UConn football defense will be tested yet again this season at Syracuse

Published on Thursday, 20 September 2018 20:51
Written by NEILL OSTROUT

JOURNAL INQUIRER

STORRS - We are more than a month away from Halloween but the UConn football team’s defensive statistics would make even the most brave child tremble were they to view them.

They are horrific. Cringe-worthy. Truly scary.

UConn is allowing 55.7 points per game. It’s not only the worst mark in the nation, it’s almost 10 points more than the second-worst team, Oregon State, is surrendering.

The Huskies are allowing 673.3 yards per game. That, too, is last among 129 FBS programs in America, and is a staggering 75 yards more than the second-worst team in that category, Ohio University, is giving up.

UConn (1-2) faces Syracuse (3-0) Saturday hoping to make those numbers improve, though the Orange’s hot start and recent trouncing of Florida State make that seem unlikely. Syracuse has the nation’s 19th-best rushing attack under dual-threat senior QB Eric Dungey.

UConn defensive coordinator Billy Crocker, whose starting lineup Saturday will again include freshmen at perhaps seven of its 11 positions, knows the figures are frightening.

“It’s not going to be a statistical year for us. I get that. It is what it is,” Crocker said Wednesday. “We have to focus on getting these guys better week-by-week because there are some games I believe we can win on the schedule, without a doubt.”

Immediately after the Huskies’ 56-49 win over Rhode Island last week, television cameras caught Crocker collapsing on the Pratt & Whitney Stadium turf in some combination of exhaustion and celebration.

“It was relief. I was just happy for those guys that even though the game wasn’t pretty, we did what we had to do. We made a play when we had to and we got out with a win,” Crocker said.

Why don’t you slide?

UConn quarterback David Pindell is the Huskies’ leading rusher this season, both in attempts and yards gained. But as pleased as the coaching staff is with his 62 rushes and 334 yards on the ground, they like many fans sometimes cringe as the senior absorbs hit after hit from defenders.

Pindell has shown very little signs of pain or injury, but it’s clear offensive coordinator John Dunn and others wouldn’t mind if Pindell slid down on some of his runs to avoid contact.

“That’s something I have to work on. I’ve never had to slide before,” Pindell said with a smile.

Dunn, as head coach Randy Edsall has said often in the first three weeks, firmly believes in allowing Pindell the freedom to run any time he sees fit.

“Part of his game is running. I don’t ever want to take that away from him,” Dunn said.

But Dunn has also worried about excessive hits, as well.

“I’ve talked to him about sliding for nine months,” Dunn said in mock exasperation.



Posted in Newington Town Crier, UConn on Thursday, 20 September 2018 20:51. Updated: Thursday, 20 September 2018 20:54.