Friday, September 19, 2014

Youth is being served on UConn's defense

The last couple of the year UConn's defense was spearheaded by the play of grizzled veterans.

However, one look at this year's numbers heading into tonight's American Athletic Conference opener tell a different story. The top five tacklers are players with eligibility remaining at season's end. Taking things one step further, there are seven freshmen who have recorded tackles for the Huskies.

In tonight's game, two freshmen in particular have a chance to shine. Redshirt freshman Cole Ormsby from Windsor has been seeing time at defensive end since Angelo Pruitt has been sidelined. With Pruitt retiring due to his injuries, Ormsby is not only expected to see significant time at defensive end but he is expected to split time with Kenton Adeyemi. The rapid development of true freshman Luke Carrezola is a major reason why Ormsby was able to move to defensive end.

"Last week (Adeyemi and Ormsby) participated at the same rate," UConn coach Bob Diaco said. "The outside linebackers, a few of them have a higher threshold of plays and we have three real good ones standing in the line together (ahead of Ormsby). Not that Luke Carrezola has arrived, he is just a true freshman, but he is really going to be an impact player in the future. I have been so impressed with him as a youngster so we want to keep his participation up so when Angelo sustained his lower-leg (injury), it is really nothing sustained, it is something he has genetically but when it got irritated we needed another player there and Cole is the most obvious choice. He works to keep his body size down and now he doesn't need to do that. He is really a big guy, maybe not the tallest guy but he has a real big torso and lower body so he will have a great opportunity to get even bigger than he is right now."

Ormsby recorded a sack in last week's loss to Boise State, one of three the Huskies recorded in the first three games of the season.

"I am excited because I want to prove to everybody that I can do it," Ormsby said during media day. "I am way more prepared with the new coaching staff, Coach (Vincent) Brown, Coach Wolt (Kevin Wolthausen) teaching me everything they know just trying to be disciplined with what they are teaching me.

I am ready for anything. Whatever the team needs me to do. We keep each other in check. I would want somebody telling me if I am messing up or doing bad in practice.

Linebacker Junior Joseph (seven tackles) is the top tackler among the freshmen followed by cornerback Jamar Summers. Ormsby, Fatukasi, Carrezola, Cam Stapleton and Vontae Diggs.

Last year safety Obi Melifonwu finished as the team's second-leading tackler as a redshirt freshman but the next leading tackler among freshmen was wide receiver and special-teams dynamo Noel Thomas.

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