Football: Abandon all hope

UConn finished their second season of head coach Randy Edsall’s second stint at UConn with a 1-11 record. (Charlotte Lao/ The Daily Campus)

When the final whistle sounded during their 57-7 loss to Temple on Saturday, what we’ve known all along is finally official: This year’s UConn Huskies team was one of the worst teams in the history of college football. In addition to the points per game record, they allowed the most total yards (7,409), the most yards per game (617.4) and the most total points in the history of recorded college football.

The 2018 Huskies were simply too young and too inexperienced to compete, as head coach Randy Edsall constantly reminded us. But this team was so young by design. After inheriting the program from Bob Diaco, Edsall almost completely turned over the roster, filling it with his prospects; his guys. After Saturday’s game, Edsall supplied UConn fans with a terrifying thought: Even when he’s given the ability to fill the team with players he wants, only a few of them are good enough for his standards and the competitive standards of FBS competition.

In his postgame press conference, Edsall gestured toward the locker room and said he wasn’t going to “put up with that anymore,” gesturing behind him. He said that the program needs to bring in players that enjoy the hard work that comes with playing college football. In his mind, a lack of pride and work ethic on the team has been its downfall.

“Those guys that have been here before are going to be mentors to some of these guys and understand what the pride was here, because that’s been lost,” Edsall said.

UConn football is going to be better next season. It would be hard for it to be worse. But if this is the end product when Edsall is able to assemble a program his way, it’s hard to have lofty expectations for the program going forward.

Throughout the season, Edsall lamented the struggles of recruiting. Even if UConn had a middling year instead of a putrid one, it would be a hard sell to high-schoolers to come play football in the Northeast, in a stadium in a different city than the university campus, to play in a non-Power Five conference.

If UConn really can’t recruit high school on the same level as the rest of college football, they will have to find other sources to help the rebuild, something Edsall said he is open to.

“We’re looking at some grad transfers, and some junior college guys to help us from that standpoint because right now, to no fault of the young guys, we don’t have any leadership on defense,” Edsall said.

UConn lost linebacker Eli Thomas due to a stroke in mid-October, but this team was a mess defensively before and after that. The last team to surrender more than 50 points per game was UL Layette, who surrendered 50.3 points per game in 1997. If history is any indication, UConn fans shouldn’t expect a quick turnaround. It took Layette eight years to finish with record above .500 and 14 years to make a bowl game again.

One of the few bright spots for the team was the rushing game. Both quarterback David Pindell and running back Kevin Mensah finished with over 1,000 yards per season. Mensah will be back for his junior season in 2019, but Pindell will graduate this spring. With such a large portion of the 2018 offense gone, UConn may face growing pains on both offense and defense.

However, the players who are returning are optimistic that this season was a low point for the program; it’s all uphill from here.

Freshman quarterback Steve Krajewski, who received his first collegiate snaps in the second half of Sunday’s game, echoed Edsall’s sentiment that players need to buy into the program’s mentality in order to be successful.

“What I think coach is getting is that he wants players who love the game and appreciate the game for what it is,” Krajewski said. “Once we develop that mental aspect around the whole team and get everyone involved and people start buying into that passion, we’ll be good to go.”

The old adage is that hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard. If there’s any hope for UConn going forward, they better hope that it’s true.


Bryan Lambert is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at bryan.lambert@uconn.edu.