By Erica Brancato
Head coach Bob Diaco and the entire UConn football team looks to focus on details, execution and communication as spring football practice began on Saturday morning at the Mark R. Shenkman Training Center.
The Huskies have 15 practices this spring, which concludes with the annual Blue vs. White Spring Game at Rentschler Field on April 11 at 3 p.m. Admission and parking are free for the game.
With one season under his belt, Diaco is confident that an increased production will come more easily because he has been able to work with the Huskies for a season. With that being said, as Diaco begins his second round of spring practices at UConn, he has more expectations for his players.
"We know the players," said Diaco on a teleconference with the media on Wednesday. "We know what pushes them. We know what works and what doesn't work as you are trying to energize young men and mobilize them. You understand their limitations fully so you can tailor their work so it is things that they can do."
In 2014, Diaco and the team were able to build a solid foundation for the football program, so this year it is more about advancing and getting to the next level of success. Though the team still has more learning to do, the culture and structure of the team is strong and determined.
"I would say that obviously we are working bigger, faster, stronger," Diaco said. "We are putting on that next coat of paint... that's a tangible translation. The practices would be anticipated to be that much more physical and faster and sharper."
Though the spring practices will focus on enhancing the entire team's ability to perform and get better, the quarterbacks will be an extra area that the coaches hope will succeed. Quarterbacks Tim Boyle, Bryant Shirreffs and Tyler Davis will all have equal time and reps at practice as Diaco said there is a clean slate for each of them. They will be evaluated on their performance as of now, rather than looking back on what they have done in the past.
Boyle, a junior from Middlefield, Conn., has started seven games over the past two seasons. Shirreffs is a product of Jefferson, Ga., and sat out last season at UConn after transferring from North Carolina State. Tyler Davis is a freshman out of North Bellmore, N.Y., and just graduated from Mepham High School.
"I would like to see a leader emerge from those three," Diaco said. "Knock on wood, everybody for practice is at full speed. I am very hopeful that not only a leader will emerge, but we will have a pecking order of one, two, three."
Though Davis is just a freshman, Diaco wants him to practice and give each of the quarterbacks equal opportunity to improve and develop thought this spring practices. Diaco said that since there is a lack of depth at quarterback, all hands on deck are needed in the position as each get further trained in practice. Though each quarterback is different in their own ways, they all bring great potential to the offense Diaco said.
"Tyler had a great day of practice just by making it out there," said Diaco. "A few weeks ago he was having tater-tots and apple sauce cups in a high school cafeteria and now he is in a college football practice."
With the newly arranged offensive coaching staff and a strong foundation, the Huskies are eager and excited to move on to this upcoming spring season. Each member of the team and the coaching staff look to put forth their best effort for the greater good of the team.
"There is nothing that is the same," said Diaco. "Every single aspect in every person has improved. Every person: their skill, their physical strength, their frame of mind. So now we are just excited to make sure that we can just check the scoreboard box too."