UConn opens spring practice this afternoon. Here is a quick primer on what to expect.
Spring changes: There are only a few changes to report for the Huskies -- offensive coordinator George DeLeone will now be coaching the offensive line, and Shane Day takes over as quarterbacks coach. Mike Foley has been moved over to tight ends coach. As for position changes, Deshon Foxx has moved from running back to receiver. Michael Smith, who was academically ineligible for the 2011 season, has returned to the team and will practice this spring. His return is huge for a team that is losing its two leading receivers in Isiah Moore and Kashif Moore. Smith led the team in 2010 with 46 receptions for 615 yards.
Position battles to watch
Quarterback. The most talked about position headed into the spring -- five players will have a shot to win the starting job. You have returning starter Johnny McEntee, along with Scott McCummings, Michael Nebrich, true freshman Casey Cochran and junior college transfer Chandler Whitmer. UConn was in the same spot going into last spring, and waited until the first game of the regular season before announcing a starter.
Offensive line. Veteran All-Big East center Moe Petrus is gone, leaving a huge hole in the middle of the offensive line. His backup, Gary Bardzak, is gone as well. Freshman Kyle Bockeloh might get first crack at the position, but there also is the possibility that some of the returning veteran linemen could be converted to play center. Left tackle Mike Ryan also is gone, leaving another major spot on the offensive line that has to be filled.
Kicker. The Huskies must replace All-Big East kicker Dave Teggart, who emerged as the starter in his freshman season in 2008 and never looked back. Teggart won some really important games with his leg -- and clinched the team's BCS berth back in 2010. So it is safe to say it is going to be difficult to fill his shoes immediately. Chad Christen, the team's kickoff man, will assume the kicking duties during the spring. Then expect some fall competition from true freshman Bobby Puyol, who arrives in the summer.
Receiver. Isiah Moore and Kashif Moore are gone, giving young players on the roster an opportunity to step up. Among those who will be counted on -- Smith, Geremy Davis, Tebucky Jones, Kamal Abrams and Boston College transfer Shakim Phillips.
Injury report: The Huskies are expected to have all their players practicing this spring. That includes running back D.J. Shoemate, who missed nearly all of 2011 with an ankle injury.