Saturday, September 28, 2013

UConn lays an egg in road opener

Everything was in place for this to be the day where the UConn football team got things back on the right course.

With plenty of positive vibes coming off a spirited effort in a narrow loss to national powerhouse Michigan and facing what figured to be the weakest of the non-conference teams on its schedule there was a chance to head home with its first win of the season.

Instead, they will make it back to Connecticut with even more questions than they had before the embarked for Western New York.

After throwing two interceptions including one which was returned for a touchdown and a costly fumble on the third offensive play of the game resulted in a quick TD for the Bulls.

UConn actually outgained Buffalo 115-1 in the first quarter and were down 14-3. It would only get worse. The 41-12 final score actually makes it sound closer than it actually was.

“I thought we practiced well last week,” UConn Paul Pasqualoni said. “When we came over here I thought we were very focused. We had great meetings, a great walkthrough so the game starts how it started today and they keep going that way, we come out in the second half and force them to punt the ball and we couldn’t get anything going. It’s 28-12 and if we get one in now it is a game.”

UConn committed four turnovers that led to 17 points. Buffalo’s first 14 points were set up by a fumble and interception by Chandler Whitmer.

“That was completely my fault, no ifs, ands or buts about it, that was my fault,” offensive tackle Jimmy Bennett said. “I (messed) up. I set them up for a touchdown.”

There is actually more to Bennett's quote than that but there are some words that I simply can not put into my blogs or stories and a fired-up Bennett used pretty much all of them.

It was actually nice to see some emotion from Bennett. Too many times, including tonight, the same emotion-less answers come from the UConn players and from Pasqualoni as well. While guys going at each other is not good for team morale, at some point you would like to see some passion coming off a performance like this.

“There is not much to say,” Whitmer said. “We are not running well, we are not throwing well, we are not protecting well. There is a lot of things we have to fix, there’;s too much to talk about right now.”

Whitmer finished 10 of 24 passing for 182 yards with nearly half of those coming on completions to Deshon Foxx and Geremy Davis. Whitmer was replaced in the fourth quarter by redshirt freshman Casey Cochran. Cochran’s first pass came under heavy duress and resulted in an interception.

“It is demoralizing, there is no question,” Pasqualoni said. “The turnovers kill you and (especially) where the turnovers were (on the field).

“We just have to play better, you have to compete better and you have to make things happen and we just got beat out there.”

With a bye week there will be even more clamoring for UConn AD to make a move with Pasqualoni. With each passing game it seems more and more likely that a different coach will be at the helm of the Huskies in 2014. Manuel was on the sidelines when Pasqualoni walked off with a state trooper on either side of him. Manuel did not flinch, did not turn to say anything to Pasqualoni as the head coach walked by.

I asked Pasqualoni if these losses leave him doubting himself or his staff.

"I wish there was something I could have done to help them, there is no question," Pasqualoni said. "As a coach you always feel that way. I felt that was last week and if there was one thing we could have done differently and you always feel that way."

Another question is about the quarterback position. Whitmer again hurt the Huskies with the turnovers and Casey Cochran finished the game. Pasqualoni said true freshman Tim Boyle is the No. 2 quarterback but "I just didn't feel comfortable putting him in at this point."
UConn played without four starters — offensive tackle Kevin Friend missed his second straight game with a high ankle sprain, linebacker Graham Stewart was out for a second consecutive game with an ankle inury, a hamstring injury kept top receiver Shakim Phillips out once again and cornerback Taylor Mack missed the game with a shoulder injury.Davis was knocked out of the game with a leg cramps in the third quarter and finished with 102 yards on five receptions.


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