For the UConn Football players, the season kicked off Saturday morning with a 7am airhorn courtesy of the coaching staff.
It was time. Sweet, beautiful, delicious football has begun.
At long last UConn has opened up camp and the Bob Diaco era is officially upon us. With less than four weeks until the season opener against BYU, there's a lot of work to be done-- specifically finding a starting quarterback and looking for O-Line starters to emerge. Practice kicked off this weekend and Bob Diaco spoke to the media after the Saturday session.
For me one of the first things that stands out from Diaco's comments are his words regarding the previous regime. He had been diplomatically avoiding or dismissing questions on this topic but today he voluntarily offered up a few words about the state of the program which he took over, "[It's] pretty well documented because I don't mind saying it, that the program was a long way away. We're closer now" he continued, "practice one fall camp was in sharp contrast to practice one spring football."
Diaco also reiterated that creating a winning culture is about eliminating the things that cause losing, specifically mentioning penalties and mental mistakes. He also expressed confidence in the defense and offered a few words about the new scheme, "Our system that we've built facilitates one of those players [on the outside] being that guy that can do both jobs, that's why we don't have to sub to get out of defenses that look like sub defenses," He continued, "Graham [Stewart] will even afford more opportunity on this. He's not necessarily, for us, the prototypical outside backer. He plays longer and bigger because he's strong and powerful and tough and rugged but he moves as quick and with change of direction as a safety...you need to be able to see and move and fundamentally do your work from a two-point [stance] and also a three-point to say that's just nothing no that's definitely something."
News and Notes
- Tim Boyle, Casey Cochran and Chandler Whitmer split reps evenly
- True freshman offensive lineman Steve Hashemi, a late addition by Bob Diaco to the recruiting Class of '14, has been taking reps at Tight End. The long term plan for him is still to play Tackle, but since he won't play there this year he may function as a blocking TE in the new offense. Hashemi is from Trumbull where he played at St. Josephs.
- On a related note, TE Quinn Thompson has transferred and depth at the position is a concern. This should help explain why Hashemi is getting looks out there and also why the recruiting class of 2015 has three TE's. Currently, returning starter Sean McQuillan, redshirt freshman Tommy Myers and true freshman Alec Bloom are the only ones on the roster.
- Michael Boland was listed as a Tight End on the roster last year, but he has been moved to Defensive End, which is where he was recruited to play coming out of high school in 2013.
- Guard Gus Cruz's return to the field was a welcome sight. His 2013 season was cut short due to a cardiac issue which could have ended his career. He took the first team reps at Left Guard.
- Andreas Knappe has made the long journey from Denmark to UConn's starting lineup. The 6-foot-8, 300 pound Knappe was supposed to be a project, so it's a little surprising to see him in the running for a starting tackle job as a Redshirt Sophomore.
- In non-UConn news, BYU's lead Running Back, Jamaal Williams, has been suspended for one game for behavioral reasons. Williams rushed for over 1200 yards last season, but was actually second on the team in rushing yards behind Quarterback Taysom Hill. This is a pretty big blow to the heavily favored Cougars.