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    UConn Football
    Sunday, April 14, 2024

    Weiss and the Huskies ready to get back on the field

    UConn running backs coach Kyle Weiss talks to a player during a recent practice. (Photo courtesy of UConn athletics)

    After three months of working out of his home office, Kyle Weiss is eager to return to campus and reunite with his UConn football family.

    He misses the daily in-person contact with staff and players.

    But Weiss, an East Lyme High School graduate and UConn running backs coach, will have to wait a couple more weeks before that happens.

    "It's hard," Weiss said on Tuesday. "It started to hit me the other day. Early on, it wasn't too bad. But now it's to the point you can see a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel. And now I'm just itching to get back because you can't replace the conversations that you have with the kids and the staff and the relationships that you have with everybody.

    "I haven't seen any of these guys for a long time. They're my family, they're my friends, they're everything. We spend so much time together and all of a sudden that got shut off for three months. Thinking about it, it's crazy to me."

    The UConn football team will return to Storrs on July 1, a few weeks later than a typical year. The Huskies will encounter a far different campus world than when they left in March due to the coronavirus pandemic. Workouts will be voluntary until July 11.

    Details about safety guidelines and restrictions are still being ironed out.

    "I talked to my guys, the running backs, and told them don't expect it to be like it was when we had spring ball," Weiss said. "It's not going to be the same. We're going to have to follow certain guidelines."

    The disruption in their routine didn't prevent the Huskies from making progress over the last few months, especially in the classroom and weight room.

    Academically, the Huskies excelled while finishing the spring semester online from home.

    "They knocked it out of the park this previous semester in terms of the average GPA," Weiss said. "Guys that maybe needed to step it up a little bit in the classroom, they rose to the challenge. When we had our meeting about how well those guys did academically, it was like a celebration. As coaches, we were so proud of how those guys handled it."

    Workouts stayed on track.

    UConn's strength staff personalized plans for players depending on what they had available as far as weights and workout equipment.

    Some players have weight sets in their basement or garage. Others rely on football friends with home gyms.

    "We keep tabs on their weights and their weight range and their goals, week to week," Weiss said. "We've had no issues with that. The guys have been very dedicated and they all send videos of what they're doing. Some of them have gotten out on the field with footballs working on more on the field specific technique stuff.

    "These guys love the game of football. ... These guys are fully dedicated. Just by talking to them and hearing what they've been doing, they've been very, very active. It's been great."

    Weiss has made the best of his time working out of his home office in Manchester. He regularly participates in staff meetings and speaks via Zoom with the seven running backs on the roster.

    He also has access to video, so he can prepare clips for teaching sessions with players.

    "It's been great because we can really focus on a specific part of the game or specific play or technique," Weiss said. "We can take an hour to talk about the inside zone, take an hour to learn more about a defense and a defensive front. Things that maybe we wouldn't have had the chance to do if we were in the office and those guys were in class and working out all day.

    "We've got a little bit of time if you're looking for an advantage. That's been a positive in all of this."

    The Huskies are preparing for their first season as an independent. Training camp is scheduled to begin the first week of August.

    Their season opener is set for Sept. 3 versus UMass at Rentschler Field in East Hartford.

    Until then, they'll remain focused on the daily grind instead of worrying about whether the football season will go off as planned this fall.

    "They understand the magnitude of the situation," Weiss said. "As long as they hear that there's a chance we play football, that's all they care about. We're preparing for our first game and we're going to prepare the best we know how. We can't control anything else other than that.

    "From my guys, that's all I've seen. They are acting like it's normal. We're going to go back and we're going to prepare. When the NCAA says we can work out, we're going to work out. When they say we can start playing football, we're going to play football."

    "Coming from coach (Randy) Edsall, that's how he is. We control what we can control. ... That's been our mantra throughout this time."

    g.keefe@theday.com

    UConn running backs coach Kyle Weiss is an East Lyme High School graduate. (Photo courtesy of UConn athletics)
    In this July 31, 2018, file photo, UConn assistant football coaches with local roots, from left, Kyle Weiss of East Lyme, Billy Crocker of Waterford and Ben Chapman of Stonington, pose for a photo during football media day at the Shenkman Training Center. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
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