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UConn Quotes

Sept. 30, 2016

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UConn Head Coach Bob Diaco

Opening Statement

“Losing is terrible, it’s the worst. We obviously wanted to finish phase one of our season better than two and three. Everybody is hurt. We will use a few days off for the guys to heal up and get ready for this next phase. That was a lot of messaging in the locker room about the conversation. I don’t have a photographic memory, but players were ready to play. They were excited to play. They were not overcome by it.

“First quarter we moved the ball. The defense played stout defense. Then Greg (Ward Jr.) made a play. He is a spectacular player. He had a pass, and then they got frustrated in a destructive way. In terms of performance, in the backend, we had too many passes. It’s just not what we do. The players were really talented, and they are good guys. They try hard and get ready. Too many 10, 12, 15-yard chunks. They played hard the whole game. They were contact tough. They played hard and gave great effort. Not enough execution to finish drives with points.”

On what fired up the team

“It was one of these games where the guys are trying so hard, and it’s so intense. You need to maintain your cool. You can’t get frustrated out there. You can’t get frustrated on defense in particular. Every time you get frustrated, and you don’t do your job, points are produced. That was definitely a part of the game tonight.”

On Houston quarterback Greg Ward Jr.

“It’s very hard to defend and hard to deal with. He is an absolute weapon. You have to make a choice in that play. The choice always has to be staying coverage. You can’t let a player like that run around and let him do his thing. You can see where the problem with that is. We got guys leveraged and in position to make the tackle. They had trouble with it, as every team did.”

On how during the second quarter the defense was facing difficulties

“That was just a disastrous quarter. We couldn’t move the ball, and we had trouble on defense. The guys were super frustrated. When you don’t pour everything into it, it doesn’t help the next play. We want to change that mentality, just need to keep coaching and getting better. We need to do a better job of coaching and teaching the guys. They show up excited to work and learn. We need to find a way to reach them on offense. There are some good things happening on offense. We are getting close to finishing some really explosive plays. The plan they had tonight was a good one. It really looked like it was creating a problem, but then the drive stalled. A couple of balls that were over the top and really had the opportunity to produce points weren’t connected.”

On the offense and receivers

“Until we look at the play mechanically it’s hard to talk about and coach leverage, weight and body, distribution, and foot action is hard on tape. We will look at each play and coach the mistakes.”

On Noel Thomas

“Noel Thomas is an outstanding player. He is hard for anyone to cover and an aggressive to the ball guy. He has the ability to make people miss and break tackles. He runs hard when he has the ball and he’s a real weapon. We left a lot of production on the field for him and based on what he produced, there was still more out there for him. We have to keep finding ways to get him the football and put him in those positions.

“Right now as a program we are resolute, the players and coaches, to taking this first phase of the season and collecting the information, the good and the bad, and using it to get better as a staff and as players for this next phase. The players will rest for a few days, and then we have Cincinnati. Right in a row we are on to our Eastern Division teams stacked up week-to-week. There’s no reason why we can’t become the team we see ourselves being. There’s no reason why we can’t become extremely competitive in our conference. All we have to do is correct the mistakes and do a better job of coaching and teaching. “

On coming back after a bad loss

“I will say it’s not about the style of losing. Losing hurts. It makes you question if you are doing the right thing. It makes you think about all the little things, and the monster under your bed that’s hiding there, and the boogie man in the closest grows. Our culture and family are super strong, so I don’t anticipate our guys not coming back and excited for phase two Cincinnati week.”

Senior Wide Receiver Noel Thomas

On not making plays

“It just comes out in the inches. Plays are there on the field, and we left them on the field. We’ve got to execute those plays.”

On UConn’s energy coming into the game

“We have to go out there every time to score. When the plays are there to be made, we have to make those plays.”

On his touchdown reception

“I had to score. I caught the ball, and all I was thinking was touchdown.”

On what they’ll take away from this game

“The biggest thing is to correct the film and see the positives; correct the negatives. Watching it and playing the game, you can see the plays we left on the field. There were a couple of deep balls that were literally inches away from being touchdowns. We can get open in space and make plays, but we just have to make those plays.”

On a blowout loss versus a close game

“It’s tough to get blown out like this, especially when there were plays that could have been made to stop it from being like this.”

On the upcoming schedule

“This was a physical game, and I know a lot of us are going to be banged up. Having time off will be good for us. Now we’re starting to play teams in the east, so it’s time to get rolling.”

Senior Safety Obi Melifonwu

On fixing downfield passes

“As a secondary we have to play better. We have to trust each other, prepare better, trust our technique and know that we couldn’t pick a better receiver in our conference and country.”

On challenges outside the pocket and big yardage

“We have to contain better. I feel that the defenders need to keep their eyes on the receivers. I feel that if we contain them better, then we would have a better chance of corralling and tackling them.”

On playing defense against a quarterback like Greg Ward Jr.

“As a secondary and defensive back, you just have to keep eyes on your man. That’s something we are going to continue work on.”

On what the next few days are going to be like

“We just have to go and look at the film, rest and get ready for Cincinnati and outperform them. We’ll be good. We’ll rally.”