The Huskies spent the spring looking to solidify its rotation and figure out how much depth it had at key positions, and it heads into the summer months optimistic that it will again contend in the Big East.
UConn should be strong and deep at quarterback. Zach Frazer ended April as the starter, with Cody Endres backing him up and talented youngsters Mike Box and Leon Kinnard in the mix. Jordan Todman is back at running back, but Kelmetrus Wylie played well enough to push Robbie Frey for the backup slot. Michael Smith, Kashif Moore and Isiah Moore are the current starting receivers, but with 10 wideouts listed, none of the trio can rest easy.
Defensively, the area that could see the most movement between April and September is the secondary. Blidi Wreh-Wilson and Dwayne Gets are listed as the starting cornerbacks in the post-Spring Game depth chart, and Jerome Junior and Kijuan Dabney are the safeties, but don't be shocked if one or more come off the bench once play begins in September.
With that in place, the Huskies again look to be one of the better teams in the Big East, in good shape for a bowl game. The question among the UConn faithful is whether this is the year the Huskies take the next step to win the Big East and get to a BCS bowl.
For that to happen, the Huskies will need to build on the momentum that followed its win over Notre Dame a year ago. Even in a down year for the Fighting Irish, that marked perhaps the biggest victory in program history, and between that and the strong spring effort UConn carries a lot of momentum into the long summer months.NOTES, QUOTES
--Leon Kinnard spend the spring working out at quarterback, and the true freshman completed four of seven passes in the Spring Game. He could find himself elsewhere by the Fall, however, if that will get him onto the field sooner.
--Chad Cristen solidified the punter position, kicking well enough to earn the right to succeed Desi Cullen. He'll also serve as the backup to kicker Dave Teggart.
WR Mike Smith -- The junior emerged from a crowded field at wideout with a monster Spring Game, catching five passes for 207 yards and three touchdowns. He has the speed to get behind opposing cornerbacks, and has a chance to enter the starting lineup this September.
WR Malik Generett -- Generett, a redshirt freshman, is a little behind Mike Smith in his spring movement, mostly because his comfort level with the system is lower. But he had seven catches for 60 yards in the Spring Game, and his size makes him an attractive target for quarterbacks.
RB Kelmetrus "Meme" Wylie -- Wylie took advantage of the absence of Robbie Frey and Jordan Todman to assert himself in the UConn backfield. Though he's unlikely to unseat Todman as the starter, he made a strong case for the No. 2 spot on the depth chart.
OT Adam Masters -- Masters made a strong case for playing time this spring. With fellow tackles Mike Ryan and Jimmy Bennett injured, the sophomore played well enough to go into the fall with a chance to start.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "If I have to be the spokesperson for the program that's what we have to do and that's what I'll continue to do because my whole thing is, I just want to make this as big and as good as we possibly can be and make it...I'll tell you I'll be disappointed if the stadium isn't sold out before the season starts. I'll be disappointed. I don't know what else these young people have to do ... It's just how you feel, you know?" -- Coach Randy Edsall told the Hartford Courant, on having to sell the program to his fan base.STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
2010 OUTLOOK: UConn always seems to be in the same position; underrated in August, a contender by October, and in a second-tier bowl game in December or January.
That's the smart way to bet for 2010 as well. If the Huskies are to take the next step and earn a BCS bid, its increased athleticism will have to pay dividends against the quicker teams in the conference, because that gap has been the difference between the BCS and the International Bowl for UConn.
SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: For the first time in the Randy Edsall era, there's actual depth at quarterback. Zach Frazer should start again in the fall, but Cody Endres is a more than capable backup and between Mike Box and Leon Kinnard the No. 3 options will be strong as well. Jordan Todman will be grateful for the increased workload at running back, and there are so many talented receivers that Edsall was moving some to other positions to get them onto the field. If the offensive line can hold up, the Huskies could be fun to watch when they have the ball.
SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: UConn has some questions to answer on defense, notably in the secondary. Coach Randy Edsall was concerned enough about his depth that he moved Mike Lang to that side of the ball and away from the wide receivers, and Lang is already right behind Kijuan Darby on the depth chart. Tywon Martin started on the defensive line a year ago, but will have to fight off Ryan Wirth to keep that status. Both defensive end rotations will be worth watching, especially if Greg Lloyd is completely healthy for the start of the season.
SCOUTING THE SPECIAL TEAMS: Dave Teggart solidified his hold on the kicking job with a strong spring. That makes Chad Christen just the punter -- if he can hold off Cole Wagner -- and the holder. Robbie Frey and Jordan Todman are both back to return kickoffs, but the punt return duties are still uncertain, with Gary Wilburn, Nick Williams and Leon Kinnard contenders.
S Andrew Opoku -- A rarity among true freshmen, Opoku came to campus looking physically ready to play. He should see time early in the season in the secondary, and is a full participant in spring practice.
CB Gilbert Stlouis -- Stlouis enrolled in January to get him a leg up on the competition to replace Robert Vaughn at cornerback, and raised eyebrows immediately because of his speed and quickness. He's still a long shot to start, and could be a redshirt candidate, but could also easily see the field in nickel or dime packages early in the year.
P Chad Christen -- The redshirt freshman begins the spring with the inside track at replacing the departed Desi Cullen. He'll compete with fellow redshirt freshman Cole Wagner this spring for the starting job.
--LB Mike Osiecki was arrested on April 5 on shoplifting charges, and applied for an accelerated rehabilitation program soon after. He was suspended from the final five practices this spring, but was expected to be able to rejoin the team for its offseason work.
--DE Greg Lloyd missed the spring while recovering from knee surgery. He's hoping to be ready to practice again by August.
--Mike Lang was moved from wide receiver to safety after the Spring Game. He will compete against Kijuan Darby for a starting job once practice resumes.
Previous Report: 04/28/2010