Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Some first-day musings

First day of spring practice? Felt more like preseason camp with temps hitting 80 degrees today. Practice was held indoors, where it was much more comfortable than the sweat-shop like conditions here in the bowls of Gampel. Either the heat is cranked in this building or I have malaria. Either way, some quick notes from today...

  • Quarterback competitions have been the norm at UConn since Dan Orlovsky left in 2004. It's an open audition for five guys vying to be the next starting QB. It's a lot like American Idol, only if Randy Jackson critiqued contestants with an occasional profanity-laced tirade.

  • You know the five quarterbacks. Who is the favorite? It has to be Chandler Whitmer, the Juco transfer from Butler CC in Kansas. UConn needs consistency, leadership and a vertical passing attack. That's exactly what Whitmer can give them, and why he was brought to Storrs. Originally an Illinois recruit, he left because the Illini passing game looked a lot like UConn's -- at least what UConn's has become since DanO left, not what Pasqualoni and George DeLeone envision in the future. "Illinois...as we got going and (Nathan) Scheelhaase got named the starter, we tailored our offense to his strengths. I don't believe we had the same strengths. We did some pistol with the zone reads and short quick throws. I wanted to get into a pro-style offense with play-action and deeper routes and play to what my strengths are."

  • Casey Cochran is sound fundamentally, understands the game and has a work ethic well beyond his years. He remained after practice to run wind sprints and do pushups well after everyone else had left -- John Silver of the J-I and I actually had to interrupt him to get a quick interview. Shane Day, who came from coaching the Chicago Bears QBs to UConn, said, "He’s just out of high school, but it’s like he’s 25 years old. He’s as serious as guys who I’ve worked with in the NFL. And that’s just his personality. That’s who he is.” Cochran could win the job outright, though given the fact that UConn has Whitmer and two other quarterbacks with three years of eligibility, it seems more likely he'll be redshirted. Unless he's just too good to sit right now.

  • D.J. Shoemate apparently got his sixth-year waiver. He was at practice, and looked bigger. Stronger. Faster. UConn may need a little size at tailback, though it might come from freshman Joe Williams. Aside from being 201 pounds on a 5-10 frame, the one word to best describe Williams would be 'explosive.'

  • Liked what I saw from new receiver Shakim Phillips, the BC transfer, who adds size to the receiver position. Penn State transfer Alex Mateas may have the inside track on replacing Moe Petrus at center, and Ryan Donohue, the transfer from Maryland, had a decent showing at linebacker.


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