Saturday, August 13, 2016

Wrapping up a scorcher of a practice at UConn

Just got home after UConn's practice and it was absolutely brutal out there standing and watching even with the PowerAde I bought on  my way to UConn, I sure it must have been a barrel of laughs to have pads and helmets on.

Midway through the practice UConn coach Bob Diaco brought the team together so everybody could get water to deal with the conditions. He also challenged them to finish practice off strong and these are the moments that will set up how the Huskies execute in late game situations. That will be the basis of the story I am filing so more on that later.

As for what I saw at practice:

Redshirt freshman John Robinson continues to have a strong camp at cornerback.  Also, Kyle Schafenacker seems to have moved into a guard spot with the second team offensive line. Neither player appeared on the two-deep chart released during the AAC media day but if a current depth chart was published, I would say that both would be on there.

Diaco said he doesn't even think of true freshman long snapper Nick Zecchino any longer as a freshman. Zecchino was the first long snapper out there followed by Alec Bloom.

There was a scary moment when both starting right offensive tackle Andreas Knappe and inside linebacker Junior Joseph were slow to get up due to different collisions on a play late in practice. Knappe stayed on the field. Joseph did remain on the field at first but eventually came out to get checked out. The way the medical staff were moving Joseph's knee and lower leg seems to be a good sign. Joseph walked off at the end of practice without being accompanied by any members of the training staff but perhaps it was merely a cramping situation. Jalen Stevens also was down on the field after attempting to make a tackle late in practice but once again, I wouldn't be surprised if he was merely worn out from the grueling conditions.

Jon Hicks, injured during the Wednesday morning practice, did not practice but he was there in uniform. It is a situation I will be monitoring as camp moves on. Chris Britton got second-team reps at inside linebacker in place of Hicks.

Both true freshmen scholarship running backs looked good. Ja'Kevious Vickers, playing with the second-team offense, ripped off a long touchdown run of perhaps 75 or 80 yards and had some other nice runs as did Nate Hopkins. Diaco also talked up true freshman offensive tackle Cam DeGeorge, one of three true frosh working with the third team offensive line.

"Vick and Nate, Donovan Williams, Q (Quayvon Skanes) at slot (receiver), Keyion (Dixon) at wide receiver those are really highly talented guys," Diaco said. "It is easy to not think of him (Zecchino) as a freshman, I can't bestow on you a better compliment than that. He might not have to knock anybody off the ball like we might ask Cam DeGeorge to do who is going to be a heck of a tackle here. He shows all the tools of being a great tackle here, he is just a freshman so he is not going to be ready (this season) but he is going to be a heck of a good one. Nicky Zecchino is doing a great job. Tahj (Herring-Wilson) on the perimeter at the corner."

Luke Carrezola and Cam Stapleton each had fumble recoveries when the first team offenses and defenses went head to head.

There were officials on hand for the scrimmage portion of practice and Diaco told them practice would end as soon as the offense got another first down. Freshman quarterback Donovan Williams took care of that with a long completion to classmate Mason Donaldson.

Still no sign of true freshman tight end Jasen Rose. Diaco said he was still not feeling well.

"He's (still) not feeling great so he is getting better," Diaco said. We will let you guys know more when we know more


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