Column: Is Owen there?
Published: Monday, September 30, 2013
Updated: Monday, September 30, 2013 00:09
I was at my regular table at Ted’s Bar this weekend when the phone rang. The bartender handed me the phone and said it’s for you. The voice on the other end asked if Owen was there. My response to him was Owen who? The voice said, “0-4, UConn football is 0-4.”
Okay, so that first part didn’t happen exactly that way, but the point still stands. The Huskies are 0-4 for the first time since 1991.
After taking the Michigan Wolverines to the brink last Saturday, in front of a rabid Rentschler Field crowd, UConn was flat out embarrassed up in Buffalo. It’s hard to call an out-of-conference game a pivotal turning point, but that’s what this game was. If the Huskies had prevailed, UConn would be in ok shape at 1-3 with an 0-4 South Florida team waiting for them.
That’s not the case.
UConn is also 0-4 with more questions than answers. The first question, what is going on at the quarter back position?
I listened to the game on the radio on my way back to campus on Saturday, but you didn’t need to see the game to understand how bad Chandler Whitmer struggled against the Bulls.
Whitmer made 10 out of 24 completions and threw for just 182 with two costly interceptions. Eventually Whitmer was pulled in favor of Casey Cochran, the third string quarterback.
I like Whitmer, he’s a stand up guy who shows up ready to play for each game, but the junior from Newnan, GA is just too inconsistent under center. While Whitmer can throw the ball deep and make big plays, UConn’s opponents average 32.5 points per game, compared to the Huskies 18 points per game.
Whitmer’s performance on the field also stems from the fact that UConn’s offensive line has looked more like a New York City subway turnstile than a cohesive unit protecting their quarterback. This has also given way to problems with the running game, an area where the Huskies have usually dominated.
I’m one of the most optimistic people on this campus. I even wrote a column last season defending Paul Pasqualoni. But this is getting out of hand fast.
Early yesterday, Southern California fired head coach Lane Kiffin after an embossing 62-41 loss to Arizona State University. While this move won’t mean a lot for the Trojans’ squad, it sends a message. USC will not tolerate mediocrity.
Neither should UConn.
Firing Pasqualoni not only would appease the fan base, but would set a precedent that mediocrity doesn’t work here at UConn and won’t be tolerated either.
If this season is lost, which it already looks like it is, I am issuing a challenge to every single UConn football player in that locker room. If you don’t want to play for your coach, I understand that. He hasn’t given you much motivation to achieve success this season. If you don’t want to play for your own namesake, that’s your choice as well.
All of that being said, the great Herb Brooks, head coach of the 1980 US men’s Olympic hockey team once said, “The name on the front of the jersey is a hell of a lot more important than the name on the back.”
If this squad has an ounce of pride they will take the field Saturday, Oct. 12 and every Saturday moving forward playing for the name on the front, UConn.
So far this season the Huskies have only showed some fight left in the dog when Michigan came to town. Of all the times to play like they meant it, UConn picked a great time to show off what they are capable of.
But now as the crowds get smaller and the stage gets smaller, perhaps this is the real UConn Huskies. Perhaps they have already given up. I know most of the fans have given up hope, why shouldn’t they?
Perhaps the players have forgotten why they signed up for this and why they put on their helmets, cleats and shoulder pads. Perhaps I’m completely wrong and this team will prove the critics (and me) wrong by turning the season around.
Until that day comes, this remains hard to watch.
Follow Tyler on Twitter @TylerRMorrissey