“I’m extremely frustrated,” said UConn tight end Ryan Griffin, who had one catch for four yards in the 10-7 loss against North Carolina State last Saturday. “What was so frustrating about last week is that we know we can do better.”
After beating UMass 37-0 in the season opener, UConn was only able to amass 239 yards of total offense against N.C. State. The Huskies turned the ball over four times and completed only two of their 12 third down attempts.
Coach Paul Pasqualoni and offensive coordinator George DeLeone will be looking for remedies as UConn prepares for Maryland Saturday and the first road game of the season.
“As Coach DeLeone and Coach Pasqualoni always say, ‘It’s never as good as it looks and it’s never as bad as it looks,’ ” said UConn quarterback Chandler Whitmer, who finished the game with 204 passing yards and three interceptions. “But those couple of mistakes I did make stood out to me and that’s something that I need to learn upon and cut them out.”
Whitmer has thrown five interceptions in his first two games for the Huskies, but no touchdowns yet.
“At the end of the day watching the film I thought Chandler played pretty good,” Pasqualoni said. “He hung in the pocket, took some whacks, got hit and he delivered the ball…. I thought Chandler [Whitmer] really showed some toughness last week.”
Seven points marks the lowest amount of scoring production for the Huskies during Pasqualoni’s tenure as head coach.
“I’m confident that we will get better and we’ll get things corrected,” he said. “It’s still early in the year.”
There are several areas in the UConn offense that may be contributing to the struggle. Some believe that the offensive line had many miscues on Saturday and issues with blocking led to a lack of offensive production.
According to Pasqualoni, Whitmer was stepped on at least once by his center and once by right guard during the game. This lack of execution may have caused other areas of the offense to suffer. Running back Lyle McCombs rushed for a rather pedestrian 60 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries during Saturday’s game. McCombs averaged 95.9 yards per game last season, through two games this year he has 142 total rushing yards.
“I think we just need to stay focused as an offense because we do have a job to do,” said McCombs. “I think we have to stop worrying about the crowd and just focus on what our job is and what we have to do and I think we’ll be alright.”
Whatever the reason might be for their shortcomings on offense, UConn seems poised to correct their mistakes. During Tuesday’s weekly press conference, the Huskies talked a lot about the offense and alluded to their focus being on the three C’s: communication, confidence and consistency.
“We can only control what we can control on the offensive side of the ball,” Whitmer said. “We have confidence in our defense and know that they’re going to keep us on the field and let us get opportunities. We just have to continue to work and straighten out what we have going on.”
As of right now the UConn ranks third in the nation in total defense. Their offense ranks 72nd in passing yards, 109th in rushing yards and 94th in points scored.
“It’s just communication out there,” said Griffin. “We’ve got to start making adjustments on the fly. The whole game plan we are going to keep the same because the game plan was not the problem, it was the execution. We just got to start making adjustments and getting more confident.”
“We’re just going to try to have a good week,” said Pasqualoni. “Have a consistent week of practice and go down and play a pretty talented young team.”
That talented young team is Maryland, coached by former UConn head coach Randy Edsall. The Terrapins are 2-0 this season coming off a 36-27 victory over Temple. This weekend’s game is full of many headlines due to Edsall’s infamous departure for Maryland after the 2010 Fiesta Bowl, but according to Griffin those emotions are nowhere near as important as winning this game is.
“We need a win desperately,” Griffin said.. “That’s the bottom line.”