Saturday, August 15, 2015

First trip to Rentschler shows UConn has plenty of work to do

Offensive coordinator Frank Verducci summed up what transpired at today's scrimmage perfectly when he said "it wasn't pretty."

I'm not sure much more should be said so this will go down as shortest blog post of my career.

OK, maybe not.

I wasn't down at field level until the very end when the third and fourth stringers were going head to head but it felt like many of the inexperienced offensive players' eyes were as big as saucers with this being the first Rentschler Field experience in key roles for many of them. It was also the first time in camp that referees were on the field and there were also some NFL scouts in attendance so it was a brave new world for many of them.

Before the first snap there was a false start in the middle of the offensive line where the Huskies are very young. Still, had Dhameer Bradley secured a perfectly-throw pass by Bryant Shirreffs on third down the drive would have continued. An interception by Andrew Adams ended the next drive and later on Tim Boyle's pass bounced off Josh Marriner's hands resulting in a pick 6 by redshirt freshman safety Anthony Watkins. One of the first promising drives was short circuited by back to back delay of game penalties and a sack by Cole Ormsby.

"Any time that happens it is not going to work out." UConn coach Bob Diaco said of setting the tone with a penalty on the first offensive play. "It is hard enough to move the football and get the field flipped, let alone shoot yourself in the foot, the next man in offense comes down the field, makes a high red zone penetration and then penalty, penalty, sack and before they did anything they were on the 42 (after getting to the 23)."

There was some good news.

Shirreffs and Noel Thomas hooked up on a couple of gorgeous connections. The first one was a perfectly throw sideline out (perhaps the toughest throw for a quarterback) with Thomas' ability to secure the football and get one foot down bearing just a passing resemblance to Geremy Davis. True freshman Tyraiq Beals continues to work with the second-team offense (as he did in Wednesday's practice) and he had one impressive catch. He is also in the mix for work as a punt returner. Marriner had a string of solid runs on that aforementioned drive to the 23 before the offense self destructed and Max DeLorenzo had the offense's lone TD in the scrimmage.

Beals, second-string left tackle Matthew Peart, second-string defensive tackle David Ryslik and tight ends Chris Lee and Zordan Holman are among the true freshmen in line to not only play right away but be on the two-deep chart heading into the Villanova game.

Defensively Junior Joseph (more on his in the next day or two) looks ready to become a major factor at middle linebacker, Graham Stewart had a sack and defensive tackles Julian Campenni and Foley Fatukasi wreaked havoc.

With No. 1 holder Blake Feagles no longer a member of the team, quarterbacks Tim Boyle and Garrett Anderson got work as holders on field goal attempts before the start of the scrimmage. The most noteworthy part of that part of practice is how players like Luke Carrezola, Javon Hadley and John Robinson nearly had blocked field goals.

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