By Erica Brancato
Head coach Bob Diaco’s first season in charge of the UConn football team had its peaks and valleys on the field. However, throughout this season, the Huskies refused to give up hope and continued their building of a foundation which Diaco is highly confident of.
“I’m all in. I am all in with Husky Nation. I’m all in with UConn Country,” Diaco said after UConn’s season-ending loss to SMU on Saturday.
Although Diaco expressed his disappointment with the squad’s final 2014 record, he said he knows the team has come a long way since he took over the head coaching position last December. As a program, UConn has built a “team” this season. When Diaco first came to UConn, he said there was not a team - there was a collection of individuals. Over the past 12 months under Diaco, the Huskies have gelled as a unit and have slowly worked on becoming a successful football program.
“There are so many areas that are changing and improving, which is what would lead me to say the tide is on the way back in,” Diaco said. “We just still have a few habits that need to be eradicated. You can’t change a bad habit. You can’t change habits. You just replace them. We have replaced a bunch, we’ve got a few more to go and we will. And the team, which we are now, is resolute to getting that done and we will get it done. No question.”
With a mere 14 seniors graduating, UConn brings back several young, talented players that are eager to attack the offseason. They are ready to improve and as they believe the future is bright.
"Coach Diaco calls it the new team, with all the guys that are coming back next season,” quarterback Tim Boyle said. “We are all ready to go and attack the offseason. We are going to try and hang on to this feeling and let it motivate us.”
The team plans to take this season as a learning experience and use it to further add layers on to the strong foundation they have built so far. This foundation has created an unbreakable demeanor and the drive for success. The team is passionate and resolute. The Huskies look to develop and create a strong program for years to come.
“You can look at the schedule, you can look at the record- I’m sure most people will,” Diaco said. “But we are going to look at the reality of how the games are being played, how the players are growing, how the units are performing and go from there.”
Diaco’s breath of fresh air and his positive demeanor created a strong atmosphere that this program needed. He has built a strong culture for this football program and will continue to help this team succeed.
“The foundation is strong. It is here to stay forever and we are putting and prepared to put layers on it,” Diaco said. “I’m not just blowing smoke to say that we are at the bend. We are at it. Whether we have turned the corner or not, you might argue that, but we are at that corner. We were a million miles away from it 12 months ago, but we are at the corner now. We are going to begin to take the next step and talk about that next level of winning football games.”
Throughout the season there have been tangible glimpses of success and growth from the Huskies. In 2014, UConn will return as a more experienced and determined team with so many returning players who have a season under their belt. A total of 25 players on the Husky roster saw their first collegiate action this year. These players along with all returnees will continue to bring a positive outlook and motivate others to succeed and improve as a total team.
"The team has gotten better each week. More importantly we continue to grow as a family,” redshirt junior Andrew Adams said. “The seniors who just played their last game have started to build the foundation. We are going to improve in the offseason and I'm looking forward to next year."