MEMPHIS, Tenn. - The bye week that most will tell you the UConn football team has this week in a misnomer. A bye is actually “the transfer of a competitor directly to the next round of a competition in the absence of an opponent.”
The Huskies have an off week now, not a bye.
It’s every one of UConn’s opponents who have been given a bye this season. Each time they face the Huskies, UConn’s foes move on directly to the next round of competition.
UConn has played five games against FBS foes this season and has been bludgeoned each time. Sandwiched around a narrow victory over FCS Rhode Island, UConn has lost games by 39, 55, 30, 42 and 41 points.
Its most recent setback, Saturday’s 55-14 loss to Memphis at the Liberty Bowl, followed a similar pattern. UConn showed a brief spark of life in the first quarter, got absolutely blasted in the second quarter, then played a second half in which the only question remaining was how lopsided the final score would be.
But the worst news? The head coach is now admitting that it probably won’t get any better.
“We’re looking at the big picture. We’re not looking at the picture taking place right now,” Edsall said after his team suffered its fifth blowout in six weeks. “That’s what we have to do.”
UConn (1-5, 0-3 American Conference) has punted. Not in the technical sense - punter Luke Magliozzi has been a rare bright spot this season - but in a metaphorical one.
Husky fans, who have heard the “wait till next season” speech so frequently in the last six or seven years they have every variation memorized, are likely not eager to hear the latest rendition.
The Huskies, who have allowed an unfathomable 312 points in six games, are not simply not ready for the competition they are facing.
“We’re not big enough, we’re not fast enough, we’re not strong enough,” Edsall said.
While that is seemingly in part a dig at former UConn head coach Bob Diaco’s recruiting, Edsall is also acknowledging that the freshmen and sophomores he recruited are not up to snuff yet, either.
Asked if some strides in strength and speed could be made this season by the Huskies in practices and workouts to make them competitive, Edsall said no.
“It’s going to be an offseason. You can’t do that stuff now,” Edsall said.
All UConn can do right now is play matador to opposing ball carriers.
In a season full of defensive lapses, UConn was perhaps at its worst in the opening half Saturday. Memphis scored touchdowns on each of its first six possessions to jump out to a thoroughly insurmountable 41-7 lead.
The Tigers’ offensive stars had impressive complete game totals after just one half.
“The running backs were good. We knew that coming into the game,” UConn safety Omar Fortt said. “But we were shooting ourselves in the foot. Everyone just needs to attack, come off the ball aggressive. Everyone has to fill their gaps. And that starts with me being a leader of the defense.”
The Huskies have lost 10 straight games to FBS foes, a streak that seems unlikely to end when they return to action in two weeks against No. 23 South Florida.
UConn, which entered the Memphis game allowing a national-high 663 yards per game, rallied to hold the Tigers to a mere 634. The hosts had a whopping 378 yards on the ground.
“No, it’s not frustrating at all, can’t you tell?” Edsall deadpanned after the game.
Still, there is little evidence of a loss of faith by the Huskies. They seem to know there aren’t easy answers, either.
“I believe in coach Edsall and I know he believes in us,” Fortt said.
There is little question that the Huskies have faced an incredibly difficult schedule thus far. Their slate is more front-loaded
They are, jokes aside, greatly in need of bye/off week.
“Most definitely to get our bodies right, and more importantly our mental,” Fortt said. “We have a lot of people that have given up and we need to come together as a team, rally together.”
That rally may not produce another victory this season. It can make the Huskies competitive again.
Edsall cautions that progress may not be measured in victories this season.
“We can’t just flip the switch and make it happen. There’s a process we have to go through,” Edsall said.
And for now, that process includes a lot of byes.