The Huskies are 3-2 on the season, and 0-1 in Big East play. Five games into the season, and the team is at a crossroads. They can either give-up and this season become a total bust, which would be the easy thing to do. Or they can come together and realize that it’s going to take a lot of work and dedication to get this season “back on track” and finish the season with a winning record and a bowl bid. As a UConn fan, I hope they pick the second choice. To help them find their way I have created a “How to Guide” to getting the Huskies back to their winning ways.
The “HOW TO GET BACK TO WINNING GAMES GUIDE”
1) Go Back to Basics
The first thing UConn needs to do is go back to the basics. The defense needs to learn how to tackle better and the offense needs to learn how to move the ball consistently. Head Coach Randy Edsall needs to get his team to make the simple plays, the easy plays. If they make these plays, then the harder, more complicated plays will be easier to handle.
(Hartford Courant Photo)
2) Play the Entire Game
The Huskies are two fourth quarter collapses away from being 5-0 on the season. Against North Carolina they were up 10 points in the fourth quarter but lost the game 12-10. Against Pittsburgh they had a 15 point lead late into the third quarter, but couldn’t hang on as they lost 24-21. Take away the Rhode Island game from this year, and the Huskies have been outscored 40-10 in the fourth quarter. If the team wants to be in the top-25, this has to change. They need to learn how to finish games. Learn that just because you have a lead does not mean it is safe. The offense and defense need to continue to be aggressive and attack the other team, not sit back and watch the other team make a comeback. Through the first three quarters the Huskies have been easily a top-20 team, but in the fourth quarter they are one of the worst in the nation. In order to win games at this level, the Huskies have to learn to finish and play aggressive the entire 60 minutes.
3) Don’t “Shoot Yourself in the Foot”
In the past few years, UConn has been known as a team that plays good team football and doesn’t make mistakes that hurt themselves. They’ve been known as a team that wouldn’t “shoot themselves in the foot.” However, this year has been a different story. Whether its interceptions, fumbles, missed tackles, or penalities, the Huskies have been killing themselves with mistakes. Looking at the Pitt game, the Huskies had two big mistakes that I thought ended up hurting them in the end.
(Hartford Current Photo)
The first was in the second quarter, as the Huskies were in Pittsburgh territory after a good offensive drive. On a second down play, Cody Endres
dropped back and threw one of the prettiest balls a UConn quarterback has thrown in awhile. It was the perfect play call, a “go”-route for Jordan Todman
out of the backfield. Todman split the linebackers and was wide open in the endzone, with that perfect pass right on his hands….but he dropped the pass. He didn’t catch it, and ruined a perfect opportunity for the Huskies to increase their lead. On the VERY NEXT PLAY, Endres drops back to pass but this time Pittsburgh got pressure on him and tackled him, as well as knocked the ball out of his hand. A fumble. The panthers recovered, and the Huskies got no points on that drive. That should have been 7 points, or at least 3, but it ended with nothing to show for it except a turnover.
The second play was in the fourth quarter. The Huskies were still hanging on to a 7-point lead. Pitt was driving and with the ball around mid-field. It was third down and six, Pitt QB Bill Stull finds a receiver to the right. He catches the ball, but is still 3 yards shy of the first down marker. All UConn has to do is make the tackle and force a punt and they get the ball back. However, linebacker Greg Lloyd misses the tackle. The receiver is able to drag Lloyd across the first down marker for a gain of eight and a first down. The Panthers go on to score a touchdown and tie the game. After forcing a three and out from the Huskies, Pitt drives down the field and kicks the game winning field goal as time expires.
Mistakes such as these cost the Huskies a victory, and if the Huskies hope to have a successful season the rest of the way, they need to stop making big mistakes like these.
UConn is a good team. The silver lining in all of this is that the Huskies are just two quarters and a few mistakes away from being 5-0 and nationally ranked. If they can do the things I pointed out in this blog, then they should be able to bounce back and have a successful season. They get their first chance this Saturday, when Louisville comes to East Hartford, for a Big East matchup. It’s homecoming for UConn, and with the game already sold-out, the team needs to play well if they don’t want their fans to give up on the season.
UConn hopes to avoid letting another team celebrate at the end of a game this season. (Hartford Couarnt Photo)