Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Some continuity in UConn's offensive line

While there's plenty of work yet to be done before UConn opens up the 2014 season against Brigham Young, it is looking like the coaching staff has a pretty good idea who are the building blocks on the offensive line.

At the first practice I attended, the No. 1 line consisted of (from left to right) tackle Richard Levy, guard Kyle Schafenacker, center Alex Mateas, guard Bryan Paull and tackle Dalton Gifford. After nearly a week and a half off due to spring break and more importantly, that much down time for the staff to break down the performance of that line, four of the five players were in the first O-line group sent out at yesterday's practice.

Levy and Gfford remained the left and right tackles and Mateas (who is impressing head coach Bob Diaco with his leadership) was the starting center. Paull moved from right guard to left guard while Tyler Samra moved in at the right guard spot. Again, this is very much subject to change with 10 more spring practices to go before the Apr. 12 spring game.

Gus Cruz, who started five games in each of the last two years at right guard, is still relegated to riding the stationary bike at practice. If he is able to return to the field after seeing his 2013 season cut short due to cardiac issues, it could provide a huge lift to a young offensive line.

Also in the "for what it is worth department" Casey Cochran was the first QB I saw in the offensive reps although the QBs seem to be getting a similar amount of reps and the brief time I was able to watch, I saw plenty of formations with both a fullback and tight end which was a rarity a season ago whether it was Paul Pasqualoni coaching the team or T.J. Weist assuming control of the team. It is going to be interesting to see how this plays out. UConn has an overflow of talented receivers so if the Huskies opt to use a tailback, fullback and tight end, that means only two receivers can be out on the field. The trio of Geremy Davis, Shakim Phillips and Deshon Foxx figure to be among the best playmakers on the 2014 UConn team so that would mean that either the fullback or tight end position would get fewer snaps if Diaco and offensive coordinator Mike Cummings opts to use more three-receiver sets. Davis has looked rock solid in blocking drills so that could also figure into things down the road when the Huskies determine how to best use their receivers, tight ends and fullbacks as  big receivers like Davis (6-3, 216 pounds) and Phillips (6-3, 206) could help in the running game as well as given the No. 1 quarterback big targets on the outside.

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