Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Offensive line a popular topic at media day

Steve Greene and the rest of the veteran UConn offensive line is looking
to put a frustrating 2012 season behind them
Any discussion regarding the potential for success of the 2013 UConn football team begins up front.

With the dominating defense the Huskies had in 2012, if UConn even had a solid offense then a bowl bid would have been a near certainty. However, watching Chandler Whitmer getting crushed by defensive linemen and linebackers and Lyle McCombs being swarmed under by multiple defenders shortly after getting the ball told the story of the Huskies' season.

Nobody had to tell offensive guard Steve Greene and the other five returning offensive linemen who started games for UConn during the 2012 season that the unit's level simply needs to improve if the Huskies are to avoid a third straight losing season.

"We understand that last year was subpar;" Greene said at the American Athletic Conference football media day in Newport, R.I. on Tuesday. "It wasn’t up to our standards by any means. We want the opportunity to show that is not who we are. We want to be able to dominate the line of scrimmage and control the game.

"The biggest thing is we just have to finish, making sure we are blocking to the whistle, making sure that we are doing everything we can. That one extra push, that one extra second for Chandler to step up and make a read we have to do that little extra. If we all do those things then really the sky is the limit. We have the talent there is no doubt about that."

UConn football coach Paul Pasqualoni was asked why the line would be better since the same guys (minus the graduated Adam Masters) will return to the same positions this season.

"It is the same personnel but this offensive line has really been together now," Pasqualoni said. "(UConn offensive line coach) George (DeLeone) took that group last year so they have been at it for a while and have really, really worked hard. The offensive line is more experienced now as opposed to learning the system, the realignment."

One aspect that should help the line is that left tackle Jimmy Bennett is no longer limited by his shoulder issues. When I spoke to Bennett several months ago when he was granted a sixth year of eligibility he said he was unable to do any upper-body weight lifting and his shoulder issues hampered his range of motion and ability to extend his arms. Considering how vital the use of arms are in pass blocking, obviously that made for a difficult season for Bennett. Now he has been given a clean bill of health and shouldn't have the same weight-training restrictions after undergoing offseason shoulder surgery.

"I feel so bad for Jimmy," Greene said. "He has been so injury plagued since he has been here but he’s healthy coming into this year, he was able to get last year under his belt. Really he was a fifth-year senior and it was his first year really being able to play so being able to gain that year of experience, I think this year is going to be real good for him."


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