Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Foxx hoping to make special teams special again at UConn

With all the other issues on the 2013 football team the struggles in the return game flew somewhat under the radar.

However, shortly after taking over as the head coach Bob Diaco made it clear that he placed a priority on being more explosive in the return game and it didn't take him long to identify senior receiver Deshon Foxx as the player who can provide some pizazz and make UConn's special teams special again.

"We have a nice collection of return specialists that will be things that opponents will have to contend with. Deshon Foxx has got really good hands, he is the fastest player on our team and one of the quickest," Diaco said. "He is aggressive and courageous and has high football intelligence so he should be a nice decision maker for us on kicks and punts.

"(Foxx) can catch, he is not out there dropping the ball. He has soft hands and he has real focus. He works at the game,it is important to him and he will be a weapon. He is a hard guy to tackle, I am looking forward to him playing the games."

Last year there were 123 teams playing at the Football Bowl Subdivision level and only Nebraska, Georgia and California averaged fewer than the 3.1 yard per punt return that the Huskies managed. UConn's 20 punt returns totaled 62 yards and 49 of those came on three returns. UConn also ranked 106th with an average of 18.7 yards per kickoff return.

Foxx did not return a punt for UConn last season but he was second on the team with 10 kickoff returns. With Lyle McCombs, who accounted for 13 of the 20 punt returns and 24 of the 40 kickoff returns, no longer a member of the team Foxx is ready to try to make his mark on both kickoff and punt return teams.

"I am very excited," said Foxx, who was also UConn's second-leading receiver with 43 catches last season. "I am glad that the coaches chose me to go back there and try to help the team out with momentum. Sometimes if we have a bad game and it is a close game, one punt return can change it up and change the whole momentum of the game. I keep working every day to try to perfect the punt catching and the kickoff catching and just try to make sure I will be a benefit to the team."

Foxx is pretty comfortable returning kickoffs as he averaged 21 yards on four kickoff returns during the 2011 season and added  182 yards on 10 more returns a season ago.

"I am a receiver so when the ball is in the air, attack the ball," said Foxx on his philosophy as a kickoff return specialist. "Punt return is a little bit different but it is something the coaches are helping me with, they are teaching me everything I need to know about it."

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