Diaco on pace of play, BYU

John F. Silver

 BYU is coming to UConn with a high-tempo, no huddle offense that is aimed to put stress on the defense. 

UConn is ready for that, but head coach Bob Diaco is also going to make sure that the BYU offense isn’t going to make the officials spot the ball unnaturally fast. The officials control spotting the ball, not the offense.

It will be a big issues Friday as BYU was third in the nation in plays snapped at 85.45 per game.  BYU also took a snap at 19.51 seconds, the shortest turnaround time in the nation.

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Trouble at corner brewing?

John F. Silver

STORRS — Byron Jones is as good a physical specimen at corner as you’ll find in college football. His cohort, Jhavon Williams, has proven to be an excellent cover corner in his short time playing for the Huskies.

In that sense, as long as Jones is playing, there really isn’t a worry at cornerback for the Huskies. Things like depth at corner are rarely noticed unless someone goes down.

But just off the surface, a scan of two-deep and because of some under-reported departures on the roster, corner looks like it’s one injury away from a problem in the making as the Huskies get ready for BYU on Friday.

We got the first glimpse of the issue at corner when head coach Bob Diaco moved true freshman Brice McAllister to the position from running back immediately at the start of camp. A couple of days later, Tyree Clark left the team for undisclosed reasons.

Then, right at the end of camp, we also saw the departure of David Stevenson, another experienced corner, who also left the team for undisclosed reasons. That’s two veteran corners, who weren’t likely to start at UConn, but have played just enough to give some semblance of depth.

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Monday Presser: BYU to open

John F. Silver

STORRS, Conn. — Bob Diaco is an intense guy. Anyone who has ever worked with him, played for him or even talked football with him can feel the intensity and passion dripping when speaking of the sport. 

Monday is another level for the first-time head coach.

Diaco, who has grown adept in a short period of time speaking in front of reporters, was monotone, but with an edge in answering questions from the media in preparation for the opener against BYU on Monday. This week is different than all the others. Diaco was controlled and measured. He physically was keeping it all in and consciously trying to remain composed.

After about a half hour of answering all the questions about his team and the game, Diaco had to let loose with his final answer.

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Huskies going to pass rush school

John F. Silver

STORRS, Conn. — There comes a point in every practice at UConn when players split off into different units and the defensive line melds with some linebackers for a very distinct tutorial from defensive line coach Kevin Wolthausen. 

It’s become known among the team simply as pass rush school. Wolfthausen is the professor and the eager students are there to learn only one thing — getting to the quarterback.

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Thinking differently about quarterback

John F. Silver

Chandler Whitmer was gone.

He was never coming back to the University of Connecticut. It was a bad year, pulled out after four games and not taking it well behind the scenes.

Losing brings out the worst in people, and last year losing brought out the worst in Whitmer and everyone else in and around the UConn program. Stress, watching your career slip away, and dealing with disappointment all became too much.

Chandler Whitmer was gone.

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Former LB Moore released from hospital

John F. Silver

Former UConn linebacker Sio Moore, currently a starting OLB with the Raiders, was released from the hospital in Green Bay Saturday morning and flew home with the team.

Moore was taken off in a stretcher Friday night with a neck injury and was immobilized on the ground face first. He returned to the locker room to visit teammates and was in a large neck brace.



Media Day notes: DeLorenzo starter at RB

John F. Silver

STORRS, Conn. — Max DeLorenzo was behind about eight backs on the depth chart when he came unheralded out of Berlin, Connecticut.  

He had no other FBS offers.

On Aug. 29, he’s going to be the starting tailback  for the University of Connecticut.

DeLorenzo won the starting job at running back for the Huskies, who are going to give Josh Marriner plenty of opportunities and will also incorporate freshmen running backs Arkeel Newsome and and Ron Johnson into the game plan.  There isn’t going to be one running back for the Huskies, but DeLorenzo figures to get the most carries to start out as his vision, hard-running and  all-around game are what the coaching staff and offensive coordinator Mike Cummings are looking for.

“I was excited. I thought it was going to happen, but it was still an open competition,” DeLorenzo said. “We all got talent. We are all going to do something useful to contribute to us winning.”

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Huskies lose Stevenson, Boland and Roderick

John F. Silver

UConn lost three scholarship players during camp as junior corner David Stevenson, redshirt freshman defensive end Michael Boland and true freshman linebacker Tom Roderick have left the football team.

No reason has been given for their departure. Hat tip to Jim Fuller at the Register for scouring the updated website.

Stevenson, a Stone Mountain, Georgia native, looked to be the odd-man out at cornerback and was in contention for a spot as a nickelback corner. His small frame, 5-foot-8, 164-pounds, always seemed a detriment to more than role-playing minutes.

Boland, a Dunmore, Pennsylvania native, was converted to tight end last year and redshirted. He moved back to the defensive line during camp and head coach Bob Diaco was encouraged early on with his progress.  Roderick is a true freshman linebacker from Leicester, Massachusetts.



Knappe likely out for opener

John F. Silver

UConn right tackle Andreas Knappe wasn’t at open practice on Monday and with good reason. The converted sophomore right tackle is nursing a leg injury and his chances of playing in the season opener is unlikely per Desmond Connor of the Hartford Courant, who talked with head coach Bob Diaco after a breakfast at the Middlesex Chamber of Commerce.

Knappe was locked in a camp battle with Dalton Gifford at right tackle and appeared to have the edge. Knappe, from Denmark, is in his first season as an offensive lineman after being converted from the defensive line this past spring. The 6-foot-8, 300-pound Knappe has the size and strength of a prototypical tackle prospect.

Gifford, who started late last season, now appears to be the odds on favorite to start at right tackle against BYU in the opener on Aug. 29.

“He’s coming around. It’s going to be awhile,” Diaco said. “I mean awhile in terms of is he going to participate against BYU, I don’t think so. We’ll see what the athletic trainer says.”


Creating separation in QB depth


John F. Silver

The redshirt year of a player is valuable. When that player is a quarterback, a fifth year becomes such an incredible advantage it would take a special player to not take it (imagine UConn’s Dan Orlovsky with a fifth year in 2004?).

In almost all circumstances, a fifth year QB will be more productive than a first-year quarterback, and when UConn head coach Bob Diaco talked about protecting sophomore Tim Boyle, it was protecting that fifth year.

Tim BoyleBoyle was pushed into action, a decision that Diaco is highly critical of, and with it the 0-4 record, the zero touchdowns and eight interceptions, and the  44 percent passing against USF, Louisville, UCF and SMU were essentially a waste of a year. Boyle wasn’t ready last year and was pushed into action out of desperation.  It was an awful experience for Boyle. Pushed into action when other viable options were around and not much gained from the endeavor except how to take a humbling. His talent and skill set are superior to Cochran and Chandler Whitmer. But, quarterbacking takes times. Giving him a year to digest the offense and allow a proper training is going to pay off down the road.

The Huskies aren’t desperate now. Diaco, with the help of several small injuries that has slowed Boyle, have committed to gaining that year back as he sits out as the third quarterback.

Here’s Diaco on Boyle:

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