If you saw the Blue-White Scrimmage Saturday then you know the defense dominated the offense .
What’s goin’ on?
The quarterbacks, four of them combined to complete 38 of 62 for 363 yards and a touchdown with most of the work being done by senior Chandler Whitmer (19 of 26, 163 yards and a touchdown). The QBs were sacked three times. Max DeLorenzo rushed for 51 yards on seven carries, a pretty good effort and Lyle McCombs added another 32 on 10 carries.
The receivers, led by Noel Thomas (4×55) and Kamal Abrams (4×51, 1 TD) were outstanding although there weren’t any real looks to them deep or on any other route really outside of hits across the middle.
“You didn’t think you were going to see everything in the spring game did you?,” Byron Jones said afterward.
Good point but not for nothing those short or intermediate-range passes have been awfully productive play in college football by the receiver and/or tight end, especially if they can make a guy or two miss in space. If not? well… .
The offensive line showed it still needed work in both the passing and running game and UConn Coach Bob Diaco didn’t hide from it after the game calling the unit “still a work in progress.
Anyway, offensive coordinator Mike Cummings , a pretty cool guy, is confident the unit can and will be productive in the end.
“I like our players on offense. They work hard. They love football. They care about each other. They want to do well. They want to learn offense. They want to be the best,” Cummings told me during an assistant coaches availability luncheon on campus last week. “What can we do with them? I think exactly what we want to do with them. If we want to run the ball, if we want to throw the ball. System-wise we’re going to do the things Coach Diaco talked about.
“We’ve got the pieces. We’ll have 11 guys on the field. Look, we might not have some experience on paper at some positions but at the end of the day we’re going to have what we need to get the jobs done we need to get done. The development of the players, maturity, that will be a big point, big key for us, to do it as well as we can.”
Asked about his confidence in the offense Cummings responded directly.
“Why wouldn’t I be? I’m not going to say ‘Oh, gosh I don’t know if we’re going to be able to get a first down….
(We laughed but folks haven’t we seen a first down hard to come by here on offense sometimes?).
“We’re competing,” Cummings continued. “That’s what we like to. Look anybody who is involved wants to do well. There are pieces in there where people can do well. I’ve said this a number of times but I don’t think players really want to make mistakes. They don’t do that. People that we work with they don’t want to make mistakes.
“You have to promote positive talk, work towards a goal, forward-thinking and you can get those things done. Your progress may not be instant but you can get that done
“The bottom line is we have to get it done. We have to be able to run the football. I think If you go back to last year and look at the stats of the teams that did very well you’re going to see a couple of things: one they ran it very well and two, they didn’t turn it over.”
You may have noticed how the team doesn’t talk about the past anymore, the coaches don’t. The only one who was here last year was offensive line coach Mike Foley and even he doesn’t go there.
Cummings hasn’t looked at any of the film of last year’s team, either. Diaco hasn’t so it’s probably safe to say the other coaches haven’t.
“It doesn’t help us to look back and I had intended to do that just to get a look at the personnel, if nothing else, to take a peek and see how the players who had played and participated in those games, their toughness and grit and so forth and then we started our winter conditioning program and I found out first hand, so going from not knowing everybody by name to knowing everybody by name and how they work, what their effort is, what their toughness is, how they approach their life. Now I know those things so what they do on the field now translates into a different message for me. I know them now.”
Come summer time Cummings and the rest of the offensive coaches are going to have a look at Parade All-America running back Arkeel Newsome of Ansonia and a couple other talented runnings backs, too. One or two of them could help the Huskies change the game on offense right away.