SHIRREFFS NAMED STARTER
As expected given the Huskies success offensively on Thursday night, senior QB Bryant Shirreffs has been named the starter by head coach Randy Edsall and the rest of the staff. The Huskies head coach was rather short in his discussion on the topic, but he was clear and to the point.
“In terms of what I saw in the game and what I’ve seen, you make the decision that you think is best for the team,” Edsall said. “Both of them [Shirreffs and David Pindell] played, coming out of the game as we go into South Florida, Bryant is the guy that will start for us against USF.”
It’s clear that Shirreffs won Edsall and his staff over with his performance on the field. He also was animated and showed leadership and poise when give the opportunity to play, down two scores and late in the game. Edsall was asked this morning about his relationship with Shirreffs and how it’s grown since January.
“My relationship with Byrant is no different than my relationship with anyone else on the football team,” Edsall said. “You tell him what he does right, you tell him what he does wrong and we tell him if there’s things he has to do better, we tell him that, it’s no different. I don’t treat any of those guys any differently than any of the other guys. I told him that he needed to be ready [for week 1] and I told David [Pindell] that he needs to be ready this week. My relationship with him is no different than with anyone else.”
Shirreffs met with the media today and again thanked those around him for helping to put him in the frame of mind to succeed.
“I don’t think I’d be able to get up if it wasn’t for the teammates and people that support me,” Shirreffs said. “When things are really tough, it’s easy to look at the people in my life that really matter and it drives me. I’ve had people in my life who give me advice and serve as mentors. The coaches are great in being able for me to focus and put myself in the mentality that I was the starter, even though I wasn’t. It certainly wasn’t easy, but luckily I didn’t have any regrets about.”
I’ll have much more on Shirreffs leading into the USF game later this week.
OFFENSIVE LINE NEEDS TO IMPROVE
The Huskies had a 100-yard rusher on Thursday night as redshirt freshman Nate Hopkins went for 130 yards and 3 touchdowns. The offense also did not surrender a sack. However, there were some issues at the point of attack and Edsall referenced those early on in his press conference today.
“We were very inconsistent,” Edsall said. “We are nowhere near where we need to be, let’s not fool ourselves. They know it. We need to get a whole lot better and there’s times where we had negative plays which wasn’t good. One of the things that we need to do is be more physical, more conscious of our techniques and do a better job of executing the fundamentals. There is ability there, but unless they do those things, it’s not going to be a situation where we get to where we want to as quickly as we want to.”
MARSHE’ TERRY’S EMERGENCE AS A STARTER
Defensive back Marshe’ Terry was subbed in during passing situations on Thursday night and played so well, he’s unseated senior Brice McAllister heading into Saturday’s conference opener. Edsall touched on what made him make the move this morning.
“I like the way he played,” Edsall said. “I liked how he was aggressive. I think he has the opportunity to make plays for you and he took advantage of the opportunity that he had. That’s basically what it is, people taking advantage of the opportunities and it’s going to be an ongoing process as we go through this. Guys that show the things that we want done during the week and in the games, those are guys that earn the right to be out there.”
OTHER DEPTH CHART ADJUSTMENTS
Senior running back Arkeel Newsome is now listed alongside Nate Hopkins for the starting running back spot heading into Saturday. Newsome struggled running the football, but did make a major impact on the Huskies final scoring drive, gaining 34 yards on a quick dump off from Shirreffs out of the backfield in what was UConn’s second longest play from scrimmage in the opener. It’s a play call that got Newsome in a position to be successful, taking advantage of his ability to make guys miss in space and will likely be a way that he is utilized moving forward. One yard on eight carries is not going to cut it from the running back spot and if the offense continues to get production from Hopkins like was seen on Thursday, Newsome’s role will likely transform even further. Edsall did point out, however, that it wasn’t just on his senior running back.
“When you look at the numbers, it wasn’t very productive, but there’s other people involved to when you’re a running back,” Edsall said. “I think Arkeel will bounce back, but again, just go out and do the things you’re supposed to do, make the proper reads and make people miss. That’s what he needs to do, but I think he’ll be fine going forward.”
At linebacker, at least the way it’s listed, UConn will get back seniors Vontae Diggs and Junior Joseph, two major additions that are needed to bolster the middle of the Huskies defense.
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