Despite abrupt spring ending, Edsall says UConn football program is ready to go
The UConn football team has had what coach Randy Edsall called an "unusual year, to say the least."
Hard to argue with him about that.
Early last August, the Huskies opted out of playing the 2020 fall season due to health and safety concerns involving the COVID-19 pandemic, sending the program into unchartered waters.
Most recently, they had their spring season cut short by three practices after there were positive COVID test results among Tier I personnel.
But they've made the best of the situation.
Edsall feels good about the state of his program.
"Some of the challenges that we had in the fall we ended up having in the spring but still feel very, very fortunate that we were able to get 12 of the 15 practices in this spring," Edsall said during a Zoom session with the media on Thursday. "Would have liked to get those last three in because we had another big scrimmage coming up (Friday) that we missed out on. But it's the world we live in today with what's going on.
"But our kids are healthy. I thought the time we did have on the field this spring was very beneficial and very rewarding for the players and for the coaches, so thankful for that. I just really feel good about what we were able to get accomplished, feel good about where we are with what we've been able to do with our team.
"The big thing is now the players really understand the playbook and they understand the things that they need to continue to work on here in the next four months before we get back together at the end of July and prepare for the season opener."
UConn will open the season on Aug. 28 at Fresno State, playing for the first time as an independent. The Huskies will be shooting for their first winning season since 2010.
The Huskies are a different team than the one that last took the field on Nov. 30, 2019 at Temple, UConn's final game as a member of the American Athletic Conference. The roster has undergone numerous changes and been upgraded.
Ninety-one players participated in the spring workouts during which the coaching staff did a deep evaluation. Edsall liked his team's attitude, enthusiasm, competitive spirit and sense of urgency.
Edsall will be adding 10 more freshmen in June and three to four walk-ons. He'll also look to enhance the roster through the transfer portal.
Overall depth has improved. Competition has increased for playing time at multiple positions.
'We've got a lot of competition," Edsall said. "That's the one thing that I really do feel good about. We have more depth and more bodies available to play for us now than we've had in the time that I've been here in this second go-around."
Edsall and his staff will continue to evaluate players throughout the spring and summer. They have many decisions to make.
Take the quarterback spot.
There's no clear favorite to win the starting job. Sophomore Jack Zergiotis and redshirt sophomore Steve Krajewski have the most experience while redshirt junior Micah Leon, a North Carolina State transfer, is finally healthy and ready to challenge for playing time.
Edsall got a good look at the contenders during two live scrimmages, complete with officials and coaches wearing headsets on the sidelines.
"They've had some good days and they've had some days that weren't up to the standards that they would have liked and we would have liked," Edsall said. "We still have an ongoing competition. ... We're nowhere near ready to make a decision on who the starter is at that position just like so many positions."
After the spring semester ends, the football team will gather again on campus on June 1, with the freshmen expected to arrive around June 18. Preseason camp begins at the end of July.
Edsall plans to scrimmage two or three times in August before playing the season opener when he'll find out just how much his team has improved from the last time it stepped on the field.
"We know as a coaching staff who we are, what we have available to us and how we're going to have to go about using that talent to be the best we can be," Edsall said. "I thought that was extremely important to be able to come out of spring with that kind of evaluation and I feel as though we got that.
"... I feel good where we are now with the obstacles that we had to go through to get to this point."
In other news, senior Ryan Van Demark, senior Brian Keating of Darien and junior Travis Jones of New Haven have been voted as captains by their teammates.
"We're very fortunate to have those three young men to lead this team and I know they'll do a great job," Edsall said.