In many ways, it was perfect to have players from the Huskies’ classic Fiesta Bowl season at the game.
That 2010-2011 season was, after all, the last one with a winning record for the Huskies. It was the season that made now-retired coach Edsall’s career. We now sit in the season that so abruptly has seen the end of it.
This year’s Huskies could not look more different from that Fiesta Bowl representative team. After opening the season with an 0-45 and then dropping a stunningly poor game to Holy Cross last week many fans doubted if it could really go much worse for UConn.
And that’s when Purdue showed up and scored touchdowns on seven straight possessions, two of them in a second-half where the starters were primarily not playing for Purdue. There was no point in that game, not from the first snap. It truly felt like the Huskies had any right to be on the field.
UConn has scored zero points in two FBS games while at the same time giving up 94. Purdue’s starting quarterback, Jack Plummer, was 16-20 with four touchdowns. Backup Aidan O’Connell went 9-11 for 2. Their wide receiver David Bell had three touchdowns on over 120 receiving yards, and five different plays for Purdue caught or ran in touchdowns.
On the UConn side, newly first-string quarterback Steven Krajewski went 14-of-25 for 99 yards with one interception and no touchdown. It was arguably not the worst quarterback performance for UConn this season, which is perhaps a sign of how poorly the performances have gone this season.
Krajewski’s best moments were with his feet; he added 46 yards to his total on 11 rushing attempts and had a pretty nice first down on a 12-yard move early on in the game. It was for many a sign that at least Krajewski had an understanding of the positionings on the field, especially given the weakness of the offensive line for the Huskies, and was able to capitalize on it in that moment.
But nothing Krajewski did or didn’t do mattered. Speaking after the game, he said “I’ll get better. My teammates will get better, the coaching will get better.” Perhaps that’s all there was left to say; it’s not as though all those things aren’t needed, although it does feel rare to hear a player openly say people beside themself, especially the coaching staff, need to improve.
Interim head coach Lou Spanos was also critical. “We feel awful. Our team feels awful that we’re not executing.” It feels like classic coach speak but it’s also a reality for the team at this point; they’re not executing. They had one play that got within the 20-yard line, but it was not against the first-stringers, and they lost the ball on a fourth-and-five around the 15 that could’ve been an easy field goal to end the shutout.
Now, the Huskies look toward a season that still has piles of road mines. Army waits next week, Clemson in November looms like a shadow. Many fans fear that that game will be one of the worst in recent memory; the 0-49 this week was already the worst loss in living memory. The last time UConn lost this badly was 1931.