You know who has the easiest job in America this week? Chuck Heater.
Who's Chuck Heater? He happens to be the defensive coordinator for the Temple University football team and his job this week is to game plan for the UConn offense, headed by George DeLeone.
How long do you think it's gonna take to get a handle on what UConn plans to do next Saturday against the Owls? If I said 15 minutes, would you take the over or the under? Me? I'm taking the under.
I have no idea if Heater is good at his job. It doesn't matter. Even the worst math professor at UConn would do just fine preparing for a third-grade multiplication test. Heater has presumably watched tape on offensive schemes that have been used in the last 45 years. That means he's already two steps ahead of DeLeone.
It's not really worth breaking down UConn's loss to Rutgers. It's the same song and dance. It's the same thing we've seen for a year and a half. What I'd rather talk about is a true love story. Maybe we should call it Sleepless In East Hartford, with Tom Hanks playing George DeLeone and Meg Ryan playing Run Up The Middle For No Gain. It's a sweet tale of one offensive coordinator's obsession with one play. The odds are against them, but DeLeone won't be denied his passion. Come hell or high water, he and his beloved play call will ride off into the sunset together holding hands (hopefully, very soon).
Andrew hit on the pertinent points right after the game. He's spot on about the sequence at the end of the first half. Failing to use even one time out and settling for a 50+ field goal attempt was a case study in ineptitude that doubles as a microcosm of Paul Pasqualoni's tenure as a coach. It was bumbling, fumbling and embarrassing. Even more embarrassing, as Andrew pointed out, is the fact that running back Lyle McCombs was allowed to play after being arrested for allegedly yelling at, pushing down, and spitting on his girlfriend. Pasqualoni has preached representing the program with dignity. If what was stated in the police report is true, then McCombs failed that standard miserably and deserved much harsher punishment. If Pasqualoni has reason to believe McCombs isn't at fault, then he should say so publicly.
The irony is that, if Pasqualoni looked the other way when it comes to McCombs' indiscretions because he needed his best offensive player on the field in what had become a very important game for PP, it was a worthless sacrifice of morality, as McCombs' presence made no difference.
That's because PP and DeLeone failed in the most basic responsibility of any coach. Coaches cannot perform on the field so it's ultimately about athletes, however, a great coach (hell, an adequate coach) puts their players in the best possible situation to succeed. They maximize strengths and mask weaknesses. They know what their players do well and what they don't do well.
Pasqualoni and DeLeone do the opposite. Their run-on-first-down predictability is laughable at this point. Barry Sanders couldn't have success in an offense that broadcasts its intentions like this. The play calling seems designed to put UConn in third-and-long situations. That means their first-year quarterback, playing behind a suspect offensive line, is constantly in must-pass mode. Does that seem like a recipe for success to you?
Andrew brought this up and it's worth mentioning again. This offense has some talent. The quarterback is pretty good. Sure, he's gonna make mistakes, but he can also make plays and hit receivers down the field. They also have a talented tight end in Ryan Griffin and an athletic wide receiver with good hands in Geremy Davis. They have weapons. What they don't have is a coaching staff that seems capable of utilizing them.
The shame of it is this defense is very good. No, they haven't produced the type of pressure on the quarterback they did in the first two games of the year, but Rutgers had been putting up points coming into today's game and UConn's defense, on the road, only allowed one offensive touchdown. But they can't be expected to win games single-handedly.
I can't imagine how frustrated Don Brown is right now. If I were him, I would probably be lighting brown paper bags filled with dog shit on fire and leaving them on DeLeone's doorstep just to relieve some stress.
His defense is fighting, clawing and scratching every minute just to hand the ball back to an offensive coordinator drooling at the opportunity to run it on first down...for no gain.
And if that is the reality it's almost impossible to look at the rest of the schedule and have hope for a win.