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WATCH: Edsall Hoping Youth on Defense Pays Off Later

The Huskies are playing mostly freshmen and sophomore on defense.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

UConn football’s defense is bad. Really bad. Currently, they’re on pace to be the worst defense in the 21st century. Since 2000, the Huskies are the only team to give up at 2,000 total yards in their first three games and are allowing 9.62 yards per play, two yards more than anyone else in the past 10 years.

Head coach Randy Edsall understands it hasn’t been good. He knows the stats. But with so much youth, all he can do is keep slowly developing the players as the season goes on.

“I know the number aren’t good and all that stuff,” he said. “I don’t care who you are, if you’re playing as many young guys as we are, you’re not going to have the stats.”

On this week’s defensive depth chart, UConn lists six freshmen starters and five more are listed as backups. They have just five upperclassmen total on the defensive side of the two-deep. If Edsall had a choice, he wouldn’t be playing so many young players so early in their careers. But he doesn’t have much of a choice.

“They’re not ready. But that’s the situation that we’re in,” he said. “These kids are just coming from high school. They’ve had 25 practices and you see certain improvements every game. But is it going to be exactly where we want it? No. But it’s a process that you have to go through with these kids.

“Now if they’re not putting in effort and they’re not trying, that’s a different story. But they’re not big enough weight wise, they’re not strong enough yet weight wise. But what else are we going to do?”

It’s a slow, long process to rebuild the defense from the ground up. Results like the Huskies’ 56-49 win over URI will likely be commonplace this season. All Edsall wants is the players to keep working hard to improve.

“If we can get them to keep playing hard, keep giving a great effort each and every day in practice and the meeting rooms, it’s going to pay off for us,” he said. “We gotta take some lumps now, it is what it is. But the one thing is these kids are trying and they’re trying to do everything.”