Friday, October 26, 2012

Cruz settling in as starter; Osiecki still sidelined

UConn football coach Paul Pasqualoni and offensive coordinator George DeLeone spoke at the National Football Foundation New Haven Chapter's dinner on Thursday night and after wrapping up my work following UConn women's basketball practice, I headed down to New Haven just in time for the speaking portion of the event.

Afterwards I caught up with Pasqualoni and DeLeone to catch up on some things since there hasn't been any access since a conference call with Pasqualoni on Saturday.

High up on the list of things I was interested in was the progress that new starting guard Gus Cruz was making stepping in for senior and team captain Adam Masters.

"He’s good, he is practicing full speed and he has had a pretty good week of practice," Pasqualoni said. "He doesn’t have the experience but Gus is a pretty athlete, he moves pretty good but he just doesn’t have that high level of experience because Adam had all those games under his belt but I am very encouraged, he is enthusiastic for it and he has passion for football. He just needs experience and that it why we are playing him."

DeLeone, who also coaches the offensive line, also talked about Cruz move from reserve to starter.

"They like to say the most popular person on the football team is the backup quarterback but also I say that being a backup guard is a pretty good job too," DeLeone said. "Now he is in the heat of the battle and he has to raise his expectation level. He is making progress and I am hoping down the road he can play up to a starter’s level for us."

Pasqualoni said it will be a straight move of inserting Cruz at the right guard spot Masters manned so there won't be a case of shifting Steve Greene to right guard and putting Cruz in at left guard. Rather than mixing things up too much, Greene will start at left guard and Cruz moves in at right guard.

I asked Pasqualoni which of the offensive linemen has picked up the leadership void lost by Masters' absence and Greene was the first player he mentioned.

"Steve Greene has been awfully good in the communication aspect of the offensive line," Pasqualoni said. "He has really been good. Tyler Bullock is trying hard to get in there as a center and be a vocal guy and give some leadership. They all in their own way are working pretty hard at it, they really are. I like what their approach."

From an injury standpoint, Pasqualoni said sophomore fullback Mike Osiecki is still unable to practice due to a concussion which forced him to miss the last two games but everybody else he was expecting to be back at practice has been able to go.

Finally, the Graduation Success Rates (GSR) were released today and the football team came in at 69, one point above the national average. Although the numbers should be credited more to the work during the Randy Edsall regime, Pasqualoni was still thrilled to hear that they came in above the national average.

"That is important," Pasqualoni said. "I’d be disappointed if we weren’t. All the years at Syracuse, we were up there very high and one year we won it. My expectations of the kids off the campus, in the classroom are as high as my expectations are for them on the field. You can do both, you can be a good student and you can be a great football player. That has always been our philosophy."

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