Thus far, the 19-game run of Randy Edsall’s second stint with the UConn Huskies has been high on hype, but low on results. After what we thought was bottoming out in his first season, his second year appears to be going worse, with a lone glimmer of hope coming in the form of a close loss on the road against USF last week.
If we are willing to give Edsall a pass for having no upperclassmen to start on defense, and if we’re willing to cut the team some slack for facing one of the toughest schedules in the country to open the season, then we actually would not be crazy to have some expectations going into this final stretch of the season, despite all the awfulness that has gone down so far.
UMass (ranked 104th in S&P+), Tulsa (99th), SMU (101st), and ECU (106th) are the next four games on the schedule. This young team needs to grow up right now and help prove that the hideous start to the season served the valuable developmental purpose their head coach keeps preaching.
With the already-modest bar of the program set to an all-time low, we’re forced to look at a new set of short-term goals: beat UMass, win something else this year, and give us some gotdang reasons to believe in 2019 being worth a damn. The rebuilding-and-coming-to-UConn-on-the-cheap leash is only so long.
UMass, Tulsa, and SMU in particular are quite weak on the defensive side of the ball, so maybe the Huskies actually can win a shootout against them. It’d be great to see David Pindell, who has been truly incredible, get some glory in a senior year that is highly unlikely to see a bowl berth.
Today’s game with UMass is important for morale purposes, in a way that Tulsa or SMU are not. If UConn can’t beat the other regional FBS upstart, that’s flailing as an independent, there is going to be hell to pay, and a lot of questions to answer about UConn’s position in the FBS and membership in the American Athletic Conference.
As it stands, the Minutemen are favored, but fans don’t expect to lose to UMass in anything. This is as close to a must-win as there can be for a 1-6 team that’s starting a junior varsity defense.
We need more, Randy and David Benedict, otherwise you guys can’t complain when fan support dwindles. You can only tank for so long, and its value is limited when there’s no first-overall pick in the balance... so how much longer will this last? All those freshmen who start are going to be sophomores next year, are they going to be that much better? Is the thinking that the only thing that matters is to be good in 2020, as negotiations for conference broadcasting rights begin? Will people forget the historically bad start to this season?
Regardless of the administrative chess being played, even the most hardcore fans can only hold on to hope for so long. The team is averaging 51.4 points allowed per game. Nothing else matters, there’s no use breaking down how the O-line matches up against their front seven, or how the passing game will fare against a shaky secondary, this team is going to give up close to 50 points every time out, and even allowed 49 to FCS Rhode Island in a very close game— their only win.
So, with five games left in another disappointing season for fans of UConn football, it is critical for the Huskies to put something positive on the record. This is their best chance. Attendance is declining around the country, but two straight years on non-competitive football after six years of two crappy coaches is a lot for fans in an area where college football is not even the fifth most popular sport, probably. I can’t imagine there are going to be thousands of people who’ll be willing to come back next year unless we see movement in the right direction.
Our motto for the rest of 2018: Do Something. Please.