At last. Game day. UConn finally takes the field today, returning to action for the first time since 2019, ready to showcase the development and growth that’s been talked about ad nauseum since all the way back in February. For those that love football, enjoy this sport and countdown the days until the start of each season, this isn’t just Christmas morning. It’s Happy Birthday, she said yes and you got the job after a grueling interview process, all wrapped into one.
The expectations? From this corner of the Nutmeg state? Sky high. I’m a believer in Edsall, the process he’s used to build back his program, the keen eye for talent and his overall approach to the game. The talk out of Storrs all spring and into this summer has been about how the decision to not play in 2020 did wonders for the progress of this roster; the bigger, faster and stronger mantra.
The fellow coaching staff echoes it. The players have lived it. The confidence is there. When the media gathered to see the program in late July, Edsall spoke passionately about how this group is ready to win, finally. And after the wonders Matt King did with this group, reshaping the bodies of every player up and down the roster, molding them into what looks like a high-level football team; at least on paper, this team should be competitive.
Actions, speak louder than words, however. The excuses are now gone for Edsall, now in his fifth year since returning to resurrect the program he once built from the ground up. The roster? His. Coaching staff? Intact. Year off to focus on development? Complete.
So as the Huskies embarked for California on Thursday and headed west, there were a lot of firsts on the horizon for this group. The first game as an independent. The furthest matchup away from Storrs in program history. Perhaps the hottest game, temperature wise UConn has ever been a part of. And while nationally, there are no expectations, internally, you bet there are.
There are certainly question marks. Who starts at quarterback? Will the depth actually prove true? Is the defensive front as talented as expected?
The answers will come this afternoon, perhaps as early as late morning on the west coast, with kickoff at 11AM local time. To a man, these players say they are ready. The coaches believe it. The rest of us will see whether or not it was all talk, or if things have truly changed.