Missed opportunities prove costly for UConn
A year ago the Huskies, playing at a rain-soaked Raymond James Stadium, managed a meager 145 yards in a 17-14 loss. The Huskies approached that yardage number by the end of the first quarter and finished with 528 yards of offense but the result was another loss - this one by a 28-20 count.
It would not be a stretch to say that this loss hit Diaco harder than any other since he has been at UConn. A season ago it was more about the development process so while he wasn't doing cartwheels after defeats, he knew the lessons learned would pay dividends. However, this one was different. This was a game that he believed the Huskies could and would win. The team had a great week of practice and yet all that was left for Diaco was to accept the full responsibility for what transpired whether it was surrendering 312 yards of offense in the second half, managing three first-half points despite running nearly 30 plays in USF territory.
"I take full responsibility, I take full accountability," Diaco said. "It is a sad, hard loss. I saw that student section packed, they all came out. I just feel terrible that I let them down, I really do.
"Credit to South Florida to playing well enough to win today, we did not. I don't need to watch the tape to see that we were not the defense that we are that has force, that is ready to force and keep the ball inside, one that tackles, one that doesn't give up explosive plays, all things that happened today. We were a force liability, the ball was thrown over our heads and we were poor tackling. I need to be sure that I have these guys ready to play better than we did today.
"It's 14-10, unsportsmanlike conduct (on a return), forget about the fact that you let a punt drop and roll for 30 yards so at the end that drive you are kicking a field goal instead of punting, a huge deal, that is small little nuance stuff. we need to do a better job as a staff finding ways to be successful in critical situations.
"I take fully responsibility and accountability for what you saw today for four quarters. Guys were focused and locked in, a strong week, healthy, disciplined, intense, good functional meetings in practice, not really any distractions. I felt really good going into the game, confident."
"We will peel it apart and get it fixed. We didn't spend a whole lot of time punting from deep in our territory, we had a tough time finishing today."
There will be more on the offense, which is showing signs of growth but still struggling to finish off drives in the next day or two.