Diaco shakes up coaching staff, promotes Corley to offensive coordinator
Storrs — Coming off a nightmarish performance and a season slipping away, coach Bob Diaco made a move to try to inject some life in his floundering UConn football team.
During his weekly press conference on Tuesday, Diaco announced that he had demoted offensive coordinator Frank Verducci and promoted David Corley, the running backs coach and director of player engagement, to take Verducci's place.
"It's difficult to make a change at any time," Diaco said. "Obviously, not something that I wanted to do, but very necessary."
Corley takes over an offense that produced a season-low three points in a 38-point loss at East Carolina on Saturday and ranks last in the American Athletic Conference in scoring offense (18.3 points per game) and next to last in total offense at 361.2 yards.
Saturday's complete offensive breakdown was the final breaking point. But UConn's issues this season run deeper than that.
"It's an incredibly challenging circumstance that he's going to be taking over," Diaco said. "I really don't want to put an incredible amount of pressure on him. ... He's been a great, great worker. The things that he's been asked to lead have been high performing for the better part of almost three years.
"... Whether it's in four days, four weeks or four years, he's going to be star."
Diaco had to do something in attempt to salvage the season for the Huskies (3-6, 1-5), who've dropped three straight and five of the last six. They'll need to sweep their remaining games, starting with Friday night's home contest versus Temple, to become bowl eligible for the second straight season.
On Sunday, Diaco met with Corley to offer him the position.
"I'm excited," Corley said. "It's something that I've always wanted to do. Coaching runs in my family. Playing quarterback in college and obviously involved in game planning and playing quarterback at the next level and involved in game planning, just a step that I've always wanted to take in my career."
Corley, who's in his third season on the UConn coaching staff, is a former standout quarterback at William & Mary, graduating in 2002 with school career records in touchdown passes (73), total offense (10,948 yards) and passing yards (9,085). He's in the school's Hall of Fame.
Corley went on to play on the professional level in the Canadian Football League and Arena Football League.
"Dave is a guy that's had great, great success as a trigger-puller, quarterback and offensive driver of many teams that have had profound success," Diaco said. "But more importantly than that, his suggestions this year have really been spot-on, some of the better moments in games and some of the better plays in games."
Corley served as an assistant coach at his alma mater for six seasons (2008-2013), working with running backs, quarterbacks, wide receivers and operating as the passing game coordinator during his tenure.
His experience as a play-caller is limited to just a few series as an assistant coach during a William & Mary game when there was a head-set malfunction that forced him to briefly take over.
"That's roughly it," Corley said, "other than just being a player and just visualizing the things that you'd like to see and do as a player. Whether you're an offensive coordinator or not, during the game everybody kind of has ideas and we all contribute even when Frank was calling the plays."
Prior to this season, Corley, the son of a college coach, worked with the wide receivers in 2015 and running backs in 2014 at UConn. He's known for his energy and enthusiasm.
"The way I do things, I have a lot of energy just in general," Corley said. "I try to make sure that I bring that to work every day so it can rub off on my players."
Don't expect any drastic changes in UConn's attack. For now, Bryant Shirreffs, who's had an underwhelming season, will remain as the quarterback. An inconsistent offensive line has hurt the Huskies in both the passing and running games.
Expect the Huskies to be little less conservative than they've been this season. Diaco, who focuses on the defensive side of the ball, hasn't been crazy about some of Verducci's play-calling. The Huskies have struggled in the red zone and in short yardage situation.
"We feel like we've got some talented players on our team offensively," Corley said. "We've got guys who are good enough to help us win ball games. We've just got to now put these guys in the best position possible to utilize all of their skill sets."
Corley praised Verducci, who will continue to coach the tight ends and also work with offensive tackles, and plans to still lean on him.
His debut as offensive coordinator will come against one of the top defenses in the conference. Temple has allowed the second fewest points in the AAC and has the top-rated pass defense.
"Obviously, Temple presents a challenge," Corley said. "They're well-coached and they're going to play aggressive."
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