ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -
The University of Connecticut football team held its first practice in Florida on Monday in preparation for the St. Petersburg Bowl. UConn takes on Marshall in the game, which will be played on Saturday, Dec. 26 at 11 a.m.
The Huskies had a morning practice at Calvary Christian High School in Clearwater, Fla., followed by a weight lifting session for many of the Husky players.
The entire traveling party then spent Monday afternoon exploring the sights of Clearwater Beach followed by a free evening in St. Petersburg.
Tuesday will be a full day for the Huskies with another morning practice at Calvary Christian. Some Husky players will then visit patients at All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, while others will take part in a "Fill The Bowl" event. "Fill The Bowl" will benefit Feed America and and feature several competitions between the UConn and Marshall players.
Here is a summary of Monday's practice:
UConn Head Coach Bob Diaco
On what it's like to be in Florida in December: "It's great. It's the best. It's why we work the way that we do to have a meaningful December prepare for a bowl, prepare to win a bowl game and compete against an awesome team. It's a great match-up. The weather is beautiful. The people have been so friendly, deep deep thanks to the people of St. Petersburg, Fla. they've been very warm an welcoming, specifically the bowl representatives."
On how he has told the team to prepare for both business and fun: "That's coach speak that it's a business trip. We're not business men. We're student athletes and coaches and we love each other and we love the game that we serve and it's a game. It needs to be fun and you need to be passionate and love what you do. So there is a particular amount of work that that's going to look like and we have to keep our timing on. Beyond that, we don't it to be a grind. It should be fun, it should be light, it should be an awesome time. They should want to end this week and want to do it again and want to continue to do it."
On how he thought today's practice looked: "I thought they responded well. They were excited. They had great looks in their eyes. They were smiley and passionate. They just seem like they are loving the whole experience, including meetings and practice, which is great."
On how they work up to the actual bowl game in this week of practices: "I think that our model of understanding the work that we're in no matter what the day is, no matter what the circumstances are is a nice piece that carries through our year. So whether we're in Florida or whether we play on Saturday or whether today is a Monday and it's a different day, for us today was intense Tuesday, so we worked with that model. When I say those words, they know what we're doing, no matter where we are. There's continuity and a trust and consistency in that that allows them to prepare in our base camp model leading up to the game."