Sunday, August 18, 2013

Willman has big shoes to fill

When UConn has had its full complement of defensive linemen senior Tim Willman has been garnering the majority of first-team snaps at right defensive end which happens to be the same position Trevardo Williams held down in recent years en route to seeing the program sacks record.

Willman, who is about 20 pounds heavier than Williams, obviously brings a different dimension that Williams as he lacks the speed and impressive first step that Williams possessed but in the practices I attended in the preseason he was consistently one of the more noticeable defensive players I have seen. He was in the backfield on a regular basis which is something he will be asked to do in his senior season.

"I bring a lot of good run stopping," said Williams, who had three sacks during the 2012 season. "I learned a lot of technique from him so I am trying to play like him but also play my own style."

UConn not only lost Williams but defensive tackle Ryan Wirth from its defensive line. Wirth has been the one player that UConn coach Paul Pasqualoni has consistently mentioned as one of the toughest players that the Huskies need to replace.

With Shamar Stephen healthier than he was at any point last year, Julian Campenni seemingly in position to build on a solid freshman season and Jesse Joseph back after missing the last nine games of last season with a torn Achilles' tendon, the Huskies have a chance to have one of its most physical defensive fronts in recent memory.

"We lost two great players and we miss them a lot but we are picking up right where we left off and we are not missing a beat," Willman said

"That is something we are going to hang our hats on. We are going to play physical, play hard and play UConn defense."

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