Wednesday, August 05, 2015

UConn's safety duo could be one of nation's best

There's plenty of question marks as UConn players report for preseason camp tomorrow. However, the safety position is not among them.

UConn returns Andrew Adams, who has started 19 games over the last three seasons, and Obi Melifonwu, who has started 23 games in the last two seasons. Adams was ranked second and Melifonwu fourth in total tackles a season ago. Reserve safety and special teams dynamo Junior Lee is also back.

UConn football coach Bob Diaco did not pull any punches when I asked him about starting safety tandem at American Athletic Conference media day.

"Tell me who is better tandem of safeties in the conference, tell me a better one?" Diaco said. "They played 800/900 plays so they are veterans, those two guys go into every single game expecting to dominate their individual matchups and be in disbelief when they have bad moments, it is good to have that kind of swagger, that kind of energy."

Perhaps the only things standing in the way of Adams and Melifonwu being touted as an elite safety tandem is improved play in pass coverage by Melifonwu. He is an intriguing prospect with size (listed at 6-foot-3, 216 pounds on UConn's roster), speed and intelligence. With two seasons as a starter under his belt, there's no reason he can't make strides defending the passing game.

Adams loves the potential of the secondary which includes the stating quartet from the latter stages of the season.
"I am very excited to see what our secondary can do," Adams said. "We worked hard in the offseason and in the spring on our pass defense. Jhavon is becoming a great player, he is becoming a great leader. Jamar Summers has some games under his belt last year so I am excited to see what he is going to do and Obi plays right next to me, I am excited to see what he is going to do. He is a freak athletically, he can run out of the gym, he is so fast and I have taken some extra time in the film room to study with him. I am just excited to see what we are all going to do as a group.

"We definitely know each other very well now, he knows what I am going to do before I do it and I am pretty sure he know what I am going to do before I do it. That definitely helps us, we have each other's back on the field.

"We are excited that we can improve. We have a lot of returning starters, we have grown as a defense, the chemistry has grown in the spring and over the summer we have worked on our defense. "

If there is any uncertainty surrounding the secondary it would center around who will be the No. 3 and 4 cornerbacks. It was a role filled by Summers last season before Byron Jones' season-ending injury.

"Brice McAllister got some snaps last year, he is a good player, he is coming along really well, we have Javon Hadley, I like Hadley, he is small but he is feisty. he will stick his nose in on the run and he is not afraid of anybody so I like where we are at (with) the corner position."

McAllister, Hadley and converted John Green got a bit of a baptism of fire a season ago and the game experience they were able to get a season ago could start paying dividends this season.

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