UConn Huskies head football coach Bob Diaco held his first pre-game press conference as a college head coach on Monday in anticipation of Friday night’s game against the BYU Cougars at 7 p.m. at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, CT.
Here’s a sampling of what he had to say:
Diaco got things started talking about how the team is ready for game week finally. He said there’s a change in energy.
He was asked what his emotions were like and he said he wasn’t nervous as of now for his first game as a college football head coach. He said the players have to go out and play.
He talked about BYU QB Taysom Hill being part of a physical team that is well coached. He said they are a well disciplined tough team.
Since BYU plays a faster paced offense, he said he will do his best to rotate players in and out. He’ll try to do it when the Cougars do it and hopes that the fast pace doesn’t hurt the student-athletes.
Diaco stated that there are no changes to the two-deep depth chart that was released at the end of camp.
He was asked about protecting the home field and said it’s very critical that they do that. He said the fans in the state have a great heart and doesn’t want those great fans to go home unhappy in a quiet car. He wants them to go home talking about this player or that play and joining in with the players singing the fight song at the end of the game.
Diaco said Casey Cochran has improved physically and has done a better job of protecting the ball. He said since he’s taken over there’s been no change in Cochran’s leadership style.
He said he talked with the running backs after Lyle McCombs left letting them know there were going to be more opportunities for them. Max DeLorenzo will probably see a bulk of the carries but the other three freshman (Josh Marriner, Ron Johnson, Arkeel Newsome) will see some as well.
He said DeLorenzo is a much better pass blocker but the three freshman are all willing to learn.
One of the things from the two deep was that John Green had moved to cornerback from wide receiver. While it was a move of nessecssity, Diaco said Green accepted the challenge and is willing to do what ever it takes for the team to win. Said Green is one of the more faster players on the team, a player of high football intelligence.
He said the defense will do the best job they can containing BYU QB Hill but he’s going to make his plays. Just need to limit the amount of them.
He said all the linebackers will play. He said as much as it is about preparation, playing in the games will allow them to get better.
Diaco stated that LB Graham Stewart has improved a great deal, has cleaned up his eyes meaning that they don’t roam as much anymore. He said captain Marquise Vann is and will be a very productive linebacker. Said he’s looking forward to watching Jefferson Ashiru play.
He stated that opening with BYU will let them know where they stand and what they need to do going forward. Test against a formidable opponent gives them a instant barometer of where the program is at.
He said the offensive line is much improved from where it was nine months ago. But they still have a ways to go.
He said it’s a little hard to prepare for BYU with the changes in the roster but said it not as bad because they recruit the same type of player year in and year out.
Diaco stated the defense will have a different look than what he had with Notre Dame when they played BYU the past two years.
He said DeLorenzo can do all the jobs and is a well respected player. He received a lot of votes for captain.
The team is healthy and that has to due with the players respecting each other.
Knappe is getting better but won’t play.
He ended his press conference with a lot of energy, almost like he flipped a switch when asked about what he wants from the team. Here’s the video.
We’ll have more later from the press conference as well as reactions from the available players as they get ready for their first game of the season.