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The View From Section 241

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O.K., let's try to put feelings and analysis together and come up with something here. Let's start by stating the obvious (at least to me): for the most part, players win and lose games, not coaches. We are clearly lacking offensive playmakers. We lost the one we had last year, and have not replaced him. And that fact is 90% on the old coaching staff, not the new one. It is not 0% on the new staff by the way -- they could have gone after a JUCO QB or TB or WR but didn't. It's not that they needed 11 new players -- they needed one to take heat off of everyone else. But the bulk of the offensive problems were inherited by P, not caused by him. Having said that, I will make two points (both of which have been made in other threads but I am going to try to bring this together). The first is we looked as badly outcoached (not outplayed or outmotivated but out coached) as we have ever been. The inability to get players on and off the field on both sides of the ball, and to look organized while the ball was being snapped, was incredible. Forget that we've never seen that from UConn -- I don't know that I've ever seen it at a BCS level. But the second is the more important. For all our problems, that was a win last night. When we went up 7, it was clear to everyone in the building -- to everyone watching -- that their offense was not coming back on our D. In fact, if they were forced to play from behind they were likely to keep coughing it up and we would have scored more. The only way we were going to lose -- the only way -- was to turn the ball over on offense leading to a score. Combine that with an inadequate QB, and the first rule when the offense went out on the field up 7 should have been no throws on 3rd and long. Frankly, that would have been a time to put McCummings in and have an added running threat. But you leave Johnny Mac in -- fine -- but you can't throw there. That was absolutely on the coaches. Absolutely. And Waylon saying he was madder at the Temple game, as it relates to the coaches, is stupid. We lost to Temple because they outplayed us. I'm not saying we weren't outcoached too, but they made plays and we didn't. We did not have the game won and simply give it away with stupidity. Anyone unable to admit that has no credibility. None. And I say that as someone who will absolutely give P and his staff time before I conclude this hiring was a mistake. But, mistake or not, the coaches cost us the game. They were not the ones inept on offense (although they contributed mightily) but they allowed a game we had won to be lost.

The offense was so bad that it's hard to even write about individuals. The OL, as a unit, didn't do its job, but to some degree this is like the loss at Piscataway last year - If they keep loading 8 in the box, and rushing them, there is little the OL can do if the QB and WRs can't make a play. The WRs -- now we have yet another QB and are looking to blame him for the WRs just not making plays. That may be the case. I'd have to be an expert and see film. But I'm not seeing WRs getting open quickly on sharp moves against press coverage like they need to. The fact that we play WRs so much less than in the past -- running friggin wishbones from the goal line and often using Ryan G. split out -- says something about what the coaches think of the situation. I'm not a big fan of a lot of what we're doing on O, but I will assume that has more to do with personnel then schemes. The lack of organization and preparation, however, is another thing. At QB, before the first snap, I had actually convinced myself that Johnny Mac needed to be given the reigns. Why? Because there are so many horrific pass defenses in our conference I thought that would give us the best chance of winning. Now I don't know. I don't understand not coming in with Nebrich in the 4th, but I'm not at practice all the time and someone here has implied he might have been hurt. I will say this, however: if you weren't going to give him more than 3 snaps last night, as bad as Johnny Mac was, why did we take his redshirt off. (However, as for the comment that someone is convinced he's not the long term answer -- please. That's just silly at this point.) At TB, Shoemate is clearly hurt. Why? Because even if the coaches weren't giving anyone other than McCombs a carry (which I doubt), DJ would be playing the 3rd and long package. If he's not, he's not better. We need him. McCombs has done a credible job -- good decisions and vision and patience -- but goes down too easily to be a real #1. The fact that we have no other answers is very disappointing.

The defense, however, was good, but more of a mixed bag than people are discussing. Yes, they produced the big return TD, and played very well, but they gave up way too many big plays against an offense that is just not that good or full of playmakers. Would the game have been a win if we played the whole game more conservatively on D? There is no way of telling that. It's not as automatic that aggressive is good as many of you make it out to be. But the D was overall good, and was dominant through the middle of the game. The whole game would have been better had we not given up the second TD from lack of organization, but it is what it is. Was unfortunate but funny seeing Gratz getting beat for 7 deep, since Hughes, Orlando and Edsall were declared idiots for not having him closer to the line of scrimmage all last year. Another thing I've seen not one mea culpa on here. I am hard pressed picking out indiviudual performances, both because I only watched on TV and because everyone seemed to contribute. Not to pick on one guy, but the long run that led to the game winning FG was because back up Safety Tymeer Brown, who had contaiment on the offense's right, whiffed on the tackle at the line of scrimmage.

Special teams was a mixed bag. Obviously, the blocked punt was a huge play in the game, and not one that was likely to have been made under the prior regime. Great job by the special teams coach on that play. But, having said that, the same unit was woeful on punt returns (or even catching them). Nick Williams doesn't look like he bears any resemblance to the returner of last year. Why Taylor Mack was named as the punt returner and never given a chance ... if it were Edsall, many would be criticizing the misinformation. Frankly, I don't care but it was puzzling we never made a switch there. Cole Wagner was not as bad as last week but not good yet either. I thought Chad Christen had a good game. Coverages were fine.

This was a bad loss, there is no point sugarcoating it. Because it was a game we had to win and one we had won but for a brain fart. A loss Friday night would put us in a very, very tough spot. And a loss will occur if we don't get more offensive productivity. We might be able to beat Buffalo and WMU with defense only, but I don't think we can beat Iowa State that way. We'll see. I hope to god the offense looks less disorganized, but organization will not in and of itself give us QB play. One of the three options need to do that.
 

ConnHuskBask

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As always, The View from Section 241 is the only thing on the Boneyard that resembles any sense of rational human thought.

Kudos BL.
 
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the punt return unit is something that hasnt been talked about a lot....but you're totally right. either something is wrong with nicky williams, or theres a problem with the blocking scheme. its no where near good looking, and its hurting us a lot right now.
 
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Better you than me . . . capturing so much of this latest UConn football fiasco. You got most of it and that was no small feat. What's obvious is that Donald Brown, Andre Dixon, Jordan Todman & yes, Marcus Easley obscured some enormous weaknesses in this program.
 
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Better you than me . . . capturing so much of this latest UConn football fiasco. You got most of it and that was no small feat. What's obvious is that Donald Brown, Andre Dixon, Jordan Todman & yes, Marcus Easley obscured some enormous weaknesses in this program.

TDH: I would not say they obscured some enormous weaknesses. All offenses are weak if you don't have at least one playmaker. We have been below where we need to be at QB for the last six years. No question. But you can win with below average QB play. The playmaker doesn't have to be the QB. The problem we have now is we have below average QB play but are not as dominant on the ground as we have been the last 4.5 seasons. And, if you're not generating huge yardage throught the air, you can't turn it over. Where we disagree is I think we, as a program, have done a great job establishing a winning tradition without, for the most part, above average QB play.
 

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Good stuff as always BL
 

uconnbaseball

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Iowa State is a make or break game. Win that, we are probably 4-1 (at worst 3-2) going into Big East play, and from there are almost certainly bowl bound. Lose, which I think we will, and our season is in jeopardy.
 
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Iowa State is a make or break game. Win that, we are probably 4-1 (at worst 3-2) going into Big East play, and from there are almost certainly bowl bound. Lose, which I think we will, and our season is in jeopardy.

Iowa St looked pretty damn good. I'm not thinking we have too great of a chance here.
 
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TDH: I would not say they obscured some enormous weaknesses. All offenses are weak if you don't have at least one playmaker. We have been below where we need to be at QB for the last six years. No question. But you can win with below average QB play. The playmaker doesn't have to be the QB. The problem we have now is we have below average QB play but are not as dominant on the ground as we have been the last 4.5 seasons. And, if you're not generating huge yardage throught the air, you can't turn it over. Where we disagree is I think we, as a program, have done a great job establishing a winning tradition without, for the most part, above average QB play.


Won't disagree - at least too much. Yes, playmakers come in different forms, QB being only one position. However in the 2K generation, the quickest and easiest way to level the playing field is to get a good QB & some playmakers. Cases in point would be Texas Tech trying to compete with Texas. Ditto Okla St going up against the Sooners. Those programs have never been able to match up player for player, but an effective passing game gives them a chance.
 
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Thanks Biz.

I am not a fan that calls to fire a coach after every loss. I am still hopeful that this crew can continue the development and success established by the prior regime. But, this was an awful start. Calling for the pass. How about goal to go inside the five and we don't get in as we try to sub in for McCummings? Really? How about running up Ryan's ass and pulling a guard? With four tries, does it need to be more complicated than that? I am very concerned that Coach D is a guy who makes things more complicated than they need to be. Now, he has forgotten more football than I will ever know, but, good lord, we have three QBs and a complicated offense and a solid Oline. Push peole off the of scrimmage and get the ball in the end zone!

Biz is exactly right about the D. That style works great when it works. When it doesn't, it's a big play machine. That said, the kids were terrific for the most part last night. I love the way our linebackers run.

Well, I'm disheartened, but I will be there on Friday and will, of course, predict a victory.

Oh yeah, McCombs will not make another 2-3 games at 25+ carries per game. There had better be another body to carry the rock.
 

uconnbaseball

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I will add that Iowa State looked horrible week one, and they needed triple overtime to beat a mediocre Iowa team. They should be favored against us, but are not unbeatable.
 
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O.K., let's try to put feelings and analysis together and come up with something here. Let's start by stating the obvious (at least to me): for the most part, players win and lose games, not coaches. We are clearly lacking offensive playmakers. We lost the one we had last year, and have not replaced him. And that fact is 90% on the old coaching staff, not the new one. It is not 0% on the new staff by the way -- they could have gone after a JUCO QB or TB or WR but didn't. It's not that they needed 11 new players -- they needed one to take heat off of everyone else. But the bulk of the offensive problems were inherited by P, not caused by him. Having said that, I will make two points (both of which have been made in other threads but I am going to try to bring this together). The first is we looked as badly outcoached (not outplayed or outmotivated but out coached) as we have ever been. The inability to get players on and off the field on both sides of the ball, and to look organized while the ball was being snapped, was incredible. Forget that we've never seen that from UConn -- I don't know that I've ever seen it at a BCS level. But the second is the more important. For all our problems, that was a win last night. When we went up 7, it was clear to everyone in the building -- to everyone watching -- that their offense was not coming back on our D. In fact, if they were forced to play from behind they were likely to keep coughing it up and we would have scored more. The only way we were going to lose -- the only way -- was to turn the ball over on offense leading to a score. Combine that with an inadequate QB, and the first rule when the offense went out on the field up 7 should have been no throws on 3rd and long. Frankly, that would have been a time to put McCummings in and have an added running threat. But you leave Johnny Mac in -- fine -- but you can't throw there. That was absolutely on the coaches. Absolutely. And Waylon saying he was madder at the Temple game, as it relates to the coaches, is stupid. We lost to Temple because they outplayed us. I'm not saying we weren't outcoached too, but they made plays and we didn't. We did not have the game won and simply give it away with stupidity. Anyone unable to admit that has no credibility. None. And I say that as someone who will absolutely give P and his staff time before I conclude this hiring was a mistake. But, mistake or not, the coaches cost us the game. They were not the ones inept on offense (although they contributed mightily) but they allowed a game we had won to be lost.

The offense was so bad that it's hard to even write about individuals. The OL, as a unit, didn't do its job, but to some degree this is like the loss at Piscataway last year - If they keep loading 8 in the box, and rushing them, there is little the OL can do if the QB and WRs can't make a play. The WRs -- now we have yet another QB and are looking to blame him for the WRs just not making plays. That may be the case. I'd have to be an expert and see film. But I'm not seeing WRs getting open quickly on sharp moves against press coverage like they need to. The fact that we play WRs so much less than in the past -- running friggin wishbones from the goal line and often using Ryan G. split out -- says something about what the coaches think of the situation. I'm not a big fan of a lot of what we're doing on O, but I will assume that has more to do with personnel then schemes. The lack of organization and preparation, however, is another thing. At QB, before the first snap, I had actually convinced myself that Johnny Mac needed to be given the reigns. Why? Because there are so many horrific pass defenses in our conference I thought that would give us the best chance of winning. Now I don't know. I don't understand not coming in with Nebrich in the 4th, but I'm not at practice all the time and someone here has implied he might have been hurt. I will say this, however: if you weren't going to give him more than 3 snaps last night, as bad as Johnny Mac was, why did we take his redshirt off. (However, as for the comment that someone is convinced he's not the long term answer -- please. That's just silly at this point.) At TB, Shoemate is clearly hurt. Why? Because even if the coaches weren't giving anyone other than McCombs a carry (which I doubt), DJ would be playing the 3rd and long package. If he's not, he's not better. We need him. McCombs has done a credible job -- good decisions and vision and patience -- but goes down too easily to be a real #1. The fact that we have no other answers is very disappointing.

The defense, however, was good, but more of a mixed bag than people are discussing. Yes, they produced the big return TD, and played very well, but they gave up way too many big plays against an offense that is just not that good or full of playmakers. Would the game have been a win if we played the whole game more conservatively on D? There is no way of telling that. It's not as automatic that aggressive is good as many of you make it out to be. But the D was overall good, and was dominant through the middle of the game. The whole game would have been better had we not given up the second TD from lack of organization, but it is what it is. Was unfortunate but funny seeing Gratz getting beat for 7 deep, since Hughes, Orlando and Edsall were declared idiots for not having him closer to the line of scrimmage all last year. Another thing I've seen not one mea culpa on here. I am hard pressed picking out indiviudual performances, both because I only watched on TV and because everyone seemed to contribute. Not to pick on one guy, but the long run that led to the game winning FG was because back up Safety Tymeer Brown, who had contaiment on the offense's right, whiffed on the tackle at the line of scrimmage.

Special teams was a mixed bag. Obviously, the blocked punt was a huge play in the game, and not one that was likely to have been made under the prior regime. Great job by the special teams coach on that play. But, having said that, the same unit was woeful on punt returns (or even catching them). Nick Williams doesn't look like he bears any resemblance to the returner of last year. Why Taylor Mack was named as the punt returner and never given a chance ... if it were Edsall, many would be criticizing the misinformation. Frankly, I don't care but it was puzzling we never made a switch there. Cole Wagner was not as bad as last week but not good yet either. I thought Chad Christen had a good game. Coverages were fine.

This was a bad loss, there is no point sugarcoating it. Because it was a game we had to win and one we had won but for a brain fart. A loss Friday night would put us in a very, very tough spot. And a loss will occur if we don't get more offensive productivity. We might be able to beat Buffalo and WMU with defense only, but I don't think we can beat Iowa State that way. We'll see. I hope to god the offense looks less disorganized, but organization will not in and of itself give us QB play. One of the three options need to do that.

FYI, UConn is a - 6 against Iowa State.


http://www.vegasinsider.com/college-football/odds/las-vegas/?s=698
 
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BL for someone who likes to lecture everyone else about obsessing with our former coach, you sure haven't been doing a good job of practicing what you preach lately. Is this what we're going to hear from you every time P screws up? I think you need to follow your own advice or stop preaching to everyone else about moving on from Edsall. And this is coming from a former Apologista.

Other than that, a good analysis. I'm not one of these Chicken Little guys. I felt a lot worse about this team after the Louiville fiasco last year than I do today. Only 2 games have been played. Step away from ledge.
 
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Not much to add to that. Everybody responsible for the offensive performance has to take a close look at what the focus is. Maybe, just maybe the three QB carousel has become a liability in limiting the overall preparation and compartmentalizing who does what. That's purely speculation but it doesn't excuse the obvious inablilty of JM AND his receivers to adjust to pressure, make good decisions and get in sync. The confusion on the sidelines was embarrasing and probably rattled JM as much as the defense did. I have to give some credit to Vandy though because they played with fire on "D" and the coaches didn't let up one bit.

Nobody is as bad as they looked on Saturday, but (including the coaches) we have something to prove this Friday. Prove we're ready for BCS level competition and speed, and ready to expose the weaknesses that a blitzing defense presents. And I don't think we need a Micheal Vick to do that.
 
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Never agreed much with BL. But, agree with this. I think we can all agree games are won and lost on the field 98% of the time. This one is on PP all the way. An atrocious display of incompetence. I use incompetence because the number of failures was astounding. It was not one bad decision. It was a series of bad judgments, confusion and mismanagement.

I give PP a grade of D for dreadful.
 
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Of the many elements mentioned that contributed to the loss, I don't include the Defense, O line, our special teams, Nick Williams, Cole Wagner, and our running game. They weren't the problem. Here were the problems.
1.The overly complex playbook that has players scratching their heads. What was that "in or out", time wasting, kabuke dance I kept seeing trying to get the right personnel packages on the field.? It looked like the switching back and forth of a projector in the film room.
2. The play calling. Yes the coaches had a bad night, but even with all the bad play, misreads, bad early coverages, dropped passes, interceptions and missed opportunities, we somehow had a touchdown lead late in the game. The Vandy offense was still hopelessly stuck on the 14 points they had scored early in the first half. They were not marching down that field against us in the last 6 minutes of that game. So here comes third down and the pick six. Maybe, if we had been a touchdown behind and needed to chase points I could actually excuse the wretched call. But we weren't, and it remains one of the worst strategic mistakes I can remember.
3. The QB play.
4. The receivers.
The only saving grace is that ISU is coming off one of their most emotional highs vs archrival Iowa, and the tape of our Vandy performance should have them rolling into Rentschler overconfident and ripe for a letdown.
 
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BL for someone who likes to lecture everyone else about obsessing with our former coach, you sure haven't been doing a good job of practicing what you preach lately. Is this what we're going to hear from you every time P screws up? I think you need to follow your own advice or stop preaching to everyone else about moving on from Edsall. And this is coming from a former Apologista.

Other than that, a good analysis. I'm not one of these Chicken Little guys. I felt a lot worse about this team after the Louiville fiasco last year than I do today. Only 2 games have been played. Step away from ledge.


To some degree, I think that is fair. I will defend my post by saying in this, the first game against a real opponent, the meltdown was so bad that I thought some statements of comparison were inevitable. I did put most of the blame for a lack of a playmaker on Edsall, and am by no means not behind him or giving him a fair shot here.
 
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Bizlaw: You're being to kind. I still have a headache 24 hrs. later. Great anaylsis. This team is a work in progress. Offensive turnover, learning a totally new system & terminology. What we saw yesterday in terms of personnel on offense, could be vastly different in couple of weeks. I won't jump off of a cliff. UConn is my alma mater, UConn football is my passion, but it's also entertainment, not the be all & end all. I'll enjoy the ride this season as we see the progress of this team during the season. Fastening the seatbelt as it will be a bumpy ride!
 
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Good stuff. One thing I would like to mention though is that the defense needed to be aggressive, in my opinion, and I'm glad they played that way. I understand they gave up some big plays as a result, but between the fumble return TD, sack deep in Vandy territory to set up the blocked punt TD, and pick to set up the field goal, they definitely broke even. When your defense breaks even you should win the game, I don't care who's on your offense.

If our defense plays more conservatively, I don't think we break even. And therefore we have even a less chance of winning. Kudos to them for rebounding from the big plays early and putting up some points. As for that last Vandy run, what can I say, hell of a play and he just had a few too many moves. Shame that play decided it.
 

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Great write up as usual.

Looking forward to actually watching a game this Friday (weddings have conspired to keep my eyes off our first two games thus far, though I've watched parts after the fact)... regardless, I'll throw my two three cents in.

- We have three QBs, none of which was capable of separating themselves as "the guy" this spring and summer. All we found out is that we had one guy who wasn't the guy (Box). So, no matter what, if Coach P plays "A", we will always second guess and say "He should have played B or C". And we will say this confidently without having seen nearly the amount of practices, games, or film that the coaching staff has. Regardless, JMac did play terribly by any measure... I'm very curious to see who is under center this Friday.

-The D is obviously further along than the O in terms of just being able to react, instead of having to think on every play. As many have noted, we have new schemes, new terminology, new philosophy... players have to unlearn their old assignments and learn the new. This takes time. It doesn't make Coach P awful, it doesn't make the players awful, it just takes a freakin long time to learn. And hopefully... each week... they get better at being able to just react to the stuff they learned previously, and installing some new layers based on that. Hopefully they hit Big East play having learned the schemes well enough to make some noise... we shall see. Point being - any doomsday portrayals are just WAYYYYY to premature at this point. There's still a lot to learn and a lot of room for the team to grow before this story is written.

-Randy may have been vanilla, but it was a very solid vanilla. Coach P is going to mix things up more. I think in the long run the risks (not executing particularly well the first two games of the Coach P era) are going to be worth the rewards both offensively and defensively.
 

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But I'm not seeing WRs getting open quickly on sharp moves against press coverage like they need to.

There were guys open all game, JMac didn't even look at most of them. On the rare instance he threw to right guy, it was a horrible pass. There was that sideline pass in the third period where he threw to an uncovered WR (I. Moore, I believe) who could of walked the 20 yeards for a score. Instead he threw way behind him. This was the worst QB performance in the D-1 era.

My take: I think in his heart PP knows that JMac isn't the guy. But the kid had the support of the players and the other QB's did not distinguish themselves enough to pull ahead. Coach P perhaps felt he had to wait until he played hinself out of the position to make a switch. That time is now.
 
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There were guys open all game, JMac didn't even look at most of them. On the rare instance he threw to right guy, it was a horrible pass. There was that sideline pass in the third period where he threw to an uncovered WR (I. Moore, I believe) who could of walked the 20 yeards for a score. Instead he threw way behind him. This was the worst QB performance in the D-1 era.

My take: I think in his heart PP knows that JMac isn't the guy. But the kid had the support of the players and the other QB's did not distignuish themselves enough to pull ahead. Coach P perhaps felt he had to wait until he played hinself out of the position to make a switch. That time is now.

I stand by my theory that P wants to eventually start Nebrich but didn't want to just throw him to the wolves at the beginning of the year. He wanted Mac to hold the fort, get Nebrich a few reps in each game, and eventually make the switch. I'm not sure he can wait to execute that plan any more.
 
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I think you hit it right on the head, biz. I have to agree that Mac played horribly, but our recieving corps isn't that good either...as far as play makers, we have none...McCombs might well be one in a year or two, he looks to have the tools, I thought, but he's a freshman and needs to add about 15-20 pounds. the guy has had 2 100 yard games, so he clearly has some talent. If you look at the running backs we've had, none have been asked to carry this load as a freshman. Even Caulley was held out of a few games as a frosh. Ideally, Shoemate comes back and can get some carries...Bototm line is I think Excalibur is probably right. the hope was Mac would hold the fort for a while until Nebrich has had a little more seasoning, at which point he'll take the reins. It might be Friday, it might be at half time of one of the next few games.
 
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