Spring practice is officially in the books, and the UConn football team won't convene again on the field until this summer when training camp begins. It will be Bob Diaco's first season at the helm and his task is a big one: Fashion an offense that can consistently put points on the board.
That was an issue the previous three years under Paul Pasqualoni, but new offensive coordinator Mike Cummings expects things to be different this time around.
“I like our players on offense," he said, via the Hartford Courant. "They work hard. They love football. They care about each other. They want to do well. They want to learn offense. They want to be the best,” Cummings told me during an assistant coaches availability luncheon on campus last week. “What can we do with them? I think exactly what we want to do with them. If we want to run the ball, if we want to throw the ball. System-wise we’re going to do the things Coach Diaco talked about.
“We’ve got the pieces. We’ll have 11 guys on the field. Look, we might not have some experience on paper at some positions but at the end of the day we’re going to have what we need to get the jobs done we need to get done. The development of the players, maturity, that will be a big point, big key for us, to do it as well as we can.”
The conversation starts at quarterback, where Casey Cochran, Chandler Whitmer and Tim Boyle will battle for the job. Following Saturday's Blue-White game, Diaco had this to say about his stable of passers.
"I would like to see better clock management, collectively, kind of sauntering around, not really cognizant of the play clock as well as it needs to be; some moments of either delivering the ball a little too quick or holding onto it a little too long, so the timing of that needs to improve and it's going to improve, anyway. We haven't had a lot of these opportunities. It's all been kind of canned in a petri dish, how we've been practicing; very isolated intense moments but they were controlled so now to actually play a game where it's not, it was nice to see them operate -- and we've got a long way to go."
But this is a process and both Diaco and Cummings understand that.
“We’re competing,” Cummings said. “That’s what we like to. Look anybody who is involved wants to do well. There are pieces in there where people can do well. I’ve said this a number of times but I don’t think players really want to make mistakes. They don’t do that. People that we work with they don’t want to make mistakes.
“You have to promote positive talk, work towards a goal, forward-thinking and you can get those things done. Your progress may not be instant but you can get that done. The bottom line is we have to get it done."