Notes & Quotes: Diaco talks Shirreffs, defense ahead of East Carolina clash

Cincinnati head coach Tommy Tuberville, left, shakes hands with Connecticut head coach Bob Diaco after an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 24, 2015, in Cincinnati. Cincinnati won 37-13. (John Minchillo/AP)

On the eve of Halloween, the UConn football team will welcome the East Carolina Pirates to Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field for the second-ever matchup between the two schools.

Last year the Pirates were ranked No. 18 when the Huskies traveled down to East Carolina. ECU defeated UConn 31-21. 

The game last season was tied 21-21 after three quarters, but the Pirates scored 10 points in the fourth quarter and shut the Huskies out to seal the victory. 

Friday will be East Carolina’s (4-4, 2-2 the American) first-ever trip to Connecticut. The Pirates have lost two of their last three games. UConn (3-5, 1-3 the American) has lost five of the last six games.

Here is what head coach Bob Diaco had to say during his weekly press conference Monday afternoon prior to Friday’s game:

Bryant Shirreffs update

In Saturday’s game against Cincinnati, Shirreffs lead the team in rushing with 90 yards, including 50 on the team’s opening drive. 

Throughout the game, Shirreffs suffered some big hits on the end of his runs. Despite getting banged up, Diaco said Shirreffs should be a full participant in practice this week.

“He’s tough. He’s a tough, tough guy. He took a good lickin’ [against Cincinnati] and he’s sore. He’s super sore,” Diaco said. “He’s fully cleared for participation but he’s going to take a little while, I would imagine, to get his bones moving. Some of that was self-inflicted. He could have thrown it down the field and slide, he’s got to slide better.”

How does Diaco deal with his quarterback liking to take off from the pocket and run?

“Maturity, I think,” Diaco said. “I’m not sure it’s something that can be coached or time. You don’t want to over-coach him and create a decelerator like I was pointing out about having too much information. But maybe just maturity over time, ‘hey, this is an appropriate window, this isn’t an appropriate window.’ Throwing it down there is much better than you running it for half the yardage and taking a hell of a lick on the end of the play. I think it’s just a maturity that is going to happen.”

No concern over the defense

At last week’s press conference, Diaco said the defensive performance against South Florida (28 points against) was just a ‘blip.’ Well, a week later, the Huskies allowed 37 points to Cincinnati, but Diaco said he isn’t concerned.

“We have really good players over there and a talented staff and here we go,” Diaco said. “They’re going to tie down, they’re going to rub hard we’re going to tackle better and we’re going to build on the things we did well in the game. Because it wasn’t just a mess.”

The Huskies are allowing just 15 points per game in the games that they’ve won this season and they’ve allowed 26.4 points in the games that have been losses.

UConn is ranked 19th in the country in interceptions (10) and in their last four games, the Huskies have forced 10 turnovers.

Cole Ormsby out for season

Redshirt defensive end Cole Ormsby will miss the remainder of the season with a “lower extremity” injury. Ormsby was dinged up in the Cincinnati game.

“We all anticipate him being out… season ending,” Diaco said.

Ormsby has 12 tackles and 1.5 sacks on the season.


Matt Zampini is sports editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at matthew.zampini@uconn.edu. He tweets @Matt_Zamp.