Huskies lose their grip
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).
UConn quarterback David Pindell (5) runs the ball during the first half against Cincinnati on Saturday.
UConn running back Kevin Mensah (34) is stopped during the first half against Cincinnati on Saturday.
Cincinnati’s Michael Warren rushes for a touchdown in the second quarter against UConn on Saturday.