Connecticut offensive coordinator and offensive line coach George DeLeone has spent the spring and fall focusing on creating a very specific culture up front for the Huskies.
"I want to establish a culture of work ethic, unselfishness and of toughness," he explained. "Guys that have been around here for a while can get complacent. But I think what happened is, we've said, 'Hey, you've played, but some of the stuff you've done hasn't been up to Division I standards. Now let's get that up.'"
Last season, the Huskies went 5-7 and allowed 41 sacks, ranking them tied for 113th in the country. But as DeLeone explains, that stat can be somewhat misleading of offensive line play.
"Fans, people are going to look at the sacks, but the sacks are just as much a team function as they are an offensive line function. Sometimes, if the quarterback holds the ball too long and he gets sacked, well, that's on the quarterback. Sometimes when a running back misses a block and the quarterback gets sacked, that's on the running back. Every single sack is not offensive line-related. With that said, we gave up way too many by the offensive line."
Part of the culture change up front is getting players to enjoy the grind of the season, and embrace the expectations of running a multiple offense. The multiplicity may not be what fans want to see come Saturday's, but it definitely has the potential to put defensive coordinators in a bind when they have to prepare for a ton of different looks.
"We have to get a culture where players on the offensive line love to grind. I think we're making progress. We're not there yet, but I think we're better than we were last year."
"That means we're going to have to understand a lot of schemes, a lot of plays, and they're going to have to be on point mentally every day. Some teams in college football don't run as many plays as we do."
USA Today / AFCA outed Lane Kiffin's "confidential vote"
Wednesday night, after being asked about Rich Rod's preseason vote where he placed the Trojans as the top team in the country, Lane Kiffin responded by saying, "I would not vote USC No. 1, I can tell you that."
This is Kiffin's first year voting in the "Coaches" poll. According to a USC spokesman, "USA TODAY sent a June 4, 2012, letter to coaches who agreed to vote in its college football poll stating that, except for the final poll of the regular season, 'votes for all other polls will be kept confidential by USA TODAY.'"
After hearing Kiffin's quote, USA Today apparently called him to discuss; because he had in fact voted USC #1 in his poll. According to USA Today, when a voter (coach) offers false information about his vote, "then USA TODAY Sports, in its oversight role as administrator of the poll, will set the record straight to protect the poll's integrity." And thus, presumably with the AFCA's knowledge and approval, they outed Kiffin...destroying any trust that any coach has in the concept of keeping votes "confidential".
Kiffin told USA Today last night that he did not see how his quote misinterpreted his vote, noting their thin roster as the reason for the comment, but adding that the talent that they return was the reason for his vote.
"We have less players than everybody else. So looking at it from the outside, I wouldn't (vote USC No. 1). Did I? Yeah, I did. That's not based off of 75 vs. 85. That's based off of (USC players) Matt Barkley, T.J. McDonald and Robert Woods and Marqise Lee. When everybody has the same record, I can't go into a meeting with our players and have them say, 'You put that team and that team ahead of us.' That's why I did that."
Kiffin added "I don't really buy things are confidential anymore."
USC's spokesman added, "The fact that the leadership of the American Football Coaches Association, which tasks USA TODAY to administer its poll, joined with the poll administrators from USA TODAY to decide to breach that confidentiality by providing to a reporter a coach's vote in its pre-season poll is disappointing and attacks the integrity of the poll. Further, that the reporter who was given this information represents the very organization that conducts the poll is a conflict of journalistic interest.''
As news of this "outing" broke today, we called five division 1 coaches and asked for their thoughts. Some were head coaches, others were not; but unanimously said that they feel those administering the poll have lost all credibility. Nearly every single coach questioned why the AFCA and USA Today would go public with this information.
We have no answer for that and would welcome input from either party.
For those that want to see Kiffin's original statement about that he would not vote USC #1, it's below.
Davie on camp: Logistically, it couldn't be better
After practice yesterday, Bob Davie sat down to explain the advantages of bringing the team on the road to open up fall camp, and why their setup couldn't be much better.
Davie explains that players are sleeping at a hotel that many people pay a lot of money to come vacation at, and they have access to three and a half well groomed practice field. Players can literally walk out of the hotel less than a hundred yards to the convention center where they have all of their meals, meetings as well as locker room and training rooms access.
"From a logistical standpoint, it really couldn't be any better. I am sure there's maybe some NFL camps that would rival it somewhere but it's as good as it can get." Davie explained.