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."