ED­SALL

Connecticut Post (Sunday) - - Sports - James. fuller @ hearst­medi­act. com; @ NHRJimFuller

against teams UConn had beaten last sea­son.

“We were fit­ting things right, do­ing our jobs and then things went down­hill from there and we never re­ally stopped it,” UConn red­shirt fresh­man de­fen­sive line­man Caleb Thomas said. “Prepa­ra­tion starts be­fore you hit the field, so we have to pre­pare for it like our lives de­pend on it.”

How bad was it dur­ing the 2018 sea­son? The 516 yards by Tem­ple is the sec­ond fewest al­lowed by the na­tion’s worst de­fense this sea­son, and who knows how many yards UMass might have put up un­der more friendly weather con­di­tions.

In a sea­son when UConn failed to win a con­fer­ence game for the first time since 1954, the Huskies set na­tional records in fu­til­ity by giv­ing up 605 points, 7,409 yards of to­tal of­fense and 4,020 rush­ing yards.

“I ain’t putting up with that any­more, there is too much pride in this pro­gram,” Ed­sall said. “Those guys who have been here be­fore, they are go­ing to be men­tors to these guys and un­der­stand what the pride was be­cause that has been lost.”

Six­teen of the 18 play­ers with at least 12 tack­les are slated to re­turn so per­haps bet­ter days await on the de­fen­sive side of the ball. Still, the ex­pe­ri­ences from one de­fen­sive dis­as­ter af­ter an­other won’t soon dis­ap­pear from the me­mory banks of the re­turn­ing play­ers.

“You def­i­nitely have to take it with you,” Thomas said. “You have to move for­ward, but you have to keep this in the back of your mind. You don’t want to feel this again, you want to keep keep mov­ing for­ward and im­prove.”

For­mer Kingswood Ox­ford star Isa­iah Wright got the scor­ing started with an 18- yard scor­ing run and he added a 99- yard kick­off re­turn for a score. Todd Cen­teio ran three yards for one score and con­nected with Chris Myarick for a 5- yard scor­ing pass. Will Mob­ley had field goals of 18, 18 and 27 yards, Chris­tian Braswell re­turned an in­ter­cep­tion eight yards for a score while Jager Gard­ner and Travon Wil­liams added scor­ing runs of 26 and 10 yards. For­mer Wil­bur Cross star Jaelin Robin­son started at left tackle and was one of the Owls’ four game cap­tains.

Tem­ple’s de­fense had 11 tack­les for loss, seven com­ing in the first half to make David Pin­dell’s fi­nal game at UConn a night­mare.

Pin­dell was 12 of 23 pass­ing for 89 yards with the one touch­down and three in­ter­cep­tions be­fore giv­ing way to true fresh­man Steve Kra­jew­ski. Pin­dell also ran for 24 yards as he joined Dan Orlovsky as the only UConn play­ers with more than 3,000 yards of to­tal of­fense in a sea­son and his 1,139 rush­ing yards is the record for a UConn quar­ter­back.

Kevin Men­sah ran for 94 yards to fin­ish his sopho­more sea­son with 1,045 yards giv­ing the Huskies a pair of 1,000- yard rush­ers for the first time since 2009.

“I wanted to win, 1,000 yards is great but a team win is bet­ter,” Men­sah said.

Luke Magliozzi av­er­aged 44.8 yards on six punts to fin­ish the sea­son with a UConn record 42.9 yards per punt while Oneil Robin­son had an in­ter­cep­tion and tied for team high with eight tack­les. He fin­ished with 64 tack­les, the most by a UConn true fresh­man.

Be­fore the game UConn hon­ored its se­niors. Twelve play­ers who got into the game were among the honorees in­clud­ing Pin­dell as well as fel­low starters in re­ceiver Hergy May­ala, tight end Aaron McLean, cen­ter Ryan Crozier and line­backer San­tana Ster­ling.

Ed­sall said he has a 6 a. m. flight on Sun­day for a re­cruit­ing trip as he looks to add the type of play­ers he feels like he needs to have to turn the pro­gram around. For the re­turn­ing play­ers, the next few months will be cru­cial as they at­tempt to get big­ger, stronger and faster.

Men­sah didn’t mince words when dis­cussing what needs to hap­pen to make sure the 2019 sea­son is not a re­peat of what tran­spired this year.

“If you don’t want to be with us, leave,” Men­sah said. “The guys who are go­ing to be with us, they are go­ing to stick with us and we are go­ing to work hard. It is go­ing to be tough, it is not go­ing to be like this year. The work­load is go­ing to be tough, lift­ing is go­ing to be tough. We are go­ing to be on top of ev­ery­body and if you are not lis­ten­ing to what Coach Ed­sall [ is say­ing], if you are not fol­low­ing what he wants you to do, there are go­ing to be con­se­quences.”

Tem­ple 57, UConn 7

Tem­ple . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 27 7 10 — 57 UConn . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 0 0 0 — 7

Stephen Dunn / Associated Press

Tem­ple wide re­ceiver Isa­iah Wright ( 13) scores on a 99- yard kick­off re­turn dur­ing the first half against UConn on Satur­day.

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