Saturday, August 17, 2013

Spirited practice ends early due to McQuillan injury

The best news to report off today's practice is that sophomore tight end Sean McQuillan appears to have escaped his nasty collision with Taylor Mack with only a concussion.

McQuillan was injured when he was hit by Mack after catching a swing pass on an 11 on 11 drill. He was placed on a backboard, loaded into an ambulance and taken to Windham Hospital. McQuillan was treated and released. A CT scan of his head and neck came back normal. He is now back on campus and being treated for a concussion.

That is big news for UConn which is extremely thin at the tight end position following the graduation of Ryan Griffin and John Delahunt and some unexpected departures at the position.

Now for some observations from practice.

While I seems like I have become the diary writer for the freshman class, I need to start with the newcomers yet again.

It caught my attention that Tim Boyle was the second quarterback out during 7 on 7 drills and during a drill with no defense on the field, Chandler Whitmer, Boyle and Casey Cochran were the only quarterbacks to gets reps. UConn coach Paul Pasqualoni was reluctant to reveal any particular pecking order with his quarterbacks whether it was Boyle clearly being ahead of fellow freshmen Richard Lagow and Kivon Taylor or if Boyle was vying with Cochran for the No. 2 spot.

"We are juggling the reps around," Pasqualoni said. "I wouldn’t make any statements yet. We still have another scrimmage to go, this afternoon and two more big practices. We wouldn’t set the depth (chart) or anything like this."

Boyle definitely throws a nice ball but he has been a little turnover prone (along with the rest of the QBs). One of his errant throws was returned by Obi Melifonwu for a touchdown early in 11 on 11 drills.

Freshmen running backs Josh Marriner and Matt Walsh continue to impress. Marriner was the second tailback out there on 7 on 7 drills and had some decent runs. Walsh was utilized heavily in the goal-line drills as he caught three TD passes and ran in for another score.

Fellow freshman Thomas Lucas was a cornerback who wore No. 12 last time I saw him at practice. Today he was wearing No. 88 and playing receiver. He made a couple of big catches.

The best catch of the day came courtesy of junior Kamal Abrams who reached around freshman CB Javon Hadley to snare an underthrown pass. Abrams and freshman Brian Lemelle were the two guys getting the work on punt returns early in practice. Of course, Mack was on the coverage unit so that likely led to him not working in with the fellow punt returners. In my opinion, Abrams has been the most pleasant surprise among the veteran offensive players.

Today was not the best I have seen Whitmer look. He missed badly on some throws although he did back to back impressive connections with Geremy Davis.

Speaking of Davis, he was involved in the other injury of the day.

Offensive coordinator T.J. Weist orchestrated a blocking drill between the receivers and defensive backs with the DBs dominating. The final pairing was Davis and Andrew Adams. Davis was able to keep Adams from getting by him but neither player was willing to disengage after the drill was over. The result was Adams being flung to the ground. He was in obvious pain and was tended to by the trainers. He did not return to practice although Mack said Adams was fine.

Staying on the injury front, DE Jesse Joseph, FB Jazzmar Clax (who wore a sleeve on his left knee), TE Spencer Parker, DEs Sha-Ki Holines and Junior Joseph (who was severely hobbled and sporting a brace on his left knee) and OT Kevin Friend were among the players held out of practice. I would expect all of them except Junior Joseph to be back sooner rather than later.

Not only was Parker out of action but freshman tight end Quinn Thompson continues to be sidelined. I saw him getting around with the aid of crutches at media day and today I didn't see any crutches around for Thompson which is a good sign but considering how much time he has missed, I don't see any way he is ready to make an impact. If for some reason McQuillan and Parker are iffy heading into the regular season, it will be interesting to see how UConn addresses the position. Asking a true freshman like Mike Boland (a late arrival) or Tommy Myers to step right in might be a little ambitious and the same thing with fellow freshman Liam Sallquist, who was a quarterback when he arrived at UConn but has looked pretty solid working out at TE. While the coaches haven't asked my opinion on the matter, I would have to wonder if they would consider shifting former starting fullback Reuben Frank back to offense. Frank certainly has the size (6-3, 246) to help out at either fullback or tight end and knows the obviously offense. Frank has a chance to be a pretty good defensive end but with Tim Willman, Jesse Joseph, Angelo Pruitt (who worked with the No. 1 defense in Joseph's absence) and E.J. Norris among the options at defensive end, Frank has a lot of work to do to break into the two-deep at that position.

Pasqualoni let loose with a chuckle when I asked him after practice if injuries always seem to impact the position where the team has the least amount of depth.

"It has a way of doing that," Pasqualoni said.

Defensively, tackle Shamar Stephen and safety Wilbert Lee were players who caught my eye in 11 on 11 drills. Stephen was a tower of strength in the middle of the line on running plays while Lee was extremely active defending the pass.

This is my last practice report until spring since we will not be witness to any other practices until spring drills start.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home