Thursday, November 06, 2014

UConn welcomes tight ends back into passing game

It seems like a lifetime ago since the Bob Diaco era at UConn kicked off with a 35-10 loss to Brigham Young.

One aspect of that game that caught my attention was how often the tight ends were involved in the passing game as Sean McQuillan, Tommy Myers and Alec Bloom were targeted a total of nine times resulting in six catches. Through the first three games of the season UConn quarterbacks threw passes in the direction of the tight ends 15 times resulting in 10 completions. However, UConn also gave up 15 sacks and 29 tackles for loss.

With little other choice, the UConn coaching staff used the tight ends primarily as blockers as they were targeted on pass plays just five times in the next four games. However, considering how well the offensive line played against East Carolina, the coaches decided to reintroduce the tight ends into the passing equation once again.

According to the play by play, tight ends were targeted five times and the results were a season-high four catches for McQuillan and the first catch for Myers since the season opener.

"The offensive line has been great, progressing each and every week and the tight ends can be a little more involved in the passing game and don't have to stay in quite as much," McQuillan said. "It is nice to be versatile, get back to those things and get back to running some more routes than we have in the past.

"It is all about getting the win and whether that means I have to block on 90 percent of the plays or run routes 90 percent of the time, it doesn't matter, it is all about the game plan and what is going to help us win."

UConn gave up 24 sacks in the first six games of the season and countless other times the quarterbacks were able to avoid the pass rush to either get back to the line of scrimmage or get a yard or two. In the last two games there were just three sacks surrendered and most of the runs by the quarterbacks were of the designed variety.

"I think things are starting to click," senior center Alex Mateas said. Nothing really big has changed, they are starting to work and the coaches are doing a great job."

Left tackle Richard Levy believes having one game in 25 days gave the line a chance to tighten up some things.

"During the bye weeks we had a lot of (coaching) of what we are going to do and we put those bye weeks into action,' Levy said. "It is a great feeling because it shows how much we have matured."

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