The day after a game is usually centered around reflecting on what transpired during a win or loss and following yesterday’s 52-12 defeat at the hands of Missouri, there were lots of areas that needed discussion. That’s exactly where today’s call with UConn head coach Randy Edsall began, as there was the detailed breakdown of each phase, an assessment of his quarterback, the entire team and cornerback Jamar Summers. But then the tone of the call changed to a much more serious note, one of improving people and it bled confidence in both the job currently being done and how things will be in the future. It also solidified that this program has the right person, in exactly the right position, at exactly the right time.
Randy Edsall IS UConn football in the FBS era, a program that he built and brought to five bowl games, four consecutive, including the Fiesta Bowl in his first stint with the Huskies. No one needs to be reminded of that, but it needs to be referenced as it only adds to the story. It helps one understand what this school, his players and this program mean to him. While he doesn’t need to come out and say it directly, you can see it, hear it and feel it from him when he reflects not just on his time here, but what happened upon his departure, all the way to where things are today. Even more, it’s those around the program, the ones who played for him and the family that he built, that are all behind him just as much as he supports them.
Today, Edsall opened up not just on what happened yesterday in the game, but with a bigger perspective, giving a look if only for a few minutes, at the responsibility he has tasked himself with, to bring UConn football back to prominence. It began when he responded to a question which asked now that the season is two-thirds complete, if there are areas to point to that show growth.
“There are strides that we made, but it’s still a consistency factor,” Edsall responded. “We can’t play consistent football long enough. As I looked at it, I thought there was a little bit of a deer in the headlights look with some of those guys. That’s stuff you relish as a competitor. When you have a chance to step-up against an SEC team, shoot, you need to bring your A-game. We didn’t bring our A-game, but this isn’t an overnight success, it’s nowhere close. I got a text this morning from a guy that played for me and graduated in 2008, I’m not going to mention his name, but let me just read this to you because I think this pretty much says it all.”
‘Stress your vision until they start to live by it. That’s what you did for us and it became a reality. Everyone’s vision of greatness is different. Continue to sell yours, show passion and it will become the culture again.’
“That’s what we don’t have,” Edsall continued. “We don’t have the culture that we had before. That’s the thing we need to get back. There’s progress, but it’s not quick enough for me, but we’ll just keep working at it.”
From there Edsall was asked about the mental mistake of CB Jamar Summers, who after making an interception late in the game, proceeded to throw the ball directly at the back of the intended receiver. Edsall again echoed his statement from last night, but added on, showing why he goes about discipline the way he does and the benefits it will have for all involved.
“That isn’t happening in this program,” he said sternly. “You don’t do that stuff. That is unacceptable. It’s not right. You don’t disrespect the game, the program or people doing that. That’s a selfish act and it was dealt with that way. There are still some things that could be, I want to do some more thinking, I want to talk to the leadership council a little bit, there might be some other discipline that goes with it because that’s one thing we are going to have. In this program we are going to have discipline. You can’t win without discipline, without doing things correctly all the time. If you want to be great, you need to do it 24-7, 365, from the time you get up in the morning, to the time you go to bed. Those are my expectations, that’s not going to change.”
“That’s what I’m trying to get done with these young men,” he continued. “Some of them will be able to do that and there’s probably going to be some that can’t do that, but I’m going to continue to do those things that I believe in, that I feel makes kids the best they can be and hold them accountable, give them the responsibility and discipline them when they don’t do things the right way. In the long run, acts like that hurt him and if we can eliminate that and we will eliminate it, then he [Summers] will be better off for that. That’s the bottom line. You need to be able to teach these kids lessons nowadays to make them be better, so they don’t jeopardize opportunities that they could get for themselves while they’re here or when they leave here and go out into the real world. And if you get that done, then you can win a lot more games on the field.”
Is that way of coaching, of developing young men and building a program more difficult than it was his first time here?
“I don’t think it will be hard at all,” Edsall responded. “I just think the culture is totally different than when I left here, to where it is right now. There’s plenty of people out there that want to come and be part of what we’re going to do and the success that we are going to achieve. I think you just need to find the right people, that’s the whole thing. When I say this, I want everyone to know I’m not knocking anyone, but it’s all about recruiting. I have a certain person that I look for in terms of recruiting. Those are the kinds of guys that will thrive in this program. I need to recruit those type of guys, the guys that want to be held accountable, the guys that want to be a student-athlete, they want to be the best student they can, the best person, the best athlete they can and they thrive on being coached, being given responsibility, but also being held accountable for everything they do.
EDSALL’S THOUGHTS ON SATURDAY’S PERFORMANCE ON OFFENSE, DEFENSE & SPECIAL TEAMS:
Saturday night’s performance can be described in one word, out-matched. It was apparent during the week that could be the case on film and when the teams stepped on the field, it became even more of a reality.
“Going into the game, we knew we were going to have to score,” Edsall said today. “When you take a look at it on offense, our first four drives, we had the ball on the plus-side of the field. We had 1st and 10 on the 45 on our first drive, couldn’t get anything going and ended up having to punt. The second drive, we were 1st and 10 on the plus-36 and had to settle for a field goal, which we missed, a 47-yarder. Then we had the ball 1st and 10 at the 25 and we ended up giving it up on downs. Then on the fourth series, we had 1st and goal from the five and couldn’t get it in and we had to settle for a field goal. We then went three-and-out and on the 6th drive, we self-destruct, had 1st and 10 at the minus-47 and ended up 3rd and 5 from the 48 and get sacked. That was the first half.”
The second half only got worse, opening with three straight three-and-outs.
“When you do that, you don’t give yourself a real good opportunity to win, especially when you play a team that can do what they can offensively,” Edsall added. “We had nine drops and we had twelve plays where we had either poor throws with open receivers, or we didn’t throw the ball to the right receiver who was open. So you’re talking about 21-plays that we don’t give ourselves the opportunity. From an execution standpoint, that was lacking offensively. Then we don’t convert on 3rd or 4th down throughout the game. When you’re only 10-of-26 on conversion downs offensively, that makes it a little bit tough.”
Despite the lack of execution, Edsall recognized it wasn’t for a lack of effort, especially from the quarterback position.
“I just didn’t think he had one of his better games,” he said of Bryant Shirreffs. “He didn’t throw the ball that well. He missed some guys and some of the balls just weren’t on target. He just didn’t have a real good game. I thought he competed, thought he tried and everything else, but he wasn’t as accurate and sharp from a decision-making process as he had been.”
And that was the unit that probably operated the best on Saturday. Defense?
“It was just missed tackles, missed assignments, guys not fitting where they’re supposed to and guys playing tentative,” Edsall said. “We had some opportunities there to get off the field, but the big thing that is killing us are the big plays, which totaled up this week to over 300-yards. They had twelve big plays for 304 yards. We need to clean that up and get better there.”
The third phase, special teams, saw some further errors, including a missed field goal and more inconsistencies in the punting game.
“When you’re playing a team like that, an SEC team, I knew we pretty well had to play a perfect game to give us an opportunity to win and we were far from that,” Edsall summarized. “[What do you do?] You take a look at the film. We talked to the kids already, they’re watching the film with the coaches, we’ll make those corrections and we’ll get started on South Florida today.”
MATT SCHONVISKY / SITE CREATOR