KICKOFF: 7:00 p.m.
TV: ESPN2; WatchESPN (online)
ANNOUNCERS: Adam Amin (play-by-play), Mack Brown (color analyst) and Molly McGrath (sidelines)
RADIO: UConn IMG Radio Network (WTIC 1080 AM, WILI 1400 AM, WAVZ 1300 AM, WGCH 1490 AM), SIRIUS 84, XM 84, XM 84 (Internet), TuneIn Radio app
ANNOUNCERS: Joe D'Ambrosio (play-by-play), Wayne Norman (color analyst), Ken Sweitzer (sideline)
POINT SPREAD: Temple -10.0
SERIES HISTORY: This is the 17th time that UConn and Temple have met on the gridiron with the Owls holding an 11-5 advantage. Over the last eight games, the series is 4-4 with Temple winning in 2015, 37-3. UConn last beat Temple in 2013 by a score of 28-21.
Put away your pitchforks, angry internet mob. Bob Diaco isn’t going anywhere. Not any time soon at least.
He signed a contract extension through 2020 just this past offseason, and earned some goodwill with his boss by making a very generous donation for other sports’ facilities shortly after.
UConn can ill-afford to be paying a head football coach to not coach, which is what firing Diaco now would entail. Funds are about to get real tight in the coming years and the Foundation won’t bankroll a buyout with so many other priorities. This ain’t ‘Bama.
Diaco may not have deserved such a healthy extension, but he does deserve a chance to continue the building process. Recruiting has gone well, the program has moved forward, and his team is not yet led by players who he brought in.
The first group of seniors to have joined during the Diaco era will be players from the class of 2014 who didn’t redshirt, guys like Arkeel Newsome, Luke Carrezola, and Vontae Diggs, next year. This team is only just starting to take shape with Diaco’s guys, and we have to remember that building a quality football team given the unique circumstances at UConn is going to take time.
The most glaring problems ailing this team can be fixed. Bob needs to take responsibility for the mistake of hiring Frank Verducci to run his offense, and has finally taken corrective action with the promotion of David Corley into the role. Corley does not have playcalling experience either, but is an up-and-comer in the profession and, as a four-year starter at quarterback while at William & Mary, brings a different experience and perspective to running an offense.
The other glaring weakness on the offense is at quarterback. Bryant Shirreffs is a great guy, a tough, hardworking player, and a good student to boot, but his inability to throw the ball well downfield prevents him from being a suitable quarterback in the modern version of college football.
Remember, UConn has Shirreffs at QB because Casey Cochran had to retire due to concussions, or else this would be Cochran’s senior season. Who knows how much different things would be with him at the helm?
Regardless, the future is reportedly very bright with 2016 recruit Donovan Williams promising to be the answer under center Husky fans have been looking for since Dan Orlovsky’s graduation in 2004. 2017 recruit Jordan McAfee is also in the Williams mold and gives promise to UConn’s long-term health at the most important position on the field.
Lastly, this season is not over yet. Last year’s bowl odds had to have been much, much lower than they are right now given that UConn needed to beat either Houston, the eventual winner of the Peach Bowl over Florida State, at home or Temple, eventual AAC East champions and winners of 10 games on the season, on the road in addition to East Carolina at home and Tulane on the road.
This year, they need to win out against Temple, BC, and Tulane to qualify for a bowl game.
The Owls are solid, having taken down a really strong USF team, but are definitely not the stalwart they were last year. Perhaps a spark provided by a new offensive coordinator can push UConn to an upset. If they can pull that off tonight—a huge “if” I know—beating BC on the road and Tulane at the Rent in November is certainly doable.
I’m not saying it’s going to happen, just that last year’s team overcame far greater odds. Anything is possible in the wide, wonderful world of college football.
If we are to believe that the offense is the only thing holding UConn Football back—we have plenty of evidence to suggest that is the case—then we need Corley to show offensive improvement in these final three games and then we need to see if Williams really is the kind of player you can build an offense around.
2016 may be falling short of expectations, but it isn’t the end of the world. Give UConn a chance to turn this season around, because we know it’s possible with these guys. If it doesn’t work out the smartest path forward is to give Diaco a chance to right the ship next year in what would be a true make-or-break season.