Huskies getting ready for highly ranked Michigan...
STORRS: To say the UConn Huskies football team has a big hill to climb with highly ranked Michigan coming to town would be an extreme understatement.
To a man though, the Huskies are doing their best to treat this like just another game.
In prime time on a Saturday night before a national audience on ABC television.
But, how else should they approach it?
After a 0-2 start with losses to Towson and to Maryland with Randy Edsall riding off into the sunset with another win at The Rent, not getting caught up in the hype of playing the Wolverines on the big stage is probably the best approach.
Starting with head coach Paul Pasqualoni, all the players at the weekly press get together spoke of doing what they had to do by treating like just another game, just another opponent.
Red shirt junior Geremy Davis, who may need to pick up some of the slack at wide receiver if fellow wide out Shakim Phillips is not 100 percent (Phillips was hurt at the end of his 75-yard touchdown), is focusing on doing what he needs to do.
“We can’t hang our heads because we are 0-2,” Davis said, “We need to work on fixing the mistakes we made and do the little things it takes to win.”
Davis has been a bright spot on offense, with 10 catches for 154 yards in the first two games.
The UConn passing game has been the only thing working in a one-dimensional offense so far this season.
Phillips leads with 15 catches good for 255 yards and three touchdowns but the anemic Huskie running game has allowed defenses to concentrate of the pass.
So while quarterback Chandler Whitmer has thrown for 555 yards in two games, he has been playing from behind most of the time.
The focus has shifted greatly this week to just what the coaches and players can do to get the running game on track. 33 rushes for 34-yards won’t get it done against anyone.
“We need a couple of runs to get through the line and into open space,” Pasqualoni said on Monday and Tuesday, “We don’t need 10 to get through just some so it loosens up the defense a bit.”
Tyler McCombs has come close a couple of times on shear effort. His 22-yard twisting and turning run against Towson was stopped at the one yard line.
Aside from that run, the Huskies have just not been able to establish anything on the ground.
What’s the fix?
“We need to hold our blocks a little longer,” Pasqualoni said, “There are no quick fixes to this problem, the guys on the line just need to win those battles. The backs and receivers need to do their part as well.”
Hurting the effort was losing offensive tackle Kevin Friend early in the Maryland game after just getting him back from a concussion.
The overall effort and improvement from the Towson game to the Maryland game was significant.
UConn’s defense was on fire early, stopping the Terps on fourth down in the first quarter. Something that led to a touchdown but too often, the offense did not take advantage of what the defense gave them.
Michigan coming to town is a big deal. It’s a big deal for the program, the players and the coaches.
Winning would be an even bigger deal.