Monday, September 29, 2014

UConn's Melifonwu is "day to day"

On Monday's conference call with the media UConn football coach Bob Diaco said that starting safety Obi Melifonwu, who appeared to injure his shoulder with 4:34 left in the second quarter of the loss to Temple when he dove at the legs of Temple running back Jamie Gilmore, is considered day to day and he is hopeful that Melifonwu will be able to play against Tulane on Oct. 11.

Diaco said Melifowu, who is third on the team with 20 solo tackles, was having his best game of the season before he was injured.

The news is not as promising on starting right tackle Dalton Gifford and backup safety Ellis Marder who Diaco said with both "be out a while" with lower-leg injuries suffered against Temple. I didn't see when Gifford was injured but he barely played at tackle following the opening series. When he did come back, he was clearly hobbled on the play resulting in Temple's second defensive touchdown while Marder, who had two tackles and a fumble recovery on special teams, needed help getting to the sidelines after going down on Saturday. After Melifonwu went down Marder was the player summoned off the bench to replace him and saw the majority of snaps at the position before he was injured.

Although Gifford started, Andreas Knappe played almost the entire game on Saturday. Redshirt freshman Tommy Hopkins will be Knappe's primary backup while Gifford is sidelined.

"He is a freshman trying to get better," Diaco said. "He will do a fine job, tough guy hard worker and wants to be good."

Diaco also didn't make a big deal out of former Hand High star Matt Walsh making his first career start at fullback against Temple saying that he likes both Walsh and Jazzmar Clax, who started three games this season (UConn went with two tight ends and no fullback to open up against Boise State. Diaco said Clax had a good week but also likes the progress he has seen from Walsh.

"I like them both," Diaco said. "I want to be sure we are honoring the preparation, creating accountability. The only way to do to do what we say and what we make important is important. Jazz has some great skills and ability and Matt is coming on too."

The bye week will not only give Melifonwu time to get healthy but should help backup quarterback Tim Boyle heal from his lower-leg pain. Diaco said if Boyle is health enough his plan is to play him every game and he is open to utilizing receiver Deshon Foxx at quarterback in future games. 

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