Hand up, I was wrong. In The Daily Campus’ first roundtable of the year about the most exciting game on UConn’s football schedule, I chose UMass.
First of all, it was a trick question. There are no exciting games involving the 2018 edition of UConn football. Not unless you are a sadist and enjoy watching a young secondary get ripped to shreds.
My biggest mistake was being optimistic. I don’t think anyone would characterize me as a glass half full guy, but for some reason I thought UConn football might be capable of “saving grace” this season. Barring a miracle, that will not be happening. More egregiously, I thought UMass might be a bowl contender.
As Bay Stater stuck in a fish bowl Twitter feed, I must’ve drunk some rancid Kool-Aid that was being put in front of me. The sentiment was definitely out there. The stars were aligned. Literally. Andy Isabella is a very good receiver, Marquis Young is a quality running back and quarterback Andrew Ford, well, at least he was experienced. The Minutemen had a lot of fun obliterating FCS level Duquesne in Week Zero but have been abhorrent since then.
For a fleeting moment, Mark Whipple looked to have resuscitated the UMass program post Charley Molnar. Randy Edsall cannot say the same post-Diaco. Both have struggled recruiting and this season both have pushed around by teams they ought to (at least in theory) competed with.
UMass is No. 112 in S&P Plus, which sounds really bad until you see that UConn is No. 129. out of 130 (Thank you, UTEP).
Like UMass, the Huskies have some competent playmakers on offense. Quarterback David Pindell has made big plays of all varieties. Kevin Mensah is dynamic. The receiving core is deep and experienced.
So, offense won’t be the problem. In S&P, an efficiency metric, the offense of UMass is No. 59 and UConn is No. 88. It is defense where the true misery lies. UMass is No. 123 in S&P defense and UConn is No. 129.
At this point UConn fans have been bludgeoned to the point of apathy. We are numb, and we don’t care. Randy Edsall has decided to stand up for defensive coordinator Bill Crocker, and we are currently nary a storyline worth monitoring.
UMass fans, on the other hand, are upset. This was supposed to be a good year. They finished strong last year and were hoping to build into bowl contention, which is no small feat considering their independent and stuck in purgatory status. Instead, they have been awful. Their head coach is making putrid, insensitive remarks to describe refereeing, the program just cut off media access for a week.
Whipple was suspended a game, perhaps a sign he is not on the chopping block like their fanbases desires. With a couple weekends to go until the game, their fans are being driven into the same state of affairs of the remaining UConn followers. Its Hallo-weekend on college campuses, there is nothing to play for (except jobs, maybe?), and I am not sure people were even excited in the first place. I might be there, but I am starting to wonder, why bother? I hope the athletic department can count ghosts in attendance on Oct. 28.
Matt Barresi is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.