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UConn football gets some tunes....

POSTED October 04, 2013
BY Timothy W. Gaffney
Twitter: @TimothyGaffney

STORRS: Who doesn’t like a little “Enter the Sandman” to get you pumped before a workout, a big meeting or just to get you going.

Well, the UConn Huskies football team and new head coach T.J. Weist are giving the start of their practice session a little more juice by introducing music during the stretching part of practice.

“I talked with the seniors and the captains and they told me they would like to have music playing during practice,” Weist said, “For now, it’s my music that we’re using, I don’t know much about the music they may listen to now but I’m okay with playing it at the beginning of practice.”

It’s all part of some of the subtle changes Weist is looking to make as he tries to re-energize a team that sits at 0-4 starting conference play on October 12 versus USF.

“We understand you don’t go 0-4, make mistakes and not change,” Weist said during a 35-minute teleconference on Friday. “You’ll see changes.”

The first change comes at one of the game’s most important positions, quarterback as true freshman T.J. Boyle takes over for Chandler Whitmer and will be behind center on Saturday at noon at The Rent.

Boyle, a star at Xavier High School just a year ago, will be asked to provide a spark for an offense that has not been able to sustain a running game or a consistent passing game in the first four weeks of the season.

“Tim is getting better every day,” Weist said, “We create situations for him that force him to learn on the fly. He has shown maturity in understanding the offense so far.”

Game time pressure cannot be emulated in practice but the goal of the coaching staff is to have their freshman QB make his mistakes in practice and learn from them as opposed to making game altering decisions during the game.

When Weist was a wide receiver for the University of Alabama, the quarterback coach was Homer Smith, a man known for his ability to read and motivate signal callers.

What advice might he give his first year quarterback that was passed down from one of his influences?

“Homer Smith taught quarterbacks to elevate their mental side of the game,” Weist said. “He stressed that a good QB should pay attention to every detail on every play.”

The Huskies need to do a better job of protecting their quarterback and while the coaches hope to get Kevin Friend back this week off the injured list, they intend to keep the remaining group intact.

“Kevin makes the entire offensive line better but the rest of the guys have been playing better,” Weist said, “What I want to see is that as a team we hit the guy in the mouth who is across from us on every play. Win those on-on-one battles each time.”

Too many times over the first four games, it was UConn players being handled in the trenches where most games are won or lost.

On the injury front, Weist hopes to use running back Jazzmar Clax more as another option to Lyle McCombs, Max DeLorenzo and Martin Hyppolite.

Weist has jumped into the deep end of the pool with a great deal of confidence and energy and hopes it will translate come game day.

“Every day is a special day for us,” Weist said, “We’ve been talking about the opportunity to start conference play and have had three spirited practices so far.”

Now if Mariano comes out of the tunnel on Saturday afternoon to his song that might be something as well.

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