The UConn football team will take the field for the first time under their new coaching staff Friday night with the 2017 Blue-White Game at Rentschler Field in East Hartford.
The annual scrimmage kicks off at 7 p.m. It will be the first opportunity for UConn fans to see the progress made by the team during spring workout period under returning head coach Randy Edsall.
“It’s very important for us, not only as a defense but as a team, to get out there, get our feet wet, so the fans know what we’ve [been] working on for these past 14 practices, and then, you know, to show the fans what they’ll be looking for next year,” cornerback Jamar Summers said after practice Tuesday.
Edsall, who will coach (unofficially) at Rentschler Field for the first time since he was re-hired by the program in December, sees Friday as a chance to check in on spring progress.
“I just want to be able to evaluate. I’m still trying to evaluate guys,” Edsall said.
Friday’s scrimmage will match the first team offense against the first team defense, and the second units against each other. Specialists will kick, but there will be no live punts or kickoffs.
“I just wanna see who are those guys that can go out and perform, and execute the things we want to execute,” Edsall said. “I don’t want to see a lot of penalties, I want to see precision on both sides of the ball.”
Friday will also provide fans with a first glimpse of the work done by Edsall’s new hires: Auburn offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee and Villanova defensive coordinator Billy Crocker. Lashlee led an effective offense under Gus Malzahn at Auburn, while Crocker’s Villanova defense led the FCS last season in defensive points per game and total defense.
Linebacker Junior Joseph expects fans to see exciting new things from both units Friday.
“We can’t wait to show the fans what we have done, and I feel like they’re gonna enjoy what they see with the new defense, the new offense,” Joseph said. “We just wanna show ‘em how far we came in the past month.”
UConn still has plenty of work to do before they hit the field in the fall, with Edsall making it clear th
at he’s still searching for leadership from each position that will form a leadership council.
And there are improvements to be made.
“The roster can be improved at every position,” Edsall said. “We’ve got to improve our roster. We’ve got to get better. And that’s not a knock on the kids that are here. It’s just a fact. You have to try to improve the roster every year.”
Friday will be a measuring stick, and a preview for the fans.
“It’s gonna be good for the fans to see where we at. We’ve been working, obviously, since the [new] coaching staff got here. Lot of improvement, and this is just for the fans to see it,” wide receiver Hergy Mayala said.