Chance for Hyppolite to Run

STORRS – With the season opener against Massachusetts coming up Thursday night (7:30 p.m., Rentschler Field), the two-deep for the Connecticut football team was released Saturday. Coach Paul Pasqualoni followed that up Sunday by explaining some of his decisions during his weekly press conference at the Burton Family Football Complex.

One of the choices that stood out as significant was Martin Hyppolite's name on the second line at tailback, behind Lyle McCombs, UConn's offensive player of the year in 2011. Just eight days earlier, Pasqualoni had said he didn't have a set pecking order behind McCombs. Max DeLorenzo and Joseph Williams were getting their share of reps behind McCombs as well and Pasqualoni said he wanted to take advantage of a variety of talents and styles.

That's still likely to happen. But right now Hyppolite, a redshirt junior from Wakefield, Mass., is the No. 2 guy.

"Martin has been around here and he's injury free right now," Pasqualoni said Sunday. "He's a bigger back. Lyle's a smaller guy. [Hyppolite] is a load to bring down. He can run hard and doesn't necessarily go down with the first tackle.

"He and Max DeLorenzo are similar in that regard. They're explosive at the point of attack. So we're hoping Martin can go in there and give us a change of pace as a bigger back."

McCombs, who rushed for 1,151 yards as a freshman, may not need to be the workhorse he was last season – although the speedy 5-8, 166-pound tailback from Staten Island, N.Y., doesn't mind being on the field for every offensive down.

Hyppolite is 6-foot and 214 pounds, the most physically punishing runner UConn has in the backfield. DeLorenzo is 5-11 and 213 and has had positive moments, both in spring practice and preseason drills this month. Williams, 5-11 and 201, has exhibited the ability to surge outside and pick up yards, especially on sweep plays. He will have a role.

In 2011, Hyppolite was sidelined the entire season with a knee injury. The season before he played in all 13 games at tailback and special teams but then was moved to linebacker. He had three carries for five yards against Vanderbilt and recorded one tackle in three different games.

Last season, UConn's second leading rusher was "wildcat" quarterback Scott McCummings with 285 yards. But a steady contribution from a guy like Hyppolite would bring an extra dimension to the offense.


As of Sunday, the only UConn player who will miss the opener against UMass is defensive tackle Shamar Stephen, who sprained a knee early in preseason drills. Stephen has been making good progress with his rehab but won't be able to go Thursday.

Redshirt freshman Julian Campenni, from West Pittson, Pa., will get the start in place of Stephen. Campenni (5-11, 281) has impressed the coaching staff throughout camp.

"He's been working hard," Pasqualoni said. "He's been here now a year. He had a good year last year as a redshirt playing on the scout team. He's been consistent. He's durable, he doesn't miss things and he's a dependable guy at all times. Right now, based on the number or reps he has taken and that dependability, he gets the nod."

Redshirt sophomore Angelo Pruitt (6-3, 296) is behind Campenni on the two-deep and figures to get plenty of action against UMass. The Minutemen run a no-huddle, spread offense so Pasqualoni said the Huskies are planning on using four inside linemen and four outside linemen during the course of the game.

Ryan Wirth starts at the other tackle, backed by B.J. McBryde. Freshman tackle Mykal Myers, who has had a very impressive camp, could also be used - especially if the weather is warm. Trevardo Williams and Jesse Joseph will man the end spots, backed by Ted Jennings and Tim Willman.


The depth chart shows John Delahunt as the starter at tight end with Ryan Griffin running with the second team. That seemed a bit odd since Griffin is considered one of the top players in the Big East and a candidate for the Mackey Award that goes to the nation's top tight end. In reality, Pasqualoni said he doesn't know who will start and he should have use an "or" or slash symbol to make that clear. Both will likely be used for many snaps, depending on the situations. Delahunt is considered a fine blocker while Griffin has a more all-around game and was a top receiver for the Huskies last season. . . . Redshirt freshman Xavier Hemingway is a bit of a surprise, listed as a backup to Kevin Friend at right offensive tackle. . . . Left tackle Jimmy Bennett, perhaps the key to the success of this offensive line, is on the depth chart by himself – no backup at his spot. Pasqualoni said any injuries will require some shuffling on the line. The O linemen are learning four – if not five – spots. . . . Chandler Whitmer, named the starting quarterback just before camp opened, survived the competition and will be the starter when the game begins. But Pasqualoni has also been pleased by Johnny McEntee, McCummings, and Casey Cochran. "Casey Cochran has been working his butt off out there with a cast on his hand," he said. "Once that cast comes off, he'll be ready to play too. I think Coach [Shane] Day has done an excellent job with the approach to the group." . . . Defensive coordinator/cornerbacks coach Don Brown was defensive coordinator at UMass from 1998-99 and head coach from 2004-08. He is downplaying his role in the game ("People are making too much of it," he said Sunday.) But the idea of UMass upgrading the Football Bowl Subdivision is exciting to a guy with deep New England football ties. He wants to see UConn, UMass and Boston College thrive and play each other – for the good of the region. "When you are a New England college football coach, at times you felt like you were a red-headed stepchild," he said. "You really did." Brown has an interesting perspective. We will write more about the revival of the UConn-UMass series, and what it means for New England college football, later in the week.

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