Friday, October 04, 2013

Change is music to T.J. Weist's ears

UConn interim head coach T.J. Weist just spent about 45 minutes answering a variety of questions with the local media on a variety of subjects.

Pretty high up on the list was his decision - at the request of the players - to allow music to be played at the beginning of practice to get the team in the right frame of mind.

"I sat down with some of the seniors and team captains  and I wanted to get their input of what changes they think can help us in this transition and can help us to win games," Weist said. "One thing they said is they’d like to have some music. It is kind of a new thing around the country that people are doing and when players see those things, they see other teams with music, they all watch the videos there are videos everywhere of teams practicing and they get excited about it so we added some music early in practice during the (team) stretch just to get the practice started out right. We really don’t want to have music during practice necessarily but just to get them started out. It is my music. It is like the weight room, in the weight room you have different days for the country guys, for the rock and roll guys, rhythm and blues and everything so we started out and I made it easy, it is my music to start and I was going to allow the players to pick out some clean versions of some of the music out there so that is what we’ve got.

"I focused on some of the music that other teams play in stadiums, whether it is Back in Black or Enter the Sandman. I have no idea about some of the latest hits so I let some of the players pick that, I couldn’t name any of them. I try not to go back too far to the 70s. I don’t know how long there are going to let me keep the music going on my terms because they don’t recognize any of it. I want to teach them musicology, I want to teach them the evolution of music. I want to get them motivated for practice so I don’t want to make it a learning session but they appreciate it and I will mix it up every day throw in some country and throw in some rock and roll, throw in some opera, punk and dance music or whatever gets these guys motivated. Heck, half the time I have to make it the instrumental because we have some people out at practice and I can’t hear those words they are saying but the worst part is they play the instrumental (version) and the players sing it anyways."

It might not come as a shock that the most popular topic for discussion centered around the quarterback position with freshman Tim Boyle set to make his first career start on Oct. 12 against South Florida.
"He has done a good job," Weist said. "He has shown good maturity in handling the offense, he is handling the scheme and making decisions throwing the ball, handling everything with the run game and all the calls that we have, every day he gets better and every day he is going to have to improve and take steps improving until we get to game time and really find out how much pressure he can handle, instinctually how he can lead this team, drive us down the field and keep drives alive and make smart decisions so that is what we are looking for out of Tim, smart decisions, efficiency, let him play with maturity and handle the offense and he is on his way to doing those things

"We are not married to any player on this roster, a starter, we evaluate them every single game. I would say this for Tim and any young player that we play we are going to be patient, obviously the quarterback position is a different position. If I had to play a true freshman, there has to be some patience, they has to be a period where he makes some mistakes where our last starting quarterback, our last starting wide receiver or our last anybody that a freshman replaced, they are going to make some mistakes and you were patient with the other guy at times so we will be patient with him. I treat him like most of the players and you have to go out there and perform, our goal is to win and you need to do the things to help us win. If he goes out and doesn’t perform the way we want that we are going to keep him in the game and stick with him no matter what. We have to do what is best for the team at any position. We are going to give him time but we have to win."

Weist was quick to point out that many of the interceptions previous starting quarterback Chandler Whitmer threw including the one returned for a touchdown in the loss to Buffalo were not his fault and that Whitmer will see normal reps as the No. 2 quarterback.

He also said he is not planning any changes to the starting offensive line and hopes to have starting right tackle Kevin Friend back for the USF game. Weist said the entire offensive line plays better when Friend is out there.

More on the injury situations. fullback Jazzmar Clax is out there practicing and Weist likes what he sees out of him and receiver Kamal Abrams, who was hurt warming up for the Towson game, has also been back at practice.

When asked about other young players who could see bigger roles now that he is calling the shots, he mentioned freshman wide receivers Brian Lemelle and Dhameer Bradley and offensive guard Tyler Samra, who moves up in the rotation following the suspension of Tyler Bullock.

Bullock was arrest on suspicion of driving under the influence and failed sobriety tests according to the police report. While not mentioning Bullock by name, there was no question who he was referring to when he mentioned "the events that happened yesterday."

"We have a lot of things that are happening around us that we have to deal with obviously with some of the events that happened yesterday and that is part of it," Weist said. "Players have to realize that every decision they make is for the best of the team, they are representing the university, representing the athletic department, the football program, representing every former player who has played here, representing their families and our families as coaches. We are stressing the point that all of their decisions have an impact on this team on and off the field."

Weist said he is still contemplating whether to bring in another coach since UConn is down a pair of coaches right now following the firing of Paul Pasqualoni and George DeLeone but he is not considering pilfering a coach who currently has a job. He complimented the graduate assistants for stepping in and helping with the day to day coaching. He has liked what he has seen in the first three practices.

"It has been a great four days," Weist said. "It has been exciting, I think our players have responded well, we have had three spirited practices. We are getting back to work. There is nothing magic about it, get back to work, refocused on one purpose of this team coming together as a team to win football games and especially to focus on being South Florida, our next (opponent). I think we made good progress and have had good practices."

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