March 10, 2014
STORRS, Conn. -- The University of Connecticut football team opened its first spring practice of 2014 on Monday at the Mark R. Shenkman Training Center. It was the first-ever practice for first year head coach Bob Diaco and it had a very up-tempo feel to it. The following are quotes and video from Diaco's post practice with a photo gallery above from the practice.
Head Coach Bob Diaco
"Day one is in the books and everyone was here on time today and had the right attitude and demeanor. They sat at the meetings appropriately and we kept it moving just like we do. They had great focus and great energy. The meetings are very quick and the practices are set for some on field insulations so you don't have to get it all done in meetings. They were great through transitions, getting warmed up properly for a fast-moving practice. Practice is going to involve a lot of intensity through a lot of repetition and it's going to start right away. Hopefully you got a chance to see a fast-moving practice with a lot of activity and a lot of energy and moving parts. No one is standing around, the guys are specifically working on the things they need to do to produce. All the coaches and all players need to get used to that system, where the field space is and what drills are going to look like. It's not necessarily the person doing the drill but instead the guy simulating it. Overtime, they'll get good at the drills. Overall, they had great energy and purpose and spirit. It was all a new experience and then systematically they're just trying to learn the plays and schemes. They're a long ways off but we'll get a chance to grade every player and every play every day."
On how excited and anxious he was to get the first practice underway
"It was very exciting in my first day as a head football coach I was very anxious. At all different levels there is leadership. There's leadership in the locker room, in the position room, there is leadership from the coaches and as the ultimate leader of our team one of the key elements is to maintain a cool head under fire. Today I was very excited and hopefully I did a good job of clearly communicating our team's expectations. It was a lot of fun and a great experience."
On how the players responded to the new coaching staff
"I think they really enjoyed the practice and the practice structure. They really appreciated the pace but it was probably shocking at times to being addressed with that level of movement and activity. Every little thing was going to be coached and addressed immediately. I'm not sure they were ready for all that but I believe they appreciated it and they seemed to have fun."
On how much focus he has on the roster currently
"We're not necessarily focused on depth right now. We have to teach this team how we expect them to play. We're going to get a chance to grade every player and every play. We go over what periods of practice are going to be specifically graded so they know going into it. The thorough evaluations we do of all the players will eventually create some sort of depth chart but that's so far off and not important right now. This team right now needs to understand the effort it takes to play well. They need to grow a general care and love for each other. We need to eliminate plays that cause losing and have an understanding of those plays and have that effort."
On if he's hoping someone steps into the forefront at the quarterback position after spring practices
"I'm not that concerned after the spring practices. I was pleased with all those guys today. They seem to be demonstrative communicators and have a good grasp of the play structures. And then they got to the line of scrimmage and got to drive. It was fun watching those guys at that position."
On the purpose of having a fast-paced practice
"There are a lot of pieces there. You want to create that conditioning element in practice so you don't have to condition after practice. If your practice has enough activity then you will get your conditioning in there. A byproduct of moving quickly is that players will have to think very quickly, especially on defense, which is so reactionary. You don't have much time to think of the checks and coverage you have to be locked in and focused.