Lyle McCombs, the fourth-leading rusher in school history, is no longer with the program. Usually such news would be met with something more than the ambivalence we've seen in recent days from fans and media.
Maybe that's because McCombs, a Freshman All-American, didn't do much to distinguish himself as a sophomore or junior, and first-year head coach Bob Diaco didn't think the marginal on-field production was worth whatever off-field headaches McCombs might've caused. So the two sides have parted ways.
But now what? Who replaces McCombs on the depth chart? The obvious choice is Max DeLorenzo, who rushed for 367 yards and five touchdowns last season. Jazzmer Clax is the only other back on the roster with game experience, and then there is sophomore Josh Mariner and a trio of freshmen who arrive in Storrs with plenty of high school accolades: Ron Johnson, once a Louisville commit; Arkeel Newsome, a Parade All-American (the first at UConn); and Brice McAllister.
But would true freshmen see the field?
"We don't have a rule for not participating as a freshman," Diaco said Thursday, according to the Hartford Courant. "And as a skill player you've got the best chance to do it, really. On the offensive, defensive line, it's almost laughable, but as a back, kick returner or punt returner, you might have a chance to participate if you can produce yards and points."
Also helping: the leading rusher is no longer with the team and there's a need in the backfield. Whomever ends up back there, the coach has some rules on the position: "To me it's three things: no negative plays, taking care of the football, and then the yards after contact," Diaco said.