UConn football sacks leader Ormsby looking to increase total this season

Published on Saturday, 5 August 2017 17:37
Written by Neill Ostrout

Journal Inquirer

STORRS - The unquestioned king of sacks on the UConn football team is Cole Ormsby.

The senior defensive end led the Huskies in sacks last season as a junior, led them in the same category as a freshman in 2014, and was still among the team leaders as a sophomore in 2015 despite missing five games with an injury.

The problem, however, is that leading UConn in sacks isn’t too difficult. It’s one big game for some players.

Ormsby, in fact, has a total of just nine sacks in his UConn career so far. He had nearly double that in his senior season at Windsor High School.

“I’m definitely trying to get way more than I had before. I felt like I was kind of slacking,” Ormsby said recently. “I missed a couple of sacks, too. I’m trying to clean all that up, no mistakes, nothing.”

Don’t blame the 6-foot-3, 262-pound Ormsby for those paltry, team-leading numbers. The Husky defense, under former head coach Bob Diaco, wasn’t designed to tackle the quarterback.

Diaco, who was fired in the offseason after three years at the helm of the Huskies, favored a defense that didn’t try too hard to create “negative plays.” The defense was designed to contain, not necessarily attack.

It worked to some degree; UConn’s problems in recent years were mostly concentrated on offense.

But the lack of sacks by UConn as a whole in recent years was still rather startling. The Huskies had just 17 as a team in 2016, a mark that was 110th nationally (out of 128 teams). In 2015 they recorded 21 sacks, good for 97th in the nation. And in 2014 there were a mere 13 sacks by UConn, 117th nationally.

Those numbers, both Ormsby’s individual total and the team’s output, are likely to change this year. That’s because the recently re-hired Randy Edsall has adopted a new defensive approach. The architect of the Huskies’ new 3-3-5 defense, new defensive coordinator Billy Crocker, says the Huskies will be absolutely focused on making negative plays this year.

“Not just sitting back and waiting, not a bend-but-don’t-break kind of thing,” Crocker, who came to the Huskies from Villanova, said when describing his 3-3-5 approach. “In this day and age of college football teams are going to move the ball on you. They’re going to. So we want to get them off schedule as much as we can. They may hit a big play but we can come back and hit our own big play.”

That fits with Edsall’s approach for his second tour of duty as UConn’s head coach.

“We’re going to be aggressive in everything we do, offense, defense and special teams,” Edsall said. “We want to be in attack mode. We want to be able to dictate to the other team.”

For a player like Ormsby, that’s fun to hear.

“In the new scheme we’re attacking more. We’re trying to get at the quarterback more. More blitzes and everything,” Ormsby said. “I feel like it’s a little more freedom. It’s the same mindset, just get after it on every play, but with more aggression.”

On a unit with a number of talented, experienced players - seniors Foley Fatukasi and Luke Carrezola are his neighbors on the UConn defensive line - Ormsby sometimes gets overlooked. But his production has been consistent and, the coaches say, his effort has rarely dipped.

“He’s not a real talkative guy. He’s not a real rah-rah guy. He does his leadership by example,” Crocker said. “He plays extremely hard all the time. That’s what we like about him.

“The biggest thing with him is he has the ability to be difference-makers, but the consistency level needs to continue to improve.”

Although Crocker’s approach is the third defense UConn’s seniors have been forced to learn during their tenure, it’s apparently been digested well. Although training camp has just started, the Huskies say their spring immersion in the defense and their summer studying it have prepared them well.

“I think we’ve adjusted real well with the new coaching staff,” Ormsby said. “We’re coming together more, the schemes are fitting well with the players.”

And on a team that has some question marks at key positions, quarterback, wide receiver, offensive line, and kicker, to name a few, UConn is counting on its veteran defensive line to be a unit can count on for leadership and production right away this season.

“We do have experience on the D-line and we try to play off that experience,” Ormsby said. “But we have experience at linebacker and DBs, too.”



Posted in New Britain Herald, General Sports, UConn on Saturday, 5 August 2017 17:37. Updated: Saturday, 5 August 2017 17:39.