The hiring of former Cincinnati wide receivers coach T.J. Weist as offensive coordinator fills a big hole on the Connecticut football coaching staff. But other vacancies remain and, as one source said, staff responsibilities remain"fluid right now."
UConn coach Paul Pasqualoni still hasn't found a replacement for defensive coordinator Don Brown, who departed last month for Boston College. At this point, all indications point to defensive line coach Hank Hughes adding the coordinator duties to his job title. That could be announced within the next week or so.
Another opening was created when running backs coach Clayton White left for North Carolina State. Former Penn State coach Kermit Buggs should be announced soon as the new assistant for running backs and special teams. Buggs rose from graduate assistant to secondary coach under Joe Paterno but was not retained when Bill O'Brien became head coach of the Nittany Lions. In April 2012, Buggs was named volunteer defensive assistant at Lock Haven University.
UPDATE: UConn announced the hiring of Kermit Buggs early Wednesday afternoon, Jan. 23.
With Weist also named wide receivers coach, Matt Cersosimo is expected to move from receivers to cornerbacks, a spot that was handled by Brown last season. That move is not official yet. Cersosimo also serves as recruiting coordinator and it isn't clear who will handle that duty when the dust settles. Buggs and Weist are known as successful recruiters.
UConn confirmed that Weist was hired at a salary of $250.000.
Meet the press
Less than an hour after being officially named offensive coordinator, Weist had his first conference call with UConn beat writers. Here's a little of what he had to say"
What are your thoughts about coming to UConn and what are your goals?
"I'm excited to be here because I'm excited to be a part of this program and coaching staff. Coaching against [UConn] for the last three years, one thing I've noticed is that they've always been a tough football team; always been a well disciplined and well coached team. Knowing coach Pasqualoni in his career and what he's done, and respecting him, I'm excited to be a part of his program, to work with him and be part of building of this program.
"From a goal standpoint, it's hard for me to say what our goals are going to be. I need to learn the personnel and learn the staff and really just talk it through with coach and see what we can do to make this upcoming season working toward a Big East championship. [Right now] I'm really just learning the personnel and learning about the players coming back.
"I'm of the same mindset with Coach Pasqualoni that we're going to be a tough offense, physical offense and we're going to be efficient and productive."
What can we expect to see from your offensive style?
"Number one, we're going to be a balanced attack I believe that you win games running the ball and throwing the football. I'm not going to characterize us as a run the football or throw the football team, but I want to be an aggressive play caller. I want to spread the field; vertically and horizontally. Multiple formations.
"Based on personnel, I want to be able to attack and have a physical offense with a balance to it. I want play action to be a part of it. It falls to our playmakers. We can throw deep; no question. We just need to get the ball to our playmakers. I think we're going to put our players in the best position to make plays."
How will you treat the dynamic of having George DeLeone still on the staff?
"First, Coach DeLeone is one of the most respected coaches in the industry. When I walk in the door, one thing I want to do is learn from him. I'm excited to learn from him, talk football with him, work with him, coach with him, learn from the experience he has had as the offensive coordinator here and try to make it better. That's what it comes down to. We're in this to win. So I'm going to work with him to make this offense better and do whatever we can to win a BIG EAST championship. I have so much respect for him and I'm looking forward to spending time with him. We've got the same goal, so I think that's what it comes down to. I think we're going to work together well and think he's a valuable asset to all of us here."
Do you see playmakers on the UConn roster?
"One of the first things I did and will continue to do is evaluate the personnel. You've got to look at your people and see what you can do well. I was pleased, at times, with what I saw because I saw guys making plays. Obviously, you can always find areas where you can do better at, but it's the ability to continue drives that win ballgames, it's not just the big plays. I was enthused with [seeing] some of the skill guys we have here and knowing that most of the line is coming back."
Two recruits enroll
The new semester of classes started Tuesday at UConn and the Huskies welcomed two mid-year enrollees. Wide receivers Dhameer Bradley of New Castle, Del., and Noel Thomas of Norwalk will participate in preseason conditioning and spring practice.
UConn provided the following biographies:
Dhameer Bradley: Enrolled at UConn for spring 2013 semester…attended Red Lion Christian Academy (Bear, Del.) for three years and then Eastern Christian Academy (Elkton, Md.) for senior year…had 13 receptions for 156 yards and one TD as team played a limited schedule…also played basketball at Red Lion…honor roll student…born March 3, 1995.
Noel Thomas: Was named to the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council Class C All-New England team…named by MSG Varsity as its Connecticut Player of the Year… was team captain and MVP at St. Luke's School in New Canaan, Conn.….team was 8-1 in senior year and advanced to Fairfield Athletic Association championship game…also won NEPSAC Class C championship with a victory in the Dan Rorke Bowl…played wide receiver, running back and quarterback in senior year….had 2,000 yards of offense with 25 touchdowns in senior year…for his career, had 4,888 yards of offense with 53 TDs…head coach at St. Luke's is his father, Noel Thomas, Sr. …born September 18, 1994.