Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Pasqualoni reflects on spring practice

I had an opportunity to catch up with Paul Pasqualoni after the football team was honored alongside the Huskies' men's and women's basketball programs at the annual "Husky Day" at the State Capitol.

Even though the offense failed to score a touchdown in the regular portion of the spring game, Pasqualoni said he is encouraged with what he saw from his team during the spring.

"We had quite a few guys make significant progress during the spring," Pasqualoni said. "The spring game is more about fundamentals and technique than its about anything else. I am pleased with the progress the offensive line has made, they are a cohesive unit, they are kind of intact 90 percent (back) from last year. I am pleased with the progress our two older wide receivers (Geremy Davis and Shakim Phillips) made watching the film. I think Deshon Foxx is making some progress as a wide receiver, pleased with the progress with the guys up front on defense. Young guys inside Julian Campenni, Mykal Myers, I think Andreas Knappe is making some excellent progress, Tim Willman made progress, the corners on the outside Jhavon Williams, Taylor Mack so I am happy with the effort and fundamentals, the level of focus which are all great signs going into August."

So is he concerned after UConn needed to rely on a pair of Bobby Puyol field goals during the normal portion of the spring game?

"That is just a matter of a little thing here and a little thing there but I thought the offense came up with some good plays and moved the ball down the field," Pasqualoni said. "I thought Chandler (Whitmer) did a good job of hitting the open receiver, took them down and all of that is a positive.

"We cut down what we did, we had controlled scrimmage for most of the game so those things are going to happen in that situation. We had too many guys rehabbing or injured, we didn’t have enough offensive linemen, we didn’t have enough linebackers for two units. You need six linebackers and we had five healthy for the scrimmage and I don’t know how you do that. Everybody will be fine, when the kids get back on campus in June I expect all the kids to be full go."

The player with the longest recovery process figures to be running back Martin Hyppolite who continues to rehab after being a passenger in a car involved in a fatal accident.

Pasqualoni was optimistic that when the team holds its first fall practice on Aug. 1 that center Alex Mateas will be part of the squad. Mateas was suspended indefinitely for the final week of spring practice for what was called a violation of team rules.

"That’s a team policy issue and that will be addressed at the end of the semester," Pasqualoni said.

When I asked him if he believed Mateas will be there for the start of fall camp, he said that he did.

Pasqualoni addressed the crowd at the Husky Day event and here's some of what he had to say.

"Growing up as a young kid in the state I don’t think I ever envisioned the mighty Michigan Wolverines ever coming into East Hartford to play UConn, what a tremendous, tremendous (honor).

"I am a little bit tired, the players are a little bit tired of the results we’ve had for the past two years; we are tired of it and our guys will acknowledge it, we have talked about it. What I can tell you is this – this team is being built the right way, the way the fans and the people in the great state of Connecticut would want it done with hard-working, high-character guys with tremendous, tremendous integrity looking forward very much to August 1 when we came back and have our first day and we get ready for the season opening on Aug. 28 at the Rent against Towson. We are committed to doing this the right way and bringing you the type of team I know you want, an exciting team, a team that is going to play great on defense and be exciting on offense, win games and represent the state of Connecticut and I-A football the way we all want."

Offensive linemen Jimmy Bennett and Steve Greene, defensive linemen Tim Willman and Shamar Stephen and kicker Chad Christen were among the UConn players there for the Husky Day ceremony.

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