STORRS -- It's all about progression. And improvement.
For the UConn football team -- believe it or not -- right now, wins and losses don't matter. At least they don't to a rookie head coach who will be coaching in just his second game ever on Saturday afternoon when Stony Brook of the FCS comes calling to Rentschler Field (noon, SNY).
No, the focus is solely on getting better. That's it.
Baby steps. Positive strides.
"Stony Brook ¦ our opponents right now are not a main focus for us," Diaco said Tuesday in his weekly pregame press conference at the Burton Family Football Complex. "So, in terms of articulation to the team, it's about us. It's about what we need to do. It's about getting better. It's about correcting our mistakes."
Since a coach's success -- and whether he gets fired -- depends solely on wins and losses, it's almost stunning to hear a brand-new coach say that progress is more important than winning. But maybe Diaco's right. You have to crawl before you can walk and right now, the Diaco Huskies are still trying to take their first positive steps as a program.
"We've have so much work to do with ourselves," Diaco said. "There are so many things that we need to correct before we can move forward to that next level of teaching. It isn't something that I haven't already said in terms of the evaluation of the program.
"I felt pretty strongly about what we were going to see (against BYU) and what the concerns were and sure enough, we saw what we'd thought we'd see, and the concerns that we had expressed themselves. We just have to keep moving forward in those areas, independent of who we play. We're not at that point in our program where we're `drilling down' (focusing) on who the opponent is and drilling down on some kind of energy from that matchup."
So rather that discuss the Division I-AA Seawolves, who jumped into the Colonial Athletic Association after winning (or tying for) four straight Big South titles, Diaco continued to talk about his team's development.
"BYU and our next opponent (Stony Brook) and our opponent after that (Boise State), we characterize them as `partners in our dance.'" Diaco said. "It's not something that I came up with (apparently Phil Jackson did), but nonetheless, very true. The fact of the matter is BYU gave us a great opportunity to get much better and we did. We were disappointed in the result but those results will change. But we can't circumvent the process. And how long it's going to take? We'll see."
If you believe the players, the time frame isn't going to be long at all.
"We see the light (at the end of the tunnel) and we can only go up from where we are," linebacker Jefferson Ashiru said Tuesday. "We are going to get better. So much of it is mental and once we get that cleaned up and play like we know we can play, we're going to get better."
Added linebacker Graham Stewart: "Everything takes time but once those things are there and they develop and mature, they're not going anywhere, so the results will be there."
Diaco played a total of 57 players against BYU -- 19 of them made their collegiate debut -- including Ansonia's Arkeel Newsome, who had 77 yards of total offense; punter Justin Wain, who averaged 35.8 yards on four punts; tight end Alec Bloom, who caught two passes for 24 yards; and tailback Josh Marriner, who posted 28 yards rushing. Read Full Article
"We have a ton of confidence in the younger guys, especially with how many guys we played and how many guys made plays," quarterback Casey Cochran said. "We know how tough this team can be. I saw guys finishing blocks, guys playing hard to the whistle the whole game. I can see where this team can go ¦ and it's good places."
CONFERENCE: Colonial Athletic Association
COACH: Chuck Priore (52-41 at Stony Brook, ninth season)
SERIES: First meeting
2013 RECORD: 0-1 (lost to Bryant 13-7 on August 28)
CONNECTICUT CONNECTION: QB Joe Carbone (Wethersfield), WR Pat D'Amato (Wethersfield), TE Cal Daniels (Bethel), TE Will Tye (Middletown)
NOTES & NOTATIONS: Before moving to the CAA, the Seawolves captured (or tied for) four straight Big South titles and twice played in the FCS playoffs.
DID YOU KNOW?: Priore spent six season as the head coach at Trinity (Conn.) College, posting a 39-9 record, including three straight 8-0 seasons from 2003-05.
-- CHRIS ELSBERRY