During yesterday’s win over Tulsa, the second straight for the Huskies, UConn dominated the score-line for more than three quarters, going up 20-0 with just 8:33 to play. After having a chance to review film, head coach Randy Edsall wasn’t very excited about the performance, especially given how the game ended, with a last second pass break-up by LB Junior Joseph that saved the game as time expired.
“As you watch the game tape, I was very pleased that we won the game and some of the good things we did in the game, but we have a lot of things that we need to clean up as we get ready again this week,” Edsall said this afternoon. “I think we should have their full attention today as we watch the film and then as we get ready to go this week. As I said after the game, we had an opportunity to really put that game away and we didn’t take advantage of it. I thought we got a little gassed there on defense and when we did, we lost our focus a little bit because we didn’t play some of those plays as well as we did early.”
Offensively, the team left points on the board and didn’t do a good job at the line of scrimmage.
“I didn’t think we won the physical battle up front, most especially offensively,” Edsall said. “We only had 1.6 yards per carry. I thought we got handled up-front on the offensive line. I don’t think we got any push up there and we couldn’t score touchdowns when we had 1st and goal from the 5 and 1st and goal from the 3-yard line. Those are times when we need to come away with touchdowns, not field goals.”
Defensively, Edsall wasn’t happy with the explosive plays, especially given that there were thirteen such plays given up on Saturday.
“The one thing that’s a concern defensively, we gave up 13-explosive plays for 305-yards,” he verified. “They had 8-runs of 12-yards or more for 143-yards and 5-passes of 20-yards or more for 162-yards. They had 72-plays, but 59 of them went for 148-yards and 13-plays for 305-yards and that’s where we need to get better defensively. We had breakdowns there at the end of the game that should have never happened and we just need to get those corrected.”
Despite the issues that will be addressed throughout the week, Edsall also recognized a lot of good things that took place on both sides of the ball. Defensively, he’s been vocal the last two weeks with the media when discussing DT Foley Fatukasi and how he wanted to see more from him on gameday. Yesterday, Fatukasi delivered with nine tackles, two sacks and getting consistent pressure in the middle of the line.
“I thought he played better,” Edsall confirmed. “We challenged him a little bit this week. He needs to do that on a consistent basis. He did [play well], he got some sacks, attacked more and that’s what we’ve been working and telling him he needs to do. Now let’s go do that this week and do it even better.”
Offensively, Edsall liked the performance from QB Bryant Shirreffs, who finished 23-of-29 for 372 yards and the one long touchdown on the flea flicker to WR Hergy Mayala that went for 80-yards.
“I thought he did his job,” Edsall said. “When you do that, you have a chance to be productive. He didn’t turn the ball over. There were still some mistakes, but for the most part, he just went out there, executed the game-plan and just did his job. When you do that, you have a chance to play well.”
One area the Huskies dominated in was the field position battle, as Tulsa consistently had a long field in front of them.
“It makes it a lot easier to play defense when their average starting drive was the minus-19 yard line,” Edsall said. “When they have to go 81-yards or after kickoff, 75-yards or longer, that’s a good job. We did a really good job with field position yesterday, making them go a long way all the time.”
Edsall was asked this afternoon how he sets up trick plays throughout the game and what gets recognized on film during game preparations.
“I don’t make any of those calls,” he said. “All the calls are made by Rhett [Lashlee] and Billy [Crocker]. It’s a feel for the game. You know that they were being aggressive and they fly up, which we saw on film. It’s a matter of when you want to call that in a game. That’s just something that you have a feel for from a play calling perspective. I’ll tell you this though, Nate Hopkins made a great block on that. I thought that was key as well. Nate threw it back and then blocked a guy coming off the edge and if he didn’t do that, we probably wouldn’t have gotten it off.”
DOES EDSALL EXPECT MORE FAN SUPPORT AFTER TWO STRAIGHT WINS & AN SEC TEAM COMING IN?
“That’s somebody else’s job to take care of that,” he said. “I was very happy with the people that were there yesterday, felt they were very supportive and they helped us. I’m just really focused on trying to make this team the best I can. That other part is up to other people here in the athletic department to take care of.”
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