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Transfers in, out, and realignment rumors
UConn is looking to add experienced players to the roster this summer as realignment rumors swirl across the nation.
Jim Mora and the Huskies have been active on the recruiting trail, while also handling some key turnover.
Back in December, RB Nate Carter announced his departure. He’s at Michigan State. After spring ball, WR Keelan Marion transferred to ECU and Aaron Turner left for Cincinnati. At QB, Tyler Phommachanh is looking for a new team after a 2022 season in which he saw zero snaps, while offensive coordinator Nick Charlton has reunited with Joe Fagnano, a passer from Maine who he coached in his last job before joining Mora’s staff.
The offense’s pass-catching options improved on Saturday with the commitment of a receiver from the University of Delaware and a tight end from Germany by way of TCU who’s a converted quarterback and former three-star recruit. Brett Buckman appears to be in line for some sort of role immediately after making 39 catches for FCS Delaware last season.
Other transfers-in include a linebacker from Kansas, two DBs—one from Delaware and another from West Virginia—and a DT from the University of Richmond. UConn also welcomed 13 new players in its 2023 recruiting class.
On the outgoing end of the roster, the NFL Draft came and went without a Husky picked, but six guys are in NFL minicamp, as three received camp invites and another three signed undrafted rookie deals. Given their long odds of latching onto an NFL roster, these guys will probably also be good candidates to join leagues like the XFL or USFL in the future.
No defensive coordinator?
Last year, Jim Mora retained Lou Spanos, Randy Edsall’s defensive coordinator at UConn and also the interim head coach after Edsall left mid-season in 2021. Spanos previously worked for Mora at UCLA, so it wasn’t wild to have him on the staff.
But he also quit right before the start of the 2022 season. This did not seem to affect the team greatly, as it went on to win six games with the defense serving as a strength, relative to an offense that was young and experiencing injury woes. Mora was a defensive coach in the past and assumed DC duties last year.
Apparently, the plan is for this configuration to continue in 2023. And… it’s not the greatest look.
Even if the staff can make it work on game day, the value of defensive coordinators also includes what they do during the other six days of the week, whether that’s recruiting, mentoring other coaches and players, watching film, working on specific parts of the game plan, etc.
Mora is equipped to do those things but he also has head coaching duties. As anyone who’s worked on an understaffed team in their job can attest, this does present opportunities for other members of the staff, but also everyone’s pretty strained.
Not having a DC feels like a disadvantage. It may be a cost-saving measure or a creative way to have slightly more money to spend on the new wide receivers coach and running backs coach they needed this year. But you’d rather have a defensive coordinator than not, in my opinion.
UConn defensive coordinator Jim Mora watching the QBs throw.
Opener moved to Thursday
The 2023 season opener against NC State will be played on Thursday, August 31st at Rentshler Field. As a supporter of the Rent’s tailgate scene, this is not my preference for what day to have the opener, but hey at least we’re free over Labor Day Weekend.
Photos by Ian Bethune
Over/Under 5.5 wins?
Courtesy of Twitter user BigLarryForearm, DraftKings has set its over/under win total for UConn at 5.5 for this season.
As we’ve previously discussed, the 2023 schedule is not an easy one. It’s entirely possible for UConn to have a better team than it did in 2022 and not win as many games this year.
Conference realignment rumors… again
Reports are that the Pac-12, Big 12, and ACC are all thinking about making moves, according to Sports Illustrated, and that UConn could be in the mix for a change.
While it’s not worth getting worked up at this point, anything is possible. We can only wait and see.