UConn is very thankful for Bill Stewart and his West Virgina Mountaineers. West Virginia beat Pittsburgh this afternoon 35-10 at Heinz Field, which means Pitt, West Virginia, and UConn are all currently tied for first place in the Big East. UConn holds the tie-breakers over both teams due to their head-to-head wins. All the Huskies have to do is take care of business against Cincinnati on Saturday at the Rent, and down in Tampa on December 4th against South Florida, and the Huskies will win the Big East and head to their first ever BCS Bowl (most likely in Arizona in the Fiesta Bowl).
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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.
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.
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.
Even though the UConn lost this past weekend to Pitt, there was one bright spot…the offense. Under Quarterback Cody Endres, the offense has continued to improve every week. This past week was no different. Watch this video for more insight on Cody and the Offense.
The defense, which came into the game ranked 4th in the nation, played well for the first 45 minutes, as they caused two turnovers and limited the Panthers to just 6 points. Robert Vaughn had two interceptions for the Huskies. However, the game is 60 minutes long, and the defense could not stop Pitt and quarterback Bill Stull. Stull hit Dorin Dickerson for a 27-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. The Panthers added a two-point conversion and then the game-winning field goal.
Like the defense, the Husky offense played well for the first three quarters, but in the fourth they were out gained 147 yards to 6 by Pitt. Cody Endres played pretty well in his third start of the season, with his only mistake being a fumble in the first half. He finished the day throwing for 197 yards and a touchdown, while completing 17 of 23 pass attempts. The Husky ground game was held in check for the most part. Andre Dixon ran for 95 yards and a touchdown, while Jordan Todman added another 43 yards.Husky captain and linebacker Scott Lutrus playing in his first game since week one because of a “stinger” injury, left the game in the first half with another “stinger” injury, and did not return to the game. His status is uncertain for the next game.
UConn drops to 3-2 on the season, and 0-1 in Big East play. They return to the field next Saturday, October 17, when the Louisville Cardinals travel to East Hartford. It will be the Homecoming game for the Huskies. Kick-off is at Noon.
This Saturday, the UConn Huskies travel to Heinz Field to play the Pittsburgh Panthers. The Panthers are coming off a win at Louisville, where they torched the Cardinals 35-10. The Huskies had a bye week, and should be well rested for the start of Big East play. Here are my “Keys to Victory” for the Huskies this weekend.
1) PLAYING SOLID DEFENSE
The Huskies will have their hands full as they have to prepare for a Pitt team who has shown they can score points….ALOT of points. Quarterback Bill Stull has been very efficient in leading the Panthers, who under Stull have averaged 37 points per game. Stull has thrown for almost 1000 yards this season, and is the top rated passer in the conference. This means the secondary must play well for the Huskies to have a chance to win. Jasper Howard, Robert McClain, and the rest of the Husky defensive backs have to perform well, and MUST limit, if not stop, big plays(plays over 20 yards).
2) Cody Endres…”Just Keep Doin Your Thing”
This is a very big game for Quarterback Cody Endres. It’s a homecoming of sorts for him(he’s from the Pittsburgh area), it’s his first Big East road game start, and it could be the game that ultimately decides if he is the QB the rest of the season. If Endres plays well it should solidify his position as the starting quarterback for the Huskies, no matter is Zach Frazer is healthy or not. Endres needs to just take care of the football(NO TURNOVERS), go through his progressions, and make the plays he’s capable of making. He doesn’t have to win the game by himself, as he has plenty of help right behind him in running backs Andre Dixon and Jordan Todman.
3) Be Sound In the Kicking Game
So far this season, Punter Desi Cullen and Kicker Dave Teggart have played exceptionally well. Cullen is leading the Big East in punting average and Teggart is perfect on extra points and has only missed 2 field goals. The Huskies will need their special teamers to have a big game. Field position, made field goals, and mistake free play are the keys for Teggart and Cullen. Specials teams have been a positive for UConn this season, and if that trend continues this weekend, it may just lead the team to a victory.
4) Play As A Team
The Huskies have played most of the season, and are one quarter away from being undefeated. One of UConn’s best attributes is the fact the team plays together and for each other. There is a lot of chemisty on this team and that is important come conference play. If the Huskies play together and play hard they should be able to come home from Pitt at 4-1 on the season and 1-0 in the Big East.