Spring Game Information
Spring Game Rosters
By Erica Brancato
The UConn football team ends their spring practice on Saturday with the annual Blue vs. White Game at Rentschler Field. Admission and parking is free with the lots opening at noon and FanFest inside the stadium starting at 1:00 p.m.
As a special bonus, the NCAA Champion women's basketball team will be signing autographs from 2:00 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. at FanFest. Fans are strongly urged to sit on the UConn home bench side of the field. "
We want all our great fans to feel the intensity of our players and coaches on the bench and feel the excitement of the game," said head coach Bob Diaco. "It's also the sunny side of the field and we want everyone to join together and have a great experience."
With 15 practices under their belt, Diaco said the Huskies have become a much better team and look to continue their progress past the spring game.
"There's not a player on the team that hasn't improved," Diaco said. "Not one. There's not a player on the team that we don't need moving forward. We need everyone to accomplish our goals and everybody will have a role. That makes it exciting."
Diaco and the coaching staff invented the `And One' plan for the Huskies to work on throughout spring practice. Each player was given a tangible or intangible thing to work on -- such as speed or attitude in the game -- to master before the 15 practices were over. Diaco said players on the team have successfully completed their `And One' plan and look to showcase their improvement at the Blue and White game.
Compared to last year's Blue and White game, which was simply the offense versus the defense with a unique scoring system, Diaco said this year the Huskies will be split up in a Blue Team and White Team and play a traditional game. He said from a coaching standpoint they will be playing as if it were a typical game.
"We want to have it also be a great day for the coaches to get a dress rehearsal as it relates to game day," Diaco said. "We have a great opportunity to go to Rentschler Field, which we don't do very often, and get in there and practice the game. That gives us a great chance to do that."
Though the starting quarterback has not been established just yet, Diaco said there has been "separation" between the three competitors. He said that although each player has performed well in their own unique way, redshirt sophomore Bryant Shirreffs (Jefferson, Ga.) has separated a bit from junior Tim Boyle (Middlefield, Conn.) and they both have separated from true freshman Tyler Davis (North Bellmore, N.Y.).
Though the position is still wide open and two more quarterbacks will be joining the team in June, Diaco said the starter would not be declared until after fall camp.
"Right now Bryant has had some more production on a day to day basis," Diaco said. "It is ever so slight because Tim is playing the best football he has played since we have met him. He is now healthy, which has been a big help for him, and he's doing a lot of really great things. No matter what shakes out next fall, Tim is going to go in the games for us on critical downs and he's going to have to perform to win or be the starter. At a minimum, that's definitely going to happen. He will be ready to go in and do it if he doesn't go in and become the quarterback between now and then. But Bryant has a higher ability to keep plays alive and be productive with his legs. He creates opportunities for the offense. They are both good strong passers."
Though the team continues to strive to get better, collectively the Huskies have changed and improved tremendously since the end of the regular season. This year the players have a deeper understanding of plays and the game in general compared to last season.
"Last year they memorized what their job was," said Diaco. "If they remembered it, it was great, if they didn't it was `uh oh, here we go.' Now we are talking about the concepts of the play call. Why did we call the play? What are we trying to get done conceptually as to why we called this play? Now we are talking about assignment but also how you fit in relation to the people adjacent to you."
Diaco said last year was filled with basic concepts of football, however, during the spring practices the team has grasped a deeper understanding of the game. He believes the team is better equipped this year to react and make smart decisions on the field that lead to success. Diaco has high hopes for the Blue-White Game as the Huskies look to perform their best.
"I'd like to see the game conducted in a professional way," Diaco said. "We are going to play contact tough football. We are going to play intense, high effort, passionate football. It's not even a conversation to do it any other way... now we have to execute so the plays look good and the ball moves down the field, points get produced and defense gets stops and the kicking game produces. So there's a piece of detail that we can take that next step with and that's very important for execution. I'm exited to see a professional outfit, not an amateur outfit, and have it look like that and execute."