The Huskies are losing ground.
What started out as a season with fairly low expectations quickly blossomed into a season with hope and postseason potential after victories in UConn’s first two games. Now, the Huskies are 3-5 and patience is wearing thinner each week. After three consecutive losses to very good teams, UConn righted the ship with a victory over one of the worst teams in FBS, Central Florida.
But now the Huskies have suffered two straight losses, against South Florida and Cincinnati, and hopes of a bowl game are quickly slipping away. After this Friday’s contest with East Carolina, UConn plays a beatable Tulane squad, but then the Huskies must handle No. 18 Houston and No. 21 Temple- a tall order for postseason eligibility but UConn fans will still be looking for something positive to take into the offseason.
I don’t think its time to throw our hands up in their air and walk away from this team, at least not yet. It would be hard to argue that this season hasn’t been a vast improvement over the past three years of UConn football. The fact that we are still talking passionately about football in late October is a sign things are on the rise. However that doesn’t mean we can’t delve into some things that need to be corrected if the Huskies want to turn the corner.
UConn quarterback Bryant Sheriffs has thrown for 1,723 yards and seven touchdowns this season, not bad. He needs to learn to slide and iron out some accuracy issues, but overall he has played well. Out of the backfield, Arkeel Newsome has carried the ball 83 times for 412 yards. Considering where the Huskies ground game is coming from these numbers are alright, but Newsome needs help, especially from the offensive line. The offense also needs to show more variety and must do a better job of getting the receivers and tight ends involved.
Defensively, the Huskies have been struggling as well. UConn gave up 612 yards to Cincinnati last weekend. The last time UConn gave up that many yards to an opponent was in 2009 when the Bearcats put up 711 yards on Randy Edsall’s squad. Pass coverage has been terrible lately as the secondary has looked particularly vulnerable.
It would take a lot of improvement, and maybe some luck, for UConn to beat this ECU team, but at this point we are still allowed to believe. After that, the Huskies can beat Tulane and maybe, just maybe, pull off an upset against Temple or Houston. If they lost to both Top-25 teams and finished the year 5-7 that would be just fine. We could still go into the offseason with confidence for a resurgent 2016, especially if losses to Houston and Temple aren't blowouts.
But that's basically the best-case scenario. Right now, it’s getting harder to buy into what Diaco is selling us. Fans need to see better results. Even though a bowl game may not be in play late in the season, the Huskies will still be playing for something every week- the opportunity to prove that this program is moving in the right direction.
On Friday night, the Huskies will debut some fancy looking alternative uniforms under the lights at The Rent. I'm hoping we see an alternative performance from what we’ve seen the last two weeks.