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How to compliment a bad team, by Dave Doeren

Someone has to do it.

Texas Tech v NC State Photo by Lance King/Getty Images

Coaches routinely face the challenge of having to say positive-sounding words about bad teams, and over time hone these skills to a degree that allows them to effortlessly put together 30-60 seconds of specifics-adjacent kindness.

[rubbing hands together] Let’s see what Dave Doeren has for UConn this week:

We’re playing a UConn team that has a veteran defense. They have a long bunch of defensive lineman. Their linebackers are experienced guys. They’re all 6-2 and 220 [pounds] or more. Coach [Jim L.] Mora is a veteran, proven coach at the NFL level and the college level, and he’s building a program. You can see that he’s doing it the right way. They’ve played some really good competition. They’re well coached. You see them playing with good fundamentals and technique. You can see their scheme and what he’s trying to do.

They’re young on offense. Their quarterback transfer from Penn State [Ta’Quan Roberson] got injured, and they’re playing a young guy [Zion Turner], but he’s from St. Thomas Aquinas in Florida, Devon Betty’s high school. He’s a winner. He was a three-time state champion as a quarterback, and I know they’ll build a team around him. They have very good skill players. You can see some explosive plays. There’s a lot of quick screens and plays on the perimeter to get those guys the ball.

Strong overall effort. I love the “they have some wingspan at defensive line” throw-in. You don’t see that one every week. Also a veteran move to kind of start a tangent as a way to just continue to flood the zone with words. “They have this corner, he’s from New York City, and you know they have bodegas in New York City—I went to this bodega once—we were there to play Rutgers so we stayed in the city—we did the Statue of Liberty, whole nine—but one morning I went into this bodega, and they had a cat! Can you believe that? There’s just a cat in there wandering. But you can see that this guy, he’s played a lot of snaps at corner, and we’ll look for that to continue for him.”

They’re young, they’re playing, they’re playing the right way, they got their helmets on straight. You can see the culture that’s being installed over there.