The UConn Huskies have just passed the halfway point in spring practice this week as they through practices seven, eight and nine – they are allowed 15 total workouts – before the annual Blue-White Spring Game on April 20 at Rentschler Field.
And at the halfway point this Tuesday, Huskies head coach Paul Pasqualoni talked about what he’s seen so far.
“I like the effort, I really do,” the coach said. “They come out and they practice hard every day. One of the things I like is we’re making progress getting back to running the ball. I’m pleased with what we’re doing from a ‘run the ball’ standpoint. I’m pleased with the quarterbacks and their approach. It’s seems like they’re gaining confidence being more familiar with things each day.
“We’ve got to continue to keep working defensively up front. Last year we had to replace Kendall (Reyes), we had to replace Tywon (Martin). This year we have to replace Ryan Wirth. We’re not practicing with Shamar (Stephen) right now so it’s like that same scenario last year. Shamar is recovering from some shoulder surgery that we did, so we’re going to give him the maximum amount of days. He doesn’t have to prove to us that he can play. He was a good player last year. Obviously, Jesse’s (Joseph) not practicing (Achilles surgery), so younger defensive guys are having to step up. We’ve got a lot of young guys on the defense, so that’s one of the areas of concern right now.
When asked – again – about the lack of production last season from the run game, Pasqualoni again spoke about the lack of consistency.
“It just seemed like it was at times it was the offensive line, at times it was the (missed) fullback’s block, at times the back could have made a better decision,” Pasqualoni said. “It just seemed like there were games when we were fine but overall, it just wasn’t consistent enough. On the other side of the coin, this offensive line has been together now so there should be more consistency on offense. I think there are some signs of that.”
What signs, coach?
“Just getting back to having guys not trying to do too much. I think a year ago, there were was some frustration there and at times Lyle (McCombs) tried to make a cut that wasn’t there,” Pasqualoni said. “Maybe a little less pitter-pattering and more going. He seems to be well-focused on that. Joe (Williams) and Max (DeLorenzo) have just got to keep working.
“What I like about Joe is he’s gotten a more focused approach to things. He’s been a much more consistent player in practice. He’s done it for seven practices but we’ve got 15 practices here and then 29 more in the preseason. But if he can keep up … he’s got the speed. I want him to play in the game as hard as he’s been playing in practice. In practice he’s been pretty good about just putting the pedal down and going. When he does that, he’s pretty good.
“The same thing with Max, he’s got to not do too much. Max has got some wiggle to him, so I don’t want to see too much of that stuff, I want to see … put your foot down and go. Make a cut and go.”
Are we going to see an more wide-open offense this fall?
“No, I don’t think so,” Pasqualoni said. “We’re going to run our offense and if we run the ball 35 or 40 times, that fine and if we have to pass it 35 times, that’s fine too. I think that will depend on what we’re seeing (from the defense) and what we feel we can get done. Take what the defense will give us and go. Make good decisions, which all goes back to the quarterbacks. If we run it, we run it and if we throw it, we throw it.”