Tuesday, August 01, 2017

It's (mostly) all hands on deck as Edsall returns to UConn

When Randy Edsall was hired for his second stint as UConn's football coach the thing I was most curious about is what the roster is going to look like when the Huskies take the field later this month.

When he arrived at Maryland after his impressive run at UConn, the attrition rate in Edsall's first couple of seasons was downright staggering. If my math is correct, 28 players on the 2010 Maryland roster with remaining eligibility were not on the team in 2011, Edsall's first season at Maryland, including 11 players who took snaps in '10. Taking it one step further, there were 65 freshmen or sophomores on the Maryland roster in 2010 but only 39 stuck around through 2012.

Looking at the roster in the games notes for the 2016 finale, I count 13 players with remaining eligibility who are no longer here including just four (Teddy Allmendinger, Ron Johnson, Chris Lee, Jalen Stevens) who saw playing time in Bob Diaco's final season. Stevens went through Senior Day festivities so that decision was made before Edsall arrived. Legal problems played a role in the departures of Felton Blackwell and Nazir Williams while seven of those aforementioned 13 players were walk-ons when they arrived at UConn so when taking all factors into consideration, there wasn't an outrageous amount of attrition.

That could bode well for the upcoming season since there are seniors in key positions on both offense and defense. Edsall has been challenging his veterans to take on leadership roles.

"I am trying to provoke some thought and also trying to get them to understand what they really need to do," Edsall said. "I am not so much worried about the talent level, I am more worried about them taking ownership. The other thing I told them is this, I know we can be a good team because I know as coaches we are going to hold you accountable but if we are going to be a great team, they are going to have to hold themselves accountable. I am not worried about the talent, what I am worried about is getting guys to play as a team. If we can play as 11 every time we are out there and guys are going to hold everybody accountable, all the other things will take care of themselves.

"There is enough talent here to win but are we going to do these other things were we aren't going to be individuals, we are going to be unselfish, we are going to hold each other accountable. If we do that, we will win. If we don't do that and I don't care how much talent we have on the team, you are not gong to win anyhow. Yes, there is enough talent to win here but are we going to do these other things to allow us to put ourselves to be the best that we can be not just be good but to be the best we can be, to be great. That is the challenge that we have ahead of us as a group. If we as coaches have to do it all, we will be OK at a certain point but we will never get to the top of the mountain."

Speaking of departures, Bristol's Ben Pryor, a redshirt freshman defensive back who was announced as one of the late additions to the program by Edsall on media day, is no longer on the roster. I've been able to confirm that he is no longer a part of the program.

Fans who don't want to wait until the Aug. 31 season opener against Holy Cross to see the Huskies in action will have that opportunity as the Aug. 13 practice at Rentschler Field will be open to the public with a BBQ for season-ticket holders. Practice is set to start at 3:15 p.m. 


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