Football Recap: UConn continues to struggle on both sides of the ball against Cincinnati

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UConn quarterback Marvin Washington scrambles away from a Bearcat defender during a game against Cincinnati on Sept. 29, 2018. (Nicholas Hampton/ The Daily Campus)

The UConn Huskies fell to the Cincinnati Bearcats 49-7 Saturday afternoon, dropping to 1-4 on the season and 0-2 in conference.

The Huskies offense came out of the gates strong and opened up the game with a 5-play, 75-yard touchdown drive in under two minutes. They recorded three first downs on the first three plays before quarterback David Pindell found senior wide receiver Kyle Buss for a five-yard score.

This was the first touchdown of Buss’ UConn career, establishing him as one of Pindell’s top targets, leading the team with 213 receiving yards through the first five games.

“It felt good,” Buss said. “We’re up 7-0, so, had a great drive to start the game, and get down there and put the ball in the end zone. Doesn’t get better than that.”

That would be all the offense for the entire game for UConn. They only came close to scoring again just once in the first half, when towards the end of the second quarter Pindell completed a pass to senior tight end Aaron McLean along the side of the end zone. However, the play was ruled incomplete on the field due to not being in bounds and even though it looked like McLean got a foot down, the call stood after a review. The offense ended up stalling and the drive finished with a Michael Tarbutt missed 39-yard field goal.

This would prove to be the turning point of the game. UConn was only down 14-7 at the time of the missed field goal with just 1:01 left in the half. Cincinnati proceeded to drive 79 yards down the field and score in just 38 seconds.

Multiple players after the game expressed how a missed field goal at a time like that really demoralizes the team, including David Pindell.

“Missing the field goal kind of killed us,” Pindell said. “All of our players kind of seemed like they got down after that field goal miss.”

Defensive back Tyler Coyle also chimed in.

“When you miss the field goal, all the energy on the team just deflated,” Coyle said.

What most likely could have been a 14-10 score heading into the half turned into 21-7.

The Bearcats received the second half kickoff and wasted no time, scoring a touchdown in just two plays and 33 seconds. They would go on to score three more touchdowns in the second half to complete their 49-0 run after UConn’s opening drive.

The Huskies only had two more red zone appearances the entire game. They squandered the first one when redshirt freshman Marvin Washington threw an interception at the 2-yard line and then turned the ball over on downs the second time during the last minute of the game.

Coach Edsall addressed the disappearance of the offense following the opening possession.

“They made an adjustment,” Edsall said. “They put a different guy on Aaron McLean, and then they went a little bit tighter coverage and we couldn’t get off people.”

UConn put up 266 yards of total offense, their second lowest mark of the season only ahead of the Boise State game. Running back Kevin Mensah rushed 15 times for just 25 yards, his worst game this season, and quarterback David Pindell only threw for 125 yards, his second lowest mark.

Meanwhile, the defense did their best to remain the worst in the entire country by giving up 659 yards of total offense to Cincy, with 339 coming through the air and 320 on the ground. Somehow, it bumped their average per game down from 664 to 663. UConn, who entered Sunday’s game last in Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) by over 100 yards, stayed put. The 49 points allowed was tied for the lowest amount this season with URI and lowered the average from 54.5 to 53.4.

The Cincinnati offense had four different people rush for touchdowns, including quarterbacks Desmond Rider and Hayden Moore. Running back Michael Warren II led the team with 106 yards on the ground and two touchdowns, and Taylor Boose added 66 yards and a touchdown while only playing in the fourth quarter.

Cincinnati was 7-14 on third down conversions and 3-4 on fourth down, as the Huskies struggled to find an answer for them all game. The one fourth down stop was the first for UConn all season. UConn, on the other hand, was just 3-13 on third down and 1-3 on fourth.

If one thing was certain from the post-game press conference, it was that the game was on Edsall. He repeatedly took the blame, saying “that’s on me” or some variant at least six times.

“It’s all on me,” Edsall said to conclude the press conference. “It’s not on anybody else but me.”

Next week UConn travels to Tennessee to take on the 3-2 Memphis Tigers, who last year hung 70 points on the Huskies at home. With the defense taking a further step back this year, viewers will likely experience some déjà vu.


Jorge Eckardt is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at jorge.eckardt@uconn.edu.

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