JOE D’S NOTEBOOK
SUNDAY-AUGUST31: Rome wasn’t built in a day. And football programs are not turned around in 9 months or 60 minutes. So, as much progress as UConn has made under Bob Diaco, it didn’t result in a victory on Friday night against BYU. The 35-10 outcome was indicative of the separation between these programs at this stage of the Huskies development.
First things first, Taysum Hill is a helluva quarterback. 405 yards of total offense is proof in black and white. He did what he wanted, when he wanted, although UConn did a much better job against him in the second half.Expect to see Hill put up those kind of numbers a lot this season.
And it is that second half that the Huskies will try and build on. Other than the final Cougar touchdown drive, UConn handled the BYU offense much more efficiently. The inability to get a pass rush on Hill at any point of the game is an area that needs improvement. And frankly, the secondary did not play up to its capabilities. But my guess is they will improve dramatically. The line-backing corps of Jefferson Ashiru, Graham Stewart and Marquise Vann stood out and they will be an area of strength this season.
Offensively,the running game struggled. The running backs gained 84 yards in 24 carries.A ground game averaging 3.5 yards per carry will put too much pressure on the passing game. There was no run longer than eight yards. I thought Josh Mariner ran the ball well and after his early fumble, Max DeLorenzo ran hard. The passing game showed some bright spots. The number of receivers catching passes (12), a receivers with multiple receptions (6), shows the Huskies depth.Geremy Davis wasn’t targeted in the first quarter and missed some time in the second half with cramps and still caught seven balls. And I think the tight end position is one of strength for UConn. Both Casey Cochran and Chandler Whitmer had their moments at quarterback, just not enough of them.
As promised, Diaco played a lot of players, 50 to be exact. He and his staff are still evaluating the talent to see who can be trusted and who needs more seasoning. And the only way to do that is in game situations.I would expect to see more of the same this Saturday against Stony Brook. What you hope you don’t see again are the nine penalties. UConn can’t make that many mistakes and expect to win.
Every coach since Knute Rockne has said the biggest improvement is between week one and week two. Week two is now underway for the Huskies and we will find out Saturday at noon what lessons have been learned.
Don’t forget Coach Diaco and two players join me on Thursday night at Wood N’Tap in Vernon starting at 6 pm. We’d love to have you join us in person and if not, then on the radio.