Saturday, November 29, 2014

UConn's freshman class learning on the job

Trey Rutherford (77) and Ron Johnson (3) are among the true freshmen
who have made an impact during the 2014 season for a 2-8 UConn team
Few things are more revealing about the 2014 football team more than the fact that there will likely be more true freshmen than seniors to see action in the last two games of the season.

I would expect no more than eight seniors to take the field later today when the Huskies play at Memphis while nine true freshmen could see time.

When you break it down, seniors Alex Mateas (center), Deshon Foxx (receiver) and Reuben Frank (defensive end) have started every game, Geremy Davis has been in there for every game when he has been cleared to play, defensive tackle B.J. McBryde started the first six games but just one of the last four; Gus Cruz was the starting left guard for the first nine games before losing his job to freshman Ryan Crozier; Chandler Whitmer started eight games in a row before giving way to sophomore Tim Boyle while Brandon Steg has played the last eight games, mostly on special teams.

While many of the seniors have been losing playing time as the losses have been piling up, the role of the freshmen have continued to increase.

Jamar Summers moved into a starting role following the season-ending shoulder injury suffered by cornerback Byron Jones, either Ron Johnson or Arkeel Newsome have been the starting tailback in the last five games while Crozier is set to make his second straight start. Brice McAllister, Alec Bloom, Steve Hashemi, Luke Carrezola, Vontae Diggs and Trey Rutherford have seen time as true freshmen as well.

The seniors have spoken about how they have tried to lay the foundation for future success even though they will leave as one of the few classes not to post a winning season. The freshmen have conversations between each other as they continue to adjust to the college game.

"We talk about it every day," Crozier said. "We are learning new stuff, what we need to do better, what are the older guys doing that we aren't doing and we talk about that stuff. We are going to be those older guys next year and we have get the (incoming) freshmen (going). We were in their shoes a year ago when we were playing so we just have to get better."
Johnson echoed Crozier's sentiments.

"We always talk about our situations, how we are handling it," Johnson said. "We love competing and that is what brought us here, that is what we have been doing every week and we are going to get there.

"I feel confident we can get this turned around, we look up to the seniors on the team and they are role models. We learn from them and it is a fun experience."


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