Saturday, August 30, 2014

Observations from UConn's season opener

Just some of what I took away from the first game of the new era of UConn football.

First, I thought UConn showed me something in the second half after the way BYU was taking it to the Huskies in the early stages.

The two early turnovers were killers and something a young team like UConn simply could not do. Even with that. UConn was within 14 points late in the first half and had chances to put some points on the board in the second half which could have made BYU a little nervous.

The two best players in the game were BYU quarterback Taysom Hill and linebacker Bronson Kaufusi.

Hill was everything they said he was and more. His ability to keep plays alive with his legs is something this UConn simply doesn't have at the quarterback position. I'm not sure the Huskies will face anybody like him for the rest of the season. Kaufusi is a monster and when he got it going, he was simply unblockable.

UConn coach Bob Diaco went into the game with pre-set substitution patterns and he stuck with them. What that meant is the inexperience of the reserve players showed up, especially on defense. By my count UConn had 18 players playing their first collegiate games. He seemed thrilled that 25 players got into the game on offense and defense in the first half but that constant juggling of personnel does have its drawbacks. I'd expect more of the same in the next two games as Diaco wants to give his young players live game experience to see how they react.

As for thoughts on individual players, a lack of a pass rush is troubling. At times it seemed like BYU was running 7 on 7 drills with Hill under very little duress. It is something that needs to be addressed because the combination of a soft zone and no pass rush is a recipe for failure.

I thought UConn needed to look Geremy Davis' way more in the early going. You saw Davis make some tremendous plays on the ball in the second half but it was too little, too late. I understand not forcing the ball to him but BYU was down both of its starting cornerbacks. Kamal Abrams made a tremendous catch and I expect more from him moving forward.

The play of the tailbacks wasn't horrible even though the offensive line struggled against a physical BYU front seven. UConn used the fullback more than I was expecting with Jazzmar Clax and Matt Walsh getting a decent amount of snaps.

I really like what Alec Bloom can bring to this team. He reminds me of a young Ryan Griffin and he has the athletic ability to be used down the field. He made a tremendous diving catch for one of his two receptions. Quarterbacks Casey Cochran and Chandler Whitmer were OK Both could have been better at finishing off drives.. Cochran had some badly overthrown balls early including one turning into an interception and he tended not to survey the field as much as he did late last season. He tended to drop back and whichever side of the field he was supposed to throw the ball to was exactly what he did. Whitmer took some big risks at times which has been an issue with him in the past. At different times the team moved well with each of them at the controls and nine different receivers had catches of at least 10 yards which is a promising sign.

I thought true freshmen offensive lineman Trey Rutherford and Ryan Crozier didn't look out of place when they were in there. On the other side, perhaps it was due to Kaufusi but Dalton Gifford had his struggles.

Defensively, I thought Junior Joseph had some pretty good moments while at first glance, all the cornerbacks seemed to have their struggles. It can't be easy being a cornerback playing against a guy like Hill as you have a split second to decide whether to come up and force on the run or stay in coverage.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice write up

August 30, 2014 3:41 AM 

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