There were only a few thousand fans in the stands.
The Rentschler Field turf was chopped up; in fact, the middle of the field looked more like a sand trap at TPC River Highlands.
And because of the number of injuries, they didn't even keep score.
We're going to be charitable here: The UConn spring game, more of a controlled scrimmage, was a wee bit shy of SEC standards. Heck, the line at halftime for the women's room at the Alabama spring game may have been longer than the full attendance at the Rent.
When the head coach opens up talking more about the guys who couldn't play, that's never a good sign. A half-dozen starters and at least 15 players were held out for various medical and preventive reasons. When Breanna Stewart, Ms. Inside/Ms. Outside a la Doc Blanchard/Glenn Davis, is on the field for autographs afterward as long as the walking wounded, well, we would be less than honest if we insisted we could give a deep, probing overview of how the Huskies looked heading out of the spring.
I did think Tim Willman, with three tackles and two sacks, looked good. I thought Marquise Vann, with a couple of breakups, looked pretty good. I thought Deshon Foxx looked elusive in making three catches for 70 yards. The offense obviously wasn't showing all its cards. Chandler Whitmer was 8-for-14 for 140 yards and one interception. While the offense did get the ball across the goal line in red-zone drills, during the actual "game" portion, the only points came off two field goals by backup Bobby Puyol, one of 46 yards.
Maybe they're hiding it all for Randy Edsall and Maryland. Maybe they're hiding it all to spring on Michigan. Still, for this spring game, permit me this: This is a program that needs a buzz, a big buzz, an electrifying buzz and the folks who showed up Saturday barely got a tickle.
So I'm going to keep this to two major observations:
If I'm 2013 recruits Tim Boyle, Richard Lagow and Kivon Taylor, I'm amped for the possibility of being Chandler Whitmer's backup right away in the fall. Maybe I'll be proven wrong, but my eyes told me Saturday that Casey Cochran is short of the bill. He didn't seem terrific at any one thing. And when he eluded the rush he seemed to lose his throwing mechanics. The result was one interception — identified as a fowl by coach Paul Pasqualoni — some underthrows, some overthrows, and some balls that put his receivers in precarious positions. He did improve some as the scrimmage went along. But, hey, that's one day, one observer. The numbers say Cochran was 7-for-18 for 101 yards.
"I think Casey had some good throws," Pasqualoni said. "There's one there that looked like a duck. Overall, coming back from the broken wrist, and really being into it now, healthy for the first time since last summer, I thought he did a pretty good job."
My other observation is brighter. If this post-Edsall, Pasqualoni experiment is going to last past 2013 after a blah, blah, blah, blah 10-14 start, new offensive coordinator T.J. Weist is going to be a central figure in its success.
"I love him," Whitmer said. "I'm excited about what we're doing. High energy, we're flying around, making plays. We've got to continue to learn the offense and tighten things up."
What is the difference?
"We'll see," Whitmer said coyly. "You got a little glimpse of it."
OK, let's try again. What's the difference?
"It's just a matter of some things different we're doing personnel-wise, having different people on the field; concepts and block-schemes, all that, is the same stuff," Whitmer said. "It's very similar, it's a matter of learning different intricacies of what we need to do.
OK, one more time. What are some of them?
"You guys are really going for it," Whitmer said, laughing. "I've got to stay tough here. Obviously, with the new coordinator, it's a different attitude, it's a different approach. [Weist] likes energy. He likes it fast, flying around. That's something we need to bring. We were a little lethargic last year. We didn't have enough energy. That's the biggest thing, I think, he's brought in. Rather than playbook wise, it's a mentality of what we're doing."
Weist is also the receivers coach, so he's moving around the field the entire time in practice. Yet it's more than movement. It's the transferral of energy.
"Players want to have passion," Weist said. "The players want to feel the passion of the coach. Football is a very serious sport and at times it is a grind. I'd like to bring energy every play and practice. Get guys fired up. To me it's the energy that keeps guys excited. I like to lead that. I like to demonstrate it first, build it and then let the players take over."