Roundtable: Takeaways from the UConn Football season?

Connecticut wide receiver Mason Donaldson (82) catches a pass in front of Cincinnati linebacker Jaylyin Minor (33) during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 25, 2017, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)

Connecticut wide receiver Mason Donaldson (82) catches a pass in front of Cincinnati linebacker Jaylyin Minor (33) during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 25, 2017, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)

The 2017-18 college football regular season has come and gone and another UConn football season has ended with less than stellar results. However, the season could be considered a bit of a success given the number of young players that stood out and the rebuild that is taking place under head coach Randy Edsall following the firing of Bob Diaco. Members of the DC Sports staff gives their takes on what to make of UConn football this past season in this week’s edition of the Roundtable.

Matt Barresi: Staff Writer

My takeaway is UConn football is going to be alright. I think a lot of people had higher expectations than they wanted to admit for this season and so there is a lot of disappointment surrounding this past season – disappointment that is reasonable. But while at some points UConn was just downright bad, there were also points where they were unlucky as well, and times they were entertaining. Aesthetically, UConn was just better to watch this year and, as long as Rhett Lashlee is around, I expect that to continue. David Pindell is flawed, but has potential. Kevin Mensah has the potential to become a stud.

This team will take time, but after watching this year I truly believe there are the requisite pieces to get this team out of the dumpster. I believe the current regime has and will continue to put the Huskies back on a path to respectability, even if it is slower than people would like. My other takeaway? UConn can never be a Power Five program with such putrid fan support. I understand why people don’t want to go watch, but don’t expect things to improve while you’re away.

Matt Severino: Campus Correspondent

The year 2013 marked a historic turning point for UConn Athletics. The Big East had just fallen apart and the American Athletic Conference was set to begin its inaugural season. The university’s several athletic teams were left on the outside looking in. Many complained that the new conference was too weak and that it would hurt teams when it came to postseason play.  Flash forward to today and UConn football ends the season with a record of 3-9. It was no doubt a rebuilding year with several new faces. An adjustment period was expected.

The truth, however, about the university's role in collegiate athletics has finally become apparent. Fans and players have been eyeing a move into one of the Power Five conferences since 2013. College football makes or breaks a school’s chances at competing in a major conference. Without a strong, or even promising football program, no conference will be extending the invite to UConn any time in the forseeable future.  

Luke Swanson: Campus Correspondent

I’ve been generally apathetic towards the idea of UConn football for the past two years, and this year hasn’t been much different. I knew it was going to be a rebuilding season from the start, and that UConn was unlikely to make a bowl. They had among the least amount of talent in the conference, so any wins would come as a result of good coaching and motivation. I was initially skeptical that a retread hire like Randy Edsall could supply that, but he did a decent job of rallying the troops to three wins.

What has given me hope this year is the Herculean performance by offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee in bringing UConn’s offense out of the Stone Age. Lashlee’s new system has given us Bryant Shirreffs’ best season of his career, finally maximized Arkeel Newsome’s skills and introduced us to promising newcomers in Nate Hopkins, Kevin Mensah and Hergy Mayala. Lashlee’s home conference of the SEC has experienced massive coaching turnover already this year, so if UConn can hold onto Lashlee as offensive coordinator, I’ll have much more hope for the upcoming years.

Kevin Arnold: Campus Correspondent

While another 3-9 season isn’t pretty, this season was certainly a step in the right direction for the program. This year’s offense wasn’t perfect by any means but was leaps and bounds better under Rhett Lashlee. The former Auburn offensive coordinator produced the best season of Bryant Shirreffs’ career and allowed Arkeel Newsome to work to his strengths as a pass-catching back. David Pindell showed signs of potential in his few opportunities after losing the starting job to Shirreffs in Week 1, and lots of younger guys like Nate Hopkins showed that this offense is moving in the right direction during this rebuild.

The defense leaves a lot to be desired, however, as teams seemed to move the ball at will this season, but nothing can be fixed overnight. This season did not live up to the university’s self-proclaimed #REStorred motto by any means, but UConn fans should be pleased with the offensive improvements and the fact that the program is moving forward and doing its best to push the Bob Diaco era as far back in our memories as possible.