Segments: Intro, Highlights from BYU, Interview with John Silver (SNY), Bob Diaco on the weekly AAC Teleconference
Part I on BYU:
Part II on the fans:
Part III on the players:
Part IV on being down 14-0 so quickly:
Part V on the red zone issues:
Part VI on the QB’s:
Part VII on playing so many guys:
Part VIII on kicking FG down 21:
Part IX on giving up TD 1:30 after cutting lead to 21-7:
Part IX cont’d:
Part X on tightening rotation of players:
Part X cont’d:
Part XI on first UCONN TD drive:
Part XII on the running backs:
Part XIII where they stand after BYU:by
The night began with hope, optimism and expectations that things would be different.
BYU struck lightning in a bottle in less than six minutes, going up 14-0 in a flash.
“You can’t start a football game like that thinking you’re going to win, come on,” head coach Bob Diaco said following the game.
However, the Huskies did not quit. When Chandler Whitmer led a 6 play, 52 yard drive to cut the Cougars lead to 21-7 with 2 mintues, 33 seconds left in the first half, The Rent exploded. It was UCONN ball to start the second half. The fans were ready to help carry this team to a come back.
One minute, thirty seconds later, Taysom Hill threw another 35-yard TD strike. 28-7 BYU.
After getting a first down at their own 32, with three timeouts and still 35 seconds left, down 3 touchdowns, the Huskies let the clock wind down and headed in to the locker room.
UCONN played a much better game defensively in the second half, giving up just 7 points. The offense, on the other hand, took a giant step backward from last season’s 45-point outing against Memphis. The passing game was almost non-existent. The receivers were out-of-rhythm and there is clearly an elephant in the room following last night’s game. Did the rotation of quarterbacks ruin the rhythm of the receivers with their signal caller and did that lead to the multiple drops?
Early in camp, Bob Diaco said he would ideally like a running back to get 20 carries a game, as it takes awhile for a player to get into a feel for what the defense is bringing. So, the question needs to be asked, shouldn’t the same hold true at the more important quarterback position?
There were some more decisions that were very questionable:
On the first drive of the 3rd quarter, down 28-7, Casey Cochran orchestrated an 8 play, 64 yard drive to the BYU 17. In came Chandler Whitmer and the drive stalled. A 1-yard QB draw, followed by back-to-back sacks put the Huskies at 4th and 16. Instead of attempting a 38-yard field goal, they faked it with wide receiver Blake Feagles on a rollout, who ran 6 yards and darted out of bounds as no one was open. Head scratcher.
On the first drive of the 4th quarter, still down 3 touchdowns, inside the red zone, Diaco chose to go with a field goal which kept it a three possession game, instead of trying to cut it to two scores and keep a semblance of hope. The reason?
“I wanted to get [kicker] Bobby [Puyol] some work off the right hash,” Diaco said. “Functionally it was like throwing a dart at the dart board, it was nice, the right hash has been a bit of a nemesis, but he’s been getting much, much better at it. I took the opportunity right there to get some right hash work for him.”
This is not the NFL. There are no preseason games. Diaco has insinuated the first three games are preparing them for conference play.
“I don’t have a crystal ball about game four. I know right now that we need to get better as a team and we’ve built a foundation. I hope you saw some of the foundation tonight. You can look at the scoreboard and maybe not feel it, but if you watched the game and you saw the strain and the grit and the toughness that the players displayed, you didn’t see twelve guys on the field, you didn’t see ten guys on the field, delay of game, guys moving, jumping, misaligned or out of stance. The foundation is built, it’s strong and we put a coat of paint on. The only way we are gong to put another coat of paint on is playing in the games. That’s the point where you’re at right now. If you don’t play in the games, you aren’t going to get better.”
All-in-all, everyone needs work, including the coaching staff.
Now, with that said, there was clearly a different energy coming from the UCONN sideline to open the season last night. The freshmen running backs, both true (Arkeel Newsome and Ron Johnson) and redshirt (Joshua Marriner) are a welcome change in style of runners from the last couple of seasons. They all stood out above Berlin’s Max DeLorenzo.
Newsome is already a playmaker and he needs to play more, now. The first touch of his college career, went for 18 yards on a screen, where he finished the play running over a BYU defender on the sideline. He saw just 3 more offensive touches the rest of the way.
On special teams, he looked electric, including a 35-yard kickoff return. His other, went for 15.
Geremy Davis is still Geremy Davis. Seven catches for 96 yards, including a 39-yarder in the fourth, winning a jump-ball up the left sideline.
It was game one in the Diaco era and the fans showed, officially 35,150 after just 31,000 tickets were sold 48 hours before kick off.
“I’d like to thank the people of the state to come out in the opener,” Diaco said. “It was a beautiful night, unofficially 37,000 people here, stayed and cheered, the player’s recognized it, they’re so appreciative of it and we want to thank the people of the state for coming to support. Keep it up, please. Things are changing, I hope you saw it, everybody’s upset we didn’t win, everybody wanted to win and everybody tried hard. But, we’re going to. This football team is getting better, it gets better every day and we got better tonight. I just want to thank the people for coming out and cheering hard and giving us such great heart, we all recognized it and I want to say thank you for that.”
Stony Brook is next, one week from today and improvement is needed across the board.by
It’s finally here. Less than 60 minutes are counting down on the clock.
The team entered through a very empty student section moments ago, but the look is already different.
Midfield Husky eyes are menacingly staring at the opposing team’s sideline.
The team is indeed warming up in front of the student section.
Uniforms: UCONN – ALL blue, helmets, shirts, pants BYU – White Helmet and shirt, blue pants
Beautiful day here at Rentschler, late arriving crowd for tailgating due to holiday traffic.
More to come at halftime, tune in to twitter throughout the game for notes, but you will all be watching anyway.
Final pregame prediction: UCONN 31 BYU 27
Why? Too many missing pieces for BYU to overcome. Look for Casey Cochran to build off of his record breaking performance to close the year last season, as both of BYU’s starting CB’s did not make the trip.
Enjoy the first half!by
On all four running backs seeing time tonight against BYU:
On what each RB does differently:
On Bob Diaco:
On the camaraderie and uniqueness of this team:by
Thoughts on entire offensive line and LT Richard Levy:
On freshmen Trey Rutherford & Ryan Crozier:
On C Alex Mateas being named captain:
On the team’s mentality change from last season and Bob Diaco:
On RT Andreas Knappe:by
It’s finally here! Football is back and it’s back in a big way as UConn welcomes BYU to Rentschler Field at 7pm on ESPN. There’s been so much anticipation heading into this season, and it’s finally time to play the first game. A national name on a Friday night on national TV, what’s better than that? Camp has come and gone, depth charts are out, and we’re finally ready to get the Bob Diaco era underway.
- BYU is traveling across the country to the East Coast, where they have a 2-6 record since 2000 in games played in the Eastern Time Zone.
- BYU has never played UConn in football.
- BYU features Heisman candiate Taysom Hill, who led the Cougar offense last season, throwing for 2938 yards and 19 TD’s and 14 INT’s. He rushed for 1344 yards and 10 TD’s.
- Starting RB Jamal Williams & starting WR Devon Blackmon are suspended for the game. Additional players are speculated to be missing the game as well, including 2 starting DB’s and a reserve DL.
KEY MATCHUP – UCONN O-LINE vs BYU D-LINE
- The UConn offensive line is what needs to play well in order to have a chance in this game. Fans will be looking to see if our O-Line plays physical and can maintain conditioning throughout the duration of the game. If the line can play together, fulfill blocking responsibilities, and limit penalties, I feel they can push the inexperienced D-Line of BYU around. Not having Knappe at RT is disappointing, but he will be replaced by Dalton Gifford, who was starting at the end of the season in 2013. We need a successful first drive to get the stadium rocking early. Points of any kind are important. I believe if the O-Line controls the line of scrimmage from the get go, BYU will be in for a long evening.
PLAYER TO WATCH – UCONN
- Richard Levy – Starting in his first college game at LT, he has to protect Casey’s blindside and give him time to find Davis & Foxx in what may be a matchup against a depleted secondary. He’s the guy I’ll be watching the closest throughout the evening.
PLAYER TO WATCH – BYU
- Taysom Hill – He is a duel threat in the backfield that put up a ton of yardage last season. Historically, UConn hasn’t done well against these types of QB’s. The key will be keeping him in the pocket, and not letting him run around. Make him beat you with his arm. If we force him to throw, I really think that’s putting their offense at a disadvantage.
- So many things to consider here. New coach, new era. We’ve been waiting for this for 3 years. UConn is pumped up and ready to go. The three game winning strak to end last season set the tone for what will be a winning season. Not to mention, BYU traveling across the country & playing without multiple key players. I just feel like everything is lining up for a UConn win. It won’t be easy, but I think the Huskies get it done, 27-20.
It’s hard to believe that there are still tickets available for the kickoff of a new era of UCONN football, tomorrow night, against BYU at Rentschler Field. Per school officials, who confirmed yesterday evening, there have only been 31,000 tickets sold for the game that kicks off at 7PM, which highlights the start of college football, this Labor Day weekend.
Per the source, that number is ‘total tickets sold for BYU.’ For the die-hard fans that have been asking, this would indeed indicate that that number does include student tickets, as well as the allotment that was given to BYU, who returned 2,000 tickets to UCONN.
There is only one reaction to this and it is urgent, an ask of ALL fans of UCONN ahtletics and anyone that supports a sport that this wonderful school plays, including men’s and women’s basketball.
With the landscape of college athletics changing, there is no more important and pressing issue than the success of the UCONN football program, both real and perceived, this season. A non-sellout, on national television, against one of the top programs in the nation, who have been to nine consecutive bowl games and tout a Heisman Trophy candidate at quarterback, will be a black eye for this school in the minds of administrators of conferences and their member schools, who will be looking to expand, once again, in the not-so-distant future.
A sellout and rocking Rentschler Field tomorrow night, is a must. It will not only indicate to the nation that you, the fans, care about this program and this school, but it will give the players the 12th man that they need tomorrow night. An atmosphere that we all saw for Michigan last season, will go a long way in the perception of where this school stands in the grand scheme of college athletics on ESPN, the showcased game on Friday night, on opening weekend of college football.
If you are a fan of any UCONN sport, do not hold a ticket for tomorrow’s game and are not satisfied with the current conference that UCONN is in and no longer want to be a part of the problem, here is what you can do.
1. PURCHASE A TICKET
UCONN has released discounted tickets on uconnhuskies.com with the promo code: filltherent
Tickets with that code are only $20. Bring additional friends, family members and spend a nice night out tomorrow evening, rooting for the school that you all love. Bringing someone new will help expose more people to the program and build the base of Husky Nation. A positive and energetic stadium will undoubtedly make these first timers want to come back again and again.
For those that have left and not come back over the years, come see what the new coaching staff has in store. They are an energetic, fun and motivating group that has captured the hearts and minds of every single player and member of the staff. An entire buy-in has occurred and they are ready to build on the nation’s 10th longest active winning streak among the top six conference schools and independents, tomorrow night.
2. SPREAD THE WORD
You can do this in any number of ways. Copy and paste this link into an email or text message and send to all of your friends, family members and co-workers that either live in and around Connecticut, or have at any time supported UCONN athletics, including during last year’s National Championship run for both the men’s and women’s basketball programs.
Two-hundred thousand people showed up for a parade a few months ago in Hartford to celebrate dual national championships in basketball, only 20% of you need to come to the game for it to be sold out.
Copy and paste this onto your Facebook feed. All of your friends and connections will see this. Some will pull the trigger, others will do the same, as you help spread the word to more.
3. IF YOU ARE ON THE FENCE
If you are unsure and hesitant to go, have never been to Rentschler Field before or think that last season’s 0-9 start indicates that this season will begin the same way, all that the coaches, players and fans of the program ask, is that you give them a chance.
QB Casey Cochran is coming off of a record-setting performance of 461 yards and 4 TD’s. He set the school record for most passing yards in a game that day, breaking the previous record of Dan Orlovsky.
New head coach Bob Diaco is the most energetic and innovative coach in today’s game. Come see what he and his staff are all about.
An ultimatum has clearly been given to UCONN by fellow conferences and rival schools that the UCONN athletic department has tried to extend to fans. The success of this football season and the fan support that they get is priority one in terms of future expansion for the ACC and Big Ten.
Ask yourself this question if you have never been to a game at Rentschler Field, but enjoy men’s basketball. Would you rather see Michigan State, Michigan, Ohio State, Purdue and Indiana coming to Gampel and the XL Center in the coming years for conference games, or do you want to watch 5,000 people show up for a conference game against Tulane in a non-energetic XL?
The future of this school, both athletically and academically, at some level, rests on the success of the UCONN football program. While fellow schools like Rutgers, Michigan, Maryland and others collect pay check after pay check from the lucrative television contracts with ESPN and the Big Ten Network, UCONN will be stuck making pennies on the dollar, in comparison. Funding will dwindle and with it the reputation of the school and athletic programs, across America.
That is a doomsday scenario, but one that could become a reality.
With no professional sports residing in this state, UCONN is the closest thing you have. If you have read this and have any connection to UCONN, follow the instructions above and do everything you can to help make tomorrow night’s game a sellout, otherwise no longer complain about the current conference situation we are in because you will then just be a part of the problem.
For a reminder of where this program has been and where Bob Diaco, his staff and the players are bringing it back to:by
I had the chance to sit down with starting quarterback Casey Cochran, for an in-depth interview during media day last week. The conversation is broken down into six parts, below.
Part I – On being named the starter and his own off-season improvement:
Part II – On WR Geremy Davis and the rest of the receiving corps:
Part III – On the TE’s and what they bring:
Part IV – On his upbringing, being the son of a coach and being around championship teams growing up:
Part V – On playing BYU and the effect Diaco and the rest of his staff have had:
Part VI – On LT Richard Levy and the rest of the offensive line:by