UConn travels to Cincinnati in search of first win of 2013
Published: Friday, October 18, 2013
Updated: Friday, October 18, 2013 00:10
Last week, the UConn football team spoiled Homecoming with a loss to South Florida. This week, T.J. Weist is hoping the Huskies fare better in a homecoming of his own.
The former wide receivers coach at Cincinnati will return to Nippert Stadium Saturday for the first time since leaving for a position at UConn before this season.
“It’ll be interesting,” the interim head coach said of coaching against his old colleagues. “[…] But when it’s time to snap that helmet on, set your jaw and go to war, it’s time. Those guys are the opponents, they’re the enemies, so that never changes.”
And for a winless UConn squad (0-5, 0-1 American Athletic Conference), that kind of focus will have to be laser-sharp if they hope to end their skid against the Bearcats (4-2, 1-1 American Athletic Conference).
Though the running game was much improved in the 13-10 defeat to USF, it still ebbed and flowed and disappeared for much of the second half when the Huskies desperately needed a drive.
Over the course of the first half, 23 rushes produced 162 yards. In the final 30 minutes, 14 attempts yielded 45 yards.However, part of the problem, Weist admitted, was of his own making.
“I could probably call more runs,” Weist said. “I mean, that’s what it comes down to…going through the game film, you always look back and say, ‘What could I have done better?’
“I make the players evaluate themselves, I make the coaches evaluate themselves and I evaluate everything that I did – every step that I did in that game. You know, and there’s times where I probably could have stuck with the run more and not depended on a freshman quarterback or receivers that were inconsistent.”
Though he showed glimpses of his athleticism and accuracy, Tim Boyle was largely hit-or-miss in his first collegiate game. He completed 15 of his 43 throws on the afternoon for 149 yards.
“Definitely in the first half, a couple balls sailed on me,” Boyle said. “That was definitely just nerves and anxiousness. Just being happy to be out there and just having the fans support me as much as they did – it was definitely a little bit of nervousness of being on the field.”
The hope for the Huskies now is that the true freshman is past those nerves and ready to take on a stout Cincinnati defense on the road.
The Bearcats have the No. 6 defense in the country when it comes to yards allowed and have a top-five defense against the pass.
Perhaps their biggest strength is in the middle of the field, where they possess a linebacker core that Weist feels is as good as any.
“What concerns me is they have experience, they’ve proven that they’re very solid linebackers – a very solid defensive front obviously by their statistics,” Weist said. “I know Nick Temple, Greg Blair, Jeff Luc – I mean I know those guys, they’re solid players.”
Two of those linebackers – Temple and Blair – were on the field for last year’s 34-17 win over UConn.
Entering Saturday, the Bearcats hold a 7-2 lead in the series between the two teams and have won three of the last four matchups.
The Huskies have said that they will wear helmet stickers bearing the No. 77 for the game in honor of Ben Flick, a freshman Cincinnati offensive lineman that was killed in a car crash last month.
Kickoff is set for noon Saturday and the game can be seen on ESPNU.