HIJINKS WITH HEDWIG
Huskies take on Owls in second conference game
UConn quarterback Chandler Whitmer runs up the field during the Huskies’ game against Buffalo at Rentschler Field on Sept. 30, 2012. KEVIN SCHELLER/The Daily Campus
This weekend, the UConn football team welcomes the Temple Owls to Rentschler Field. The Huskies are now 3-3 after a 19-3 loss to Rutgers in UConn's conference opener.
UConn's first Big East game of the season did not go as well as the Huskies would have hoped.
On the road against the now No. 20 team in the nation, Rutgers, UConn was unable to get anything going offensively while the Scarlet Knights kept putting points on the board, leaving UConn to try and catch up.
In the loss, the Huskies ran the ball 28 times and gained a measly 53 yards out of it, while Rutgers ran the ball only seven more times and then UConn gained 123 yards, more than double that of UConn.
The weak running game wasn't just a freak incident, however. All season long, UConn has been unable to establish a legitimate running threat and the Huskies' losses demonstrate that.
In UConn's three losses, the Huskies rushed the ball a total of 103 times and with those attempts, UConn gained only 199 yards-just over 1.9 yards per carry.
For a team that prides itself on running the football, a lack of run production means a lack of total offensive production. If the run is supposed to set up the pass, but the run isn't working, that leaves a team simply crawling up the field each possession, content on playing a game of field position advantage.
It's clear that with the remaining games the Huskies have, UConn can't win that way.
The scapegoats for the lack of production on the ground are many.
Some blame the offensive line, but Head Coach Paul Pasqualoni said Tuesday at his weekly press conference that to blame the offensive line would be unfair to those guys. He went on to say that a failure to run the ball is the result of everybody on the offense including fullbacks, tight ends and receivers.
Pasqualoni brought up the fact that the line is making progress relative to where they used to be and that he is liking what he sees from them in practices each week.
Others say that it's starting tailback Lyle McCombs who, after getting arrested for a second time, does not have his mind on football.
Tuesday, Pasqualoni admitted that McCombs was distracted and McCombs himself faced the media and apologized for his actions. McCombs said that his actions harmed both his girlfriend and his teammates. He knew he was distracted and admitted it to the media.
There are still even more that say the problem is Pasqualoni's predictable play calling. They say that every game looks the same and the Huskies don't start to regularly throw the ball until they are behind, putting Quarterback Chandler Whitmer in a position where he has to play from behind and try to rush throws.
To that, Pasqualoni says it is just a matter of the Huskies playing good teams that execute on defense.
Whether the offense really is a problem or the team just needs to improve, one can't ignore the facts. The Huskies are ranked No. 112 in the nation in points scored and No. 116 in rushing yards per game. At some point this season, the truth will reveal itself, but until then the grumblings continue.
Pasqualoni has heard a lot of the criticism and said that he can see why it's coming at him.
"I understand it," Pasqualoni said. "My point to you guys is that in no way are we discouraged by it."
Look for the Huskies to take the field against a relatively weaker opponent in Temple and try to push the pace on offense as well as defense.
"I'm optimistic each week that we're going to run the ball and we're going to run it well," Pasqualoni said.
Saturday's game kicks off at 1 p.m. in East Hartford.
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