We took the trip down to Storrs yesterday to take a look at Jim Mora’s first spring practice as the head coach of the Connecticut Huskies. Needless to say, we came away very impressed.
From the structure and enthusiasm at practice to the Burton Family Football Complex, the UConn football program is on an upswing. Mora has hired a terrific staff and the facility is in place for the program to be turned around.
Here are three observations from yesterday’s practice.
1. Quarterback competition: Incumbent Steven Krajewski and Penn State transfer Ty’Quan Roberson took the majority of the snaps yesterday.
From the outside looking in, it appears to be a quarterback competition between the two. Roberson got the majority of the reps yesterday and quarterbacked the ones.
He had the better day throwing the ball between the two quarterbacks. Roberson is a dual threat quarterback but as offensive coordinator Nick Charlton told us after practice, it was more about emphasizing the passing game and keeping him in the pocket yesterday.
Both will get their fair share of snaps in the spring game next week. The competition will more than likely extend into fall camp where it could include Tyler Phommachanm and Cale Millen.
2. There is some serious talent on the roster: The Huskies are talented. Jim Mora and his staff have some good pieces to work with. I was very impressed from what I saw in terms of the talent.
Running back Will Knight, tight end Bo Estes and wide receiver Nigel Fitzgerald popped for me on offense. Defensively, I was impressed with defensive tackles Eric Watts and Sokoya McDuffie. Both are long, athletic and offer scheme versatility along the defensive line.
Linebacker Langston Hardy and safety Malcolm Bell also got my attention with their size and athleticism.
The Huskies have some good young talent on the way for fall camp as well. Mora and his staff have plenty to work with in terms of talent. They have added to the roster but the cupboard wasn’t bare either.
3. Coach Mora sets the tone: Coach Mora set the tone at yesterday’s practice with his energy and passion. His expectations for the program are high for the program and you can see it in the way he coaches.
It is obvious that he has already built a rapport with the players based on the way he interacts with them. You also saw the other side of Coach Mora. He expects things done a certain and when his expectations aren’t met, players and coaches alike will hear about it.
Mora wants to win now. In order to do that, he and his staff need to set the tone this spring. They certainly did that yesterday. Mora expects to win now, not in two or three years. The bar has been set and it is high. The players have to rise up and meet it.
The practice had the feeling of an NFL practice. It had a professional feel to it. Mora’s experience as a long time NFL head coach and coordinator was evident in the way the team operated yesterday.