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The View From Section 241

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Well, the goal this week was to get a win, because there is no scenario to a season that is not disastorous that did not include a win last night. And we got it. But, that was not a pretty win by any stretch, and the failure to answer questions after a third of the season is now done starts becoming the answer -- we need to assume that some of the questions will not be answered positively. Winning a conference game any way you can is fine. Buffalo? If we had last year's schedule with this year's team, a bowl bid would already be almost out of the question.

What a clusterf*** with the TV last night. No SNY coverage in FAirfield Co. because of the rescheduled Met's game (nobody's fault). But, we were also blacked out on ESPN3. Why? Because the game was supposed to be on SNY. It's amazing to me that in 2011 there is not the ability to make changes like this on the fly in terms of coordination between networks. In any event, I watched a tape this morning, but, knowing already that we won a boring game, can't say I was nearly as focused watching as I normally am.

On offense, I think we now know what is happening at QB. It is going to be Johnny Mac, at least until the point where either he falls apart under pressure or the season is down the tubes. He did look more composed last night, but it was Buffalo and you can't read too much into that. If Nebrich was going to have a chance to win the job, you would have seen more of him yesterday, Is he ready to contribute? We haven't seen enough in games to know, but you have to assume the Coaches have given him every chance to take the job. McCummings -- while I'm sure we'll continue to see him, he can't carry the ball 90% of the time he's in. How easy to defend is that? He's got to let TBs run out of the wildcat, and we have to throw it. At FB, I assume Hinckley is gone for a while. With Delahunt out as well, we're losing beef fast. McCombs, as I said before, is not up to what we're asking him to do. He goes down way too easily. Has the failure of the running game been entirely on him-- even primarily on him? Probably not. But other people need carries. I didn't see either Foxx or JJL from scrimmage yesterday. Having DJ in the third down packages is a big step forward, but someone else needs carries. I think the WRs are playing well. Huge game for Nick Williams (although, obviously, that game doesn't occur against a better D) and I. Moore followed up on his break out game with a very good first half (before we stopped looking for him at all). I don't understand the inability to get the ball to our TEs. Deleone liked doing that at Syracuse, and we've stopped. The mystery of the offense, however, is the OL which is just not playing with the physicality we're used to. Is it that they're being asked to play differently? More technique and less go after them? There are people here with far more expertise than me, but that's what it looks like. I did see Greene get some time in at LG. I don't think I saw Bardzak play, except when Moe Petrus went down.

Defense gave everything you could as for. Statements like "best UConn D ever," based on a game against Buffalo, are absurd, but they got the job done (and may earn that title by the end of the season). Trevardo wasn't finishing plays but was very disruptive, and it was great seeing Jesse Joseph back on the field (he didn't look quite right yet, but to be expected). The LBs continue to be solid. I'm very interested in what will happen when Jerome Williams is ready to go. I don't know that they are going to move Jory Johnson to the bench. Very nice job by Byron Jones filling in for Junior -- I think if Jerome gets back into the lineup it will be for Agbor, not Jones. Blidi was great before getting hurt by Tymeer Brown right before halftime. It looked like an arm/wrist, so let's hope it's not for long. Surprised to see Wilburn come in for him instead of Mack. I'd love to see Mack get his chance if Blidi is out for a while.

Our return teams continue to disappoint big time. Our kickoff coverage team is going to be a problem -- our wedgebusters are just not controlling the middle.

So that's it. It is getting harder and harder to imagine that we're really going to be a good team this year. We could be 4-0m and not 2-2, and most of the problems (other than our record) would remain. Getting to 6-6 may at this point be all we are capable of, and getting there is going to require winning with what we have and not hoping we have more than what we have. WMU, LV, Syracuse and Rutgers, all at home, are all still winnable games. And WMU might just be the hardest of those. WE need the crowd to come with the energy they had last week, and not the lack of it we saw against Buffalo last year. And we need the team to play within itself for 60 minutes, doing what it can do. Mostly, the coaches have to figure out why we're not pushing folks off the line of scrimmage when we have the ball and do something about it, whether it's the lineup, the plays or the mindset.
 
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Good post. I want Nebrich to start, but at this point it's clear that the coaches think McEntee is the best. Given that, I really wish we would play McEntee 100% of the snaps and give him the best possible chance to grow into the role. They aren't giving Nebrich enough snaps to let him establish himself - one pass is not enough. Given that, don't even bother - just go with McEntee. I don't think we can win with McEntee, but the coaches make the decisions and that is clearly the decision they want to make - so MAKE IT.

No turnovers yesterday was a big plus, and what we need in order to win any games. McEntee essentially threw an INT but Buffalo failed to catch it - other than that, I didn't notice any near misses.

The D is good, but I think we still only have 1 really great CB, and he got hurt last night. Byron Jones is the best safety on the team and needs to be out there. The LB's have been a pleasant surprise.

I'm pretty nervous for our game against Western Michigan (guessing we will not be favored in this one), but it will be a nice test. A narrow win over WMU will be much more impressive than 17-3 over Buffalo, but its questionable whether the fans will realize that. Making a bowl game at 6-6 would be huge for this team, especially to get those extra few weeks of practice. Unfortunately, at this point, I think that's the goal.
 
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I'm not throwing in the towel by any means, but I have resigned myself to the fact that it is going to be a rough year. I'm struggling to find 4 more wins on the schedule.

Side note, like we have created a new conf realignment board, we need to create a new one for the idiots calling for P's head after 4 games. I cannot stomach the constant dumb offs that occur on the topic any longer.
 
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Since I watched focused & saw the whole field. here are my summary points:

  • The 3 headed QB is the best we can do ... even if we are the only one of 120 FBS programs using it. McEntee is improving. He is never going to be a solid BCS QB; but, he is getting the offense moving ... basically without the running game we always thought was a given. And, his movement in the pocket is improving. Nebrich is not ready. A series or 2 a game will increase his development incrementally. I have come around to the notion that throwing him into a full game situation is only if we have an emergency. I think he is throwing a better ball (always had an arm. The one out (called back by penalty) was a solid throw & catch). McCummings package has to have some variability. He has to have some throws.
  • McCombs? I simply don't understand why you aren't giving JJL or Foxx or Shoemate carries against Buffalo. Particularly when McCombs is very ineffective. We are going to need a rotation. McCombs is going be absolutely fatigued.
  • WR? Yes ... YES. All 3 lettermen are playing better. Kashif & Isiah are in good form & reliable. And we have finally used Nick Williams & figured out how to get him the ball. WHY ... WHY ... are we not rotating in Tebucky or Geremy Davis at this point? Against Buffalo? We really need these 2 to be ready. And the TE was totally missing when we all thought that we could really utilize that position. Griffin is solid; throw him the ball regularly. I do think McEntee is suitably careful throwing the ball in the middle of the field.
  • OLine? Not good. And I think we are mostly watching our total lack of rushing yards. I think, though, we need to give Buffalo credit. They DO have an experienced big talented DLinee. Maybe up to a low-mid BCS level. Its the strong point of their team.
  • I think Blidi Wreh Wilson might be gone for awhile. Not speculating; there was some buzz after half in the stands. The drop off to Wilburn is big. He simply has limitations that BWW does not. And T Mack? What kind of Doghouse has Don Brown & PP built? Mack is missing when we all thought the kid had Moxie; the kid had Balls; and he obviously showed he had game. I simply don't know.
  • The LBs are coming along. Jory Johnson has played far better than I expected. Kudos to him. He is active. Not a star ... not Lutrus/Wilson. Just solid. Sio Moore is kinda stuck. I really feel Brown has him playing some kind of rover & not specific assignments; that has served to lessen his number of tackles & hits. Are we more disruptive with what he is doing? I dunno. Smallwood is a good player & I expect him to get better. Unlike last year, no other LB gets rotated in. Edsall did get other guys some play over the course of a game.
  • Line is funny. Often time before a play, you see one or 2 guys just standing up and moving around. I don't like it. But do we have more pressure? Yep. Kendall Reyes is playing great. Jennings and TWilliams are very very active. Jesse Joseph made his presence felt. Twyon Martin got his name called a lot. Ryan Wirth & Shamar Stephens were often in play. I love the talent and results. Just confused by the constant moves.
  • Let's remember that the other team has strengths. Saying this is "just Buffalo" doesn't recognize a lot about this Buffalo team versus what we saw in the last 10 years. Solid QB (who did not have his best game last night); 2 really good WRs; a decent ability to run; a really good DLine. They can play.
 
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I think you will hear more comments about O line play this year, due to fact that no one is going to respect the passing game. They will game plan for the run. This makes the O line look bad.
 

whaler11

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Buffalo's next 4 are @ Tennessee, Ohio, @Temple, Northern Illinois.

Can we revisit them on Oct 23rd at 1-7 after they lose the next 4 by 100+ points combined?

If they get the Miami (OH) game they could win 4.
 
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You're wrong.

Some want to place this Buffalo team with the awful UB teams we've seen over the last 10 yrs. They are better than that.
 
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You're wrong.

Some want to place this Buffalo team with the awful UB teams we've seen over the last 10 yrs. They are better than that.

They aren't, but keep telling yourself that. It's getting really tiring hearing how every single team (starting with FORDHAM!) is soooo much better than they have been in past years.

Just kidding ourselves.
 

whaler11

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You're wrong.

Some want to place this Buffalo team with the awful UB teams we've seen over the last 10 yrs. They are better than that.

Ok, what's their record on Oct 23rd? How do they possibly win more than 4 games?
 
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My eyes.

I assume you weren't at UB Stadium last night. That is a good UB team. They'll get skunked by Tennessee; and Temple(?) is obviously not your Mama's Temple. But, this Buffalo team is BETTER than their bowl team. My eyes tell me that.
 

whaler11

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My eyes.

I assume you weren't at UB Stadium last night. That is a good UB team. They'll get skunked by Tennessee; and Temple(?) is obviously not your Mama's Temple. But, this Buffalo team is BETTER than their bowl team. My eyes tell me that.

Your eyes are an answer to what? How they win more than 4 games? Which teams on their schedule do they beat?
 
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Great post BL, I'm still puzzled how we managed to take such a huge step back on special teams. We lost Sherman and changed the coverage scheme but still we're back to 2008 levels when we let Rutgers and UNC block punts and we couldn't get our returners past the 20 yrd line. I'm not sure who to give the credit to for the 2009-2010 performance because Maryland was also atrocious in ST yesterday and Johnson did go with Edsall...
 
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we aren't a good team... but lets all take a step back and realize we're playing with 3 qb's who have absolutely no experience and aren't very good yet and we're a bad play call against Vandy away from being 3-1. We were in the Iowa St game as well. for as bad as things have been we've been in every game. do what you can to get by for now until we progress.
the problem to me still lies in the fact that game to game i don't see much progress. the oline is getting worse, the qb position is slightly better but not by much, the running game is at best the same as it was week 1. WR's have actually stepped up with I. Moore seemingly a real option out there and Nick Williams showing some life. I wish i could sit here and say, 'things are coming together, just give it time' but i just don't see it. we are basically playing field position football with the defense, still taking some chances w McEntee which will lead to turnovers against better D's and we can't run the ball effectively... its not a good recipe for success.
i am hoping we see the offensive line step up before the big east schedule starts or we're just in hope and pray mode that he defense can carry us going forward.
 
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I saw a decent amount of Geremy Davis yesterday. I didn't notice Jones.

The Taylor Mack thing bothers me. I know every coach has dog houses, but I don't even see this kind on special teams and he may be one of our best 2 or 3 athletes.
 
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Buffalo's next 4 are @ Tennessee, Ohio, @Temple, Northern Illinois.

Can we revisit them on Oct 23rd at 1-7 after they lose the next 4 by 100+ points combined?

If they get the Miami (OH) game they could win 4.
Given the way this week in College Football turned out, with more close games than we thought, there are no more cupcakes on the schedule. WM will be difficult as they only lost by 4 I think to Ill.
 

Chin Diesel

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I saw a decent amount of Geremy Davis yesterday. I didn't notice Jones.

The Taylor Mack thing bothers me. I know every coach has dog houses, but I don't even see this kind on special teams and he may be one of our best 2 or 3 athletes.

I definitely noticed Davis out there. He's a target and draws defenders attention.

Tebucky Jr. has dropped a couple of passes this year already and I think it's gonna be tough for him to see more action this year.

The Oline has been poor so far. Everyone here should trust Foley as the line coach. He's been golden with his decisions and putting out consistently good lines. The left side is brand new right now and they didn't look good yesterday. It's going to be a work in progress.

Our pass defense is going to be hurting if BWW is out for more than the directional Michigan game.
 
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I definitely noticed Davis out there. He's a target and draws defenders attention.

Tebucky Jr. has dropped a couple of passes this year already and I think it's gonna be tough for him to see more action this year.

The Oline has been poor so far. Everyone here should trust Foley as the line coach. He's been golden with his decisions and putting out consistently good lines. The left side is brand new right now and they didn't look good yesterday. It's going to be a work in progress.

Our pass defense is going to be hurting if BWW is out for more than the directional Michigan game.


Foley, obviously, has nothing to prove. But I don't think this is primarily that the OL isn't doing what it used to do as well. I see less straight ahead, one on one drive blocking than we're used. to (with the one OG pulling) and muchmore influencing. I'd really rather turn our OL loose to start hitting gain (if I'm seeing it correctly)
 
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How low are we setting the bar. . . . . Debating whether this is a good Buffalo team or one of the worse. It's Buffalo! Let 's see hoe Tennessee handles them. The goal is BCS teams - and how UConn does against them. It's not 2002 anymore, touting wins against MAC teams.
 
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Foley, obviously, has nothing to prove. But I don't think this is primarily that the OL isn't doing what it used to do as well. I see less straight ahead, one on one drive blocking than we're used. to (with the one OG pulling) and muchmore influencing. I'd really rather turn our OL loose to start hitting gain (if I'm seeing it correctly)

I could not agree more with this.

If we can't figure out a way to run the ball and keep folks honest on the line of scrimmage games against Pitt and WVU and USF will be downright gorry. Mac will simply not make it through the season. I will say it again, DeLeone scares the hell out of me, because I can't even begin to understand what he is trying to accomplish with this offense. Hopefully, he's a genius and I'm a dope.
 
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Since ATT Uverse, at least mine, carried the Mets, I had to listen to the game...I could have watched any number of games, including some 1AA ones, but not UCONN...very frustrating. But the one thing that I think you missed in your summary was Smallwoods INT in th endzone. I suppose it was implied in your general comments, but to me it was an important play because the D finally came up huge in the red zone. Despite playing overall well, they haven't made these big game changing plays against either Vandy or Iowa State. They let both Iowa State and Vandy score too easily at times.

As far as the overall offense is concerned, it is turning out the way I feared it might. The combination of no experieicned quarterback (and in hindsight I don't know why we didin't try to land a JUCO, since even a 2nd line JUCO like Tracy might have helped), no experienced running back and a totally new offense is taking a long time to fully transition. and that is impacting the line play I suspect as much as anything. To a degree we've seen the same thing on the defensive side of the ball which accounts for the tendency to give up big plays, despite playing well generally. If they don't get discouraged, I htink this d will be very very good in a couple of weeks. I'm hopeful the offense will be adequate.
 
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Yes ... Nick Williams two plays & Yawin Smallwood's Endzone INT were huge; but, I thought another key factor was Cole Wagner's punting. Particularly the one that went over the returner's head and pinned them back.
 
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Yes ... Nick Williams two plays & Yawin Smallwood's Endzone INT were huge; but, I thought another key factor was Cole Wagner's punting. Particularly the one that went over the returner's head and pinned them back.

AGREED - I was hoping he would come back to his late season form of last year, which was outstanding.
 
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Foley, obviously, has nothing to prove. But I don't think this is primarily that the OL isn't doing what it used to do as well. I see less straight ahead, one on one drive blocking than we're used. to (with the one OG pulling) and muchmore influencing. I'd really rather turn our OL loose to start hitting gain (if I'm seeing it correctly)

I'm going to defer to a statement / quote I read from Skip Holtz about his offense prior to season start. Remember that football is all blocking and tackling. All of it.

Skippy said last year, with new offense installed, everyone was still figuring out WHO to block. This year, they're on to HOW and WHY. They're averaging 45 points a game through 4 games. I hope he's still completely ignoring the defensive side of the ball, havent' watched any games yet from USF.

I think that we're in the same kind of boat on offense, still working on WHO to block,a nd not so much on the specifics of leverages and technique and how it fits into the play calls...and on top of that, we've got big issues when it comes to backfield protections. I love McCombs, but if he ends up matched up with a 6'2' 230lb linebacker or bigger on a defensive lineman, we're going to be in trouble a lot.

We're just very thin on offense.
 
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It's not new for a team with a new coach, new offense, new QB, new RB and several new O-Linemen to struggle to score. We shouldn't be THAT surprised by this.
 
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Another thing to realize is that we're going into games against opponents that have absolutely no respect whatsoever for our passing game, nor is there any evidence yet on film that WMU needs to respect it on saturday either. We are playing against regular stacked boxes on offense with at least 8 defenders close to the line of scrimmage and defenses that are sending run blitzes and have safeties breaking in toward the line of scrimmage. This is one of the reasons why we've had so many wide open receivers down field. Got to get the blockign down and get the ball out there and on target, and caught better.

Defenses are begging our offense to get unbalanced and start playing through the air. But we're staying balanced and run heavy in the play calling, because you've got to be consistent in football.

We've got plenty of opportunity to make teams pay, even if we go under 2 yards a carry like we did against Buffalo.

Until we can start making defenses pay for stacking up and selling out to stop the run on a regular basis, defenses won't stop doing it week in and week out.
 
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