women's tournaments, spring football practice, and... oh yeah, work to catch up on.

March 16, 2011 11:03 AM 
Blogger Chip Malafronte said...

Me too, just add Yale hockey to the mix.

March 16, 2011 12:19 PM 

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