The View From Section 241 | The Boneyard

The View From Section 241

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Before the season started, I wrote that I didn't know what to make of this team. During the season, it was often hard to decide what to make of this team. So, I should not be at all surprised that, yesterday, with the season on the line, I don't know what to make of that game and our effort. Were we totally outmanned, outschemed, out desired and generally outclassed by a team we shouldn't have thought we could beat? So I should view the second half as meaningless garbage time after the result had been decided? Or did we see two individual horrific mistakes by one player dig us a 14 point hole, send the team into an emotional tailspin, and when we climbed out of it we got within one score but it was too little too late because players didn't make plays that were available to them? While I imagine it's some of both, the analysis is really different depending on which way you saw the game.

If you saw it the former way -- that we sucked -- you ignore the entire second half and just focus on what you saw in the first. Which was a QB unable to play on this level. An OL that looked like it didn't give a crap. A defense that was often uninterested and uninspired. Coaches who didn't have their team ready to play emotionally, hadn't been able to eliminate mistakes through a three month season and couldn't recognize quickly enough (not for the first time) that when a team sells out to stop McCombs you can beat them with play action, and that it would be o.k. to give up some rushing yards now and then to stop a team from carving us up through the air like a gourmet chef carving up a Holiday turkey. We were awful. We were down 28-6, it wasn't 28-3 only because we ended the half with a gift FG on a ridiculous rushing the passer call and you would never see how we went 8-4 last year with largely the same players, and competed in most of our games this year against opponents not greatly inferior to yesterday's Bearcats.

On the other hand, you could just as easily see the game as we didn't know how well the team was prepared or schemed in the first half because when JM singlehandedly handed the other team 14 points (and it was very close to singlehandedly -- neither of those playes required us to be in any trouble whatsoever) we saw a hole too deep for the way we play (especially having lost McCummings as well) and what we saw was a team with no focus, intensity or emotion get beat upon. Then, to their credit, the coaches got everyone focused at half time and we saw a team able to crawl back into the game, but not do what it had to do (which was to take advantage of every opportunity you had to make a play) to actually let us win. That includes Ryan Griffin making another huge fumble. That inclued Tebucky Jones not completing the TD catch (and he didn't). It includes Geremy Davis not slowing down when he broke open on a playaction route (I actually think that ball was thrown perfectly, but Davis didn't run the play at full speed). It includes Trevardo Williams, having been frustrated most of the game, not just whiffing on a sack where he came in clean (because that can happen) but, inexcusably, letting the QB avoid him by going to the outside, rather than the inside, turning a huge loss into Cincy's final TD. It includes, as I'm used to, burning time outs earlier than you need to. And it includes, on the final drive, not having 9 in the box and determining that if Cincy was going to run the clock out they were going to have to put it in the air to do it. I could go on and on. The second half was a solid effort, but not one where we took advantage of every opportunity. And, when you're 22 down, you are only coming back if you take advantage of every opportunity.

So, which of those two was it? Don't know and, with the season over and me worn down, largely don't care. I know this -- we lost both the LV game and the Cincy game without giving up huge amounts of total yardage because, as much as any other factor, we didn't force a FG attempt in either game. From a bend but don't break defense we went to one that, the moment you bent it, you were getting into the end zone. I'll look up our redzone TD allowed percentage when I review the year in a week or so, but without having done it feel free to compare those two numbers and explain the difference to me. I know this board loves "either or" conclusions, but I'm able to give the staff a pass for our offensive issues, as they inherited an offense without playmakers and tried to install what they believe will be better systems for the future. I have a lot less sympathy for our coaching on the defensive side of the ball. We had too many players have issues with the schemes, and not play as well individually as they had in the past. Might it be better next year? Sure. I understand what happened at Maryland. But you will never, never convince me that this team didn't go bowling this year if Brown had said to Hughes "I recognize you're returning nine starters from a unit that might be outstanding this year. Let's see how your way works and we'll talk about how to modify it after the season." Having said that, to be clear, while I thought we were outcoached on Saturday, that is not why we lost. We lost because their players played better, much better, than our players. Although we'll never know if it would have looked that way if JM just threw the ball away on both plays we turned it over and we were down 3-0 instead of 14-0 early.

I'm not doing offense, defense and specials because I've said most of what I have to. But let me add a few notes. Great way to cap a career for Dave Teggart. Four for four for the game, and his fourth 50 yard plus FG without a miss from that distance. It would have been nice, however, if the Chad Christen or Cole Wagner who kicked last week, or our KO coverage unit, bothered to show up. The D did not play poorly overall, but, as we've done repeatedly, 320 yards allowed can't turn into 21 pure offensive points. We have to learn to make stops in the red zone, which we just sucked at this year. On O, Greene and Masters just seemed to get obliterated by Cincy's DTs, but it seemed like instead of letting Petrus help them he spent most of the game looking for LBs to block.

So that's it. Frustrating game, frustrating season and not even sure whether to scream about the loss or just blame it on a funk created by JM's screwups. D returns 9 starters again. O loses 5, but is much better off at the skill positions going into next year than this one (every QB is back and more experienced and, if no one emerges to help McCombs, we still know we have a quality, if not star, BE TB in the fold). We'll see if the players and coaches can meld together better, especially on the defensive side of the ball.

As I said, I'll try to analyze the season in a week or so. After the hurt and frustration is gone.
 
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The first half was the worst football I've seen from UConn since we went FBS. And yes, I'm including the Navy game.

I don't know what to think about yesterday. I'm of the belief that JM just took us right out of the game and we didn't recover until the 3rd quarter. I'm glad the kids didn't quit.

Tough seeing Kash Moore's UConn career end the way it did (getting hurt).

I'm not looking forward to the bowl season at all. Tough year.
 
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Please don"t take this as patronizing (not intended)... thanks for your view and reviews all season. Overwhelmingly spot on.
 
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The first half was the worst football I've seen from UConn since we went FBS. And yes, I'm including the Navy game.

I don't know what to think about yesterday. I'm of the belief that JM just took us right out of the game and we didn't recover until the 3rd quarter. I'm glad the kids didn't quit.

Tough seeing Kash Moore's UConn career end the way it did (getting hurt).

I'm not looking forward to the bowl season at all. Tough year.
I tend to agree with you. Even the announcers commented that the team just looked dead after that second turnover pick six. Those turnovers were just plain deflating, couldn't have looked or felt worse. JM is a nice kid, tries hard, obviously, he was the best option we had. Not a great option, but that's what we had. It was a lost half of football.
 
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As always Biz, thanks for doing these. It drives (most times) good discussion and understanding of the games. A lot better than the typical fire the coach and can the QB conversation that dominates these boards everytime someone's team loses.

Cincy surprised me. I did not realize their defense was that good. Those DTs absolutely abused the interior of our line, a line that had really started playing pretty well. That LB they had was also very good. Munchie is very solid. Nice athlete and he can throw. Other than a bad decision here and there I thought he played very well.

Given that, we had to play near perfect ball to beat those guys at Nippert. Johny Mac made some terrible decisions that precluded that. I will say that this team deflates at times, but does not seem to give up. I will take that effort anytime. I'm not going to question the coaches on personnel choices, but I hope they look in the mirror regarding their own game management. The timeouts yesterday were and absolute bewilderment to me, especially in the second half.

I want to say a few things about Johny Mac. He is not the most physically gifted athlete playing at this level and he regressed in the first half yesterday with his decision making, reads and pocket presence. With that said, there have been times throughout this season where he could have easily packed it in and stopped trying to get better and help his team. There were times throughout this season where he had physically taken a pounding and could have looked for a blow on the sideline. All I ever saw was a player wanting to get back under center and try to help his team win ball games. By all appearances he is a quality person and competitor and I can certainly appreciate that. There is little doubt in my mind he will be ready to compete for the position next season with the expectation that he will be better.

As for next season, I hate to say it, but the offense may very well struggle again. Ryan and Petrus are big holes to fill. We had better hope the big ugglies are going to work their butts off to rebuild depth in that unit. I am really hoping that somebody steps up as THE QB and that we find another RB to compliment McCoombs who, inspite of a terrific and gutsy season, is not a workhorse back. My hopes anyway......
 
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Thanks BL for your great perspective. It's tough to figure this team, but despite all that has happened. The glass is half full going into next season.

Looking forward to he rest of the recruiting season and the spring game.

Have a great holiday season everybody. Time to settle in and enjoy Ryan Boatwright for awhile.
 
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First half on their TD drive Cinci had 3 3rd and longs with 2 being over 15 yds and they converted. This defense had major pass coverage issues.
 

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BL, I look forward to reading your write ups after every game. Thanks for the effort you put into them.
 
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If you saw it the former way -- that we sucked -- you ignore the entire second half and just focus on what you saw in the first. Which was a QB unable to play on this level. An OL that looked like it didn't give a crap. A defense that was often uninterested and uninspired. Coaches who didn't have their team ready to play emotionally, hadn't been able to eliminate mistakes through a three month season and couldn't recognize quickly enough (not for the first time) that when a team sells out to stop McCombs you can beat them with play action, and that it would be o.k. to give up some rushing yards now and then to stop a team from carving us up through the air like a gourmet chef carving up a Holiday turkey. We were awful. We were down 28-6, it wasn't 28-3 only because we ended the half with a gift FG on a ridiculous rushing the passer call and you would never see how we went 8-4 last year with largely the same players, and competed in most of our games this year against opponents not greatly inferior to yesterday's Bearcats.

From a bend but don't break defense we went to one that, the moment you bent it, you were getting into the end zone.

Great way to cap a career for Dave Teggart. Four for four for the game, and his fourth 50 yard plus FG without a miss from that distance .
These are all accurate observations. Offense this year, a joke
 
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Dont know if it was in response to you or somebody else, but last week when discussing the Cincy game, people were talking about concerns/expectations etc.

I remarked that my biggest concern was who got up on the scoreboard by at least 2 scores first. I wrote that if they did, we'd be scratching and clawing for whatever we can get, and if we did get up? look out, we'd be fine.

They did, and they did it such a fashion that it nearly broke the team, but we did regroup and scratch and claw our way back into it.

The only strength, and I mean ONLY, strength that this 2011 team had offensively in 2011 was being unpredictable and having so many different possibilities of going at a defense.

When you look at statistics and production, our offense was much improved in teh passing game from last year at essentially the same 52% completion rate, which in itself sucks. We didn't run the ball as well, or as often, some 40 carries less over the course of te season, (but no bowl game stats) and almost 1.5 less yards/carry average, but I don't fault the offensive line for the decrease in production there, McCombs is my MVP of 2011, but he's got work to do in getting stronger, thicker, and being able to beat a guy and break a tackle once he get through a hole. He had defensive backs literally able to pick him completely up and throw him down in the cincy game. He's just not a big back, but he can get stronger, and not at the cost of getting slower.

We simply didn't have players make the plays when they counted the most. And it wasn't because they weren't in position to make plays.

When you can get a decent lead on the scoreboard, that unpredictably on offense is a HUGE advantage. But when your down?

A defense can start taking a lot of risks and go after you and leave themselves open to things when they're up on the scoreboard as a team. That's exactly what's happened to us all year, when we have had to come from behind, and we didn't have enough play makers to put the ball in position and finish a play to make a defense pay for taking risks.
 
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Yes Biz, I echo the sentiments of others in appreciating your insights each week. It's a time consuming effort on your part but I'm sure, like all of us on the board, the time spent is a true labor of love.
I'm just sad that its over for the year. A Bowl game would have meant a lot, simply in keeping the flame of UConn football burning a good month longer. I agree that the two early turnovers Saturday were killers, but teams rally back from adversity and ours did as well. I'm also sure no-one felt as bad as Johnny Mac, who always has been the first guy to point at himself. He's a very class guy from a great family. He'll be back. I just want to thank him and all the players for giving it their all this year. We'll have to wait till next year to better understand why we were so inconsistent. Hopefully, the coaches will combine the right mix of players and scheme, and next year this time we'll be making travel plans instead of post-mortems.
 
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The first half was the worst football I've seen from UConn since we went FBS. And yes, I'm including the Navy game.

my thought at halfway through the third quarter was that it was the hardest time i've had watching a game since the Navy game. i don't think you can put too much stock into how we did in the 4th quarter, but it is great that we didn't fold at that point. it would have been really easy to shut down, go through the motions, and result in a humiliating defeat, but instead we checked our guts and made a game of it.
 
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Dont know if it was in response to you or somebody else, but last week when discussing the Cincy game, people were talking about concerns/expectations etc.

I remarked that my biggest concern was who got up on the scoreboard by at least 2 scores first. I wrote that if they did, we'd be scratching and clawing for whatever we can get, and if we did get up? look out, we'd be fine.

They did, and they did it such a fashion that it nearly broke the team, but we did regroup and scratch and claw our way back into it.

The only strength, and I mean ONLY, strength that this 2011 team had offensively in 2011 was being unpredictable and having so many different possibilities of going at a defense.

When you look at statistics and production, our offense was much improved in teh passing game from last year at essentially the same 52% completion rate, which in itself sucks. We didn't run the ball as well, or as often, some 40 carries less over the course of te season, (but no bowl game stats) and almost 1.5 less yards/carry average, but I don't fault the offensive line for the decrease in production there, McCombs is my MVP of 2011, but he's got work to do in getting stronger, thicker, and being able to beat a guy and break a tackle once he get through a hole. He had defensive backs literally able to pick him completely up and throw him down in the cincy game. He's just not a big back, but he can get stronger, and not at the cost of getting slower.

We simply didn't have players make the plays when they counted the most. And it wasn't because they weren't in position to make plays.

When you can get a decent lead on the scoreboard, that unpredictably on offense is a HUGE advantage. But when your down?

A defense can start taking a lot of risks and go after you and leave themselves open to things when they're up on the scoreboard as a team. That's exactly what's happened to us all year, when we have had to come from behind, and we didn't have enough play makers to put the ball in position and finish a play to make a defense pay for taking risks.

Not to be a broken record, but I have promise for our offensive schemes going forward. We gave away the Vandy game with a play call. I think we set everything back a month by letting the QB competition carry on so long. And, with the new offense, far too many times where it took too long to get the play in. That all having been said, I think the schemes show promise.

I do not share the same optimism on D. I think our schemes took good players, used to making the whole greater than the sum of the parts, and turned them into a whole far less than the sum of the parts. I hope to be proven wrong next year where, with time to have figured it out, the D makes the jump Maryland's D made in its second year under Brown. But I'll believe it when I see it because I don't think on D the coaches every got buy-in from the players on what they were supposed to do.
 
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Not to be a broken record, but I have promise for our offensive schemes going forward. We gave away the Vandy game with a play call. I think we set everything back a month by letting the QB competition carry on so long. And, with the new offense, far too many times where it took too long to get the play in. That all having been said, I think the schemes show promise.

I do not share the same optimism on D. I think our schemes took good players, used to making the whole greater than the sum of the parts, and turned them into a whole far less than the sum of the parts. I hope to be proven wrong next year where, with time to have figured it out, the D makes the jump Maryland's D made in its second year under Brown. But I'll believe it when I see it because I don't think on D the coaches every got buy-in from the players on what they were supposed to do.

Kind of funny, b/c I've got the exact opposite feeling right now, so soon after the season end.

I'm worried about the offense next year, because it's one thing to be able to look at the game film and see open space being generated all over the field and the potential for people to be doing things, but it's an entirely different thing to actually be able to run the ball through those spaces, break tackles and also to be able to throw into those spaces and catch the ball. We need not just more weapons on offense, we need the ones we've got to be more reliable, and we need a field commander. A reliable field commander. We're not going to be much different on offense starting out the year in spring than we were this past year, except that the returning players will have a much better understanding of the system. Got to make the plays though.

I'm not worried about the defense because Brown's system isn't fully installed yet, if you're to believe what you can read on the internet, it's a two-year install, and if we can be top 5 in the country against the run with an entirely new linebacker crew, I think we can be top 10 overall in defense with an mproved pass defense and pass rush even though we'll have two new starting tackles.
 
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Well, the differences aren't that stark. I'm talking about what I think of the coaching schemes. We may have far better schemes on O than D next year, and our D could still be ahead of our O because of personnel.
 
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By my count we had two bad games on defense this year; WM and Pitt. In every other game I thought our defense played good enough to win.

The D almost won the Vandy game inspite of an offense that could do absolutley nothing the entire game
The D came out like a house on fire against Iowa State only to watch the offense fail over and over and over again
Won the Buffalo game (along with Nick Williams)
Played great against South Florida
Put up a good fight for three quarters against a talented WV offense
Kept us in the game in the first half against Cuse and made a big play when it needed to in the second half
Played well for the most part against Louisville and Cincy
Absolutely destroyed Rutgers something the Edsall D could never do.

IMO any negative feelings on Don Brown and this defense are the result of the exceedingly high expectations for the defense going into the season.
 
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By my count we had two bad games on defense this year; WM and Pitt. In every other game I thought our defense played good enough to win.

The D almost won the Vandy game inspite of an offense that could do absolutley nothing the entire game
The D came out like a house on fire against Iowa State only to watch the offense fail over and over and over again
Won the Buffalo game (along with Nick Williams)
Did a good job against South Florida
Put up a good fight for three quarters against a talented WV offense
Kept us in the game in the first half against Cuse and made a big play when it needed to in the second half
Played well for the most part against Louisville and Cincy
Absolutely destroyed Rutgers something the Edsall D could never do.

IMO any negative feelings on Don Brown and this defense are the result of the exceedingly high expectations for the defense going into the season.

Expectations? How about facts.

Fact: last year we gave up 22.0 points per game. This year we gave up 24.3. That is over 2 points a game more this year. Go further, however. Last year, our schedule included Michigan, and Dennard Robinson, and Oklahoma, and Landry Jones, and we gave up 2.3 points per game. We played no one like Michigan or Oklahoma this year. If you subtract the result from those two games, and take out the "replacement" OOC game this year of Iowa State, this year's numbers stay at 24.3 points allowed per game but last year's, after you've made this attempt to adjust for the stronger schedule we played last year, goes down to 18.9. That is a 5.4 point per game differential. Which is, to say the least, highly significant.

Expectations my butt. We returned nine defensive starters and had not nearly the defensive performance we had last year. Fact.
 

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Lies, damn lies and statistics BL. Using statistics, the Defense this year made some very impressive "big plays" this year, most notably sacks and turnovers (tied for #5 in INT's, #22 in Fumbles recovered and #15 in Sacks and #19 in Tackles for Loss). We ranked similarly last year in INT's but not in the other categories. Unfortunately, this year's defense also gave up some huge plays that killed us, particularly through the air (#118 out of 120 in giving up passing plays greater than 20 yards) and as you noted, more overall points.

So in some ways it got better and in other ways it got worse. One other thing though that may not have been considered, our offense was also ranked #118 out of 120 in 3rd down conversions this year (last year was similarly bad but at least we converted over 30% as opposed to the ~28% performance this year). Our offense was rarely able to extend drives and I would have to think that affects our defensive performance as well?
 
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Expectations? How about facts.

Fact: last year we gave up 22.0 points per game. This year we gave up 24.3. That is over 2 points a game more this year. Go further, however. Last year, our schedule included Michigan, and Dennard Robinson, and Oklahoma, and Landry Jones, and we gave up 2.3 points per game. We played no one like Michigan or Oklahoma this year. If you subtract the result from those two games, and take out the "replacement" OOC game this year of Iowa State, this year's numbers stay at 24.3 points allowed per game but last year's, after you've made this attempt to adjust for the stronger schedule we played last year, goes down to 18.9. That is a 5.4 point per game differential. Which is, to say the least, highly significant.

Expectations my butt. We returned nine defensive starters and had not nearly the defensive performance we had last year. Fact.

BL not to be rude, but this is probably the weakest rebuttal you have ever made on any debated topic in this forum. Your "facts" need to be given more thought. 24.3 points per game punishes the defense for McEntee's two first quarter miscues on Saturday and any offensive miscues throughout the year and nine returning starters doesn't take into account the injuries to Jesse Joseph or Blidi. Beyond that, not having Jordan Todman extending drives and eating up the clock was clearly a benefit that last years defense had and this years defense was not given.
 
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Expectations? How about facts.

Fact: last year we gave up 22.0 points per game. This year we gave up 24.3. That is over 2 points a game more this year. Go further, however. Last year, our schedule included Michigan, and Dennard Robinson, and Oklahoma, and Landry Jones, and we gave up 2.3 points per game. We played no one like Michigan or Oklahoma this year. If you subtract the result from those two games, and take out the "replacement" OOC game this year of Iowa State, this year's numbers stay at 24.3 points allowed per game but last year's, after you've made this attempt to adjust for the stronger schedule we played last year, goes down to 18.9. That is a 5.4 point per game differential. Which is, to say the least, highly significant.

Expectations my butt. We returned nine defensive starters and had not nearly the defensive performance we had last year. Fact.

Did you exclude pick 6s, return TDs and things the defense wasn't responsible for? Not saying you are wrong just checking your math.


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I am here: http://maps.google.com/maps?ll=41.185698,-73.170137
 
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going into this season we were told by anyone that knows anything about Donald Brown that we should give him a year to get things installed. the UMD fans said their first year under him was a disaster and then they loved him season 2. say what you will about our defense last year, but it wasn't a disaster. there were some blown coverages, but let's not pretend that never happened before (see our previous 3 games against RU), so i think we have reason to be optimistic going into next year

my biggest concerns for our defense were all of the 3rd and longs we gave up and the stupid penalties we gave up. in previous years it seems we always gave up 3rd and 8s by playing 10 yards from the line, now it's 3rd and longs we're blowing. it seems like we had a lot of late hits and personal penalties (it seems like Sio got 1/game) and nothings more frustrating than giving up a first down when you've held them on 3rd and long and then giving up a TD (i'm thinking of Reyes late hit a couple games ago).

in general it seems like there were a lor more penalties than we're used to, but a lot of them were procedural and time oriented so hopefully another year in the system will iron some of them out
 
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Did you exclude pick 6s, return TDs and things the defense wasn't responsible for? Not saying you are wrong just checking your math.


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I am here: http://maps.google.com/maps?ll=41.185698,-73.170137

No. Not in either year. But in 2010, I remember Temple, Oklahoma (twice), Louisville and Rutgers scoring off us on returns just off the top of my head. The numbers were exactly what I provided, with no more or no less analysis.
 
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The first half was the worst football I've seen from UConn since we went FBS. And yes, I'm including the Navy game.

I don't know what to think about yesterday. I'm of the belief that JM just took us right out of the game and we didn't recover until the 3rd quarter. I'm glad the kids didn't quit.

Tough seeing Kash Moore's UConn career end the way it did (getting hurt).

I'm not looking forward to the bowl season at all. Tough year.
It is really easy for a game to get away from you when the offense gives up a bunch of point in somewhat weird ways, and that first td was one of th emore bizzare I have ever seen. All you need to do to see what can happen is look back a week when UCONN was on the positive side of one of these games. That we turned it around and made a run in the second half is, I think, a positive. That game had 42-13 written all over it early...
 
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Fact: last year we gave up 22.0 points per game. This year we gave up 24.3. That is over 2 points a game more this year. Go further, however. Last year, our schedule included Michigan, and Dennard Robinson, and Oklahoma, and Landry Jones, and we gave up 2.3 points per game. We played no one like Michigan or Oklahoma this year. If you subtract the result from those two games, and take out the "replacement" OOC game this year of Iowa State, this year's numbers stay at 24.3 points allowed per game but last year's, after you've made this attempt to adjust for the stronger schedule we played last year, goes down to 18.9. That is a 5.4 point per game differential. Which is, to say the least, highly significant.

Expectations my butt. We returned nine defensive starters and had not nearly the defensive performance we had last year. Fact.

More statistics and facts:

Points per game rank of regular season opponents this year vs. last year (had trouble finding scoring offense data for both years that wasn't labeled "estimated")

Team 2010 (rank) 2011 (rank)
Cinci 27.4 (56) 33.5 (28)
WVU 25.2 (76) 34.9 (19)
RU 21.3 (99) 26.3 (66)
UL 26.2 (66) 21.8 (100)
Pitt 26.3 (65) 25.8 (70)
USF 23.6 (87) 29.3 (52)
Buffalo 14.2 (120) 22.2 (97)
Vandy 16.9 (112) 26.9 (51)

Michigan was 25th last year at 32.6 ppg
Temple was 77th last year at 25.0
WMU was 14th this year at 37.9 ppg
ISU was 86th this year at 23.5

It appears that the difference between scoring defense this year can be almost entirely explained by the corresponding improvement in the offenses we faced. Only Pitt and Louisville were worse, and not by much. Major improvements by Buffalo, Vandy, WVU, RU and Cinci. Yes, you can discount Cinci a bit because they put up their 2011 numbers with Collaros. However, we faced two freshman quarterbacks in their first or second starts last year on bad offenses. That stuff evens out. The numbers say that we faced much better offenses this year.
 
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