Wednesday, August 12, 2015

DE/LB Carrezola off to impressive start at UConn camp

I'm still not sure if I should call sophomore Luke Carrezola a linebacker or a defensive end but this much I know, he is certainly looking like an impact player.

Today was practice No. 6 for the Huskies and the first that the media was able to watch. Once the team finished with the stretching and positional work, Carrezola began to make his presence felt in 11 on 11 and 1 on 1 drills. He showed tremendous explosion off the edge and I believe the only way he could have been in the backfield any more would be if he lined up at running back. If I were giving out three stars like they do in hockey, Carrezola. DT Foley Fatukasi and RB Ron Johnson would be my picks.

"He is tough," UConn coach Bob Diaco said, "He is the epitome of effort and energy. He has development to do as a young player and the season kind of got cut short of stalled (due to injury)  but he is going to be a great player here."

Carrezola showed tremendous potential in the six games that he played as a true freshman and if he had stayed healthy, I truly expected him to play a bigger role in the second half of the season.

Listed at 242 a season ago, now Carrezola is listed at 255 pounds. He certainly looks like he is ready to make his presence felt.

"Now I am really excited for the season and just came into camp ready to go, give my best for the team," Carrezola said. "We have a great trainers here so they helped me every step of the way when I got hurt. Every day I just worked as hard as I could on rehab, as hard as I could in the weight room and I just developed my body.

"I am very comfortable, I love this defense, I love this team and I am going to give everything I can for UConn and the UConn fans. I am fine playing with a chip on my shoulder but like everybody else I am looking to get better and just get some wins."

As for the additional weight he is carrying ...

"Coach (Matt) Balis has done a great job with me and I just love him to death," Carrezola said. "I put on good weight, I am still running well and I am excited. Coach Balis, I'll tell you he will work you out."

Carrezola's teammates have taken notice of his development.

"He is unbelievable," said sophomore tight end Tommy Myers. "Like all of us, he is just working so hard. I think we have all taken that step to the next level not only physically and mentally but also just leaning the game.

"We watch film very single day and the defense just looks unbelievable this year. I think it is just going to be very good."

As for the practice, not much to report. No surprises on the starting defense as it is the same as what was listed in the preseason prospectus (Kenton Adeyemi-Julian Campenni-Foley Fatukasi-Carrezola-Graham Stewart-Junior Joseph-Graham Stewart-Jamar Summers-Jhavon Williams-Obi Melifonwu-Andrew Adams). On offense Ron Johnson looked very quick at tailback and I do mean very quick while Noel Thomas carries himself as a No. 1 receiver. It looks very much like it is Bryant Shirreffs' job to lose at quarterback. Brendan Vechery was the No. 1 center (I will have more on that on the story I am filing for the Register).

As for Diaco's thoughts on the first six practices, here's what he said.

"Andreas has worked on his game, he looks better and better, the two safeties (Adams and Melifonwu) have raised to a level that we expect from them which is greatness so that is positive. Junior (Joseph), (Marquise) Vann has had a lot of pressure on him from Matt (Walsh), he has responded and so has Matt. Kenton (Adeyemi) has put the best six practices together since I have been around so far so there are so many."

If there was a negative in Diaco's eyes, he did see too many people on the ground. At this time of the year it is more about technique than delivering highlight variety hits. I asked Diaco in particular about the huge shot safety Junior Lee put on tailback Max DeLorenzo.

"We train that at other times," Diaco said. "It was outside the tempo. Nobody should have even been on the ground. We will clip every one of those when a guy was on the ground and show it to the players in terms of 'hey, we are going to have trouble being as good as we can be without everybody being available. We can get real good but we need all of this manpower too."
Diaco also gave his thoughts on Shirreffs saying, "he is no longer the new guy. It's over, been there, done that, that's done and here we go. He goes out there and really tries to take command. It is really nice, it is what the team needs and what the offense needs. Bryant in particular has done a nice job leading that group."

Here are his thoughts on tailback Arkeel Newsome:
"He has to squeeze the ball," Diaco said. "If he doesn't squeeze the ball, he is not going to play. If he squeezes the ball he is going to play a bunch. he is electric. We have to get the ball to him in many kinds of different ways and he will hold on it. Ball security has been strong so far through camp so he will get a bunch."

I am going to hold off going too much into who was running with the second team especially among the true freshmen until Saturday. If the pecking order is the same, I would feel more comfortable discussing those players but I saw three true freshmen getting a serious amount of second-team reps.

Finally, I am having issues with my Tout video app  on my phone so until that gets taken care of, you will not be getting videos from me.

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