Saturday, September 02, 2006

Getting defensive

Randy Edsall was somewhat neutral in his comments concerning the play of his defensive unit Thursday night.

The University of Connecticut head coach knew the defense had a lot to work on, but wasn’t overly critical following the Huskies’ 52-7 season-opening win over Rhode Island at Rentschler Field.

By Friday morning, after reviewing the game tape, Edsall’s outlook regarding the play of his defense turned to disgust. Glaring errors, breakdowns in coverage and, most troubling, a perceived lack of focus by the unit drastically changed Edsall’s mood.

“I said to them this morning this isn’t the 2005 or 2004 defense,” Edsall said. “It’s the 2006 defense, and you have to earn your stripes. I think they thought they had their stripes already earned after last season.”

A quick glance at the final statistics might not reveal much as to why there’s cause for concern. The Rams gained a modest 198 yards rushing while passing for a mere 95.

The reality is Rhode Island, a Division I-AA team, ran their option rather well against a UConn team vastly superior in terms of talent and depth. The Rams also ripped off three plays that resulted in big gains – including a 25-yard touchdown pass – and had opportunities for at least two more on downfield passes that were dropped.

Edsall blasted his secondary for defending the option run poorly and his linebackers for failing to make the correct reads in certain situations.

“They lacked the discipline and focus they need to have against an offensive team like that. I was very disappointed,” Edsall said. “It wasn’t the big plays that got us in trouble on defense but it was the nickel and dime stuff downfield, allowing five, six, seven yards at a time that hurt us.
I saw guys with their eyes where they didn’t belong, running around like chickens with their heads cut off, dropping interceptions. We didn’t go and attack their blocks the way we should have.”

Meanwhile Edsall praised the offensive unit, which scored on eight of its 10 possessions. Quarterback D.J. Hernandez showed patience and poise in the pocket while the running backs and offensive line simply dominated the outmanned Rams.

“Our offense was extremely efficient,” Edsall said. “I don’t care who you’re playing, it’s a pretty good feat in itself to score 80 percent of the time you have the ball. I’ll take that any time.”


Blogger ScottVib said...

The option play was terrible, to the point where it seemed anytime URI was left with 4th and 5 or less, the went for it, called the option, and converted. If the play doesn't improve significantly, then the Navy game becomes a very scary matchup for UConn.

September 02, 2006 12:56 PM 

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