It feels a little early to be talking about football in April, yet in late April, that’s exactly the case.
The University of Connecticut put on a show in what was the school’s first public practice in front of fans. Ever since the team ended its 2021 football season with a disappointing 1-11 record, it was time for a new look. The program got to work by not only bringing in a new face onto its head coaching staff in Jim Mora, but also by bringing in a wealth of new talent.
That new identity of the Huskies was certainly on display, and it has brought some thoughts to my mind that I’d like to express.
The Quarterback Situation
During its offseason, UConn brought in a surprising new face to the team in Penn State transfer Ta’Quan Roberson. In the team’s first public practice, there was plenty to be excited about and to question with the new quarterback. One of the great things that stuck out to me was his mobility, which was on full display on Saturday. It’s a nice asset that keeps defenses on their feet and can definitely allow Coach Mora to be even more creative with his play calling. What I wasn’t in love with was Roberson’s passing accuracy with some of his throws on Saturday. With a deep receiving core in 2022, the new quarterback will have the weapons to do big things for the Huskies next season. But, he’ll certainly need to be able to make the throws to do damage.
With Tyler Phommachanh still recovering from his injury, fans were able to see more of Steven Krajewski on Saturday. I really enjoyed Krajewski’s passing during the practice, and with a healthy receiving core, it’s definitely a huge help for the redshirt junior. While his season was up and down in 2021, I’d be interested to see how a new coach can make an impact with Krajewski.
A new and improved wide receiver core
Arguably the biggest thing that stuck out to me on Saturday was how deep the team’s new wide receiver core was. Guys like Nigel Fitzgerald, Keelan Marion, Cam Ross and Aaron Turner are huge strengths for a team that struggled with injuries at the position last season. You combine that with upgraded quarterback play, whether it’s Roberson, Krajewski or a healthy Phommachanh, and that’s definitely exciting. Fans could see on Saturday Krajewski and Fitzgerald’s connection on a beautiful deep route to the end zone. Each receiver truly looked like a well-oiled machine, getting in place and helping to set up their appropriate quarterback for success. It’s just one more component that has helped pump even more energy and excitement into the program since 2021.
Culture, Culture, Culture
If you stay in tune with UConn football, it’s obvious with how drastic of a culture change has occurred in the program. A new face in Mora has injected new excitement for fans and players alike. Whether that’s funny antics on social media or a new hard working culture, the team has soaked it all up. That was one of the most obvious areas of focus on Saturday.
“I’ve had more fun with this team than any team I’ve ever coached, so far,” Mora said on Saturday. “We’re undefeated. And you know what? No matter what, I’m winning tonight.”
Whether that was the blue/white game being on campus for the first time since 2003 or the attitude of the players on the field, it’s clear that this is a new team that fans want to watch, especially with great attendance numbers in Saturday’s performance. The Huskies want to make noise next season, and fans are ready for it.