Sunday, August 27, 2017

UConn football: Diggs making progress; starting punter TBA

The first of the weekly in-season press conference with Randy Edsall wrapped up a little more than 30 minutes ago.

Not a ton of news to report which I good news at this time of year because the only newsworthy items would likely be injuries or departures from the program.

Not much new on the injury front as defensive lineman Philippe Okounam and linebacker E.J. Levenberry have long term recovery time tables. True freshman Abiola Olaniyan is a recent add to the injury report as was mentioned on Edsall's first radio show of the year. The one player we need to keep an eye on is linebacker Vontae Diggs who injured his knee during preseason camp. I asked Edsall the earliest we might see Diggs back on the field.

"He could be ready for South Florida, could be I said, quote me on could be but don't quote me on anything else," Edsall said. "He is chomping at the bit to get out there. He did a little bit of individual work today. I will be anxious to see what Bob (Howard, UConn's athletic trainer) has to say about him after practice to see how Vontae felt doing some of those individual drills."

I also asked Edsall who the starting punter is going to be since redshirt freshman Brett Graham and true freshman Luke Magliozzi are listed as co-starters on the depth chart. Edsall took a coin out of his pocket and flipped it drawing laughs from the assembled media.

"I don't know right now," Edsall said. "That probably could be a game-time decision it could be a situation where we punt them both because right now it hasn't worked itself out where I can say that one guy is over the other. There are things I like right now, we just have to be a little more consistent and that is what I am hoping to see here in the next couple of days, who is the guy who is a little bit more consistent.

"Luke's done a good job of coming in but it has been tough on him with the whirlwind tour he was on to get here and also getting out there, getting with a snapper and holder for the first time in his career and all of those things. From that standpoint, I think he has done a fabulous job. I think he has the best upside in terms of strongest leg, height, hang time on his punts but I have to be smart when I make a decision to make sure I do what is right because I don't want to have somebody's confidence take a hit if they are not ready because sometimes that can backfire."

 As for the players who came in for interviews, I spent most of my time with quarterback David Pindell and quite a bit of time with true freshman cornerback/return specialist Jordan Swann. The stuff from Pindell will be featured in Thursday's advance while I have to figure out when to write about Swann. One thing he said that caught my attention is that he has worked with former Baltimore Ravens punt returner Jermaine Lewis who returned six punts for touchdowns in his nine-year NFL career. Twice Lewis led the NFL in punts returned, he led the league with 519 punt return yards in 2001. He also was the NFL leader with an average of 16.1 yards per punt return in 2000. In his career he averaged 11.1 yards on 295 punt returns in the regular season and 21.8 yards on 76 kickoff returns.


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