After a 51-26 thrashing at the hands of UCF in the last first conference game in the AAC, UConn football had a week full of tough practices and, at least in theory, should come back renewed for this weekend’s game against South Florida back at home. Head coach Randy Edsall’s mid-week press conference was an eventful one. Here’s what we learned.
With the program’s new policy of not disclosing player injuries, Edsall offered the first real look into the details of UConn’s seemingly random sequence of starting quarterbacks.
Mike Beaudry was named the starter before the season and had a solid, if unspectacular, start against FCS Wagner. He is the only UConn passer to earn a win in 2019, but picked up an injury in the process that, according to Edsall, kept him from performing up to his potential in that game. That same injury has kept Beaudry out of commission since — he hasn’t even been able to practice or throw.
That opened the door for Jack Zergiotis’ first start, a promising effort in the loss to Illinois — 21-31, 275 yards passing — and his second two, which were not as promising: a combined 15-31 with no touchdowns and two picks against Indiana and UCF.
Redshirt freshman Steven Krajewski showed some promise playing in relief of Zergiotis against UCF. He completed 22 of 33 passes for 273 yards and tossed UConn’s first three passing touchdowns of the year. Unfortunately, we found out earlier this week he suffered a broken clavicle in the final minutes of the first quarter on a 17-yard run.
,”After we got to the airport, I believe, Bob [Howard, head athletic trainer] told me that he was having trouble getting his pads off after the game,” Edsall said. “Something was bothering him and then in an exam the morning afterwards Bob just said that we’re going to have to do x-rays.”
So after all of that, a Beaudry at (hopefully) 100%, who apparently never truly lost his job to begin with, will start against USF and will be backed up by Zergiotis and Miles Foerester, a walk-on from Amherst, Massachusetts. Krajewski is out 6-8 weeks.
Huskies still thinking big, putting hope in their... defense?
From 10,000 feet, UConn’s defense hasn’t been as abject of a disaster as last year, a third of the way through the season. The historically bad defense from 2018 is now ranked in the top 100 in SP+, allowing 6.7 yards per play and .71 points per play — not amazing numbers by any means, but 22% and 14% better than 2018 respectively.
A good amount of UConn’s defensive improvement can be traced to new defensive coordinator Lou Spanos. Spanos’ job here is more impressive considering the depths that UConn sunk to last year, especially switching schemes halfway through the season.
“The biggest difference is simplicity. I think coach Spanos has done a great job making it easier to understand, he does a good job translating those concepts,” linebacker Ryan Gilmartin said. “The player-coach relationship is better, we’re all working towards one common goal.”
UConn is getting sacks at almost double the clip as last year, they’re allowing three fewer first downs per game, and they only need four more takeaways to surpass last year’s total.
UConn has to play someone next year, right?
Last week during Edsall’s usual press conference, he was asked a simple question about scheduling UCF in the future. It seemed to be taken well, and Edsall gave a simple answer.
“We’ve had discussions with UCF (about scheduling),” Edsall said last week. “There are some teams from the AAC that you still want to play because it makes sense from a recruiting standpoint.”
UConn and UCF have history, however sketchy and misguided, and Edsall has said in the past that he likes to recruit in Florida, sucking up talented players that the big programs pass over. UConn has 10 players on the roster from Florida, including starters Beaudry, Matt Drayton and Keyshawn Paul.
When asked this week about scheduling, he apparently had a change of heart on the subject.
“I could give a s*** about the schedule going forward. Let’s just play one at a time,” Edsall said. “Goddamn. Who cares about next year and the year after and all that bulls***.”
With eight games left to fill in the Huskies’ 2020 schedule, UConn fans and the media covering the team could be forgiven if they’re wondering where all the game announcements are coming from. Edsall ended his press conference after that question.