UConn football’s Blue/White Showcase kicks off on Friday at 7 p.m., giving us the first look at what the Huskies might look like under new head coach Jim Mora. This year’s event is taking place in Storrs, an exciting twist from the athletic department to host the game under the lights on campus, graciously making it much easier for students to attend.
The lineups should give us some idea as to who’s been turning heads through these early days of practice. Typically, spring games feature the first-stringers on offense and defense for at least a few series.
Friday will offer a look at who’s in the running for playing time on a roster that will see lots of competition between now and the start of the 2022 season. Here are a few things to watch for, and a few things you should not expect to see, going into Friday’s spring game.
What to expect
Transfers making an immediate impact: Unlike the head of the previous regime in Storrs, head coach Jim Mora has been active in the transfer portal while squad building for the upcoming seasons. Defensive tackle Sokoya McDuffie and wide receiver Nigel Fitzgerald, both from Old Dominion, and Kentucky linebacker Marquez Bembry will all get the chance to impress in UConn colors on Friday night.
Heated competition in the defensive backfield: Spring practice is all about fighting for a place on the depth chart, and that’s ramped up even more with a new head coach. The defensive back group has a lot of playing time available. The Huskies bring back just one starter, Stanley Cross, a junior college transfer who was thrust into the starting corner role partway through last season. The rest are either relatively unproven, like sophomore Caleb Anthony, or freshmen, like Malcolm Bell, who redshirted in 2021.
Heaping doses of optimism: Despite the last-minute change of time and date, Friday night is a big opportunity for Mora and his staff to build up the hype for this upcoming season. While we don’t know what direction this new coaching tenure will take, the first year is sure to take its lumps no matter what. They have to sell a vision for the future, and will be looking to showcase something for fans to get excited about heading into the summer. Until then the band, merch giveaways, morbid curiosity, and the fact that the game will be held at Morrone Stadium will have to keep their interest.
An answer to the quarterback competition: UConn fans will get the chance to see transfer quarterback Ta’Quan Roberson in person for the first time, but that’s about all the new information they can expect to get. As for who will end up the starting quarterback come late August, that’s still up in the air. Roberson has been trading reps all spring with incumbent Steven Krajewski, so no decision has been made. No matter what happens Friday night, don’t expect a starter named or for anyone to gain meaningful ground in this competition.
Any sense for the offensive gameplan: Even putting the extremely vague description of Nick Charlton’s offensive philosophy aside, we’re not likely to get a realistic preview of what the Huskies’ new-look offense entails. The staff and players have only been together for a handful of weeks; they’re a long way from knowing what their game plan is for Week 1.