On Sunday, head coach Randy Edsall broke down the 48-3 loss at Cincinnati, in a great amount of detail.
“I thought our guys competed for 60-minutes, but the thing that happened to us as a team, we just had too many penalties that hurt us in some critical situations,” he said. “We had too many missed assignments, we had fundamental and technique issues and too many missed tackles on defense. We just gave up too many big plays.”
There was a bright spot, which has become the norm each week. Huskies junior running back, Kevin Mensah registered his third consecutive 100-yard game, keeping him 4th in the conference in rushing, just 82-yards shy of another 1,000-yard year.
“Offensively I thought Kevin [Mensah] had a really good day, 24-carries, 115-yards, a 4.8 average,” Edsall said. “I mean Kevin gives it to us every day. Every week he’s productive. I thought Art [Thompkins] had a good game with 7-carries for 56-yards. When you take a look at 31-carries for 171-yards, that’s a pretty good average against a pretty good defense and we could have even done more, with sacks taking that down.”
That was perhaps the only bright spot on that side of the ball.
“The thing that was disappointing offensively is that we were only 3-of-18 on 3rd and 4th down conversions,” Edsall said. “You’re not going to be real good offensively when you can only convert on 16-percent in those situations. It was inconsistency all day long. It was this guy one play, another guy on another play, just too much inconsistency. We got down to the red zone twice and only ended up with a field goal.”
An example of inconsistency?
“We go and run the ball to start the game for 11-yards,” he said. “Then we have an incomplete pass, but then have a 10-yard run, but get a holding call because we don’t have good fundamentals and technique. We didn’t get our head on the outside, we’re lazy on our feet and we end up getting a holding call that sets us up at 2nd and 20, which is hard for us to overcome.”
“We also didn’t really create a lot of separation at wide receiver during the day,” Edsall added. “Jack [Zergiotis] didn’t play well and I pulled him at halftime. I told him, you’re no different than a baseball pitcher today, you just gave up five home runs, I can’t keep you in there. I have to go to the reliever. I told him to get ready for his next opportunity and learn from it. He wanted to stay in and I get it, but he needs to play better.”
“The second series offensively, we run for 18-yards, we get 9-yards on a pass, so we’re at 2nd and 1 and we don’t block it well. On 3rd and 1 we have a false start and then on 3rd and 6, we take a sack. We just shoot ourselves in the foot. When you’re playing a team like Cincinnati, you can’t afford to do that. There are all kinds of other things I could go through offensively.”
What about defensively, after that unit surrendered at least 48-points for the 6th time in 7-games?
“Defensively, we’re killing ourselves with the big plays,” Edsall said. “You take a look on Saturday, they had 7-runs for 169, 4-passes for 99, so 11-plays for 268-yards and that has to stop. That’s just not acceptable. We did hold them to 10-points in the second half, but we’re just not executing our assignments and techniques.”
“You have guys with poor fits in the run game at times, poor eye discipline,” he continued. “We had one play where the quarterback pulled it out on a zone read, we have a guy that is supposed to be on him, he has his eyes in the backfield looking at the ball carrier, if the QB pulls it, he’s supposed to be there on him. The very first play of the game should have been a five-yard loss. If the young man does what he’s supposed to do, go up the field with the reverse, it would have been a 5-to-8 yard loss. We were again poor on 3rd down, they converted 69-percent, pretty hard to win when you had opportunities to get off the field and make them punt, but we didn’t do that.”
“On special teams, we didn’t have any penalties, we were 100-percent with the field goal, but we told them all week long about how hard they come on the punt and we have a guy that doesn’t use good technique, gets driven back, doesn’t take the guy down the middle and they block the punt,” he said. “We weren’t as physical as what we needed to be on our kickoff return, even though Art did a good job all day long returning the ball. Luke [Magliozzi] kicked the ball really well, but we had missed tackles on punt. We were playing a team that was more athletic than us, faster than us and you need to be very sound fundamentally and use good technique when you are in those situations. All-in-all, that led to what happened.”
The Huskies lost two starters throughout the first half. Omar Fortt was the first and Dillon Harris, who came off the edge and drilled Ridder on a strip sack, with the fumble recovered by the Huskies, sparked feedback to Edsall, who didn’t agree with either targeting call, from the league office.
“I did hear back on Omar’s [Fortt],” Edsall said. “I was told it was a bad call, shouldn’t have been called and shouldn’t have been upheld on review. The second one I was told that supposedly they felt that that guy was a defenseless player and he took a hard hit. Well, I didn’t realize that taking a hard hit was targeting. If they are going to call those things as targeting, you might as well just stop playing the game of football.”
“Dillon [Harris] went in there, put his nose right in the guy’s number,” he continued. “What is he supposed to do? The guy isn’t looking, he’s not supposed to go in and hit him? I just think that we’ve made some rules and have people that are looking at this that don’t do this [on a regular basis].”
What does he propose?
“They should have enough people on a crew where they have 8-officials and they rotate someone up there to be the replay guy,” Edsall said. “Guys that are used to seeing those things, not someone who isn’t a referee anymore, or aren’t part of the game because there’s also a feel for the game out there. That’s another day, another issue, but I’ll tell you, I have a hard time with that one. It’s hard to have me tell our kids to be physical and then they get thrown out of the game when they shouldn’t be in my opinion.”
TEAM GETS THE BYE WEEK OFF
The Huskies will have the week following a rough stretch before closing the year with East Carolina and Temple.
“We aren’t going to do anything,” Edsall said. “We aren’t going to practice this week. We have finals coming up. The kids are going to get their lifts in. I think they need to get away. We had a tough, 8-game stretch. Today, we went through the film. The rest of the week, we aren’t going to do any football with them and we’ll back at it on Sunday.”
“We don’t play this week, then we have two games, including Senior Day against East Carolina, then we are on the road Thanksgiving week against Temple and then our kids come back. We’ll have a week and then they have finals. That’s one of the reasons we aren’t going to do anything this week, I’m trying to give them some time to be prepared and do everything necessary to be successful as we finish up the semester. We’ve gone through 8-straight, I think it was time to do what we’re doing, let these kids clear their minds, do more from an academic standpoint to do the things they need to in order to be prepared for finals. They need to get their bodies healthier and make sure we can play the best we can the last two games of the year.”