Thursday, October 09, 2014

What a difference a year makes?

There's been a lot of talk about progress since Bob Diaco arrived on the scene. He has spoken about the team getting better on more than one occasion.

With the losses piling up and especially the way the mistake-prone Huskies are losing the games has led to frustration expressed by fans who aren't seeing that improvement when the Huskies take the field. I get it, I really do. Fans, players and coaches want to see immediate results and they have simply not come.

Just to satisfy my own curiosity, I decided to do a comparison/contrast deal through five games a season ago and heading into game No. 6 this year. For the sake of full disclosure, so much has changed to it is risky to reab too much into the comparison. The systems of offense and defense are different, by my count 23 players have made their collegiate debuts this season including eight starting for the first time. Also, other than matchups with South Florida, the opponents faced by the Huskies were completely different. However, even with all that being said, here is the result of my number crunching.

Let's start with the most stunning numbers based on how little they have changed. UConn has run for exactly the same number of yards (390) through five games in each of the last two seasons, gave up only one more point while starting 0-5 a season ago as it has during the 1-4 start in 2014. The Huskies had one more third-down conversion in 2013 than they have this year and gave up three more sacks at this point a season ago than they have surrendered this season. Also, considering all the turnover issues, it is interesting that the average scoring drive of UConn opponents hasn't really changed as it was 52 yards per drive in '13 and it is 51.5 this season.

Here is more of the breakdown

UConn's run defense has made remarkable strides cutting a full yard off the yard per carry of UConn opponents as rushing yards have dropped from 892 yards to 560.

The Huskies have made outstanding progress on special teams especially the kickoff return unit which has sliced the average yard per return by nearly 50 percent. The punt return numbers have also moved in the positive direction in a major way as the Huskies went from averaging 2.4 yards per return last season to 13 per attempt to date in 2014.

The Huskies are also possessing the ball for an additional 2:37 per game this season and a large chunk of that can be traced to the Huskies' third-down conversion defense dropping from 37 percent in 2013 to 32 percent this season.

For all the talk of UConn's turnover issues on offense, there have been problems on defense as well. After five games in 2013 UConn had six interceptions and caused 10 turnovers but this year there has been only one interception and five takeaways.

As much as UConn's offense struggled a season ago, the Huskies somehow have managed 25 fewer yards per game which I didn't think was possible. The Huskies have also given up five more tackles for loss than they did in '13. I'm not sure if this is positive or not, but last season UConn allowed 14 more tackles for loss than it recorded and this year the number is at minus 15 so I guess status quo is better than seeing a larger drop in the number.

The pass defense numbers are not pretty. Last year the quarterback ratio of opposing passers was 110.5 and this year it is a stunning 146.2. Opposing teams have seen their passing yard number increase by more than 20 percent even though the Huskies have lowered the average yard per reception by nearly three yards. It hasn't helped that after opposing quarterbacks completed less than half of its passes through the first five games in 2013, the number has jumped to 63 percent.

The penalty numbers are also concerning as UConn has 81 more penalty yardage through five games than it did a season ago. Not as much has been made of it because of the absurd number of penalties by UConn's opponents.

UConn has also doubled its number in the fumbles lost department with two of them being returned for touchdowns and the other four putting the defense in no-win situations.


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