Sunday, September 28, 2014

New potential wrinkle in UConn's offense

It is wise not to read too much into any production during the garbage time portion of football games.

As was the case with Tim Boyle's impressive drive late in the Boise State, Deshon Foxx's impressive work running the read option in the closing minutes of yesterday's loss to Temple was done against second-string defenders and a conservative defensive game plan. Still, with an offense that has done little except to prove it can consistently hand the other team glorious scoring opportunities, perhaps UConn has something new to bring to the table.

Foxx has been quietly seeing some time at quarterback in practice since one final concussion ended Casey Cochran's playing career with the Huskies.

It was the way I thought UConn would end up going because I specifically looked for walk-on Will Rishell, who has been listed as the No. 3 quarterback since Cochran stopped playing, to take some snaps in pregame warmups (we aren't allowed into practice once preseason camp ends) and have yet to see it. I didn't even see Rishell among the Huskies who made the trip to South Florida earlier this month. I speculated that Kamal Abrams, a productive high school quarterback, could be the guy but a couple of weeks ago the word was that Deshon Foxx was the one who would be the Huskies' emergency quarterback moving forward.

When Bob Diaco met with the media the day after announcing that Cochran's playing career was over I asked him if Abrams or another player was being groomed to be an emergency quarterback.

"Not any that I am interested in saying" was Diaco's guarded response.

It wasn't an emergency that resulted in Foxx lining up in the shotgun on UConn's final offensive possession yesterday. He handed off to Ron Johnson on the first three times and five times during a nine-play drive.

For those wondering, Foxx said he played quarterback at Brookville High School in Lynchburg, Virginia although his team operated in a spread offense.

On Saturday Foxx ran the ball three times including a 26-yard effort, the Huskies' longest run since Lyle McCombs rumbled for 38 yards against Southern Methodist on Nov. 16. Likely just to give future opponents something else to have to prepare for, the UConn staff had Foxx throw the ball and he completed a 4-yard pass to Noel Thomas.

"It is the end of the game, you don't want to risk anything happening to your two quarterbacks," Foxx said. "I have been doing it here or there.

Foxx, who did not catch a pass in the game, isn't sure if he will get future opportunities to play quarterback but he does offer the dimension of a running threat at the quarterback position which is something the Huskies haven't had since Scott McCummings was used as the quarterback in the wildcat formation a couple years ago.

"If they feel like it will help the offense," Foxx said. "I know they will do whatever for our team to win they will do whatever they have to do."

Diaco made it clear after the Temple game that not only is Foxx viewed as a potential option at quarterback, but he will not just be a running threat if called upon again in live game action.

"Foxx is a quarterback," Diaco said. "He can throw too, he can throw down the field. He can throw the intermediate (routes), he can throw the ball shallow, he can move with the ball and throw on the run and we have a whole package of plays for him, runs and passes."

A trace of a smile came across Foxx's face when he was asked if he could throw the ball down the field.

"I can do a little something, maybe one day we will see," Foxx said.If nothing else, that final drive enabled UConn to finish a game with more than 100 rushing yards for the first time this season.

Max DeLorenzo ran eight times for 31 yards on the opening drive of the game while freshman Arkeel Newsome took a pass from Whitmer 74 yards for the Huskies' only offensive touchdown and the team's longest offensive play since Shakim Phillips' 75-yard touchdown reception in a Sept. 14, 2013 loss to Maryland.

"That was definitely cool," Foxx said of the former Ansonia High star's first collegiate touchdown. "I was very happy that he was able to get the touchdown especially as a freshman to show what he could do. He got into the open field, he made a couple people miss and he was in the end zone quick. That is another weapon we have.

"He doesn't complain, he doesn't say anything. Whatever you tell him to do, he does it to the best of his ability. I am proud of him and happy to have him on our team."

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