Reynolds, Navy too much for UConn
Diaco, who faced Reynolds twice during his days as Notre Dame's defensive coordinator, knew what Navy would be running and the hope was that Reynolds would not put together a game comparable to what BYU's Taysom Hill did to the Huskies in Diaco's first game as UConn's coach.
Unfortunately for the Huskies, Reynolds lived up to the advanced billing and then some.
"They don't miss a read, they don't miss a fit, they don't miss a window at least for the first half until the guys settled in," Diaco said. Credit to Navy, they are a great team. I anticipate them winning a bunch of games this season.
"You've got to try to get them behind the chains, 3rd and 7, 3rd and 8, 3rd and 9. "You focus on the fullback (Chris Swain), he has been a victimizing, menacing player in the beginning of the season. We did a nice job there and the quarterback did just a fantastic job making all the right reads in the first half and they got too many plays to keep drives alive."
You can't help but wonder how the game might have played out differently had Brice McAllister been given the fumble recovery on the kickoff right after Tyraiq Beals' touchdown cut the Navy lead to 14-10.
McAllister, who also forced the fumble, did emerge from the bottom of the pile with the ball but referee Todd LaPenta was rather adamant that Navy maintained possession.
"He tried, sometimes you bite the bear and sometimes the bear bites you," Diaco said. "We will come up with some of those and we will miss some of those but if you have the ball on the 20, it is exciting."
Diaco doesn't regret his two early decisions - one to kick a field goal on 4th and 1 and then to go for it on 4th and 5 on the next possession.
"You had to have an opportunity to see how the defense would play," Diaco said. "In the second half, we were getting stops. You go into the game thinking we are going to play well and get some stops.
"When you don't get the feeling that you can stop them at that particular point, you have to try to get touchdowns. Those drives stalling there in the red zone, we just can't have that, we have to produce points, we have to get the ball in the end zone. Field goals were not going to get it done today, we needed to score touchdowns."
The good news is that after playing triple-option teams in two of the last two weeks, there is just one such team on UConn's schedule in the next three seasons as the Huskies play at Navy next season but Army is not on the schedule again and there are no UConn/Navy games during the 2017 and 2018 seasons. Even next year's game will feature a much younger Navy squad and without Reynolds at the controls.
"He has taken thousands of snaps," Diaco said. "If you can get to the point where of the 11 players, nine are seniors, another is a junior and the other is a sophomore, it is hard already to defend, they are a buzzsaw. He is a talented player but he is an experienced player in that offense."
I couldn't resist asking Diaco if he is disappointed at not having to play any other triple-option teams this season.
"It is really something, it is taxing, it is a central nervous system shock it really is," Diaco said. "It is what it is. It is really hard to think every minute we spend watching the Navy game is a wasted minute now. The game, we need to watch it next fall. To think the recall of the assignment correction is going to make it to the next August, so it is almost like it has to go on the shelf until August."
As for individual standouts, safeties Andrew Adams and Obi Melifonwu had 17 and 12 tackles respectively. The 17 tackles are the most for a UConn player since Sio Moore's 17 in a 2010 game against West Virginia.
After getting just three offensive touches in the loss to Missouri, Arkeel Newsome had 14 carries and five receptions while the only time Ron Johnson got his hands on the ball was on a flea flicker on the second play of the game.
Marquise Vann missed his second game in a row but he took part in the positional drills before the game. Diaco thinks there is a chance he could be back for Friday's game at BYU.
"I'd like to think he'd be cleared for takeoff this week but it is up to him," Diaco said. "He is trying hard, he is giving it up for his team."
Diaco had chances to second guess some of the officiating calls but choose not to go that route.
"I feel good about them," Diaco said. "They are fantastic, they are as good as any group as there is in the country. I have the utmost confidence in the decisions they make."