A day after UConn was embarrassed in the home opener at the hands of FCS Towson, coach Paul Pasqualoni said that the problems can be ironed out on the practice field. And maybe that's true -- but only to a point. The Huskies lost five players to the NFL Draft, and four were starters on defense: DE Trevardo Williams, LB Sio Moore, CBs Dwayne Gratz and Blidi Wreh-Wilson. For an idea of just how important these players were, Moore and Gratz are now starters in Oakland and Jacksonville, respectively.
So all the practice in the world won't magically fix everything, and surely Pasqualoni knew that coming into a season in which he desperately needs to win more than he loses. Sadly, that could be a tall order. UConn has this weekend off before they'll host Maryland and Michigan in back-to-back games. There's the very real possibility that the Huskies head into the final week of September still looking for their first win.
And while Pasqualoni can talk about needing more consistency from his quarterback, Chandler Whitmer, the reality is that the defense is just as culpable.
Details via The UConn Blog:
UConn generated little pass rush all night (and zero sacks) without its best sack artists from 2012, Trevardo Williams and Sio Moore, who accounted for more than 59 percent of the team’s quarterback takedowns last year. Part of this was due to the assorted quick throws designed by Tigers coach Rob Ambrose to keep (QB Peter) Athens away from a rush. In addition, Towson boasts a pair of excellent offensive tackles to stem pressure, but it’s hard to imagine many of the Huskies future opponents will boast worse.
Thus, UConn may have to generate pressure schematically for the remainder of the season. This poses a big problem because not only have the Huskies lost their top pass rushers from 2012, but also their best cover men in Blidi Wreh-Wilson and Dwayne Gratz. You can’t blitz frequently without the protection of good, consistent coverage in the back end.
Now, you could blame this on bad luck -- the Huskies just happened to lose a handful of their best players at the same time -- but this all goes back to Pasqualoni's inability to recruit players capable of stepping up. Now, it's early. The season isn't even a week old, but if UConn is blown out at home by Towson, it's reasonable to question how everything could have gone so wrong so fast. Luckily, Pasqualoni has 11 more games to prove that he can fix this.