Sunday, November 29, 2015

"Pitiful" offensive performance dooms UConn

Of all the words Bob Diaco uttered during the press conference following a 27-3 loss at Temple, the one that resonated the strongest was "pitiful."

"It was pathetic" was how Diaco referred to the offensive performance as the Huskies didn't surpass the 100-yard mark in total offense until midway through the fourth quarter and finished with just 138 yards of offense.

Diaco, to his credit, was basically asked the same question on three different occasions as some people joined the press conference a little late as I assume they went to Temple's question and answer session first. The first time he was asked about what the Owls' defense did to shut the Huskies down provided the best response.

"Guys in the backfield, pouring through the backfield. We couldn't get plays started, bad reads, poor off-target passing. It was pitiful.

"You prepare hard, everybody worked hard, the players showed up and were ready emotionally and we did a poor job of coaching them."

If anything positive could be said about what UConn tried to accomplish on offense, at least they did not stand pat.

Bryant Shirreffs, who started the first 11 games of the season, was in uniform and did some throwing in drills before the game but it was Tim Boyle who got the start. Boyle and Garrett Anderson each saw time at quarterback as did star receiver Noel Thomas as he served as the QB when UConn used the wildcat formation.

"We were not going to do a QB run with Tim so what are you going to do?" Diaco said. "It could have been something that could have created production, we were just trying to create some production.

"We had two of our best players out, outside of Noel and Arkeel (Newsome), the starting quarterback and not having him and a great, great player in (injured tight end) Tommy Myers, he is a big loss. We needed to use a lot of different things to try to create some production and it didn't work."

Myers suffered a season-ending ankle injury in last week's win over Houston. When he was injured the Huskies used Anderson at fullback as well as running backs Max DeLorenzo and Josh Marriner. There was a new wrinkle when sophomore linebacker Luke Carrezola saw time at fullback and even caught a pass. But for all the wrinkles, it still came down to the fact that Temple dominated the Huskies up front.

"They didn't do anything special other than overpower us," Thomas said. "We need to make sure we are coming if we are fortunate to have a bowl game, make sure we are confident up front and execute the way we should."

On the injury front Diaco said that Shirreffs is "still day to day. he looks way better. He is cleared for activity. I fully anticipating him practicing this week."

Junior linebacker Matt Walsh was knocked out of the game with a lower body injury. Diaco did not have specific details

"His spirits are high," Diaco said. "They (UConn's medical staff) were encouraged. I don't want to speculate but they all seem encouraged/"

A few notes, coming into the game UConn was twice held to 129 yards of total offense since making the jump to the FBS level and it looked as if that mark would fall as the Huskies had 65 yards of offense heading into the fourth quarter before finishing with 138. UConn's nine rushing yards is the lowest total at the FBS level for the Huskies.

Andrew Adams tied for the team lead with eight tackles with fellow safety. That gives Adams exactly 250 tackles as he is the 23rd UConn player to reach that mark. Also, Thomas' five catches gives him 54. Since the 2005 season Thomas and Geremy Davis are the only Huskies with 50 catches in a season. Bobby Puyol's 45-yard field goal was his 15th this season which is tied for sixth in program history.

UConn now has to wait to see which bowl it will play in. The announcement is expected to come on Dec. 7 although between now and then reports will start to surface of teams accepting bids into specific bowl games.

For those wondering, here is the list of the players with at least 250 career tackles

Player                          Seasons   Tackles
John Dorsey                   80-83          495
Lawrence Wilson           07-10         449
Troy Ashley                   86-89         428
Maurice Lloyd               01-04         412
Mike Jansen                   84-87         394
Vernon Hargreaves        80-83         393
Alfred Fincher               01-04          357
Paul Duckworth            90-93          354
Dennis O'Connell          76-78          341
Yawin Smallwood         11-13          332
Paul Zenkert                  91-94          312
Brad Keatley                 94-97          311
Uyi Osunde                  99-03           292
Mark Michaels             82-85           290
Abbott Burrell              86-89           288
Terrance Smith             00-03           280
Sio Moore                     09-12           274
Rob Belucore                89-92           274
James Hargrave            02-05           271
Jamar Wilkins               97-00          270
Rich Fenton                  73-75          266
Lou Donato                   81-84          257
Andrew Adams             12-15          250


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