Aug. 2, 2014
STORRS, Conn. - The University of Connecticut football team held its first preseason practice on Saturday under new head coach Bob Diacoin preparation for the 2014 season. The practice was moved indoors to the Mark R. Shenkman Training Center because of the rain in the Storrs area. The Huskies open the season on Friday, August 29 when they take on BYU at Rentschler Field at 7:00 p.m. (ESPN, UConn IMG Sports Radio Network).
UConn football season tickets and parking passes have been mailed and should be received by the middle of this upcoming week.
"The players came to work excited today, because they were excited, and because they also understand that excitement is an absolute baseline expectation," said Diaco. "The work is not going get done without excitement and that didn't even have to be talked about.
"They got a better handle on the tempo of practice -- what full speed should look like, when they are in movement teaching phase what that should look like and when they are in a truly walk and teach period what that should look like. A lot of time you go into full speed drills and people are flopping and flying all around banging into each other. This is not how professionals do their work."
The morning began for the Huskies with an air horn wakeup call and continued with some popular music for the beginning of practice.
"You want the players to enjoy their experience and there is a professionalism in learning that," said Diaco. "If the players do not enjoy themselves they are not going to give you all they have. There will be some players who you want to continue with the program that will be looking for the midnight train home. There is a balance, because this is not Chuck E. Cheese's either. We have a lot of work to get done and this is a tough, rugged game, the greatest in the world, and we need to prepare our team and staff for that.
"There is a balance. If it is all one-sided, something is going to give. There are opportunities for levity and there is an art form to being loose and having fun, but then being locked in an purposeful. Sometimes that transition can lead to silliness and you can never have silliness."
The UConn defense under Diaco will played a combined 4-3, 3-4 scheme and there are players that will be versed in playing two positions.
"Our system facilities one of those players being that guy that can do both jobs. That way, you don't have to substitute to get in and out of defense that look like sub defense. Graham Stewart will even afford more opportunities like that because he is not necessarily, for us, the prototypical outside back. He plays long and bigger because he is strong, powerful, tough and rugged, but has the moves, the quickness and changes direction like a safety."
UConn has four scholarship quarterbacks working in this year's camp and most of the work on Saturday was individual.
"We don't want to move as fast as the guys who are going to perform and outperform can take it," said Diaco. "We as an organization want to move as fast as the most limited person in the room. We want to move that fast. In doing that, we go back and teach things. We teach stance, we teach alignment, we teach assignment and we teach all the small fundamentals of doing your job. That was today and tomorrow will be the same template."