Saturday, April 16, 2016

Some thoughts from UConn's spring game

There will be more to write about today's Blue-White Game as well as the interviews after the 28-3 win by the Blue but figured I would pass on some of my observations.

I'll start with the position battles I highlighted in my preview capsule.

What I wrote is in bold with my impressions underneath

The battle for backup quarterback between Garrett Anderson and Tyler Davis
Anderson seems to be the guy here, He did throw a couple of early interceptions while Davis had one of his own but as the game wore on Anderson seemed to get more comfortable. Three of the four touchdown-scoring drives were engineered by Anderson.

The push for the starting safety spot alongside Obi Melifonwu continues to be too close to call with Anthony Watkins, Brice McAllister and Marshe' Terry among the top candidates.
Watkins got the start but with so much underneath stuff utilized in the passing game, there wasn't much of a chance for the safeties to shine. Watkins had one tackle, McAllister had four and Terry three. Third-string safeties led the way as Aaron Garland and Chris Jean-Pierre finished with six tackles each

It will also be a chance to see transfers E.J. Levenberry, a former Florida State linebacker, and Billy Williams, a tight end who played for offensive coordinator Frank Verducci at Northern Iowa on action.
Levenberry had three tackles while Williams finished with three catches for 63 yards

The right offensive guard position also bears watching. Trey Rutherford was the starter at the beginning of spring practice but more recently, Brendan Vechery and Richard Levy have seen time at right guard with the first-team offensive line.
Levy got the start and I will have more on his move to guard likely at some point tomorrow. Levy has seen time at both guard positions during spring practice and seems to have found a home at right guard.

Starting quarterback Bryant Shirreffs and top receiver Noel Thomas didn't play long since they were dealing with the flu. Center Ryan Crozier was also not in there as much as the starting offensive linemen.

I mentioned on Wednesday how much quicker tailback Ron Johnson looked in the final spring practice I watched before the spring game. He followed that up with an impressive performance highlighted by a 63-yard run. Johnson finished with 91 yards on nine carries and added four catches for 24 yards. It would aid the offense if both Johnson and Arkeel Newsome are featured in the offensive game plan.

I believe that Cam Stapleton was vastly underutilized a season ago and he was an absolute monster today. His three tackles for loss and two sacks don't even begin to illustrate how dominant he was. If this is a sign of how Stapleton has to be, he needs to get on the field more.

Alec Bloom was the long snapper, Tyler Davis the holder and McAllister joined Newsome on kickoff returns. Brian Lemelle handled the punt returns but had kind of a tough day.

There were some drops by the receivers but it seemed to be a good day for the young wide receivers and tight ends.

Cornerback Javon Hadley had a strong afternoon with nine tackles and an interception while Vanderbilt transfer Tre Bell (who will need to sit out this season due to transfer regulations) and Jalen Stevens also had interceptions.

The crowd was announced at 5,500 which is 2,000 more than last year but considering what a gorgeous day it was, I thought there might be more there today.

It was an interesting mix with former players and some recruits also in attendance.

Not long after the game, UConn received its second commitment in the Class of 2017 when defensive end Rob Saulin committed. Saulin had 10 sacks as a junior at Pennsville (N.J.) Memorial.

Very excited to announce my commitment to play football at the University of Connecticut🏈 @UConnFootball
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