Huskies still search­ing for some con­sis­tency

New Haven Register (New Haven, CT) - - PAGE 2 - By Jim Fuller james.fuller @hearst­medi­act.com; @NHRJimFuller

STORRS — Cer­tainly the night­mar­ish de­fen­sive per­for­mance will be in the open­ing para­graph when the story of the 2018 UConn foot­ball team is told.

Head­ing into Satur­day’s noon home game against South­ern Methodist, UConn ranks last among 130 Foot­ball Bowl Sub­di­vi­sion teams in scor­ing de­fense, touch­downs al­lowed, to­tal de­fense, yards per play al­lowed, rush­ing de­fense, yards per rush­ing at­tempt, pass ef­fi­ciency de­fense, yards per pass play al­lowed, touch­down passes al­lowed, scrim­mage plays of at least 10 yards, 20 yards. Yes, it doesn’t have to be two weeks af­ter Hal­loween to re­al­ize that those are some scary num­bers.

How­ever, the of­fense is not com­pletely blame­less is what has been a a truly for­get­table cam­paign.

UConn’s op­po­nents have scored five touch­downs in a span of less than 20 min­utes in six dif­fer­ent games this sea­son. While the Huskies de­fense may go down as one of the most gen­er­ous groups in col­lege foot­ball his­tory, the fact is that when things started to go off the rails for the Huskies in the lop­sided losses to UCF, Boise State, Syra­cuse, Cincin­nati, Mem­phis and Tulsa, a time-con­sum­ing drive or two by the Huskies might have helped to min­i­mize the dam­age.

In eight games against FBS com­pe­ti­tion, op­po­nents have scored 58 times on of­fense. Not only has UConn re­sponded with just 11 scor­ing drives, but the av­er­age drive af­ter the de­fense gave up ei­ther a touch­down or field goal is just 2:40. Just eight of those drives lasted more than four min­utes re­sult­ing in a shell-shocked UConn de­fense need­ing to go right back to work. It wasn’t hard to pre­dict how that next drive would end. In­vari­ably, UConn’s drive would end with a punt and the op­po­nent’s would be con­cluded with an ex­tra­point at­tempt.

“We just have to ex­e­cute, it is one thing we haven’t been con­sis­tent with ex­e­cut­ing the plays we put in [dur­ing] prac­tice, just per­form un­der pres­sure when it counts,” UConn se­nior quar­ter­back David Pin­dell said. “We have to be de­tailed on every­thing we do. When we get op­por­tu­ni­ties to score, we have to score on those.

“You have to hope they make a play and if they don’t, it just weighs on them and then the other team scores and they get down. We have to be bet­ter and we have to be able to help them out more, be more of a scor­ing team.”

It’s been some­what fright­en­ing how quickly games have got­ten away from the Huskies. UConn has given up more than 20 points in a quar­ter in six dif­fer­ent games re­sult­ing in not just losses but spir­it­sap­ping de­feats.

Other than the South Florida and UMass games, it would have taken more than one more suc­cess­ful of­fen­sive drive to give the Huskies the shot at vic­tory, but hav­ing a few more sus­tained drives would al­low a young, strug­gling UConn de­fense a chance to catch their col­lec­tive breath.

“It is a team game, we are all part of it,” UConn of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor John Dunn said. “Our job on of­fense ev­ery time we get the ball is to drive down and score, there is never a time when it is, ‘OK, let’s have a cou­ple of plays and come on back.’ Re­gard­less of what just hap­pened, that is al­ways the goal. It is one play at a time, one drive at a time, one quar­ter at a time and ob­vi­ously we try to play team foot­ball, we try to pos­sess the ball for as long as we can but re­gard­less what just hap­pened, our job is to go score.

“Some­times those things hap­pen, I don’t think they are nec­es­sar­ily a cor­re­la­tion to the two, some­times it hap­pens that way. I tell them all the time for­get about all the other stuff, it doesn’t mat­ter score, it doesn’t mat­ter sit­u­a­tions, one play at a time fo­cus on what you are sup­posed to do and when that play is over, go onto the next play. That is what we are try­ing to do ev­ery time.”

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