NEW BRITAIN – The Central Connecticut State Blue Devils are just over a week away from their trip to UConn for Week 1 of the 2022 season. After a 4-7 campaign in 2021, the Blue Devils have made a concerted effort this offseason to make sure they get off to a better start than a season ago when they won just one game through the first seven weeks.
Junior quarterback Romelo Williams said the energy around the team is different than it was in 2021 and they’re more team-oriented this training camp.
Head coach Ryan McCarthy echoed the same message noting the team is further along in terms of accountability and leadership this time around.
“I think the best teams police themselves and I think we’ve got a group of guys that are leading from the front that guys gravitate toward and believe in,” McCarthy said.
CCSU sported an offense that ranked fifth in scoring and total yards per game in 2021. Despite the major loss of wide receiver Tyshaun James – who is currently in training camp with the Atlanta Falcons – Central has shown continued confidence in the depth at their offensive skill positions.
In the absence of James, the Devils retained most of their pass catchers from a season ago, including sophomore Isiah Williams, sophomore Erik Surratt and senior Everett Wormley. Williams, Surratt and Wormley slotted the next three highest yard totals after James in 2021.
McCarthy also made note of sophomore JaQuan DuFour and junior Kyren Petteway as two wide receivers that have impressed through camp to this point. Last season Petteway reeled in 20 catches for 159 yards and a touchdown. DuFour appeared in seven games but is expected to play a larger role in 2022.
Romelo Williams doesn’t believe the offense is suffering in any particular areas but made sure to praise his pass catchers and their ability to effect games.
“I think we have a great group of receivers this year and if we can get those guys the ball, they’re going to help us win,” Williams said.
Williams expressed his desire to improve his accuracy and complete more passes. With what McCarthy previously called “as deep of a room as [he’s] been around,” in reference to the receivers, Williams has reason to feel confident about his resolution.
The Blue Devils have been fighting the war of attrition throughout camp with a handful of receivers, but McCarthy isn’t worried about getting too thin at that position.
“There’s enough depth there where we should be able to punch and play and still be in pretty good shape in terms of who we have,” McCarthy said.
An area McCarthy said he may not have given enough credit to ahead of training camp is his running backs. They’re returning their top back from a season ago in senior Nasir Smith who rushed for 607 yards and two touchdowns in 2021. McCarthy noted they have four guys who can play and be impactful at that position this year.
Smith and the rest of the group will be running behind an offensive line anchored by senior Craig Wood – an All-NEC Preseason selection.
The UConn Huskies kick off their season this weekend at Utah State ahead of their home opener against CCSU next Saturday at 12 p.m. McCarthy is happy to have the extra week of tape on UConn but acknowledged the downside that they have the extra week to be able to work out the kinks in live action.