The UConn football team has vengeance on its mind this weekend when it faces off against the ECU Pirates at Rentschler Field.
Last season, the Huskies took on the Pirates on the road after a 24-16 loss to UCF in the Civil ConFLiCT homecoming game and were absolutely crushed. ECU steamrolled UConn 41-3 in what was a turning point for the Huskies’ offense.
From that point forward, UConn was almost completely incapable of moving the ball, scoring just 13 points for the remainder of the season, including two games in which they were shut out.
“[ECU] embarrassed us last year. I forgot what the score was, but I know it was by a lot,” redshirt senior linebacker Junior Joseph said. “That’s something that we wanna take to them and get back what they did to us last year.”
Quarterback Bryant Shirreffs had a different tone regarding this year’s matchup with ECU.
“It’s just another game,” Shirreffs said on Sunday’s matchup with ECU. “That was a dark time for sure, but this is just another game and we just gotta focus on going 1-0 this week. It’s our job to execute and each do our own individual job and collectively that’s where we’ll be successful.”
Instead, Shirreffs is looking at this game as more of a chance to improve on last week’s loss at Virginia, rather than a loss against ECU last season. He pointed to two critical red zone mistakes as something to build on, given that the offense moved the ball well otherwise.
“Everyone hates losing, I hate losing,” Bryant Shirreffs said on last week’s performance. “Looking at the [Virginia] game, you can definitely take some positives from the game. I mean, obviously, we had two turnovers in the red zone, I had two turnovers in the red zone that really crutched us…but if you look at the game, you can also see…we were moving the ball.”
Joseph suggested the team – the defense, in particular – should be much improved this week after a horrendous display last weekend.
“We definitely can play a lot better [than against Virginia], it’s just communication,” Joseph said. “I feel like if everyone’s on the same page and we’re playing hard, we’re gonna be way better.”
Communication is one thing. The actual translation of improved skill on the practice field to games on the weekend is another. The team is just now starting to get an understanding how practice translates into wins, according to head coach Randy Edsall.
“They’re starting to get it and to understand the level, in terms of how hard you have to practice, and how much has to go into it in order to win,” Edsall said. “Have we improved since the season started? Yes, but very, very incrementally.”
So it seems Edsall’s road to improving the culture around last year’s dreadful football team might take a little longer than we thought.