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Football Ends Spring Practice In High Gear

Keyion Dixon breaks away during the Spring Game.
April 21, 2017


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EAST HARTFORD, Conn. --- It was a spring football  game in conditions that felt more like November, but the UConn offense figures it's just getting warmed up.

The two sets of offense put a combined 51 points on the board as the UConn team defeated the Huskies team, 27-24, before about 1,500 fans on a raw and rainy Friday night at Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field. While the final score was of little consequence, the high-tempo pace of the game was an exciting peek at what's to come this fall.

"Overall, I think both sides, the offense and the defense, have adjusted well to the tempo," head coach Randy Edsall said. "Now they understand the kind of shape they have to be in in order to play the type of style we're going to play. I think there are things we can do that will make us play even a little faster."

That's OK with the players on that side of the ball.

"That was just fun," said redshirt senior quarterback Bryant Shirreffs. "It's all about efficiency and I think the efficiency in the offense has been unbelievable. It's a pleasure to be a part of. It's encouraging to see productive plays and a lot of points being scored and seeing the defense tired. It's a good feeling to see everybody smiling on the offense."



Shirreffs and redshirt sophomore Brandon Bisack each was the quarterback for both teams during the game. Shirreffs finished a combined 19-of-33 for 310 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. Bisack ended with a combined total of 19-of-29 for 222 yards and one touchdown with no interceptions. Each completed a long TD pass, Shirreffs for 80 yards to Hergy Mayala on a flea-flicker, Bisack for 53 yards to Tyraiq Beals.

"I saw some good things (from the quarterbacks) and then I saw some things I didn't like," Edsall said. "There was inconsistency out there. We have to make sure they are doing the things they've been coached to do. If you execute and do your job, good things will happen."

As far as rushing the ball, redshirt freshman Ja'Kevious Vickers led all rushers with 47 yards on eight carries, while redshirt freshman Nate Hopkins gained 42 yards on 11 carries and senior Arkeel Newsome had 35 yards on 11 carries.

Mayala led the receivers with 111 yards on three catches, while redshirt freshman Keyion Dixon had 94 yards on five catches and junior Tyraiq Beals had three receptions for 68 yards.

"I think the offense executed well," Mayala said. "We get a lot more plays in with the speed of the offense. We're still far away from where we want to be, but this is really something to build on."

Especially the long touchdowns, which was an area where the Huskies struggled in the past.

"We executed some of the big plays on offense tonight that we weren't making in the scrimmages," Edsall said. "We have an offense that has the ability to make big plays and when you have that ability, you have to make sure you take advantage of them."

The spring game marks the 15th and final practice of the spring for the Huskies, who will return at the end of July to get ready for the 2017 season.

"What I like is that from where we started at the first practice to the end of this practice, we improved," Edsall said. "Now they are on their own for the summer. But if we can continue to do that and continue to move forward, then we'll be headed in the right direction."