EAST HARTFORD, Conn. - The University of Connecticut football team held its first scrimmage of preseason camp on Saturday as the team made its way to Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field for the first time this season. Here are some comments from head coach Bob Diaco and a Twitter wrapup of the day.
The Huskies open the season on Thursday, September 3 when they take on Villanova at 7:30 p.m. at Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field. The game will be televised by SNY and heard on the UConn IMG Sports Radio Network.
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Head Coach Bob Diaco
On what he liked after what he saw at practice: “I liked the adversity. It was the hottest day we’ve had so far. It always adds another level of intensity when you come to your home stadium, which we’re not in very often being that it’s off campus. So this is our first time here in camp. You could see it created, I’m not going to say jitters, but definitely a heightened level of intensity that if your mind is not right, it can gas you out quick and I think some guys experienced that and with the heat kind of welted a little bit. So that’s a great learning lesson. I like the opportunity to do that. The intensity and the action was great. It was a great lesson for the defense -- that you’ve got to be ready every single time. Let’s say they play three and three quarters really well and then at the end of the fourth quarter, you come out and lose focus, you think you have it licked and all of a sudden they go down the field and score and lose the game or a big play and all of a sudden you have your back against the wall. So that’s a great learning lesson for them. It was great to come in here, in the kicking game, and get some work kicking in either side, and punting and all that. That was average at best so that needs to pick up”
On that first offensive line: “I’ve been pleased.You start the scrimmage and you’re first and fifteen based on an offsides, and there were some moments like that where we had some pre-snap errors as a whole, but I’ve been pleased collectively. This is the eleventh practice in a row, so it’s a string of practices, and now they’re going to get a little bit of time off, but I’ve been pleased with the one offensive line. The center position is a work in progress.”
On the struggle to run the ball (is it offensive or defensive struggle): “I would say a bit of both. One of the pieces is that the first scrimmage is always an interesting kind of hodge podge thing for the offense. Practices is different than going to actually play by themselves. Up to this point, they’ve had the coaches behind them, coaching and teaching, and now I’ve pushed everyone off the field. It adds another layer of work. So we’re continuing to put coats of paint on, and it was a struggle like you’re saying, but I’m not alarmed. It’s looked real good, and I think it was a function of Pratt & Whitney at the Rent here, and a little bit of the front being formidable.”
On the true freshmen: “They’re freshmen so we’re not going to bestow a lot of heap or a lot of praise on them, but they’re special.Just separaters Hergy, (Matt) Peart, (Tyraiq) Beals, Aaron (Garland). There’s some different guys. The tight ends, Christly, Zordan (Holman), Dallas Parker. They’re all going to participate. They’re exceptional, really, really strong.”
On if another running back separated himself at practice: “I would have to watch that. I think Arkeel is excellent. I think Ron is excellent, and I’ve been pleased with all the other guys. We know we have to get the ball to Arkeel in different ways. He’s a special player. Noel Thomas... this guy has kind of reinvented himself. He’s always been a special talent, and now this guy comes with a purpose to work everyday. He’s putting the preparation in to have a special year, a break-out year I would say. I’d be shocked, if all things being equal, he continues to work the way he’s working, he’ll have a special year.”
Sophomore Linebacker Junior Joseph
On being the “go-to guy” going into this season how comfortable he feels: “Last year was difficult, because I had never played linebacker before and I was playing defensive end. Learning a whole new defense with a new coach, it’s kind of hard to adapt to. It took a while, but I’m glad I finally understand defense, and understand a lot more now. I play a lot faster now.”
On how his line played today: “I think we played exceptionally well, especially on that last drive. When you have a good defensive line, I think we have one of the best defensive lines in the country. When have a good defense like that, it makes the linebackers’ job so much easier. Everything opens up and it makes the play a whole lot better.”
On if it has been a smooth transition for the defense after losing so many guys last year: “From last year, we didn’t lose too many people, we pretty much returned everyone. We played a lot of young guys last year, and the fact that everyone is coming back, I feel like our defense got stronger, because everyone knows defense a lot more. So everyone is young, but this is our second year of running defense so everyone is adapting pretty well so it helps a lot.”
-- Ian Bethune (@Ian_Bethune) August 15, 2015
-- Desmond Conner (@desmondconner) August 15, 2015
-- Jim Fuller (@NHRJimFuller) August 15, 2015
— Neill Ostrout (@NeillOstrout) August 15, 2015