Friday, August 10, 2012

Injuries and a transfer impacting QB and DT depth

The quarterback and defensive tackle spots were already positions of concern before QB Michael Nebrich left the program and DT Shamar Stephen was sidelined for a few weeks with a sprained right knee so the quality and quantity of players at those positions was the focus of my main story off UConn's annual media day.

Second-year UConn Paul Pasqualoni expressed confidence that the Huskies should be in good shape at both positions moving forward.

First here is his reaction to Nebrich's decision to leave.

“It was his decision to transfer,” Pasqualoni said. “I would love to have had Mike stay because Michael could come in and contribute and be a good player for us but at the same time the player has got to be happy. We are not going to stand in a guy's way in regards to what he wants to do but we are optimistic with the guys we have. Johnny McEntee played 12 games for us last year, played more than Mike played so it is good to have Johnny. Casey Cochran, he will be healthy pretty soon (after breaking his left wrist in an offseason bicycle accident) and Casey is making progress.

“I think at the quarterback position we are in the developmental phase. It is a work in progress every day but we are happy with the progress we are making.”

Cochran said he hoped to be able to practice without restriction perhaps as soon as before the Aug. 30 season opener against Massachusetts. Also Pasqualoni said he is hoping to have quarterback Scott McCummings back at practice next week. McCummings, used primarily in the Wildcat formation in 2011, has been excused from the first week of practice to tend to a personal matter.

As far as defensive tackle, Stephen suffered a minor sprain to his right knee but there is a chance he could be ready in time for the UMass game.

“It is frustrating but I am learning to deal with it so everything is all right now,” Stephen said. “They are
stepping up and filling in for me.”

Sophomores Angelo Pruitt and B.J. McBryde are among those defensive tackles seeing more time lining up next to starting defensive tackle Ryan Wirth with UConn’s starting defensive unit.

“It was good to know that he (Stephen) was going to be OK,” Wirth said. “He rehabs hard, he works hard and he will be back really quickly. We have a lot of talented guys who are working hard. The sky is the limit for some of these guys “

The defensive line could get a boost from 6-foot-9 freshman Andreas Knappe from Denmark who is expected to go through his first practice in full pads shortly.

UConn’s practices on Tuesday (3-5:30 p.m.) and on Aug. 18 (8:45-11:15 a.m.) at the on-campus practice field off Alumni Drive are open to the public.

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