Thursday, April 20, 2017

Young players to be in spotlight at UConn spring game

Fans will get their first look at the 2017 UConn football team at tomorrow's spring game.

While the conditions aren't ideal with weather guessers calling for rain for most of the day and night, after sitting through the UCF, Temple and Tulane losses a season ago, a few rain drops hopefully won't dampen the fans' enthusiasm tomorrow night.

It will give me the first chance to see the actual pecking order at all the positions on offense and defense. In the practices I went to,  I didn't get to see much in the way of 11 on 11 drills. I did get to see which players were running with the first team at some of the positional drills and in particular the ones featuring the offensive line.

I'm especially interested to see how the freshmen look tomorrow night.

At practices last year running backs Nate Hopkins and Ja'Kevious Vickers looked the part and usually were good for at least one impressive run a day. Receivers Keyion Dixon and Quayvon Skanes saw time with the starting offense in recent spring practices while I am also curious to see how offensive linemen Cam DeGeorge and Nino Leone look.

On the defensive side of things, it is more of a veteran group but I've seen redshirt freshman Tyler Coyle and true freshman Omar Fortt running with the first team quite a bit.

As for the non seniors, one of the more noteworthy aspects of spring practice has been Brandon Bisack working ahead of former starter Bryant Shirreffs at quarterback at times while junior defensive lineman Sheriden Lawley has been a player I've noticed making his presence felt.

It would be a mistake to read too much into who is seeing first-team reps at certain positions. The offensive line has been missing center Ryan Crozier and guard Tommy Hopkins throughout spring because of injury, quarterback Donovan Williams has been sidelined as has been defensive end Luke Carrezola. The quarterback situation isn't going to be sorted out for a while with a junior-college transfer and two freshmen joining the team for summer/fall camp. I would also expect former South Carolina running back David Williams to be a player to push for a significant role once he arrives on campus.

There won't be much in the way of special teams work. Edsall said they may have punter Brent Graham take a snap and kick to a returner but the punter, snapper and return specialist would be the only players on the field. Trust me, the Huskies will get back to actually returning punts but it won't be happening on Friday night.

Past spring games have proven to not necessarily been an accurate glimpse into the future. The top two passers in last year's event where Tyler Davis and Garrett Anderson, who combined to throw for 111 yards during the 2016 season. On the other side of the ball, UConn had 13 players with at least 20 tackles during the 2016 season and they combined for a total of 13 tackles in the spring game while players who left the team before the start of the season combined for 14 tackles.

Admission and parking is free and gates open at noon.


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