Sunday, September 21, 2014

UConn's Diaco has no regrets over shutting down passing game

About a day and a half after the conclusion of the disappointing 17-14 loss to South Florida UConn coach Bob Diaco said he would follow the same offensive script.

"I shut down the passing (game)," Diaco said on a Sunday afternoon conference call. "Watch our first four passes, I was concerned the game would have been 35-0. I was more inclined to play ping pong and win games on special teams and defense, that is why the play pattern started to tilt, as abysmal as it was looking on offense, we still had a chance to win the game at the end of the game."

Diaco said he is still encouraged with the direction the program is going in as his staff continues to develop young players.

"Our whole organization understands how much work needs to be done, how far away this program was or is nobody is under false pretenses," Diaco said.

"I see coaching taking root. (Personnel) change, we are not going there. We are taking over a downtrodden, losing program, we're working on winning and it is going to take some time. There's a long way to go."

While Diaco liked some of what he saw, there were some costly errors. He seemed especially irritated with Marlon Mack going 17 yards on a draw on a 3rd and 16 play on the Bulls' final scoring drive. 

"The third down draw kept drive alive, game changing play right there," Diaco said. "We are going to make that play and it is a play that you let get away, turned out to be the difference in the game, We played well enough to win, held the opponent offense to under 18 points which is excellent, still had an opportunity on defense and let one get away. That is a play we need to make, to be a great defense we have to make that play."

Diaco said the defense was alerted to guard against the draw making the result of the play all the more frustrating to him, his coaches and players.

As for the strip sack and fumble recovery by USF on the first drive, Diaco said it was simply the case of an inexperienced player making the wrong read.

"It should have been blocked from tailback position," Diaco said. "He (Ron Johnson) wasn't looking over there and he didn't see it, He's an outstanding player and has growth to do, When you play freshmen and sophomore as much, those are things we have to deal with , To do something different, play 11 players for four quarters, I am not going it. We are building a foundation of strength sooner than later."

Diaco was perturbed about the large number of pre-snap penalties including three on the tight ends. He thought the running backs were too quick to improvise when the tape showed that there were running lanes available had they been run as they were drawn up.

"Very disappointing," Diaco said. "Three instances of third down and short turn into third down and long, We are 0 for 9 on third down and have the opportunity at the end of the game to win the game, Those are things the guys needs to see, A high level of detail and discipline at tight end position in particular needs to be hallmark in how we play."

As for the touchdown on fourth down, Diaco said South Florida executed a rub or pick route leaving safety Obi Melifonwu a couple steps behind Rodney Adams on a play resulting in a 30-yard touchdown and early 14-0 lead.

Diaco once again reiterated that backup quarterback Tim Boyle was cleared to play despite what may have been reported by ESPN.

He also praised the growth of Wilbert Lee who had five special-teams tackles.

"He is doing a great job," Diaco said. "He's a tough hard nosed (player) and is becoming a great teammate."

Diaco said that Lee is continuing to earn more reps at safety as he continues to develop.

He also said that Tommy Hopkins, who has been listed as a second-string offensive tackle on some depth charts could be more suited at playing guard and he saw some time there against the Bulls.


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