NOTE: All observations are from the 2nd half of yesterday’s scrimmage.
Two weeks from the season opener, the Huskies scrimmaged in Storrs. Overall, the defense excelled, despite the offense showing some signs towards the latter half of practice during red zone. Following the scrimmage offensive coordinator Nick Charlton talked about the performance.
“It was pretty uncharacteristic of us overall,” Charlton said of the offense. “We had a couple days in the beginning where I thought we could have taken care of the ball better. Today, we just had a lot of uncharacteristic mistakes, especially early. Now it was good to see us rebound in that red zone period and that’s a period we keep score; we won that drill, but ultimately, the ball kept hitting the ground.”
“You’re going to have days where you are off offensively” he continued, “but you can clean a lot of that up by taking care of the football. We didn’t do a great job of that today and that’s really an outlier, but you need to fight back. If you look at the body of work, we’ve made tremendous strides. We’ll be positive about that, review the tape and move on to the next one.”
On the quarterback front, Mora and Charlton were not ready to announce anything yet, although there are continued signs of who is starting to creep ahead.
“I wish I could stand here and say this guy jumped out at me or that guy jumped out at me, unfortunately, I can’t say that,” Mora said after the scrimmage. “That doesn’t mean I’m disappointed in any of them because they work at it. Am I disappointed on the day we had at that position? Yes. Am I disappointed in the players? No.”
Mora was asked about the attributes he’s looking for in a starter and named four-or-five key areas of evaluation.
“The very first attribute I’d be looking for is a decision maker,” he said. “I think that’s so important at that position because he handles the ball, runs the offense and has to make great decisions. Whether he’s going to throw it out of bounds, take a sack, try to fit in there, use of the time clock, use of the cadence; if you don’t have someone that isn’t a good decision maker, then you are going to find inconsistency and you don’t want that.”
“I think the second thing you want to see is accuracy and timing,” Mora continued. “A guy that can put it where it’s supposed to be, when it’s supposed to be there; I’d put that over arm strength. The third thing is mobility; that doesn’t mean he needs to be a great runner, but a guy that can stay alive in the pocket, find throwing lanes, buy some time out of the pocket. If he can get down the field and make plays with his legs, that’s certainly a factor.”
“The fourth thing is leadership,” Mora concluded. “You need a guy that can take change; when things aren’t going well, he knows how to settle guys down. When there’s a feeling that they need to get kicked into gear, he can do that; someone that your team, not just offense, that your team responds to. And then you want poise, you have to have someone that has poise and can handle tough situations, think through them and going back to number one, make good decisions.”
Zion Turner hit tight end Bo Estes up the left sideline on a wheel route. The throw was perfect touch and placement by Turner, allowing Estes to run under the ball for a touchdown (video captured by the Hartford Courant’s Joe Arruda):
The opening day lineup upfront seems to be getting clearer. Jake Guidone was back at his center spot, while Chris Fortin moved over to right tackle now that Guidone is back. Fortin’s versatility is huge for the unit, as he’s a player that can play all positions on the line, be it center, guard or tackle.
Alabama transfer Dayne Shor, who is getting healthy after hyperextending his knee during the first week of camp, has crept up the depth chart, now seeing time as the backup left tackle. Michigan transfer Jack Stewart was beside him at left guard, while Boise State transfer Kyle Juergens was at backup right tackle.
Injuries have unfortunately slowed the progress of two true freshmen, Ben Murawski and Brady Wayburn. Mora had called both out as players that have been impressive earlier this camp.
For the second straight session, both Jackson Mitchell and Ian Swenson did not play. Both are not serious injuries and if there was an actual game yesterday, both would have played.
“A week ago Ian tweaked his groin a little bit,” Mora said. “I’m one of those coaches that errs on the side of caution when it comes to injuries, especially to starters. He’s a guy that knows how to play the game, plays it at a high-level, understands this defense. it’s more important right now that he gets back to 100-percent before going out there and reagrivating it and not be able to go when the season starts.”
“Same thing with Jackson,” Mora confirmed. “He’s had that wrist thing. He’s been working through a lot of periods, but we’ve been taking him out when we have live periods. I think you’ll see both of those guys as we get back at it for real on Tuesday.”
With both out of the scrimmage, Jordan Morrison and Tui Faumuina-Brown both ran with the first team.
ROSA STRONG ONCE AGAIN
Victor Rosa stood out in a scrimmage setting, particularly during the red zone period, where he took one at least 15-yards to the house, beating the defense to the edge and walking into the end zone for the second team. The very next play he was lined up with the first team. Rosa is elusive with the ball and a versatile player for an offense. As time as gone on, it’s clear the game has slowed down for him at this level. Rosa also lined up with wide receiver Keelan Marion for the second half kickoff.
Once again, Missouri transfer Chris Shearin stood out, making a diving interception of QB Ta’Quan Roberson in the red zone. Highlight of the play was posted by the official UConn Football twitter account:
NEXT MEDIA SESSION:
Media will be back at practice on Tuesday, the final day of availability, as the Huskies will transition to game-week later this week. The normal schedule should apply, with weekly press conferences happening on the Tuesday of game-week (Monday for a Friday game).