Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Winning is No. 1 on DeLorenzo's wish list at UConn

The most important play in UConn's season opener was just moments away from taking place when UConn offensive coordinator Frank Verducci sent in Matt DeLorenzo along with fellow running back Ron Johnson. Needing a yard for the game-clinching first down, there was little doubt that the Huskies were going to run the ball. However, Verducci made the decision to have Johnson run in the hole between left tackle Rich Levy and tailback turned h-back Max DeLorenzo.

"Trust," DeLorenzo said after Tuesday's practice. Coach Verducci even after the game was like 'are you surprised we went with your personnel there?'"

DeLorenzo's response was "a little bit but at that same time not really because I know he trusts me and when it comes down to winning the game he will call my number."

DeLorenzo carried the ball 212 times in the last three seasons and had another 14 receptions. In the 20-15 win over Villanova, the former Berlin High star did not have a rushing attempt and had one pass reception. Still, he played a pivotal role in helping the Huskies engineer three scoring drives.

"Max has approached the season with a focus and determination that his circumstances are going to change, he is going to help will this group to have the collective circumstances change and he hasn't missed a beat," UConn coach Bob Diaco said. "He has been that way since we got back together and he kind of said 'hey whatever my role is, I don't care, I'll Bleed Blue and I want to serve the team.'"

DeLorenzo will be ready if asked to carry the rushing load but if all he is asked to do is serve in a blocking capacity, he will be ready to roll.

"It's been four years of whether I redshirted or not of straight losing," DeLorenzo said. "I come from a winning background, a winning family, a winning program so the main thing for me is winning so if that means being the featured back, if that means sitting every play ...

"I want to win, that is the most important thing. I am going to get mine, I will and I just have to wait for that moment.

"Everyone wants to be that guy, the featured player. Sometimes it will come and other times you have to take a step back and do what you need to do to help the team win because they will be successful with or without me."

DeLorenzo believes that sophomore Josh Marriner, who threw an outstanding block on Johnson's 10-yard run on the opening drive, and is seeing time at h-back, is cut from the same cloth.

"Josh is the same way, he is a team-first guy," DeLorenzo said. "He just loves to come out here playing and same thing for him, whether he is getting the ball, catching the ball or blocking, he is going to do it full stream, full go. He is like a little energizer bunny out there and he is going to do his job full speed."

DeLorenzo's selfless approach to things has not been lost on his teammates.

"DeLo has been a great leader since he has been here, he has been one of the least selfish guys on the team, he is willing to do anything to help us win and he is a tough kid," said offensive guard Tyler Samra, the only senior to start on offense against Villanova.

Not too much to report from today's practice. Obviously much of the focus is on getting a look how Army's triple-option offense operates. I don't plan on going into details on how thing all transpired but in the pre-practice press conference, Diaco said he expected the Huskies to handle the Army offense much better than they did in last season's 35-21 loss.

In the we'll have to see what it's worth department, Matt Walsh saw plenty of time at linebacker with the first-team offense and Dan Oak was with the first team offense at center for the latter portions of practice. Starters Marquise Vann and Brendan Vechery were taking part in practice so it will be interesting on Saturday to see if Tuesday's reps translate into more snaps for either Walsh or Oak. Certainly Walsh should benefit from the additional work since he was playing fullback a season ago when the UConn defense squared off with Army.

Freshman receiver Tyraiq Beals continues to impress in practice. He made a beautiful fingertip grab in the sideline right in front of me. I expect him role to be a major one this season. The jury is still out on what junior receiver Dhameer Bradley's role will be. He was not among the receivers going through the 11 on 11 drills. A lot of the numbers change during practice especially those with the "scout" or "look" team who are asked to run the opposing team's offense and defense and it looked to be like he was a part of that unit as he was during the last practice I attended.

There was a representative from the Philadelphia Eagles at practice and hearing that the Washington Redskins will be sending a scout to Saturday's game.

Finally, according to an official from UConn, about 25,000 tickets are sold for the Army game (at the same point last week about 18,000-19,000 were sold and the announced attendance was 26,113 so perhaps there will be a crowd in excess of 30,000 on Saturday. The last five home games have each failed to break the 30,000 mark.


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