Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Manuel addresses team and then does same with media

Watching UConn director of athletics Warde Manuel make his way over towards the UConn football team yesterday, part of me really thought the former Michigan lineman was going to grab some shoulder pads and a helmet to deliver a key hits. While I am sure that would have been Manuel's No. 1 choice, he was more than happy to oblige when UConn football coach Paul Pasqualoni asked him to talk to the 2013 squad.

Manuel's speech was energetic and by his standards, relatively brief.

After encouraging the players to make the best use of their time on the practice field to lay down the foundation for a successful season, Manuel came over the spent a few minutes answering our questions.

"It brings back great memories when I was a player," Manuel said. "This is a time for them to really have some fun with it. This is a game we are playing and we want to win. This is a fun time for them. This is what they worked hard (during the) offseason whether it is football, basketball or soccer you name it, it is their time to build the opportunity to build the success we expect and they expect from themselves.

I had fun when I talked to them. Paul has asked me to do that on several occasions and it is unplanned and unscripted and I enjoy it."

So what does Manuel miss the most of being able to line up on the football field?

"I miss hitting people – on the field. I miss the camaraderie, the team, I was in the best shape of my life (during his time at Michigan)., I had the best teammates, great coaches and people around me. That is what I want them to have and I think they do have from our staff and they have great teammates. It is about being a teammate. It is really the only opportunity in life where when you hit the field for 60 minutes you are connected and you success is dependent on the person next to you. There is a clock, an operation and obviously in life you rely in colleagues and teammates across the landscape to do what we do. I miss that camaraderie you have when you play sports."

Manuel said he doesn't view this upcoming season any differently that he did the 2012 campaign.

"Game by game I want us to play hard," Manuel said. "I want us to have success on the field of play. I want the expectation that we are going to go into every game with a game plan to win knowing that we give our all and that success for me looks the same as it does for them.

"Expectations will be high, there is a lot of excitement looking at a new offensive coordinator coming in and a new defensive coordinator who has been here before. There are a lot of changes, there is a great schedule, a great opportunity to play against the best in the country and that is what you want.

"Whether it is first year, second year, third year, fourth year, none of the people who are around me, none of the coaches who are around me go into anything thinking losing (is acceptable). They are driven to have success every time they hit the field. Every year is a big year and I am not going to change my outlook. It is another year for us to prove that we can be successful"

Seeing the progress being made on the basketball practice facility, I asked Manuel for an update on that project..

"The basketball facility is looking great. They are putting in the water main, the frame of the building is up and you can actually envision watching a practice in the two practice facilities and you can see the space that we will have for the offices. It looks great, it is on time, on schedule for where they want it to be."

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