Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Thoughts on Tuesday's practice

Today was the first of three practices open to the public and it was pretty much a run of the mill showing by the Huskies.

The most compelling portion of the practice might have been the goal line drills between the offense and defense. During the first half of the drills the offense scored on pretty much every possession but the defense caught up in a major way leading to a run of incomplete passes and interceptions.

The three freshmen quarterbacks showed their age today but that is to be expected especially when the defense knows what play is coming.

Starting receivers Shakim Phillips and Geremy Davis had some spectacular grabs and Kamal Abrams continues to impress.

In the11 on 11 drills the best offensive play I saw might have been a screen pass to Max DeLorenzo leading to a big gainer. Ryan Donohue, Omaine Stephens, Obi Melifonwu all had interceptions as did Yawin Smallwood.

Lyle McCombs was held out of a latter 11 on 11 drills while cornerback Jhavon Williams was also kept on the sideline for the 11 on 11 drills although he was noticeable in shouting out instructions of which pass routes to look out for which is pretty impressive for a redshirt freshman to be that vocal.

Center Tyler Bullock spent most of the practice on a stationary bike although Paul Pasqualoni said it was a minor issue with Bullock. Pretty much everybody else was out there. Things were back to normal on the offensive line as Kevin Friend and Gus Cruz worked with the starters throughout practice after seeing time with the second team during Friday's practice.

Graham Stewart, who missed the opening practice due to his sister's wedding, was running with the starters at linebacker and I will have more on him in the next day or two.

The true freshmen were mixed in there quite a bit today. Leading the way is tailback Josh Marriner (who happened to be from the same hometown as his position coach Kermit Buggs) and receiver Brian Lemelle. Lemelle also continues to see plenty of time on the punt return unit. Cornerback Thomas Lucas is an imposing figure standing 6-2 and playing bigger than that. He also had an interception during the practice making a nice catch of a deflected pass.

Punter Cole Wagner was just crushing the ball on punt return drills.

After the team was done stretching, UConn athletic director Warde Manuel addressed the team and told the players to make the most of this time.

“I had fun when I talked to them,” Manuel said. “Paul (Pasqualoni ) has asked me to do that on several occasions and it is unplanned and unscripted and I enjoy it.”

Finally, Buggs had positive things to say about Marriner and freshman fullback Matt Walsh, the Register's reigning State Football MVP, who could both push to crack the two-deep chart.

"All the guys back home were telling me about him and they said ‘we are glad you’ve got this kid,’" Buggs said. "Once I got here I made sure I got in contact with him to make sure they knew exactly when I was.

"Josh is a smart kid. He is a Virginia kid, I have known about Josh for a while, he is from my hometown and his father is one of my fraternity brothers. It is just him picking it up and he has done an exception job so far. He and Matty they are babies, we just have to coddle them and get them through camp. The biggest thing in a high school kid coming to college is pass protection and if we get them going in pass protection he should be all right.

"He (Walsh) is coming along, he has to learn. He is tougher than I thought he would be but he has done a phenomenal job in the pass protection and he is actually is a better runner than I thought he would be."


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