Edsall, Huskies humiliated by Memphis
EAST HARTFORD – As Memphis kept setting record after record Friday night at Pratt and Whitney Stadium, it was a simple play that led new/old UConn coach Randy Edsall to outwardly display his frustrations.
With six minutes left in the third quarter, the Tigers converted on a short third down. Edsall then tossed his playsheets into the air in disgust. His frustration was brewing all night, a night that saw the Huskies give up the most points in program history in an obscene 70-31 defeat in front of 19,230.
Once the clock ran out, Edsall slowly walked back to the locker room with his head down. About 15 minutes later at the podium, he detailed the challenges his coaching staff faces after taking over a thin roster from Bob Diaco. Yes, UConn (1-4) is much improved offensively, and even found itself in a 21-21 tie with under two minutes remaining in the first half Friday. But its defense has been absolutely dreadful, allowing 49 points a contest in their current four-game losing streak.
Edsall was very blunt in describing the state of his defense, arguably the worst unit in the country. And without naming names, it’s clear he’s not impressed with what Diaco left behind.
“We decided to come in here and install a defense that we think is going to be good for us as we put this program together,” Edsall said passionately. “The defense that we inherited is not built for this defense. If you look, we don't really have enough linemen to even play a four-man front.
“Right now, it is difficult,” he continued. “We don't have the personnel to play this, and we do not have the personnel to play a 4-3. This is a big job we have undertaken to make better. Fair and simple, it isn't going to happen overnight. It just isn't.”
Edsall also touched on the importance of recruiting, which you can point to as the reason why UConn has not changed up its 3-3-5 defense in-season. He believes there is no system this current group can play. So, in the meantime, his program is playing a style they think will appeal to recruits. One major selling point is the chance to contribute right away.
And any contribution from would help. Memphis, which set the stadium record for points, finished with an absurd 711 yards on 100 plays, with Riley Ferguson passing for 431 yards and seven touchdowns. Anthony Miller could not be stopped, notching 15 receptions for 224 yards and four scores (team-record). Doroland Dorceus rushed for 127 yards and found the end zone twice. Whatever Memphis wanted to do, it did - with ease and zero resistance.
“We are not mentally tough enough,” Edsall said. “We have the chance to make plays and we don’t. We’re a very fragile team when things don’t go well. That was embarrassing in the second half. Embarrassing.”
Linebacker Vontae Diggs didn’t shy away from the E-word, either.
“I have never in my life had a team put 70 points on me. It’s an embarrassment,” Diggs lamented. “As a leader on this team I take full responsibility. I didn’t get my guys prepared enough.”
On the bright side for the Huskies, Arkeel Newsome rushed for 114 yards and two touchdowns, including an electric 64-yard scoring run on the game’s first possession. Bryant Shirreffs had a decent game, throwing for 310 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
Unlike last season, it doesn’t hurt your eyes to watch the UConn offense, which gives hope to a team in desperate search of win. Clearly, though, if victories are to occur in the future, tackling needs to be, too.
"What we are trying to do is put together the best team that we can to win, and right now it is not real pretty, but guess what, this is who we have. This is what we are, and we are going to continue to work to get better, pure and simple,” Edsall said.
If they don’t get better, ugly nights like Friday are bound to happen again. And that, for the Huskies, would be embarrassing.