Foxx a playmaker in waiting

John F. Silver

 STORRS, Conn. — Deshon Foxx took the ball on what’s called a jet sweep and hit the hole against Towson at full speed.

In that one play, the Huskies saw exactly what they like about Foxx– his speed.

Foxx

The junior from Maryland had a 12-yard gain on that run out of the slot receiver position and the plan was clear to get him the ball in space.
Except, in the next 3 1/2 quarters of football in a 33-18 loss to Towson, Foxx didn’t gain another yard. He had one dropped pass, one other target that went incomplete and his debut as the starting wide receiver was 0 catches, 0 receiving yards and one rush for 12 yards.

“You want to get touches, everyone wants to get touches,” Foxx said Tuesday. “But, I want to win. The touches are important, but at the end of the day it’s  score. Hopefully, I will be able to contribute more against Maryland than in the Towson game. I felt comfortable on the field and playing as much fb as I have since I’ve been here.”

Call Foxx the anti-Mike Wallace, the Dolphins receiver who signed a $65 million contract and then ripped the coaching staff after a victory in the season opener because he had only one catch for 15-yards.

No one wants a Wallace, but Foxx and the rest of the Huskies’ wide receivers are where the big plays are going to come from. Running back Lyle McCOmbs is a productive runner, but not the home run threat. There is no other back that’s with team that has the speed to break big plays (with Joe Williams suspended and all) and the tight end position remains an unknown.

The big plays are going to come out wide, and that means receivers Shakim Phillips and Geremy Davis as well as Foxx need the ball on offense. Davis had a strong opening game with five catches for 100 yards while Phillips had 5 catches for 77 yards and two touchdowns. Foxx is the one who was noticeably silent.  Against Maryland on Saturday at Rentschler Field, the Huskies need that underneath slot receiver to make plays.

“That first play he runs there, the speed sweep for 12 yards was a good play,” head coach Paul Pasqualoni said of Foxx. “I wish he caught that out cut. He’s clearly a guy at the slot position we would like to get the ball too more often. He can do a good job when he gets his hands on it.”

Foxx is the one speedster on the team that can turn a 5-yard play into a 50-yard gain.  Getting him an opportunity to do it is something that the coaches are still trying to figure out. A converted running back, Foxx is also on the kickoff return team with Phillips as a returner as the HUskies find ways to get the ball in the hands of their playmakers. The junior has had a lot expected of him, but hasn’t put together much production in his two years at UConn.

Foxx is optimistic that this can be a breakout year where he finally fills an offensive role on the team. The Huskies have moved to a no-huddle offense once again under coordinator T.J. Weist and the pacing and tempo are much more frenzied than the two previous years under George DeLeone. The debut of the offense managed just a little less than 300 yards of total offense, but Foxx remains optimistic.

“I love running the no huddle. You play faster, it wears down the defense,” Foxx said. “Coming into our first game it was a little shaky since we are running a new offense, it was a tough one, but we got a few bugs corrected.”

Foxx also knows that if points are going to come, it will come out wide. Phillips and Davis are the wideouts with Foxx in the slot. Those three juniors receivers are the core of the unit that will get the bulk of the snaps. It’s a lot of pressure riding on the unit, but Foxx thinks the team is up to it.

“We had very talented receivers, Geremy, Shak and myself,” Foxx said. “I feel we can make plays, which we showed a little bit against Towson. We showed we had the potential to be a good offense at times. We have wide receivers who can make a play when they get the ball in their hands.”

The key is getting the ball into their hands. That’s the part UConn has to work out this week.