The 2016 football season has not gotten off to the best start for Bob Diaco and the UConn Huskies, and it’s no secret the performance of the offense is the biggest culprit.
No one of the three losses on its own is particularly disappointing, but losing to both Syracuse and Navy, while looking far from impressive in two wins, has not inspired much confidence in a team which had (modest) expectations going into the season.
UConn found itself in a similar situation last year. After falling to 3-5 with a big loss at Cincinnati, postseason chances were looking grim. With the season circling the drain, the defense stepped up in a big way as the Huskies took two unexpected wins over East Carolina and, miraculously, Houston. Despite putting up zero offensive points against Tulane, UConn won thanks to an interception returned for a touchdown to score the game-winning points.
We’re going to have to hope for a sequel from the defense this year because so far there are little signs of progress offensively. So much of this year’s expected improvement hinged on better play from that side of the ball, particularly at quarterback and the offensive line. They have not delivered.
“We need greater execution on offense,” Diaco said earlier this week, going on to emphasize that he’d like to get the ball to Arkeel Newsome a bit more and adding that young receivers Tyraiq Beals and Aaron McLean have untapped potential. Bob also didn’t shy away from taking responsibility for the coaching staff’s role in the offensive failures, which is good because they probably deserve the most blame.
We have repeated over and over here that the Huskies need to shift the offensive strategy given the overwhelming evidence for when it is most successful. Going into the Houston game, UConn had the 36th-best passing success rate in the country. The offense has been able to move the ball swiftly and efficiently with a spread passing attack. How has a more permanent adjustment not yet been made?
Perhaps even worse, this offensive ineptitude is having an adverse affect on the defense.
“They do have a lot of pressure on them right now,” Diaco said of his defense. “Because of the lack of offensive production.
“There was a moment (against Houston),” he further explained, “where they cracked in the second quarter. You can’t [fall down 14-0] and feel you just cost your team the game. That shouldn’t be a mentality.”
If the defense truly is impacted so greatly by the lack of offensive production, then the impetus is as strong as ever for an overhaul. If a change is in the works, the staff certainly won’t be telling the media and giving their opponent advance notice, but Diaco’s words seem to suggest something will be different schematically. It better.
At this point, if the offense fails to make some changes, and soon, it will be time to ask some tough questions about the personnel and the people in charge while we hope for another series of defensive miracles to salvage the season.