And so it begins. First-year football coach Bob Diaco and the UConn Huskies had their first official preseason practice session Saturday. After an offseason spent instilling a new mindset in his players, Diaco was impressed with what he saw Saturday.
"It shows the amount of investment made during spring and specifically post-spring to come back to the summer conditioning program and be ready to move forward," the coach said, via the Hartford Courant. "I remember saying at the time the next challenge is going to be let's see how they come back after three weeks away ... and they came back ready to move forward from a training standpoint. Everybody participated [Saturday]. Everybody on the team was ready to go."
But one good day of practice doesn't make for a successful season. There's a lot to do between now and Aug. 29, when the Huskies host BYU in the season opener.
"We have a lot of little things to learn," Diaco told the Courant. "We have a lot of small details that obviously it's fun to create as many small details that you can possibly think of during camp because that's a lesson in itself."
Chief among them: Naming a starting quarterback. But even more important than personnel is making sure that whomever's on the field limits silly mistakes that can become the hallmark of underachieving program.
"We wanted to see the things that cause losing eliminated or starting to be eliminated -- 12 men on the field, 10 men on the field, ball security errors, penalties, offsides, things that lack discipline, lining up offsides, not getting aligned, not being in the stance before the ball is snapped," Diaco continued. "Those were all things we wanted not to see at practice."
All in all, though, it was a great start. At this stage of the proceedings -- and based on what we've seen in recent years -- that's all you can ask for.
"Every way, they came to work excited because they were excited and they absolutely a baseline expectation and work is not going to be able to begin any other way," Diaco told the Courant.