Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Loss of Myers a big blow for UConn; Coney impresses

It has been a relatively quiet year in the injury department for the Huskies. Obviously, offensive lineman Ryan Crozier being lost for season before camp even started was a major loss so was losing defensive end Cole Ormsby for the season. Now comes another big blow as sophomore tight end Tommy Myers suffered a season-ending ankle injury in last week's win over Houston.

UConn coach Bob Diaco confirmed during his weekly press conference that Myers would miss this week's game at Temple as well as the bowl game.

"It will require that amount of time that he won't be able to play this weekend or be ready for a bowl game but shortly after that he will be full speed. I'd be shocked if he is not fully participating in winter conditioning."

Myers importance to the offense is deeper than his 16 receptions or 232 receiving yards would indicate. Myers delivered key blocks on many of Arkeel Newsome's most explosive runs and he could be missed more as a blocker than as a receiver.

"It is going to be committee kind of how it looked (when Myers was injured in the first quarter throwing a block on a Newsome run)," Diaco said. "There is not any other way to do it right now. The F position has been a conversation all year. Tommy, bless his heart, was fantastic. In terms of jobs, that is a huge loss because of what he did. It was a shock to everybody that he would continue to be able to do this more, more and more. He did the jobs of so many people and now we are going to have all hands on deck. Select a tool when you need a tool."

On the depth chart true freshman Chris Lee was listed as a starter followed by classmate Zordan Holman. Diaco made it clear it was not simply going to be a case of plugging Lee in at Myers' position.

"He is a big skill athlete but he does a lot of power jobs, that in-line tight end looks a whole lot like a power player and it is very hard for a true freshman to be in that role as a power player," Diaco said. "We can get him involved at some moments but not all of the moments and he is still going to need a little bit of protection."

Myers' teammates will miss having him out on the field.

"He is very good at both blocking and catching passes," UConn junior receiver Noel Thomas said. "His strength is the biggest thing we are going to miss. Chris Lee is going to do a good job."

Diaco said quarterback Bryant Shirreffs, knocked out of the Houston game after a helmet to helmet hit, is day to day.

"He was feeling much better on Sunday than he was Saturday night and better on Monday than he was on Sunday," Diaco said. "He'll be out with the offense today but the amount of exertion is to be determined but I would expect him to be very minimal (in practice) today."

While Diaco wouldn't say it, my opinion is that it will be the Tim Boyle show on Saturday but time will tell.

Finally, Diaco wasn't optimistic about having receiver/punt returner Brian Lemelle on Saturday.

"I always hope to have him back because he is doing such a good job for us," Diaco said. "I think that is going to be a stretch. We are still working day to day. We would never even come close to putting somebody in harm's way for any reason at all. Although he might be cleared to do more, if he really can't function and perform at a high level to give himself great success, we would never ask him to do the jobs."

Some walk-ons can play four years without putting themselves in position to see snaps during the games. Well, former Naugatuck High receiver Bryan Coney is clearly not your average walk-on.

I've noticed that he's been getting second-team reps in practice and when Diaco mentioned the young receivers stepping up and maturing, Coney's name came up right after scholarship receivers Tyraiq Beals, Hergy Mayala, Aaron McLean and Frank Battle.

"He is a walk-on player here, he was one of the most prolific players in the state," Diaco said. "He has had a tremendous year, made an impact on the team, he is on the "look" team because he is a redshirted player. He will be a player next year who if continues to develop the way he has been developing, he will have some role for sure whether it is on the four running teams, he will play a role on the team next year. A big, tough, smart guy who loves playing football."

Thomas is also very impressed by what he has seen from Coney.

"He is always eager to learn. from when camp started until now, he has definitely gotten better and he helps the defense out a lot on the "look" team so I could definitely see him having a role," Thomas said

"No matter what he always has a smile on his face, he stays positive and encouraging and he will make plays."



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