UConn football formally introduced the two newest additions to Randy Edsall’s coaching staff today, as incoming offensive coordinator John Dunn and offensive line coach Frank Giufre spoke with the media.
Edsall spoke highly of the two new assistants, praising Giufre’s reputation and Dunn’s work at Maryland, where he was also on Edsall’s staff.
Dunn comes from the Chicago Bears, where he worked two different roles as an offensive assistant under John Fox. Before that, the UNC alumnus worked under Edsall at Maryland as a tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator, joining the Terrapins’ staff after a stint at LSU.
Giufre has also spent time in both college football and the NFL, spending the last six seasons with the Indianapolis Colts after stints at Maine, Sacred Heart, and Miami during the Hurricanes’ dominant run with Larry Coker from 2001 to 2003. Giufre is a former Syracuse offensive lineman who has deep ties to the northeast, growing up in upstate New York, and having worked both there and in Connecticut.
Here are a few things we learned about the two coaches and what they might bring to UConn football.
DUNN WANTS CONTINUITY ON OFFENSE
Losing Rhett Lashlee had some UConn fans worried that the Huskies would be shifting back to a more traditional style of offense, but Dunn’s words today made it seem like this year’s offense will look similar to last year’s.
“Philosophically, we will be a no-huddle team,” Dunn said. “We’re going to be able to use multiple formations, personnel groupings, tempos, which is very important.”
HE WANTS TO PLAY TO THE TEAM’S STRENGTHS
“The first premise of offense is this: we have to be able to do what our players can do. That’s something that we’re currently, as we watch them on tape and they’re going through winter workouts, trying to figure out,” Dunn said, explaining why his strategies for the upcoming season are far from set. “As we figure out who we are, we’ll go in the direction that we need to go in.”
He’s also not taking cues from other teams in the conference. While he said he’s already been watching film of defenses from around the American Athletic Conference, Dunn said he doesn’t feel like he has to run his offense like the rest of the American.
DUNN WON’T ASSUME ANYTHING ABOUT PLAYERS
The phrase Dunn repeated was “clean slate” when referring to how he would evaluate the UConn players. “I have watched games from last year sparingly,” he said. “I’ve tried to keep out any preconceived notions or thoughts. I think it’s fair to the player.”
That doesn’t mean he’s ignoring the abilities players displayed last year, though. “One thing I have tried to figure out is skill set. We’re gonna use multiple personnel groupings—what can we use?” Dunn continued.
Although Dunn is saving his judgments for spring practices, he has made a few observations already. “I think there are some talented guys on the perimeter,” he said. “I don’t want to speak too much specifically, because it’s unfair to them, but I will say I think there’s some skilled guys here. I look around and I’m excited about what we have. Guys up front last year kept getting better.”
Dunn did come back around to his original thought, though, saying “Maybe after spring ball, we’ll talk. In my head, they all have a clean slate.”
GIUFRE IS BIG ON RELATIONSHIPS
Giufre mentioned that the key to his work with the UConn offensive line will be built around relationships. Understandably, every coach wants to maintain a positive balance with his players, but Giufre says he uses these to build team chemistry as well. “The centers have to know what the guards are thinking, the guards have to know what the tackles are thinking,” he said. “Like I told [them], I don’t want five pennies, I want a nickel.”
GIUFRE IS VERY CLOSE WITH CHUCK PAGANO
With six years on Pagano’s staff with the Indianapolis Colts, you’d expect a warm relationship between Giufre and a head coach with a reputation for treating others well, but Giufre’s praise for Pagano was effusive even for a well-established relationship. Giufre said he first met Pagano at ten years old, and his view of Pagano as both a coach and a person was glowing with admiration.
GIUFRE IS PRONOUNCED JOFF-REY
That’s right, just like the Game of Thrones character (or former Maple Leafs winger Joffrey Lupul, if you’re so inclined). It was the first question asked of the new offensive line coach, to make sure nobody was saying it incorrectly, and Giufre joked about the many ways he’s heard it mispronounced over the years. “[I’ve heard] Jyfrie, joofry...it got butchered at Ellis Island,” he said to laughs. “As long as you don’t swear at me, I’m okay.”