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Takeaways: UConn football loses badly to Purdue

Lou Spanos’ interim reign as head coach got off to a rocky start

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

UConn football had another clunker in its third game of the season, falling to Purdue at home, 49-0. The Huskies showed signs of competence, and with a young team that may be all we get for most of the season.

Here’s what we learned after the third game.

Steven Krajewski deserves to continue as the starter

Aman Kidwai: Taking over after two weeks of the turnover-prone Jack Zergiotis, Steven Krajewski showed some potential. He made a few good throws and was close to getting a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Compared to the offensive performance against Fresno State, the offense was slightly more efficient and productive, though it’s still looking for its first points of the season. Krajewski also showed some playmaking ability with his legs, including some scrambles for yardage and others that let him get a decent angle for a throw.

Dan Madigan: Krajewski looked solid if unspectacular in his season debut. He showed some promise with his legs and an ability to connect on deep throws on the few chances he took downfield. His ability to run should help the offense tremendously, as the Huskies can take advantage of the extra blocker to compensate for the struggling offensive line. As of now, he seems to be a better decision maker than Zergiotis and the ability to run on both designed plays and broken ones adds another dimension to an offense that needs all the help it can get.

Offensive line struggles

Madigan: The longer UConn goes without scoring a touchdown, the more obvious it becomes that the offensive line — originally expected to at least be average or slightly better, is getting overmatched by opponents. They’re failing to open running lanes for Kevin Mensah, Nate Carter and the other running backs, and rarely gave Krajewski enough protection to look for anything other than a first or second option before taking off to scramble. There’s still some hope that this unit can turn it around, but poor line play could continue to make this offense look worse than it really is.

Receiving options emerging

Aman: With Matt Drayton and Cam Ross out for the season with injuries, UConn is looking at a bunch of mostly new names in the passing game. Heron Maurisseau, Cameron Hairston, and senior Jakhai Gill were the leading receivers and each delivered a big, exciting play. They need to make a lot more of them in the future, but at least it’s happening a little.

Madigan: I really like this core of receivers that’s coming up this season. Marisseau and Hairston seem to consistently get decent separation, and Gill looks to be a solid option over the middle. Here’s hoping they can continue to improve throughout the season and Krajewski can consistently hit them when they’re open.

This is a restart

Aman: Given the change at the top of the program and the desire to change the team’s philosophy, this was basically another Week 1. Purdue was expected to beat UConn by a lot. That was the expectation of oddsmakers this week and most sane minds before the start of the season. The Huskies can still salvage some pride with better performances against Wyoming, UMass, Yale, and heck maybe even Vanderbilt. With that in mind, thanks to Purdue for being a partner in our development. Army will provide another test next week but will certainly be favored by a lot. At this point, the hope must be for the team to gel and shake off any rust by the middle of the season. So far we’re seeing baby steps but it may not be enough to avoid deeper embarrassment this season.

Madigan: I agree with Aman. It’s also important to remember that outside of the bad Holy Cross loss, UConn was never expected to win this game, even with the preseason “buzz” around the program under Edsall. Army is an extremely tough test, and Wyoming is no slouch either, but we should have a much better idea of how this team reacts to Spanos when they take on teams much closer to their talent level in Vanderbilt, UMass, Yale and Middle Tennessee State. There’s still enough talent on the roster to win at least one or two of those games, and it’s up to Spanos and the remaining coaching staff to make it happen.