Huskies look to start 3-2 after facing the Bulls
UConn quarterback Chandler Whitmer drops back to pass during a football game against N.C. State played at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Conn. RACHEL WEISS/The Daily Campus
After a 30-24 road loss to Western Michigan, the Huskies return to Rentschler Field to take on the Buffalo Bulls.
With a record of 2-2 and the conference schedule looming, UConn considers this game as close to a must-win as there could be this early in the season.
"This is a game that we're going to have to be ready and motivated to play," Coach Paul Pasqualoni said.
Last week against the Broncos, the Huskies were torched by the Western Michigan offense. UConn dug itself into a hole pretty quickly and was playing a game of catch-up the rest of the time.
Pasqualoni said during the team's weekly press conference on Tuesday that the Broncos' starting quarterback, Alex Carder, was releasing the ball quickly and UConn was slow to put pressure on him, creating a situation in which Western Michigan was able to score ample points.
Despite the loss last weekend, Pasqualoni thinks that UConn made some steps in the right direction. For the first time all year, UConn put together a successful passing game. Quarterback Chandler Whitmer had three touchdown passes on the day-his first of the year.
Something else Pasqualoni was pleased with was the UConn punt and kick coverage. Against Maryland, the Terrapins had a few big returns. Against the Broncos, however, things were much cleaner on the special teams' side of things.
The problem last week was that the defensive side of the ball gave up a couple of big plays in the air to the Western Michigan offense. It wasn't the first time this year that the Huskies had issues giving up big plays. Three weeks ago against North Carolina State, UConn gave up a long touchdown pass to the Wolfpack during a game that the Huskies lost by only three points.
In the meeting between UConn and Buffalo last year at UB Stadium in Buffalo, N.Y., the Huskies came out on top with a 17-3 win over the Bulls. Despite the two-touchdown spread, it was a close game until UConn was able to add the second touchdown late in the contest to put the game out of reach.
Buffalo's defense is one that is well-coached and is going to come out firing, Pasqualoni said. The Bulls' defensive coordinator, Lou Tepper, was in Colorado back in 1988 when Pasqualoni went there to study football, and Pasqualoni said that ever since he has had the utmost respect for Tepper.
Against a defense like Buffalo, the dropped passes that happened against Western Michigan can't happen again. Pasqualoni is confident, though, that his receivers are more talented than they showed at times last week and he said that those dropped passes are not characteristic of the way his team usually plays.
This week's matchup will be the Huskies' fifth consecutive week of playing football dating back to Aug. 29. In fact, UConn doesn't have a bye-week until close to a month from now, on the weekend of Oct. 26. Pasqualoni said that this is the way he'd prefer it to be. He knows his players are handling the schedule well, and with that in mind, he would rather have that bye-week later in the season.
"There would be nothing greater that we could do this week than go out and play a good team game [on all three sides of the ball,]" Pasqualoni said.
Kickoff for tomorrow's game is at noon. Fans are encouraged to be in their seats and ready to go at the start of the game.
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