By Erica Brancato
UConn football head coach Bob Diaco said that the first practice back after a long week off for spring break, which took place on Monday morning, would be crucial.
Diaco said he was pleased that the team came back focused and refreshed, as their demeanor and motivation had not changed. The Huskies came back ready to work and eager to practice bright and early at the Mark R. Shenkman Training Center.
"They did a fantastic job with it," Diaco said. "I knew right away, sitting in the team meeting, there's a different look, a different energy with them sitting there. They were bright eyed, bushy tailed, ready to work and excited to be back together. I know we all feel like that."
Diaco did not hold back during practice as he started the team out with a fast paced 11-on-11 drill. "Just in case the lights weren't on full blast, I wanted to hook battery chargers up to their chest and give them a little shock of energy." he said. "It's a drill we do. It's a speed drill more than a contact drill. It's mostly about the speed that they move and the speed of communication and the challenge of communication."
With the team responding well, Diaco said it was nice to see players developing in their roles and things falling into place. Each player continues to get better and improves in every practice, he said.
Though the quarterback position is still up for grabs, Diaco is thrilled with the healthy competition from each of the players - junior Tim Boyle (Middlefield, Conn.), redshirt sophomore Bryant Shirreffs (Jefferson, Ga.) and true freshman Tyler Davis (Bellmore, N.Y.). There have been breakthroughs, however each quarterback needs to go through more practices and scenarios to develop further. Diaco said by the end of spring football there would be a leading quarterback.
"It has looked very, very good," he said. "We are please with the position. We are pleased with the battle. That group is going to be able to grow and the group is going to get bigger here in the summer."
Beyond the quarterbacks, Diaco said every player is growing, developing and competing each and every day. He said the players are more receptive of his coaching style so it is easier for him to teach and the team to grow and succeed. Diaco looks to rely on the players who have experience on the field and who are reliable as a starting point for the team. However he also emphasized that nothing is set in stone for the Huskies.
As UConn looks to improve in the upcoming season the player who can perform consistently and skillfully will be the one to play, Diaco said.
"Everybody is competing all the time so there is nothing always and forever" he said. "You can have a guy that's started for three years and his senior year if he lets go of the rope and another guy performs better than that guy will play. We will name a starter at that point after spring and if he gets beat out at camp then he gets beat out at camp. There's competition at every position every day, which is awesome. That's the greatest."