T.J. Weist takes charge
Published: Monday, September 30, 2013
Updated: Monday, September 30, 2013 23:09
The performance of T.J. Weist’s football team is still very much to be determined, but his brief work in front of the podium Monday was full of “energy.”
That was a word that beared repeating throughout the new interim head coach’s 30 minutes in front of the media.
“It’s time to get to work,” Weist said. “I don’t need to talk a lot…it’s time to get back to work and get back to work with energy, with passion, with enthusiasm and like I told our guys today, we need every guy to be all-in. We need every guy in our program – male, female, everybody – to buy in and to be part of what we’re going to do.”
The refocusing of the UConn football program comes after four straight losses to open the season, including a humiliating 41-12 loss at Buffalo this past weekend that ultimately cost Paul Pasqualoni his head coaching job.
Weist, who was hired this past offseason as the Huskies’ new offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach, became the man for the job when athletic director Warde Manuel decided change was afoot.
“I’m changing now because we had to have different leadership in order to get different results,” Manuel said.
Despite the changes, Manuel stressed that he refused to surrender the rest of the season and simply begin looking to the future, a message that Weist seemed to take to heart.
“We have to play every single week so that we set our focus to execute on offense and defense and special teams,” Weist said. “Execute with passion, with energy, with class, with character, with pride in this university and come out to work every single day to win and to be successful.”
Of course, the former Alabama wide receiver and, most recently, Cincinnati wide receivers coach is also well aware that he is coaching for his future within the program.
Asked what Weist needed to do in order to keep the job longer than just the next eight games, Manuel replied simply, “win.”
“I can stand up and I can be as fired up as I want to be,” Weist said. “I can be enthusiastic, I can go crazy every single day, I can bring energy every day. But if we don’t win, if we don’t execute, it doesn’t matter what style I have.”
The excitement that Weist put on display Monday did not come without some hesitation, however.
As someone who was hired and brought into the fold by Pasqualoni, Weist admitted that he was initially hesitant to take charge, but later added, “I’m ready for this and I want this.”
But with the increased spotlight comes increased scrutiny and a plethora of problems that need fixing, especially on the offense that he was originally brought in to oversee.
Over the first four games of the season the Huskies have ranked dead last in the nation in rushing yards per game with 47.8, third-to-last in sacks allowed with 20 and tied for 108th – out of 123 teams – with eight interceptions thrown.
With that in mind, Weist noted that we would be willing to consider playing freshman Tim Boyle at quarterback – though he still needs to discuss options with his staff – and that some schemes may need to be reworked in the coming weeks.
Perhaps most importantly, Weist stressed the change in leadership as a chance to hit the restart button on the season.
“This is a great opportunity for us, for this team,” Weist said. “In our mind, we’re starting over. We’re 0-0. We’re 0-0 in the conference. It’s a great opportunity for us to take this off week and get healthy, focus on the fundamentals. We need to get better and evaluate every facet of everything we’re doing – on offense, on defense, on special teams – and see what fits best.”
The first game for UConn under their new coach will be Oct. 12 against South Florida, which currently sits 0-4 and is widely considered one of the worst teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision.