Football Preview: is there hope for UConn’s defense?

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The UConn Huskies lost to Syracuse 51-21 this Saturday in the Carrier Dome. David Pindell (5) lead the team once again with 151 passing yards and 113 rushing yards. Their next home game is on 9/29 against Cincinnati. (Photo by Eric Wang/The Daily Campus)

The question was framed around the recent firing of Wake Forest’s defensive coordinator but it was mostly certainly an attack on UConn’s uninspiring defense and the man with the headset, defensive coordinator, Billy Crocker.

“I’m just curious your philosophy on that?” was the question at head coach Randy Edsall’s weekly press conference.

“What does that have to do with us? I’m done, I can see where this is going,” said Edsall as he made his early exit stage left.

The message was clear. There were going to be no answers regarding UConn’s defense on that day.

And there might not be any going forward.

After four weeks, UConn is dead last in the FBS in points allowed per game (54.5) and yards allowed (664). However, if it’s any consolation, they do rank third to last on opposing third-down conversion rate. After Syracuse offense ran through, around and over the Huskies defense for 636 total yards last week, Edsall verbally waved a white flag.

“We shouldn’t be playing with this many freshmen and sophomores,” said Edsall in the bowels of the Carrier Dome last week. “But we are. So what we’re going to do is make the best of it.”

UConn has shaken things up on defense week to week. Sophomore Darrian Beavers has made the switch from linebacker to the defensive line. Ian Swenson has taken over Marshé Terry as UConn’s Husky designation, a hybrid of safety and linebacker. Keyshawn Paul, Ryan Caroll and Jeremy Lucien rotated at corner back the first three weeks before Edsall settled on Lucien. It hasn’t made a difference for the most part. When you’re forced to start eight first year players week to week as UConn has, it’s going to be an uphill battle the entire way.

And now, for the fifth straight week, UConn will play an opponent without a single tally in the loss column. The 4-0 Bearcats are off to their best start since 2012 and received Top-25 votes in both major polls, The Associated Press and the USA TODAY coaches poll.

While not quite as prolific as UConn’s recent opponents, Cincinnati still has an offense that should have UConn fans preparing for the worst. The Bearcats’ offense averages 426 yards per game, running back Michael Warren averages over 100 yards and has recorded eight touchdowns and quarterback Desmond Riddler’s 157.7 quarterback rating is 31st in the nation and fourth in the conference.

As bad as UConn’s defense has been, David Pindell has been nearly equally as good. The senior quarterback is currently the only player quarterback in the conference averaging over 200 passing yards per game and averaging another 100 yards on the ground. If there is a path to victory for UConn on Saturdy, Pindell will likely need to be the one to find it, strap the entirety of UConn’s roster to his back and lead them the entire way.

Either that or this week’s game is delayed several years until almost the entirety of UConn’s defense is old enough to drink.

Most likely though, UConn and Cincinnati play as scheduled; at Rentschler Field this Saturday at 3:30 p.m.


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

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