Saturday, April 11, 2015

Some observations from UConn's spring game

Bob Diaco's second spring practice came to an end with today's Blue-White Game.

Here are some thoughts from the game won by the Blue (featuring the starters on both offense and defense) 13-3 over the White. Early on starting quarterback Bryant Shirreffs looked pretty nervous in the early stages and like a player who is still shaking the rust off after sitting out last season following his transfer from North Carolina State. Five of his six passing attempts went to the running backs as the play calling was conservative to say the least. As the game went on, UConn got its tight ends more involved especially with passes down the seams which is something we have no seen since Ryan Griffin was suiting up for UConn. The only touchdown was a 41-yard pass from Shirreffs to Sean McQuillan. Alec Bloom had a 29-yard catch and Tommy Myers had a 23-yard catch. The trio combined for 12 catches in the game.

The run game was pedestrian and that is being kind. The four scholarship tailbacks averaged 2.6 yards per carry and there were too many drops in the game.

A season ago I thought receiver Brian Lemelle and cornerback Javon Hadley looked like two of the freshmen who showed the most promise in the 2013 season but both had relatively quiet sophomore seasons. I was impressed with what I saw from both of them. Hadley joined offensive lineman Brendan Vechery as the White team captains which was picked by the coaches based on the players who improved the most during spring practice. Joseph and center Ryan Crozier (much more on him tomorrow) were the Blue team captains.

The focus was predictably about the quarterbacks and in particular Shirreffs (13 of 24 for 168 yards) and Tim Boyle (14 of 24 for 118 yards) which overshadowed a solid effort by the defense.

The way the game was set up the first team offense went against the No. 2 defense, yet other than letting McQuillan get free, the game was dominated by the defense. The top three tacklers for the White team was Vontae Diggs, redshirt freshman DB Anthony Watkins and converted fullback Matt Walsh. John Green had a breakup in the end zone on a pass intended for Noel Thomas and Mikal Myers batted down two passes at the line of scrimmage. With Myers joining Julian Campenni, Foley Fatukasi and Kenton Adeyemi, UConn is going to be a hard time to run on especially with a vastly improved linebacker Junior Joseph in the middle.

Health wise, Diaco said the team came away rather clean. Tailback Ron Johnson did come out of the game but came back while reserve defensive lineman James Atkins had to be helped to the sidelines.

Walk-on running back Jason Thompson, a former Shelton High star, had a 40-yard run, the longest of the day, and also had a 28-yard catch. Ansonia's Arkeel Newsome led the White with four catches while Diaco continues to rave about Madison's Walsh who he said was in contention to be named game captain right down to the very end of the discussion.

There will be plenty more on the game once I transcribe the quotes from Diaco and the players.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you are going to see some great things from that trio of TE's!

April 13, 2015 12:16 PM 

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