UConn quarterback Casey Cochran during the season opener against BYU.
The Bob Diaco era began in earnest Friday night against a high-powered BYU offense. And much like the Paul Pasqualoni era that preceded it, there wasn't a lot to get excited about. The offense sputtered, the defense struggled, and there were few reasons to think that would change anytime soon.
On Monday, Diaco got to the essence of the problem in 13 words.
"We're not a good team yet," he said during Monday's American Athletic Conference coach's teleconference. "We've got a lot to work on."
Diaco, who had a front row seat for the 35-10 beating the Cougars administered, knows that UConn has a long way to go to be competitive.
"The only way players are going to get better is to play," he said. "We played 50 players -- 25 on offense, 25 on defense -- in the first half. It was meaningful snaps. We stayed on that plan the whole game and didn't change, so the players got better."
And while the offense was hobbled by penalties, the defense was overmatched.
"We have a long way to go on defense, especially after the first game," Diaco conceded. "It was a very challenging offense to defend in that system. We've got a long way to go with ourselves, so we need to make sure the focus is on ourselves and getting better and not systematically on what Stony Brook does."
The Huskies face Stony Brook Saturday in a game they should win. But we've been down this road before, last season, UConn started the season 0-9 -- and that included a handful of "should-win" games. For now, Diaco's taking nothing for granted, including his quarterback situation which will continue to feature Casey Cochran and Chandler Whitmer, with Whitmer getting more looks in the red zone.
"I think he has a little better capacity to keep (plays) alive with [Whitmer's] legs and it opens up more offensive plays for us a bit," said Diaco. "He's a got a higher aptitude and maturity in decision-making down there in a complex situation."
But the coach added: "Again, it's a flip of a coin. Casey is getting much better down there, too."