Huskies searching for consistency on both sides of the ball
Offense has struggled to answer back after opposing team scores
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 timeconsuming 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 extra-point 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 spirit-sapping 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 happens, our job is to go score.
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.”
HITS CLOSE TO HOME
Senior receiver Kyle Buss spent two seasons at Robert Morris before transferring to UConn.
The Robert Morris campus is less than 25 miles from the Tree of Life Congregation synagogue in Pittsburgh, the scene of a shooting that claimed the lives of 11 people and injured seven others.
“I have some good friends down there and you just don’t know what can happen any day. It is pretty sad, it is really sad the society we are living in right now,” said Buss, who leads UConn with 354 receiving yards this season. “Seeing that and having friends there close to that, it was the first thing that went through my mind. It is even more emotional for them. It is tough, you just never know.”
Quarterback David Pindell and the 1-8 UConn football team host SMU on Saturday.
Coach Randy Edsall and the UConn football team need longer possessions on offense to help out the beleagured defense.