Practice notes: DeLorenzo’s turn

John F. Silver

STORRS, Conn. — The loss of Joe Williams as an option at running back for the rest of camp and maybe longer poses a problem for UConn coach Paul Pasqualoni at running back.

Williams, who was suspended indefinitely on Monday after his arrest on credit card theft charges, was counted on to be the game-breaking home run hitter at running back.

Without Williams what are the Huskies going to do behind starter Lyle McCombs?

That’s where Max DeLorenzo steps in.

DeLorenzo was in the mix as a change of pace type back for the Huskies this season and without Williams figures to get an even longer look now that he was getting. The 6-foot 211-pound DeLorenzo is a power back and a good inside runner, but he’s so much more. He’s shown an ability to break tackles and also has enough speed to beat defenses around the corner. He’s a load to take down, but also has excellent vision running the ball.

DeLorenzo is taking the opportunity seriously.

“He’s a tailback who doesn’t go down in first contact,” Pasqualoni said. “You hit him low, he has a low base and a wider end and a pretty good anchor. He’s hard to get down on first contact.”

I joked with DeLorenzo about him being a fullback and that’s something that even until this day people confuse.

For the record, DeLorenzo isn’t a fullback. His skill set is much more advanced than a lumbering fullback.

“I am a tailback. A lot of people still think I am a fullback. People think I am getting reps at fullback,” DeLorenzo said. ” It’s just something that’s been going on for awhile.”

DeLorenzo has produced in practice, in spring practice and even in games whenever he’s gotten the chance. He’s had one start in his career and had 23 carries for 91 yards against Temple last year. DeLorenzo had a 20-yard run during that game and showed all the qualities that a running back needs. He isn’t the speedster of Williams, but he has shown to be a better runner at this point in their careers.

After DeLorenzo, a lot of the second team handoffs in practice on Tuesday went to senior Martin Hyppolite, who has made tremendous strides recovering from a serious accident in spring. The fourth back, after McCombs is 5-foot-8, 187-pound freshman Josh Mariner. Mariner is explosive and compact and looks like he can be a more powerful runner than McCombs.

Speaking of McCombs, Pasqualoni talked a little bit about what the junior needs to do to bounce back what Pasqualoni termed last Friday at media day a “sophomore slump.”

“The thing he has to do is stay within the structure of the play and not do too much,” Pasqualoni said. “He’s playing within the structure of the run and making the right cuts right now and taking what you can get. An efficient play is 4 yards. If you get through the season and average 4.0 yards you are happy with those plays, no matter what league you are in.”

Pasqualoni also wants to see tougher running.

“He needs to me, as a back you want an approach and a style where you aren’t going down on first contact,” Pasqualoni said. “I think that a little too much last year he went down on the first contact. Sometimes you have to B.Y.O.B —  Bring Your Own Blocker.”

Pasqualoni didn’t address Williams ultimate turn and said he wants to let the entire legal process play out.

Notes:

* Defensive end Jesse Joseph had a medical penny on and didn’t participate in drills. Pasqualoni said his injuries weren’t serious, just some soreness. Joseph was in full pads. DE Kenton Adeyemi was taking those first team snaps without Joseph out there. Ruben Frank also is limited with some undisclosed injuries.

* Corner is shaping up nicely for the Huskies. Taylor Mack and Byron Jones are the starters and Pasqualoni felt that David Stevenson has come a long way at corner. The young-ins have also impressed Pasqualoni, notably true freshman Javon Hadley while redshirt freshman Jhavon Williams is also in the mix. Redshirt freshman Ellis Marder, like Jones a converted safety, would round out the mix right now at corner.

* It was perfect conditions inside and the quarterbacks benefitted. Watching the young quarterbacks, Tim Boyle, Kivon Taylor and Richard Lagow, was particularly enjoyable. All three can throw the deep ball and I thought Boyle and Lagow made some tremendous deep and intermediate throws. I even like the way Taylor looks as a quarterback. He had one throw that was a perfect spiral towards the sideline that had to have been 40-50 yards in the air. The ball was thrown perfectly and with little effort. Taylor is a terrific athlete and I know with the amount of quarterbacks that the Huskies have, thoughts that maybe QB isn’t his ultimate position. That may be the case ultimately, but he looks more like a quarterback out there than any other position. Right now, he’s not going anywhere. Too much potential and talent to pass up as a quarterback.