UConn football’s 48-14 drubbing at the hands of Syracuse was a sobering reminder that head coach Jim Mora still has a large program-building effort ahead of him.
Syracuse has looked like a confident team bound for a bowl bid in the first two weeks of the season, but the ease with which they moved the ball on the UConn defense and how equally simple it was to disrupt UConn’s offensive gameplan put this one out of the Huskies’ reach from the start.
But despite the lopsided final score, there are still plenty of lessons that UConn football can learn from how the game played out.
Back to old habits
Swanson: After holding CCSU to just three points in the second week of the season, the UConn defense was porous on Saturday night against Syracuse.
Syracuse had an average rushing performance but took special advantage of an extremely weak UConn secondary. Garrett Schrader averaged 10.9 yards per pass attempt, over a first down per dropback. The defensive backs struggled in both man and zone coverage, and the defensive line failed to generate any meaningful pass rush on the quarterback.
Any one of those circumstances makes it difficult to be competitive in a football game, but all of them combined lead to what we saw last night: Syracuse scoring in seven straight and eight of its opening nine possessions.
Kidwai: Syracuse dominated in all phases, and star RB Sean Tucker had a great performance. The added bonus for the Orange was their remarkable efficiency in the passing game.
The UConn secondary is going to get torn apart by lots of teams. Syracuse looks better than expected though, as well. I’m not sweating this loss, since it was expected, but would have liked to see a little bit more of a fight by the Huskies. The two scoring drives were promising for a young team led by a true freshman QB, and the big play TD from Aaron Turner was great. He took a screen pass 56 yards to the house; it’s nice to see the offense is capable of something like that against solid competition.
A long road ahead
Swanson: Next up, UConn travels to Michigan—fresh off a 51-7 win over Colorado State and a 56-10 thrashing of Hawaii—then visits an NC State team that defeated ECU and put up 50 against FCS Charleston Southern.
After taking on two Power 5 conference title contenders, the Huskies have a date at home against a Fresno State squad that blanked them 45-0 in the 2021 season opener and returns a large amount of its offensive firepower from that year. For UConn to keep its season from falling apart, it will have to weather the storm in the toughest stretch of its schedule and maybe land a few counterpunches along the way before the three-game stretch of the season where the Huskies have a better chance at competing.
Kidwai: This loss was worse than expected, but doesn’t really change the trajectory of the season. UConn needs to survive this upcoming three-game stretch and then has a chance to grab a couple of wins over the rest of the season. If the Huskies can beat UMass and FIU, compete against Ball State and Liberty, and avoid blowouts against BC and Army, that will be a nice way to close out the season.
For those looking for a silver lining to Saturday, it’s that FIU and UMass both appear to be really bad. Both lost big on Saturday, FIU to Texas State, 41-12, and UMass to Toledo, 55-10. As long as UConn handles its business against the two remaining beatable opponents, that would be a successful first year under Jim Mora.