Tuck Proves That UConn Will Be OK When Stewart Is Out, Courant
NCAA Women: Sweet 16 Stories Start With UConn, AP article from Courant
Freshman Williams Comes Off Bench, Shines, NBC Connecticut
UConn overwhelms Rutgers en route to yet another Sweet 16, NY Daily News
UConn women’s blowout victories not as easy during NCAA tournament, Register
Huskies in familiar spot, Albany Times Union
For Underdogs in Women’s Tournament, an Invitation to Heartbreak, NY Times
Other Teams of Interest
Rutgers women’s basketball made progress … but still a long way behind UConn, MyCentralJersey.com
Gophers women’s basketball: Two more players leaving team, Pioneer Press
SEC looking to end women’s Final Four drought, Chattanooga Times Free Press
[Morgan] Eye matches WNIT record with nine 3s, Tigers advance to third round, Columbia Daily Tribune
Cochran Calls A Good Game, But On Other Side Of Microphone, Courant
UConn Football: Back To Spring Practice, Courant
“Get back on the line!” bellows offensive line coach Mike Cummings. “Some of you are still on vacation. We don’t walk around here. Run to the next drill. Do it again!”
Spring break has ended, vacation is over and the reality of the every day grind is back in full force for the UConn football program. If it wasn’t evident when the players arrived back on campus this weekend, it has certainly sunk in after just five minutes on the field with the Huskies coaching staff. Welcome to the first practice after the week-long getaway, at the Burton Family Football Complex.
Despite the extra effort with the offensive line on that one particular set of drills, today was an absolute success.
“Monday mornings are always a little bit of a challenge for everyone, it’s in our DNA,” head coach Bob Diaco said following the fifth practice of the spring. “Coming off of spring break, having a week off, which was much needed and earned, today is always a concern and they did a fantastic job. I knew right away, sitting in the team meeting, that there’s just a different look and energy. I was pleased with practice five.”
In an unusual move, the Huskies opened up after stretching by immediately going into 11-on-11, hurry-up work. Transfer quarterback Bryant Shirreffs was the first on the field this morning, working with wide receivers Dhameer Bradley and Noel Thomas. Ron Johnson, as is expected, was in at the starting running back spot.
Second on the field was Tim Boyle, who had RB’s Josh Marriner and Arkeel Newsome lined up behind him.
“Just in case the lights weren’t on full blast, I wanted to get their batteries charged and give them a little shot of energy,” Diaco said on the different start. “It’s hard to put your toe in the water when the first thing you do at practice after you warm up is an 11-on-11 situation. It’s a drill we do, it’s a speed drill more than it is a contact drill. It’s mostly about the speed that they move and the speed and challenge of communication. It’s run at an unrealistic pace. The ball is predetermined, at spots that move, so it’s easy to move it at a very fast rate.”
There were positives and negatives. Shirreffs looked good hitting Noel Thomas for a 15-20 yard pickup to his left, while Boyle consistently hit the underneath stuff as well. He had one pass late, that missed by a wide margin, perhaps some miscommunication between him and receiver John-Luke Bogue. He threw a quick out, while Bogue took off, downfield.
One thing that was clear is we are seeing a different Boyle under center this spring. During the hurry-up situation, he was in complete command at the line, properly aligning the offense before the snap. He was barking commands, something that was lacking a year ago.
Separation has begun at the position and Diaco hopes to have something he can communicate to the media by the end of the week.
“We are pleased with the position and the battle,” he said. “That group is going to be able to grow and it will get bigger in the summer. There has been some separation, but I’m reluctant at this point to say anything specific about it, there’s just more situations that need to happen. Right now it’s been even situation downs, we got into a little bit of critical down work and red zone work, as well. Guys will flourish as the string of situations unfold, that all require a different style of quarterbacking. It will happen soon I think, hopefully by the end of this week, that we’ll have a separation.”
Another thing that is clear is Diaco is excited about the ability of Shirreffs to make plays outside of the tackle box, something he went into great detail about today.
“He’s definitely a threat with the ball in his hand, for sure,” Diaco said. “He’s big, fast and athletic, which would be an issue for a defense. It does look like he can throw it downfield from there, so that definitely looks like it’s going to be a feather in his cap, not that the other guys are not as good at it because I think Tim throws pretty well on the run too.”
Junior-college transfer quarterback Garrett Anderson will also be joining the group in the summer, so just because one guy takes the job exiting spring, does not mean that will be who is under center come September 3rd, against Villanova.
“Everybody is competing all the time,” Diaco said. “There’s nothing that is always and forever. You can have a guy that’s started for three years and his senior year, if he lets go of the rope and another guy performs better, then that guy will play. We’ll name a starter at that point, after spring and if he gets beat out in camp, then he gets beat out in camp. There’s competition at every position every day.”
Overall, Diaco has been happy with the spring and likes the work ethic of the group, which he echoed multiple times following practice.
“It was clear that rather than being off [for a week], they just went away,” he reinforced. “They took time away, rather than time off and that was a good thing. They came back, ready to work.”
Today was also the first chance to hear from some players, which I’ll dive into as the week goes on.
SPRING BREAK NOTES:
Offensive tackle Andreas Knappe went back home to Denmark this past week; “My brother just had a little girl a couple months ago, so I wanted go home and see them.”
Safety Andrew Adams also had a family event; “I went to my sister’s wedding in Atlanta. Weather was great, so I was able to train down there as well.”by