What’s goin on?
Caught up with UConn Coach Bob Diaco for a little insight into how he’s running things now heading into his first spring practice (March 10) as the Huskies head coach.
So Diaco hit on a variety of things including the fact that although he and his staff could be spending more time with the players during their eight hours the staff is allotted with the team it’s not happening because Diaco and the staff realized something more important needed to take precedence.
“I think the team needs eight hours of physical and mental development,” he said. “One day it’s two hours, another day it’s 2:15 minutes, another day 1:15 but its broken up to be that specific. They are training very hard, lifting and running. Around their [class] schedules there are three lift times during the day. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and in the afternoon, Monday and Thursday, there is another conditioning element, a competitive element with the staff.”
Diaco said he liked, overall, the vibe he’s gotten from the team.
“This team has energy, a purpose and a spirit. That’s specific to what
we see here. The team wants to change. They want to be better. They don’t want
to have poor body composition. They are doing the things we’re asking them to
do. It’s almost non-existent a defiance or lack of accountability. There is a
purpose and a spirit to this group. It has its receptors wide open to our work
each day. It’s a fun group to be around.”
At the same time there’s been things he and the staff have seen that need to change.
“The team needs to care about each other more and they’re getting better,” Diaco said. “There is an upper classmen entitlement feel of ‘hey this is what I do and you do this and I’m going to receive this extra treatment because I’m older’ or a pass, you know? We’re very visual.
“A culture was created, I don’t know why, I don’t know where, but you kind of had this, like they’ve got their gloves up, very guarded. So we start our first few workouts and you hear a lot of guys trying to energize each other by saying ‘they’re just trying to break us’… but, no.
“We actually called them up and stopped the drill and re-collected everybody. That’s just not the culture. That’s not what we do. Don’t displace either what was; what you think or wherever it came from. We’re completely against that. There’s no players’ vs. coaches, coaches vs. players. We’re together. We’re a family. We’re all trying to improve. There’s not a them vs. us or an us vs. them-mentality. That needs to be eradicated.”
“The group is easily frustrated; easily derailed and frustrated, not a great understanding of finishing. So there are some tangible elements of body composition and what not, [but] very important and intangible elements. We’re trying to change culture along with changing physically. These are some hallmarks, initial observations from the staff and me but also the kind of hallmarks of a lot of teams at certain times but like I said the team has energy, purpose and a spirit. And I like it.”
The staff is working on offense, defense, special teams, calls and more, including carving up, for the spring, a smaller version of the bigger fall playbook.
“They’re also watching cutups and making teach tapes for the players to have that information for the team so the players on their own time can access that video and watch teach tapes, position specific and also unit specific,” Diaco said.
The players’ progress will be known come spring practice too because Diaco promises they’ll be fast-paced from start to finish. He believes in conditioning through practice.
“There’s no hard and fast line of where guys have to be,” Diaco said. “We need each player to get better every day and we need every player, so we don’t intend to set things up for failure. We don’t intend to set things up where guys can wash out. We want everyone in the organization to continue with the organization and be efficient.
“There’s so much work to be done as it relates to their physical development, body composition and they’re already changing. They’ve been at it about four weeks, about to be in Week 5 and their bodies are changing. Already they look different; they feel different and they’re starting to act a bit different.”
What is Diaco, a defensive guy expecting to get accomplished on offense?
“We’re going to run the ball. We’re going to move at different tempos, not necessarily fast. We’re going to be able move fast and move at different tempos. I want to see a lot of formations from similar personnel groups. I want to see a very downhill authoritative running game, not a side-glancing running game. I want to see people pouring into the point of attack and I want to see an aggressive downfield passing game.”
A couple other notes, the first with respect to the player development/engagement position. Every coach on the staff is going to be responsible for it, which they would have been anyway. It’s not going to be assigned to one coach but Diaco guides it, of course.
And on filling Ernest Jones’ running back position Diaco said there is no shortage of candidates and he expects to fill the role soon.