UConn football loss to East Carolina reminds players of last season

Published on Tuesday, 26 September 2017 22:55
Written by Neill Ostrout

Journal Inquirer

EAST HARTFORD - For some of the participants, the ending of the UConn football team’s 41-38 loss to East Carolina on Saturday was a little too similar to the end of a defeat the Huskies suffered last season.

Those same people hope the Huskies’ 2017 season doesn’t spiral downward in the same way their 2016 one did.

In early September of last season the Huskies’ suffered a 28-24 loss to Navy, a game in which it was on the verge of the game-winning touchdown in the final seconds, only to watch in horror as the clock struck zero before they could run another play.

Against East Carolina Saturday in the final seconds, the Huskies were unable to get off another play that could have resulted in the game-winning touchdown. And then kicker Michael Tarbutt missed a 33-yard field goal that would have sent the game into overtime.

It was a crushing loss, one that the Huskies, in part because of their past, hope doesn’t linger in their minds.

“We just have to forget about the game. As soon as I leave this building I’m going to forget about the game and starting watching film on SMU,” linebacker Junior Joseph said after the game, mentioning Saturday’s game in Dallas against SMU (4 p.m., ESPNews). “They have a good offense, a great receiver in Courtland (Sutton).

“We just have to move on. We can’t dwell on this loss like last year where we lost to Navy and I felt the team dwelled on that loss. And it kind of carried on the whole season.”

UConn (1-2, 0-1) can ill afford to slip up again. There are few games remaining on its schedule that are, on paper, as winnable as the ones it has already played.

Putting a gut-wrenching loss to East Carolina, which hadn’t won a game itself since beating UConn last season, behind them would be a big help for the Huskies.

“We’ve got a short week right now so it’s right into our next game. You don’t have much time to dwell on this one,” UConn quarterback Bryant Shirreffs said. “Right now we don’t have a bye week so it’s attacking each week and attacking each day.

“We just have to get better from here.”

Shirreffs, who completed 25 of 39 passes for 406 yards and three touchdowns in the loss, was named to the American Athletic Conference’s weekly honor roll Monday. But he dismissed his numbers as largely meaningless given the fact that the Huskies never led.

UConn coach Randy Edsall was not in charge when the Huskies’ collapsed against Navy. Still, he has a simple plan for how to overcome the pain of the ECU defeat.

“I only know one way, that’s go back to work on Tuesday and get back after it,” Edsall said. “Understand that if you have pride and you’re a real, true teammate, you’re going to find a way. You’re going to watch this film and you’re going to say ‘Man, if I would have just made this block, if I would have just did this or whatever.’ And you’re going to find a way to get yourself better.

“If it’s important enough for you and if it’s important enough for you to make sure your team can win, there shouldn’t be any problem.”

The Huskies were back on the practice field this morning, and Edsall said before the workout that he was expecting nothing more than a fired-up group of players ready for a new challenge.

“I would expect this team to come back and be champing at the bit and on fire on Tuesday when we practice,” Edsall said. “And I’ll be darned disappointed if I don’t see that.”

But the coach also admitted he and his staff would have to look inward for corrections as well.

“Shoot, I have to look at myself and say ‘What can I do better? What can I do to help this team get better?’ ” Edsall said.

NOTES: Edsall didn’t provide updates on injuries Monday but it’s likely the Huskies will play without wide receiver Hergy Mayala (ankle), center Ryan Crozier (knee) and kick returner Jordan Swann (concussion) this week against SMU.

Posted in Newington Town Crier, General Sports, UConn on Tuesday, 26 September 2017 22:55. Updated: Tuesday, 26 September 2017 22:58.