It’s very difficult to put a damper on the optimism of UConn football head coach, Bob Diaco. Even with his team sporting a 3-7 record, including a 1-6 mark in American Athletic Conference play and currently riding a four-game losing streak, his head was held high as he addressed the media Tuesday during his weekly press conference. UConn is coming off their bye week, with a showdown with Boston College looming Saturday.
“It’s been a positive week for the team and the staff. Nothing negative to report. Nothing earth-shattering either. Just a really functional bye week,” Diaco said of the past week.
For a team that has lost their last two games to East Carolina and Temple by scores of 41-3 and 21-0, respectively, a week off was just what UConn needed.
“Intangibly, [the bye week] is just a refresh. A refocus. An opportunity for players to say, ‘Hey, why do I do what I do?’ To step out of it, and be out of it, and look at it, and have an opportunity to kind of miss it, and long for that competitive moment,” Diaco said.
Despite the results on the field, Diaco was resilient when defending the effort level and resolve of his players. It has been an undeniably disappointing season for the Huskies but their coach stands behind them.
“The culture is so strong, and you can see it in the games. The team plays hard for four quarters. The team doesn’t get pushed around. What game did the team get pushed around in? They don’t get knocked back, knocked off the ball,” Diaco said.
One tactical change that will persist from recent weeks into the final two games is the promotion of redshirt quarterback Donovan Williams to the starting role, replacing usual starter Bryant Shirreffs. Williams struggled greatly in his college debut against Temple, completing just 12/21 passes for 69 yards but he made a few nice plays that showed potential for growth.
Diaco is very excited about Williams’ potential.
“All things being equal, [Williams’ upside] will be as high as any other player at his position in America. He’s that talented. He’s big, he’s fast, he’s smart, he’s got an excellent arm, he’s good a good, quick release, he’s elusive in the pocket, enough to have escape ability and he’s also a big guy,” Diaco said.
Williams should be a crucial part of the future for UConn, one which appears murky after such a disastrous set of games but remains bright in Diaco’s eyes. The wins may not have come this year, but with the culture in place, that can be the primary focus next year.
“This is a really strong team, from a culture standpoint, and a physical standpoint, and an emotional standpoint, and that’s not going to change,” Diaco said. “When we get back to having time to address what happened in 2016, it’s going to be about playing football better. We’re not going to have to rebuild or create a cultural piece, which is awesome, because we don’t do everything the right way, but we do it really, really well.”