By Chris Jones
UConn Athletic Communications
The outcome of Friday night's UConn vs. BYU football game - a 35-10 win by the Cougars at Rentschler Field -- might not have been what the Husky team and their faithful were looking for, but at the same time plenty of change was evident.
Some of that change even took place before the game. You could see the change on Thursday night as the school held a pep rally at the top of Fairfield Way to get the students and team fired up for their season opener. You could see the change on Friday as the players arrived at the field donned in matching shirts and ties as they spilled off the bus and into the stadium. You could see the change as the players entered the field through the student section decked out in their football uniforms.
These changes have already had an impact on the players.
"It's a microcosm of how much the program has changed," said redshirt sophomore quarterback Casey Cochran. "It's the little things that cause winning and when everything is a certain way there is professionalism about the program. We all love it."
Even though the results did not necessarily show up on the scoreboard, the attitude of the players is much improved.
"This feels much different than a loss last year," said senior quarterback Chandler Whitmer. "We saw a lot of improvement especially in the second half and we can build on it. BYU is a tough team and despite a tough start we hung with them for the most part."
The game started off rough for UConn with two turnovers on the first two drives, but after going down 21-0 to the Cougars the Huskies really battled. The Huskies scored a touchdown before the half and only allowed seven points in the second half.
"We have built a foundation, maybe you can't see it by looking at the scoreboard, but if you watched the game and saw the strain and grit and the toughness that the players displayed," said head coach Bob Diaco. "You didn't see 12 or 10 guys on the field, you didn't see delay of games, you didn't see guys moving or jumping you didn't see guys out of their stance or walk on or off the field. The foundation is built and it's strong."
UConn used 57 players in the game and many of them were seeing the field for the first time in their careers. One of those players was redshirt freshman running back Josh Marriner, who scored his first career touchdown on a one yard carry at the end of the second quarter.
"Joshua looked very very good, he was hard to tackle for them, said Diaco. " Arkeel (Newsome) and Ron (Johnson) bring a new element to the game with two very different styles. I hope you enjoyed seeing the running backs play."
Redshirt freshman Junior Joseph contributed on the defensive end by forcing a fumble, which eventually led to the only touchdown for the Huskies on the night.
"I'm sure Coach has said it, but we improved within the game," said Cochran "We played so many guys, so many freshmen and guys who hadn't played before and I think everyone can say they got better tonight," said Cochran.
The message was echoed throughout the night from the team that the Huskies will continue to trend in the right direction.
"There was a lot of stuff we learned about these guys," said Diaco. "At the end of tonight, we are a better team than when we started four hours ago. We will be better in our next game than we were tonight. Because it's about the process."
After the final whistle, the UConn team gathered side by side and sang the UConn Husky fight song. As the players stood there many of them probably had the same thing on their mind.
Change is here.