Author Archives: dconner

First Preseason Practice Under Bob Diaco And New Staff Is A Wrap (Updated)

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And it was inside the Burton Family Football Complex due to inclement weather…

What’s goin on?

The first preseason practice under first year coach Bob Diaco is a wrap and it was much different from first day of spring practice…

“A lot of times, you’ll go to a full-speed drill and people are flopping around on the ground, flying around all over, banging into each other, knocking each other down, grabbing each other. That’s not how professionals do their work,” Diaco said after practice Saturday. “Then on the other side you might go to a walk and talk teach installation part and guys are kicking the ground or moving around, not focused or looking off into the distance or something. That wasn’t present today. It was Day 1 in spring.” Continue reading

UConn Football Recruiting : They Want To Be A Part Of What’s Brewing

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What’s goin on?

UConn opened practice this morning and the media is out after seeing the first 30 minutes.

We’ll get Coach Diaco around noon, No player availability today.

The first practice started out spirited that’s for sure.

It also started out with UConn football recruits Tyler Davis, Connor Freeborn, John Robinson and Justice Pettus-Robinson watching and nodding their heads to the music banging during warm ups.

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I was thinking about the class so far, the 13 recruits on board including two UConn won out on in head-to-head matchups vs. 2014 preseason favorite Cincinnati including the first recruit the Huskies welcomed to the Class, defensive end Kevin Murphy, and the last so far, Pettus-Dixon.

Seeing these guys this morning and talking to most of them it’s clear these recruits want to be here and that includes Philippe Okounam who I understand was still hearing from LSU after his verbal commitment which is perfectly fair – it all is until that letter of intent is signed – but Okounam is solid. Oregon State is probably not going to stop trying to pull Pettus-Dixon from the UConn grips, either. He committed this week and he was at practice today. N.C. State and Boston College also offered ‘ships to the defensive back from Baltimore. Continue reading

Mailbag July 31: Has The Culture Changed As Dramatically As Presented?

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Q: Been a long time Dez (too long).  Hope all is well.  As the we’re about to flip the page in the calendar I’m getting more and more antsy.  Only downfall is that it means summer is over yet again.  Read your report about how McBryde lost weight and hearing about Cochran’s weight loss/body fat reduction……without rehashing everything that went wrong the last 3 years, it seems that every single kid left on the roster has bought into Diaco/Balis’ approach.  We’re hearing the right things from Diaco.  Question is for someone who was around the program last year and currently, has the culture really changed as dramatically as it’s being presented?  Can’t wait for BYU! – Chris, CT

 

A: Yes, it has been a long time – hopefully not too much longer. Hope all is well on your end. I think the culture has changed significantly.  The commitment the team has put in, been putting in with respect to their bodies is a very good visual indication that the culture has changed. The emphasis on the body, easting, etc, has never been greater in my opinion and that means something in the way of optimal performance on the field. You can hear the excitement in the players’ voices when they talk about the direction of the program now and the upcoming season. I haven’t heard it like this in a while, man. And being around the building now is just a different vibe. It’s all no nonsense. The players are personable of course but more business-like. How will it all play out in wins and losses this year is anybody’s guess but in my opinion – and it’s only my opinion C – the program is on the track it should have been on in 2011. That was a hot time for the program coming off the Fiesta Bowl and that was THE time for it to make moves upward and outward. And it did not. But you’re right the past is the past; no good to keep rehashing….The culture on the field has to change. That’s the deal …..Hey, I’m sure you’ll get a chance to meet Diaco and Balis. As a football guy you’ll love them. They’re real C, the whole staff is and I know the players have bought into that group, too. Good hearin from ya…..

 

 

 

UConn Coach Diaco Satisfield With Depth On Defense? At Most Spots, Yes But….

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“I think we’re lean a little bit for the jobs,” UConn head coach Bob Diaco said Tuesday during AAC Media Day. “But the jobs at safety and outside linebacker are so complex and hard not only physically but mentally that create a depth issue. It’s not the players. It’s this new system.”

What’s goin on?

Diaco knows defense and depth. Notre Dame’s defense during 2012, where Diaco was defensive coordinator and when the Irish ran to the national title game, was ranked seventh in the nation. The Huskies will likely play a 50-50 split between the three-man front (3-4) and four man (4-3) fronts but either way the S and OLB has to be stronger.

Continue reading

More On The UConn Quarterback And What He Would Be Wise To Avoid

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What’s goin on?

UConn football coach Bob Diaco said Tuesday during AAC Media Day there will be a starting quarterback named but a second will play because the quarterbacks on the roster do different things well. And, honestly, the Huskies need to move the ball much better and easier so whatever way the staff sees fit to do that even it’s three quarterbacks playing that should be the direction to go.

Anyway, Diaco talked about how the competition will go between Chandler Whitmer, Casey Cochran and Tim Boyle (The fourth QB this year is walk-on Will Rishell. N.C. State transfer Bryant Shirreffs won’t be available until next season… Continue reading

Byron Jones: A Better Cornerback

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What’s goin on?

We saw some uncharacteristic play at times from senior cornerback Byron Jones last year but like any good corner should he’s forgotten about it but the lessons have been learned – and they’re still being learned.

Let’s keep in mind Jones is a heck of a corner who will probably being playing on Sundays after this year but there’s always room for improvement even for the best of them.

 

“The cornerback position you can do very small things you can do wrong whether it’s the beginning of the route or the end of the route or not making a play on the ball,” said Jones, fourth on the team in tackles last year (60) and first in interceptions (three) said. “It comes down to small technique you need to master to be a good corner, to be a great corner.” Continue reading

Geremy Davis’ Strength

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What’s goin’ on?

He’s not a rah-rah guy. He just gets it done.

Geremy Davis has his motivation.

There is none greater.

“I’m a big follower of Christ,” Davis told me during AAC Media Day in Newport Tuesday. “I was blessed with these abilities and I want to take advantage of these abilities he’s blessed me with.”

The abilities Davis is talking about helped him become the first 1,000-yard receiver at UConn since it joined the FBS era ad the first since Carl Bond surpassed the mark 16 years ago. Those abilities have come in the form of great hands, size, power, super route-running, blocking skills, etc.

The 6 foot 3 senior wide out has done nothing but improve and mature at a rapid pace since he got here and now that he’s got one season left with a degree under his belt and in search of another, he’s looking to accomplish even bigger things on the football field.

The praise head coach Bob Diaco has heaped on him, calling him one of the best at his position in the country, has certainly motivated him more to have a better 2014. Continue reading

Diaco: More Than One Quarterback Is Going To Play In The Game

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Because they do things totally different well,” UConn coach Bob Diaco said at AAC Media Day Tuesday. “Things we’re going to need done.”

What’s goin’ on’?

First here’s my UConn Football notebook from Newport today

Second, a little closer look at what Diaco is seeing with respect to quarterbacks Chandler Whitmer, Casey Cochran and Tim Boyle and why he thinks more than one QB has to play. Continue reading

Mailbag July 27: No.1 Thing Diaco Has To Get Done This Year Strenghthen OL

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Q: For me the #1 thing Diaco has to get done this year is strengthen the offensive line. That will help help the running game and give the QB time. What do you think? – Raymond Martineau, Steubenville, Ohio

A: I think that’s important no doubt. I think instilling in the team not finding ways to lose may be a tad bit bigger, at least in my view. The offensive line is part of the deal there, too. Sure, it has been an issue the previous three seasons but there have also been a number of games UConn could have and should have won but lost because something bad happened at the wrong time. Those things have to be kept to a serious minimum or eliminated altogether. That’s how you seal deals, win games. I think the mindset of the team has to go in that direction.