KICKOFF: 4:00 p.m.
ANNOUNCERS: Chris Hassel (play-by-play), Matt Chatham (color analyst)
RADIO: UConn IMG Radio Network (WTIC 1080 AM, WILI 1400 AM, WAVZ 1300 AM, WGCH 1490 AM), SIRIUS 83, XM 83, XM 83 (Internet), TuneIn Radio app
ANNOUNCERS: Joe D'Ambrosio (play-by-play), Wayne Norman (color analyst), Ken Sweitzer (sideline)
POINT SPREAD: UConn -1.0
SERIES HISTORY: This will be the third time the two teams have faced each other, all as members of the American Athletic Conference. The series is tied at 1-1 with UConn winning in 2015 and Tulane in 2014. Both games took place in New Orleans.
S&P+ and F+/ both like Tulane, with the former ranking UConn 121st (125th offense, 84th defense) in the country, compared to Tulane sitting at 102nd (120th offense, 41st defense). The computers give the Green Wave a 60% chance of winning.
Fun with Numbers
18 - The number of seniors who will be playing their final game at Rentschler Field. Even though their time has not seen as many wins as hoped, these players deserve the respect of the fanbase for their time, effort, and dedication to representing UConn. This group dealt with some very trying times and decided to stick with the program through a rebuild. If you can’t respect the character it takes to work through those circumstances, go away.
11 - Tulane and UConn have combined to lose 11 games in a row, with the Green Wave falling in their last six and UConn dropping its last five. While American Athletic Conference Football has grown nicely since its inception and is having another good season this year, these two teams are holding up the rear. Tulane’s in its first year with a new head coach. What’s your excuse, Bob?
6 - UConn has six teams on the schedule with first-year head coaches, five at the FBS level. It was supposed to be an advantage for the Huskies despite what looked like a rather challenging schedule on the surface. In those games, however, UConn is 1-3 so far against FBS opponents and needed a last second field goal to get the win against the FCS opponent playing in its first game under a new head coach.
10 - The total number of points UConn has scored in two games against Tulane. One was under heavy rain, but this is still pretty bad, especially because there have been zero offensive touchdowns. Tulane has been no juggernaut either, posting 15 points in the two games.
UConn Football’s 2016 season will be ending with a whimper instead of the bang that so many were hopeful for when it started.
Despite posting disappointing, mostly uninspiring performances to start the season, the Huskies fought to a 3-3 record and offered some hope that their staid offensive strategy—the biggest obstacle between UConn and competent football—would successfully evolve out of necessity. Bryant Shirreffs and the offensive line had their limitations, but they had also shown some bright spots when the playcalling was done right.
Unfortunately, Bob Diaco responded to midseason adversity with some very questionable decisions and is now on thin ice after the offense continued to falter in five straight losses. He and the coaching staff allegedly made the decision to put true freshman Donovan Williams in at quarterback after the loss to Houston, but Wiliams suffered an injury, delaying his collegiate debut.
Instead of giving backup Garrett Anderson a chance, Diaco trotted out an injured Bryant Shirreffs and the redshirt junior gutted out games against Cincinnati, USF, UCF, and ECU despite a serious rib injury sustained in the UVA game. The story we were led to believe when Williams took over was that Shirreffs was benched for poor performance, which seems a bit unfair given what we know now.
Diaco said Bryant Shirreffs tried his best for the program but it just didn't work out. #UConn— Eric Weeks (@ericweeks28) November 22, 2016
The season began to fall apart after the loss to Central Florida, officially crumbled with the blowout loss at East Carolina, and then miraculously found a way to reach new lows with shutout losses to Temple and Boston College after finally bringing Williams in, burning his redshirt with three games left in the season. He was thrust into the fire on a short week against a very good Temple defense (#8 S&P+) before meeting Boston College’s defense (#24 S&P+) the following week. Tulane’s defense (#41 S&P+) is pretty solid as well.
So not only has the long-term future of a player been compromised, but he was also not put in a very good situation to succeed. Not only was an injured player on the field risking further injury, but he was also effectively thrown under the bus. Game and clock mismanagement is one thing, but poorly handling a student-athletes’ health or future prospects is much more troubling.
To make matters worse, Diaco also keeps spouting nonsensical barbs about how the games have been competitive and how he is optimistic about the program and knows how to fix it. It is insulting at best and at worst shows that he has very little respect for our intelligence.
Football coaches act in this way all the time. But usually, you need to be really successful to be filling the BS meter this high on a week-to-week basis.
Diaco will get 2017 to right the ship, it appears, but in the short run he needs to focus on avoiding another embarrassment on gameday and show a bit more respect for the message he is sending to the fans with his words. Every little bit counts.
This team’s postseason hopes are dead, but they’re still playing for pride. It would really suck to lay an egg on Senior Day and lay claim to being the season’s worst AAC football team, even if the past four games seem to indicate that this is where we’re heading.
Hopefully, Bob can salvage something positive in the final game of a 2016 season which we would soon rather forget. I’m getting really tired of those.