UConn football needs to take three of four to secure shot at second straight bowl game. A tall task.
TORRINGTON: It was about as animated as we have seen UConn head coach Bob Diaco in all the time we have heard from the normally optimistic leader of the University of Connecticut Huskies football program.
After his team’s 24-16 loss to a University of Central Florida team that started a freshman quarterback who had a career day in East Hartford, the good mood was simply not there and I for one was happy to see it gone.
Diaco did not leave the comfy confines of one of the nation’s top programs (okay, so not this year) to be the head coach of a struggling program that made a Bowl appearance last season in just his second year at the helm but has taken a step back this year.
Far too often this year, things have not gone according to plan, especially on the offensive side of the ball which has really gotten under his skin.
Six times on Saturday, the Huskies put together drives that put them inside the Knights red zone but only came away 16 total points. In their first two drives of the game, the Huskies had to settle for field goals when touchdowns seemed to at the taking.
The head coach was none too happy about what was causing the engine to stall at the end of drives.
“It’s execution and more dynamic play calling and selecting,” Diaco said after the loss. “And it’s on the whole collective unit. Poor, ridiculous. I mean if you count the 21 (yard line, where one drive stalled) that’s seven trips into the red zone.”
This season started with a series of close games, some that went the Huskies way, and some that did not.
The Navy game haunts. That was a game that came down to offensive play calling and execution at the goal line.
The missed opportunities in the red zone against Syracuse contributed to the eventual loss to their old Big East foe.
It is not unrealistic to think that the Huskies could have been 4-0 going into the Houston game, needing just two more wins to secure their second straight date with a Bowl game.
Take one of two games against Cincinnati or UCF and they would have been in even better shape going into their last four games.
Now though, at 3-5, UConn needs to take three of four in order to continue their season after November, not an easy task.
UConn travels to face East Carolina (0-3 in the AAC, 2-5 overall) this Saturday before hosting Temple (3-1 in the AAC, 5-3 overall).
A trip to Boston College (0-4 in the ACC, 3-4 overall) keeps UConn on East Coast where they wrap up their regular season at home against Tulane (0-3, in the AAC, 3-4 overall).
Take away the Temple game and their ability to get to six wins seems doable but the margin of error has been shrunk to zero.
Saturday is now the most important game of the Huskies campaign and the road has not been a friend to UConn to date, they are 0-3 so far this season and just two over the past three seasons.