News And Notes From UConn Football Spring Practice No.9

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What’s good?

OL Adam Masters and DT Ryan Wirth were added to the wounded list.

Masters had his lower leg booted during Saturday morning’s practice and Wirth just had a slight limp.

–         The not-so-good news on the injury front came today too when Coach Paul Pasqualoni talked about the potential future of senior running back D.J. Shoemate and the shoulder injury he sustained last year, earned him a medical redshirt for this season but has kept on the shelf for a couple of weeks so  far this spring.

Pasqualoni sent Shoemate in for an MRI on the shoulder Tuesday.

Shoemate’s college career is in jeopardy – because he won’t be able to redshirt again – unless his shoulder gets right.

–            “If his shoulder is not right and if there’s going to be chronic problems it certainly is,” Pasqualoni said. “So we’ve got to see what this shoulder [injury] is. We’re hopeful that he’s going to be ok but if he’s not he’s going to have a decision to make so we’ll see how that goes.”

Tough break for Shoemate but he’s a positive kid, solid in his faith – all the best to him or a quick and speedy recovery to play in 2012. Pasqualoni said he could know by the end of spring practice what the future holds for Shoemate but the latest he needs to know is like the first day of preseason practice.

– Pasqualoni said he turned OLB Andrew Opoku’s one-day suspension into an indefinite suspension despite the player tweeting he was waiting on his release from the school.

–            Nick Williams, Taylor Mack and Lyle McCombs are working as punt returners although special teams coach Clayton White said they’re looking at McCombs to do it down the road as something they’d like to see him be able to do while he’s at UConn but the Huskies were dead last in the Big East in punt return coverage, no fault of Williams who held the primary duties.

“Technique, penalties and effort,” White said. ‘We get that down the rest will happen. It’s been good so far; guys are working hard. Everything has been laid out for the players and they know where we can improve.”

Williams, Mack, Joe Williams and Deshon Foxx have been working it on kick return.

“I think I could have an impact,” said the speedy Foxx who’s also getting a look at receiver so the team can take advantage of his ability to blow by people. “as long as I can read the blocks a little bit better. I have to get used to the schemes they’re setting up. I was on the kick return team last year but I was mainly the off-returner [meaning he primarily blocked for Williams] and this year I’m trying to do the kick return part. I got a great person to follow, one of the best in Nick, and he’s helping me every day.”

Jonathan Louis and Kenton Adeyemi are improving at defensive end behind Trevardo Williams and Jesse Joseph.

The Huskies scrimmaged today.

“We ain’t playin’ today, baby. This has to be a defense dominated day.”

Guess who said that?…….

Right, linebacker Sio Moore – and it was a defense dominated day in a much more controlled, scripted scrimmage than the one last week.

A few thoughts:

–          Freshman running back Joe Williams is, well, let’s say has been the real deal in practice and the explosive post-grad player from Fork Union Military Academy was the real deal in the scrimmage, too. The 5-11, 201-pound Williams ran well between the tackles for chunks of yardage but he’s often referred to as a homerun hitter and here’s why. He broke one run where he kind of tip-toed into the pile, accelerated and broke to the right sideline. When the defense began trying to angle him off he cut all the way back against the grain, to the middle of the field, where no one was and then when it tried to adjust to him again he cut back toward the right sideline making the defense look totally confused. There were a few coaches way down near the end zone that Williams ran up on real fast.

–       The kid has great vision, like Jordan Todman in the Notre Dame-game type vision.

–      “I basically see the blitzes when I saw the play coming I saw the linebacker from the away side coming, I saw the DB get cut and I was like ‘allright I gotta chance with this play’ and then lanes started flowing and then I was pretty good until I got down there where all the coaches were and I was like where is everybody coming from?” Williams said laughing

Needless to say the result was a touchdown there, right?

Williams does not want to redshirt. He will if he has too of course, but his goal is to play when the Huskies open the season against UMass in August and close it against Cincinnati in December.  And he’s very serious about that. He’s been showing in practice – at every practice.

“I’m trying not to be redshirted, no, no, but it’s football, if it happens it happens but I don’t want to redshirt,” Williams said. “I want to play.”

If putting the best talent on the field is what it’s about then Joe Williams will be playing this year. He may be – maybe – quicker than JT.

–          QB Johnny McEntee is getting real good at recognizing if it’s not there it’s not there. He’s been tucking and running and doing it quickly. He wasn’t doing that too often last season.

–          QB Casey Cochran felt a lot better about his performance during today’s scrimmage.

–           “This week I just relaxed, realized I did just come in here and that it is a competition so I kind of took everything in and realized that I can try my hardest and at the end of the day know that’s good enough so I tried not to get down on myself as much this week just try my best and leave it at that, ” Cochran said.

–          “I hold myself to pretty high standards personally. I was disappointed in myself and my efforts. I always do that. Sometimes I have to hold back from critiquing myself so hard but I thought I did better this week than last week. It was a good feeling.”


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