Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Pretty uneventful prelude to UConn/UCF "rivalry" week game

In this day in age where everybody with a computer and access to the Internet can make an attempt at being a social-media comedian, I have to admit that I wondered how Bob Diaco's Tuesday afternoon press conference was going to unfold this week.

Yes, this is conFLiCT game week. UConn will bring the trophy, which is very much Diaco's creation, with the UConn travel party to Orlando. Since a photo of the trophy was posted on Twitter by somebody who works with the football team, the snarky comments have come in fast and furious. The next one that is actually original or even somewhat funny would be the first to meet that criteria but Twitter doesn't lack for people who think they are more clever than they actually are.

However, I digress. The bottom line is that while Diaco was asked about the trophy and rivalry game created by win both on Monday's American Athletic Conference coaches call and during Tuesday's press conference, there were no outlandish quotes coming from him.

This story has taken on a life of its own especially when the people down at Central Florida admitted that they knew nothing about this being a rivalry game.

"I didn't know about it until it really came out on ESPN that he created a trophy," UCF senior defensive lineman Thomas Niles said at AAC media day. "It is OK, you still have to play the game. It doesn't matter in the state, out of the state, in the conference, out of the conference, it is still a game."

Diaco relished the chance to give his thoughts on the importance of having this be a game with a trophy going to the winner.

"Just trying to add some positive fun and energy to a football game in a conference and in half of a conference," Diaco said. "It is just cool, I hope other people do, it is not intended to be anything other than that. It is something meant t energize the players and staffs on both sides, hopefully energize the fan bases on both sides so we can have a grset energetic game that is classy and high character so that is the idea."

Diaco also said that any initial buzz created by this being a rivalry game doesn't last for very long once the game starts.

"The reality of it is that you can create whatever kind of emotion you want to create, it doesn't last," Diaco said. "It is a two-minute ordeal and after that, the other 58 minutes of football, the most prepared team is going to be the team that wins. After the first two minutes of all the things that everybody is talking about, the players who are on the field and coaches who are helping to direct, it doesn't last, that energy doesn't last. There is only one energy that lasts for four quarters, there is only one emotion that lasts for four quarters and you can't create it on game day. It is a love, you love to play football and that is it. The ball is snapped, you love to play so you play, you play as hard as you can play, focus as hard as you can, you know your job, you do your job and here we go."

Not much news to report from the press conference.

Diaco said there are no plans for personnel changes at any positions including the offensive line.

While the line and in particular the veteran offensive linemen have struggled, Diaco said the line "has come a long way."

Diaco is not known for being overly critical of his players but when I asked him about how the running backs are handling their pass-blocking responsibilities he didn't hold back.

"That is an area that has really been a liability," Diaco said. "I am not trying to place blame, I blame ourselves as coaches more than anything else but that position has created a lot more of a pocket stress than the offensive line."

Diaco said that the plan is still to use both Arkeel Newsome and Ron Johnson at tailback although it has been almost all Newsome in the last two games.

"The participation pattern, there is a little bit of a shift there but I wouldn't read into it because I feel like right now we are coming back to what I think is appropriate and that is both players getting the ball, running the ball, getting their opportunities to run the ball, let the game come to the guy that it starts to come to," Diaco said. "They both do different jobs well so as the game tilts and one of the jobs becomes more important than the other, a rep pattern could tilt. All things being equal, I believe they will both participate and the game will tilt from there."



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