Notes from the UConn football beat. Diaco on the state of the program foundation.
NOTES: Diaco gave his thoughts on where the program stands now versus when he got here a year ago.
“The foundation is laid,” Diaco said, “Of our culture and of our language. The expectations and the accountability. So there is and understanding of the respect in all area’s and all things. They understand. There’s an anticipation about what they’re going to get from me and the staff, what I’m going to get from them. So that’s a building block. There’s and understanding of during the game and in the competitive environment what that competition needs to look like and feel like. What the effort and intensity and passion and joy needs to look like and feel like.”
The head coach continued.
“So there’s a lifestyle change as it relates to the social, the intellectual, the spirit that is making winning choices, tonight. The lifestyle is changing, we’ve come a long way there and we don’t have to go back there, it’s been built and we did it the right way. We didn’t short cut it, we didn’t and they know, the line is clear. If you touch that stove, I’m telling you its hot and you touch it, you’re going to burn your hand. So we had a few guys that wanted to touch it so we never muddied that. Now the mental toughness is the piece. It was the piece in winter conditioning, it was the piece in spring football and it’ll be the piece moving forward. The mental toughness and the detail and discipline for execution. So those are the pieces that are growing, so if you’re looking for the building blocks, those are not in place yet, we can’t say they’re cemented. That we have four quarter, mental toughness to maintain focus and detail and discipline, to execute. It’s on the come. We weren’t even having this conversation a year ago. We weren’t having this conversation six months ago. But that’s the conversation we’re having now.”
The quarterback position has been a bone of contention for the team over the past two seasons and while it’s not settled as of right now, it appears less muddled than it was a year ago.
“We can’t declare a starter for Villanova,” Diaco said, “Because we still have two more players that are going to join in fall camp. Now I’m sure we’re going to know right away because now we have some real bench marks and some parameters for how to function. We’ve created the separation. Tyler’s (Davis) been fantastic, he’s going to be a great quarterback here but there’s a drop off between the other two (incoming QB’s).”
“So it’s a three man race,” Diaco said, “So we say go get it, they all had equal reps and then they kind of tilted in that final week and definitely Bryant has separated himself from Tim and I think that’s the buzz word for now, separation. That will be the separation going into to fall camp and we’ll take a peek at those other two and give them a legitimate chance and go as fast as we can. It’s not necessarily the word or the energy, it’s reps. you’re looking at fall starts and they did a nice job if Bryant had all the time with all the guys then there would be none. It’s reps, its continuity.”
Johnson, who seemed to tweak his ankle early in the second quarter and then again later in the game, was deemed fine afterwards and did come back in the contest in the second half.