Bob Diaco and his staff have taken the time to evaluate the Huskies' performance at Missouri, but will need to make a shift in defensive mindset again when they host Navy and their triple-option offense this Saturday. Once again, there were no adjustments to the depth chart which the Huskies opened the season with.
Vegas Insiders has the Huskies hovering in the neighborhood of 6-point underdogs this Saturday when they host Keenan Reynolds and a Navy team which Bob Diaco called perhaps the best one he has faced dating back to his experience as a defensive coordinator at Notre Dame, adding that they are the stiffest competition UConn will face through four games.
Despite the loss to Missouri on Saturday, there were many positives from that game. Most notably the way UConn's defense continued to step up in what Diaco called "sudden change" situations, where they would unexpectedly have to defend a short field after a turnover, missed field goal or short punt. The stellar defensive effort also included a big 4th-and-goal stop to keep the game alive.
Diaco also had a chance to address his decision to go for a fake field goal on their last play down 9-6 as time was winding down. He said he would probably still go for it but instead send the offense out there if he had another chance at that call.
Hindsight is obviously 20/20, but UConn's offense was not executing at a high level either at that point. Diaco stated he was pleased with the offensive line's performance, and that other issues kept the offense from producing.
The actual decision to go for another fake field goal understandably drew the ire of many Husky fans, but ultimately you have to appreciate him going for the win right there. The odds of UConn winning in overtime, with the kicking game struggling the way it had, on the road, against a nationally-ranked team was probably pretty low. In Diaco's defense, he is a second-year head coach making a split-second decision. Plus, who would have thought UConn would have the ball down three points against Missouri with a chance to win the game? Nobody, not even the most optimistic of fans.
Through three games this season it is becoming very clear that it is time to raise expectations for this season. While most people following the program were expecting another building year, Diaco and his staff have taken this team to a level few thought it would reach this quickly under the circumstances. The Huskies should be able to keep it close against Navy and legitimately compete in the American this season, which is incredible.
In other positive news for the program, ESPN's Brett McMurphy reported that UConn will count as a "Power 5" opponent in the Big 10 rules for non-conference scheduling. While this is NOT conference realignment news, it is very promising for UConn's future scheduling prospects. A quick glance at the upcoming non-conference slate shows one opening in 2018 and two each in 2019 and 2020. UConn now moves up the list for any Big Ten team looking to fill out their non-conference slate in those years and beyond.
With Navy coming to town this weekend, UConn is essentially facing a bigger, faster, more experienced version of what they faced against Army in Week 2. Senior quarterback Keenan Reynolds is coming off a five-touchdown performance against East Carolina on his way to earning AAC Offensive Player of the Week honors in their 45-21 win over the Pirates. The Huskies defense has faced three offenses to this point with dual-threats under center, hopefully they are ready for this one.
We'll preview Navy in full later this week and do a Q&A with a Navy writer as well. In the meantime, be very encouraged by the way UConn battled a ranked SEC team on the road and buy tickets to the Navy game on Saturday! This is a much better team than we expected, embrace it!