Huskies lose their grip

The News-Times (Sunday) - - College Football - By Jim Fuller james.fuller @hearst­medi­act.com; @NHRJimFuller on Twit­ter

EAST HART­FORD — The an­swer, much like vis­it­ing Cincin­nati’s game plan, was blunt and straight to the point.

Not long af­ter his UConn foot­ball team suf­fered a 49-7 loss at the hands of the un­de­feated Bearcats be­fore an an­nounced crowd of 20,322 at Rentschler Field on Satur­day, head coach Randy Ed­sall saw a team that let a se­ries of un­for­tu­nate plays late in the first half carry over into a third quar­ter to for­get.

“What I saw and it is my fault, I saw that they lost con­fi­dence in them­selves, didn’t be­lieve in them­selves enough to go and play,” Ed­sall said. “I thought we got punched in the mouth and I didn’t think we re­sponded and that is on me.”

An im­pres­sive open­ing drive ended with David Pin­dell hook­ing up with Kyle Buss for a 5-yard touch­down to give the Huskies their lone lead of the sea­son against a fel­low Foot­ball Bowl Sub­di­vi­sion pro­gram.

Touch­down runs of 1 yard by quar­ter­back Des­mond Rid­der and 2 yards by tail­back Michael War­ren gave the Bearcats a 14-7 lead. Thanks to UConn fresh­man de­fen­sive line­man Lwal Uguak jump­ing on a botched ex­change in the Cincin­nati back­field, the Huskies re­mained only a score down.

UConn ap­peared to de­liver the ty­ing score, but Aaron McLean’s 23-yard touch­down catch was ruled as an in­com­plete pass as he did not wres­tle the ball away from Cincin­nati de­fen­sive back Cameron Jef­feries be­fore tum­bling out of bounds. Still, the Huskies had a first down at the 21 but failed to find pay dirt. Michael Tar­butt’s missed 37-yard field goal only added to the Huskies’ mis­ery. The next 38 sec­onds changed the way the rest of the game played out.

Rid­der com­pleted five passes as the Bearcats sliced through the UConn de­fense for a 79-yard scor­ing drive to take a 14-point lead into the locker room at half­time.

“We could have got­ten a touch­down and I think that would have helped us but we didn’t and we missed a field goal and I think that hurt us a lit­tle bit,” Ed­sall said. “As we let them go down and score, we lost some ag­gres­sive­ness there and it is all on me, it is not on any­body else but me.”

UConn sopho­more safety, who matched his ca­reer high with 14 tack­les, called what hap­pened at the end of the first half and in the se­cond half when Cincin­nati scored touch­downs on five straight pos­ses­sions as “em­bar­rass­ing.”

“That was just hor­ri­ble, the moment of the game just shifted like that,” Coyle 49 7 said. “(It is) 21-7 at half, when we missed that field goal, all the en­ergy on our team just de­flated.”

The de­fense gave up more than 290 yards pass­ing and rush­ing for the fourth time this sea­son as Cincin­nati (5-0, 1-0 in the Amer­i­can Ath­letic Con­fer­ence) fin­ished with 659 yards of to­tal of­fense. Just as trou­bling was see­ing how much the of­fense strug­gled af­ter that open­ing drive. None of the next eight drives went longer than 37 yards. With each failed pos­ses­sion, the ball went back to an un­stop­pable Cincin­nati of­fense.

“You can’t let that slide like we did to­day and af­fect the rest of the game, we just have to keep our heads up and play the rest of the game,” McLean said. “Ev­ery­body has to do more, we have to watch more film, prac­tice harder and ev­ery­body just has to do more and once we start do­ing that, it will start go­ing in the right di­rec­tion. If we don’t do more, we are go­ing to get the same re­sults.

“It hurts to­day, a lot of guys are re­ally start­ing to feel like this los­ing stuff isn’t fun so hope­fully that hits them the right way and we start to turn it around.”

Rid­der was 20 for 26 pass­ing for 270 yards and a pair of touch­downs to go with 47 rush­ing yards. Michael War­ren had 106 rush­ing yards and a pair of TDs while Josiah Deguara’s one-handed 38-yard touch­down re­cep­tion was part of his five-catch, 112-yard per­for­mance.

Pin­dell was just 9 of 23 pass­ing as he gave way to fresh­man Marvin Wash­ing­ton in the fourth quar­ter for the se­cond week in a row. Pin­dell ad­mit­ted that the knee that he in­jured in the Syra­cuse loss is still not 100 per­cent so per­haps that’s a rea­son why he rushed only five times, eas­ily his low­est to­tal of the sea­son. Cincin­nati’s de­fense also had some­thing to do with that.

McLean had four catches for 97 yards while Buss also had four re­cep­tions for UConn (1-4, 0-2).

Stephen Dunn / Associated Press

UConn quar­ter­back David Pin­dell (5) runs the ball dur­ing the first half against Cincin­nati on Satur­day.

Stephen Dunn / Associated Press

UConn run­ning back Kevin Men­sah (34) is stopped dur­ing the first half against Cincin­nati on Satur­day.

Tim Brad­bury / Getty Images

Cincin­nati’s Michael War­ren rushes for a touch­down in the se­cond quar­ter against UConn on Satur­day.

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