UConn is going to be lucky to win three football games this season.
That's the only conclusion I can come up with after a game in which the Huskies scored a total of three offensive points against the SEC's 10th, 11th or 12th-best team; a game in which the Huskies had 18 points completely gift-wrapped by same; a game in which they had a seven-point lead against a team whose QB couldn't run a three-step drop without tripping over two UConn defensive linemen.
UConn's 24-21 loss to Vanderbilt Saturday night was absolutely disgraceful, not because it was a loss to Vanderbilt, a team that may score negative points against the better SEC teams. Nor was it disgraceful because it was a game that the Huskies deserved to win - they didn't. It was disgraceful because it shows that the new UConn football coach is just as stubborn as the old UConn football coach.
Whatever Pasqualoni's justification for sticking with Johnny McEntee (who put up a disastrous 10-for-27, 99-yard, 3-INT line), it is wrong, and he is wrong. Even if McEntee is "THE GUY" - even though officially, he Scott McCummings and Mike Nebrich are still listed as joint No. 1 QBs - McEntee showed no pocket presence, threw balls with no zip, repeatedly threw into coverage, showed almost no accuracy (how many passes to the flat were incomplete?!).
Pasqualoni stuck with that guy for four quarters in the face of all available evidence, and that's inexcusable.
In a situation where punting would have been FINE (up seven, 7:00 left, 3rd and mega-long), Pasqualoni decided THAT was the time to eschew his Edsallian run-up-the-middle offense, take THAT GUY and ask him to make a low-percentage play. Which, of course, ended with the game-breaking pick-six that got Vanderbilt right back in the game.
That's also inexcusable.
This is no time to make knee-jerk decisions about the viability of Paul Pasqualoni as UConn's head coach. But after two weeks - one game against a below-average FCS team, one against friggin Vanderbilt - I'm not impressed. And unless things turn around quickly, this season is going to get very, very ugly.
The offense has actually REGRESSED from the Edsall days, which is frankly, amazing. The play-calling - awful. The quarterbacking - dreadful. The receiving - not even worth mentioning (outside of our tight end). The offensive line and running back are fine, but there's not much they can do when 10 guys are in the box. The defense is very good, but they ain't scoring two touchdowns a game. Meanwhile, UConn hasn't scored an offensive touchdown against a Division I-A team in 183 minutes of football. That's three games-plus (USF, Oklahoma, Vanderbilt) and counting.
Maybe I'm expecting too much from a team that needed a historically lucky season just to go 5-2 in a terrible conference to make the BCS game. I'm fully aware that UConn has never really had a "good" team in a "favored against most of the teams on its schedule" sense, so it's not like the Huskies are that far off from they were last year. (Imagine some of those fluky 2010 wins, except add four UConn turnovers.)
The last time UConn lost to Vanderbilt was in 2002 - that time, by a 28-24 score. That year, the seniors on UConn's team had been recruited to play in the Atlantic-10.
I have no problem lowering my expectations for this program from "not falling far from an 8-5 season" to "hey, as long as we're roughly as good as that 2002 team that won six games playing the MAC and Sun Belt". We all knew this was a possibility with the personnel losses UConn suffered.
I guess I just figured it'd be longer than two weeks before we got to that point.