Athletic director Warde Manuel hinted after the Huskies' 5-7 finish last season that the expectations would be higher for 2013. It's certainly reasonable -- part of Manuel's job is to lead a successful athletic program on and off the field -- but the AD also wants the team to not put too much pressure on themselves, either.
Manuel was at practice Tuesday and spoke to the players at coach Paul Pasqualoni's request. The message: Enjoy this time in your lives.
"The beginning of any season when I talk to our student-athletes brings back great memories of when I was a player," said Manuel (via the Hartford Courant), a former defensive lineman at Michigan (1986-89) under Bo Schembechler. "This is a time for them to really have some fun and know this is a game we're playing. We want to win but this is a fun time for them. This is what they worked hard [for] all offseason; whether it's football or basketball or soccer, you name it. Have some fun with it -- and I had some fun."
But there's also the other stuff -- namely: The Huskies, 10-14 under Pasqualoni, need to turn things around.
"Game by game I want us to play hard. I want us to have success on the field," Manuel continued. "We're going to go into every game with a game plan to win knowing that we're going to give our all and success for them looks the same for me, that at the end of the game, we're ahead and the other team has scored less points than we've scored. The expectations are going to be high for what this team could do. We're looking at a new offensive coordinator coming, new defensive coordinator who has been here before so a lot of changes, lot of things in the air but it should be exciting; great schedule, great opportunity for these kids to go against some of the best in the country and to be at home doing it. You want it for them and you want it for our fans."
This offseason, Pasqualoni replaced offensive coordinator George DeLeone with TJ Weist in the hopes of jumpstarting the offense. On the other side of the ball, UConn will have to replace a unit that had four players drafted.