UConn Football Practice Three: Notes And Quotes

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What’s goin on?

Trusting you’ve seen some of the videos from this morning’s practice.

There’s some good stuff in there including the Rodeo Drill which UConn Coach Bob Diaco invited the media onto the field to see up close. It was great and part of an extra 30 minutes we got to stick around and see the Huskies in their first day in full pads.

We certainly appreciated that.

A safe and fun spring break wish to all the players….

Let’s get to some of the news and notes of the day…

Redshirt freshman quarterback Kivon Taylor has been suspended indefinitely by the university. Given the fact Diaco addressed Taylor as Mr. Taylor might be an indication the coach isn’t happy. Taylor is a talent who has the ability to do more than one thing for this team. Whether he does or not is up to him and the coach but Taylor abilities cannot be denied. He is one versatile and gifted athlete.

– “Mr.Taylor was suspended by the university and the athletic department and the team based on the violation of athletic department, university, team policy,” Diaco said. “It’s indefinite. There are some factors that will get evaluated by the athletic department and sports performance team that will then re-engage Mr. Taylor.”

– With Cole Wagner gone the Huskies have a void to fill at punter. Who’s going after that job? The Huskies didn’t exactly have experience waiting in the wings.

“There are three punters, three capable punters on the team: Justin [Wain], [Blake] Feagles and Bobby [Puyol], Bobby just hasn’t done it yet but we’re really giving Justin a lot of work. He’s got some tools. He’s got some tools. He’s got a long way to go fundamentally. It’s a fundamental mess, a fundamental mess – but he’s got some tools he’s got a nice pendulum, he’s athletic, soft hands, good foot action, strong, good leg speed, strong, so he’s got some tools. We’ve got a long way to go with him, though.”

Diaco said he’s been coaching punters for the last 20 years. This one is in his wheelhouse.

He also said: It’s too early to talk first, second and/or third strings.

How are the quarterbacks doing?

“You know what? To me they did a much better job protecting the ball today,” Diaco said. “So there’s been some ball security errors whether they be exchange issues or trying to impress people by throwing into tight windows and now I think they’re understanding that’s not impressing anybody. What’s impressive is when you throw the ball away or you keep it alive or you run. You don’t throw the ball late and try to cram it in down the middle of the field. It’s not impressive. Whether you do it or not do it that’s all going on the plays that cause losing because that’s how you get beat. So today it looked like they’re collectively taking the coaching from coach [Don] Patterson and coach [Mike] Cummings., The coaches are doing a fantastic job there and the players are doing a better job of protecting the football.”

Right now all the quarterbacks are getting equal reps, Diaco said.

– You know, I’ve been around Diaco a little bit now. And one thing I’ve noticed about him is that he doesn’t have any interest in talking about what happened on the field at UConn before he became the head coach and I don’t think he has any interest in hearing about it, either. Seems to me his focus is on his team and getting it right going forward which it should be. The past is the past. Now, he was asked about the Rodeo Drill, which is an exceptional drill. A lineman, quarterback and tailback on one side; a tackler on the other. The tackler has to fight through it all and tackle the ball-carrier. The lineman has to see his man through. The ball carrier has to stay within a tight space to get through. Usually there’s plenty of contact in there if the drill is done right.

Diaco was asked if he thought the drill was something the team needed.

“Again, you guys are sill trying to go back to 2013, OK?…The Rodeo is one of four or five drills that we rotate through our full-padded practices that ramp up, in a controlled setting, the principles of football, block destruction, tackling, blocking, running, ball security in a controlled setting. All things that need to be present and worked on every day no matter what has happened in the future or in the past. Pad level, blocking, foot action, hand violence and speed, ball security, shed, wrap up, foot acceleration. Those are just things that need to be worked on every day.

Diaco said he taught the coaches the drill, then it taught the staff the drill and it went down for the first time Friday.

The players loved it

“That drill is really fun,” safety Andrew Adams said. “It brings intensity to practice. Everybody gets fired up, it gets everybody going, gets a blood-rush toward the beginning of practice. It’s a fun drill. Everybody is excited about it.”

“One on ones are always fun, so, hittin’…it was fun,” center Alex Mateas said.

And you know a stinger like Marquise Vann enjoyed it..

“Oh it was awesome,” he said. “It was awesome. It’s definitely a change of pace. It was awesome. Yes, I did enjoy that.”

Here’s what standout wide receiver Geremy Davis said about Diaco: “He’s a players’ coach and it’s a like a brotherhood here. Practice is fun. We’re enjoying everything we’re doing. He’s not killing us. He’s getting us to get some good work in to better ourselves and the team.”

– Installations, offense, defense and special teams are going in…

“The mechanics of the systems, obviously, no one really knows what to do,” Diaco said. “Each day we’re installing we get a chance to double back and clean up installation at the end of each day but we’re continuing to install so the systems are working themselves in. The players are doing a good job with that and still don’t really know what to do. We see some instances of cautious play.”

– The pace of practice has been good:

“Effort and energy and intensity of movement and activity increased from [practice] one to two and increased from [practice] two to three and in fact we actually had to stop the drill in period, whatever, period 20, to remind them of the tempo of the drill because it got a little too animated which is a good thing but everybody understands now that there’s a way to practice to get better and there’s a way to practice and not get better,” Diaco said. “It seems like it’s more intense. It seems like it’s more contact but it transitions to not being smart so the players did a great job after that huddle up and responding to finish with three great periods of movement, intensity and activity but smart play. The staff is excited about the first three practices. We’re hopeful that we’ve implanted enough culture that they can carry through spring break. We’ll see. Everything in moderation for the young men this next week, have fun get away but we’re never off. I believe they understand that.”

The Huskies’ next practice, Practice 4 is on March 24…







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