This sounds like a broken record, but explosive plays once again hurt the Huskies defense on Saturday. In Orlando, UCF struck for 10 such plays, accumulating 320 yards on those in the process. What’s concerning, despite a much better performance overall, is UConn faced 73-plays on the day, so 13.6% of the time, the Knights were picking up yards in chunks.
“After watching the film, it’s one of those things where you do see yourself making some progress, but the opportunities that were there for us to be able to go there and take that game was disappointing and frustrating that we couldn’t do that,” head coach Randy Edsall said on Sunday. “Just to see how many plays end up hurting us, they had 10 explosive plays for 320-yards. The other 63 plays they had, they only had 199-yards. On all those 10 plays, there was someone that made a mistake that allowed that to happen, one or two guys, that’s what we need to do defensively.”
Offensively, after seeing the film, Edsall echoed what was seen during the game, a lack of production in short yardage situations.
“When you look at the number of times we had the ball on the plus side of the field and we come away with nothing, those are the things that get you,” he said. “Having 1st and goal at the 1 and we can’t get a touchdown, settle for 3 points and the number of 3rd and 2, 3rd and 1, 4th and 1’s, those are the things we have to be able to do because the margin of error is a little slim for us.”
He was pleased, however, with the third phase, special teams.
“Their return guy was very, very good and we did a good job against him on punt and kick coverage,” Edsall said. “There are some good things, but it gets back to we need to do it consistently for 60 minutes.”
The Huskies head coach wants to see a number of things over the final two weeks of the year, but it really isn’t anything new. Each point has been driven home almost weekly as an area for improvement.
“I want to see us get more consistent,” he said. “I want to see us be able to convert the 3rd and shorts, convert points when we get on the plus side of the field and when we get into the red zone, convert those opportunities into touchdowns. Don’t want to give up the big plays on defense. Those are the things I want to see as we continue to move forward.”
The Huskies did tackle well and limited an opponent in a loss to under 50-percent on conversion downs for the first time this year. That statistic just exemplifies some mistakes made in other areas of the game.
“We were good on fourth down, we could’ve been better on third down on some plays because there were some that they converted and we didn’t maintain rush lanes or do the things from a coverage standpoint that if we just read our keys and did our job, we would’ve taken those away,” he said. “I thought it was better, but you can’t take those things away and that’s what we need to understand. We can’t have ten plays, heck we can’t have five plays that are going to cost us, especially when some of those explosive plays go for touchdowns. We also never got them to kick field goals, as they got into the red zone, we gave up touchdowns and we didn’t make them kick field goals which could’ve helped us.”
MORE ON PINDELL AND HIS STARTING ROLE
Edsall reinforced that QB David Pindell will be the guy at Fenway Park against Boston College.
“David is going to start and I thought he did some good things,” he said. “There are some things he needs to get better at. He did a really good job with the running game. The passing game he did some good things, but mechanically, he needs to be sharper. That throw at the end was a good throw and he stepped into it, but that’s where fundamentally he needs to be sound and solid all the time. I’ll have more on some of those things to say on Tuesday.”
COYLE IMPRESSED EDSALL THIS WEEK
Redshirt freshman Tyler Coyle had an impressive game on Saturday. In addition to being the Huskies leading tackler, he recovered a fumble and made some things happen on special teams.
“He did a great job on punt coverage,” Edsall said over the phone. “That returner, we were concerned about him in terms of what he’s done this year. Tyler beat the guy off the line and made two great open field tackles and hit him as soon as he got the ball, basically did the things he was coached to do and executed. He almost got a pick in the flat on a third down that just went over his finger tips. He also hustled to the ball and recovered the fumble. He’s made improvements and is a guy, if he wants to work and be a good player, he has the ability to do that. You’re seeing things out of him now that you hoped. A lot of that is he’s gained a lot more experience and seems to be playing a lot more confidently as we’ve gone through the year.”
CHRIS BRITTON IN CONCUSSION PROTOCOL AFTER HAVING A BIG GAME
Chris Britton seemed to be all over the field, particularly early on against UCF. Edsall agreed, but also mentioned his status is uncertain for this week. Britton headed to the sideline with the score 28-17 early in the fourth. The very next play, UCF ran Otis Anderson right in the direction of his replacement, Eddie Hahn. In the 1-on-1 match-up in the hole, Hahn made a diving attempt at the stop, but Anderson made a move to miss the would-be tackle, busted it to the outside and up the right sideline all the way to the house for a 65-yard touchdown.
“I thought Chris probably played his best game yesterday,” Edsall said. “Right now, he’s in concussion protocol. He took a hit on the side of the head two plays before that. He’s getting better and now we just need to see where he is. I’ll know a little more about that on Tuesday.”
SHIRREFFS HAS MADE LASTING IMPACT ON EDSALL
Despite being out, it’s clear Bryant Shirreffs is an Edsall type of guy. Today, he listed exactly why that is.
“He’s a really tough kid and is a guy that likes to compete,” he said. “We’ll see where he’s at [if he’s done for the year]. I don’t know if he’d even be cleared to play this week or not. I’ll know more about that on Tuesday. This year, he’s gotten better, he wanted to come back and play and when we made the decision we made early on, he went out, worked and made sure that he was ready to go and did a really good job for us. He’s had a productive year, but I have all the admiration for him. He’s a competitor and a really tough kid.”
MATT SCHONVISKY / SITE CREATOR