Saturday, April 16, 2011

Ugly weather, ugly spring game

Not the prettiest of spring games, but are they ever pretty? Cold, wet weather doesn't help, but here's what they players and coaches had to say.

  • It was the first day outdoors this spring, and just the third time UConn scrimmaged. The first two scrimmages, the setting was still on install, so today was the first dry run. And everything was basic. Base offense, base defense. The next step is reviewing and studying the playbook over the summer, and the process begins all over again for the preseason...but with a better understanding. "They're learning it and doing a great job with it," Paul Pasqualoni said. "They'll have it."

  • There's still no pecking order in the quarterback competition. Good thing, as the most productive guy today was fifth-string walk-on Blaise Driscoll, who threw the game-winning touchdown as time expired. None of the four had very good days, at all, but Pasqualoni isn't worried. Here's what he said about each of the four. On McEntee (6-16 passing, 51 yards, two interceptions), "Johnny got the ball out of his hands quick today." On Box (0-for-4, interception), "He didn't have many opportunities (to throw). On Nebrich (2-5, 10 yards), "He moved around pretty good. You saw what he could do with his legs." On McCummings (1-9, 8 yards), "He needed to settle down. The more he played, the better he got. He needs to play more, Nebrich needs to play more."

  • Pasqualoni brought up a good point when asked about having four quarterbacks in contention for the No. 1 job. "The year (Donovan) McNabb ends up playing, everybody in the press had Kevin Johnson until the last scrimmage of the year as the starter (for the season opener) at North Carolina," Pasqualoni said. "When McNabb started, I think everyone was in shock, because all the people watching the practices had the other guy." Most of us in the media have seen McCummings as the best of the four in the spring, so, take that for what it's worth. Still a whole preseason camp left, though.

  • Driscoll, who spent two seasons at Division III Trinity before deciding to transfer and walk-on at UConn last fall, completed 2-of-3 passes for 43 yards. The first was a 41-yard bomb to Nick Williams (who made a great catch going over a defender), and then the winner to Ted Baker as time expired to give the Blue team the win. Driscoll got close to no reps all spring, and certainly won't ascend past scout team quarterback unless there's some major injuries. So, he was pretty excited. "It was awesome," Driscoll said. "We were joking on the sidelines that we were down four, and I was going in for the last drive that maybe something would happen. I never thought it would actually happen."

  • The defense is clearly ahead of the offense, as has showed all spring. But the UConn defense is experienced, big and will be very good. The offense still has no quarterback, must replace the starting tailback and had a few injury/suspension issues to deal with.

  • Jesse Joseph (ankle) and Dwayne Gratz (hamstring) didn't play Saturday after suffering injuries on Tuesday. No Teddy Jennings (shoulder), either. Shamar Stephen left in the third quarter with an apparent leg injury.

  • Both George DeLeone and Pasqualoni liked what they saw out of D.J. Shoemate, at least in the second half. Shoemate runs hard, and even broke some tackles and got yards after initial contact. Lyle McCombs showed promise as well, especially having only practiced the last week and a half. I wouldn't be surprised to see a thunder/lightning platoon in the fall, similar to what UConn used with Todman and Andre Dixon two years ago.


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