637 days after its final game of the 2019 season, UConn football will take the field once again. As is customary at the start of any season, anticipation is mounting and our imaginations can’t help but think about the best-case scenario for this year’s Huskies.
Though Randy Edsall has not had much success thus far in his second stint in Storrs, he and his staff have recruited well to the point that some positional units are looking like they could be pretty decent. But others are just as much of a question mark as they were in 2018 or 2019.
Looking through our position group previews, we’re pretty excited about the defensive line and the front seven as a whole, but quarterback remains unsettled and much of the offense is also inexperienced, as are the defensive backs.
After sitting out 2020, some players may have benefitted. As I told the Mountain West Wire in our Q&A leading up to this Fresno State game, UConn at least avoided demoralizing losses, stayed healthy, and had a chance to get better and stronger in 2020.
But live reps really matter. It’s the reason Edsall went with a youth movement over the last few seasons. For the quarterbacks, the linemen, and anyone that’s tackling, there’s no substitute for the development that comes from live game action.
Ultimately, while we certainly have expectations that UConn has improved, we shouldn’t be expecting much today. Fresno State is not a juggernaut, but their offense is quite good and the Vegas oddsmakers see the Huskies as a four-touchdown underdog going into this Week 0 road game where the on-field temperature is expected to be around 100 degrees.
Edsall himself has implied that the approach today will be to get on the field and start to learn who he can count on going forward.
We’ve tried our hardest to be sober about expectations for this upcoming season, recognizing that a lot of tough teams appear on the schedule. But three or four wins and signs of improvement are not out of the question. That would be a solid outcome for the 2021 UConn football team.
Looking down the schedule at future opponents, the Huskies’ home opener is against FCS Holy Cross, which will not be an easy game, and their other FCS contest, against Yale in October, won’t be easy either. Those are still potential wins, though, as are UMass, Wyoming, Middle Tennessee State, and Vanderbilt, we think. There are probably no potential wins in the final three games of the season: at Clemson, at UCF, vs. Houston.
The season starts today, but as I said in our preview podcast, the healthiest way to look at this game is as an exhibition. It’ll be great for the players to get on the field, the score might not matter by the end of the game, but at least they’ll be playing football and maybe setting themselves up for success later in the year.
Here’s to meeting modest expectations and making UConn football fun again!