UConn looks to take Michigan confidence to Buffalo.
STORRS: To a man, coaches and players on the UConn Huskies football team feel they gained valuable confidence after their 24-21 loss to highly ranked Michigan on Saturday night at a rocking Rentschler Field.
They also acknowledge that none of that will matter if they can’t get themselves a “W” on Saturday when they travel for the first time in 2013 to take on Buffalo.
“We have to prepare just like we did against Michigan,” safety Ty-Meer Brown said at the teams weekly meeting. “I think we showed ourselves we can play with anyone in the country but we have to go out and prove it by getting the win Saturday.”
The Huskies take to the road and head west to Buffalo to play a Bulls team that has had a week off to prepare for them and is coming off their first win of the year, a 26-23 five-overtime win over Stony Brook on September 14.
UConn won a hard fought 24-17 game that was played at The Rent a year ago and they expect nothing but the Bulls best shot.
The Bulls have some key players on defense, one in particular has gotten the head coaches attention.
“I like this kid Mack (Khalil), who is probably one of the best outside linebackers in Division 1 football. If he doesn’t go in the first round of the NFL draft I’d be surprised. I’d take him, he’s that good.” Pasqualoni said.
After chasing after two running quarterbacks over the past two weeks (C.J. Brown from Maryland and Devin Gardner of Michigan) the Huskies face a drop back, pocket passer in Joe Licata who concerns the coach as well.
“He is probable the best quarterback to come out of New York City and gives us a different challenge then we faced the past two weeks,” Pasqualoni said.
It’s easy to see that it may be hard for the Huskies to get as fired up for a road game in Buffalo after hosting one of the biggest schools in college football but that 0-3 record may just be the equalizer.
“Saturday is our most important game of the season because it’s our next game,” Pasqualoni said, “We have to play with the same passion and focus that we did on Saturday against Michigan.”
Buffalo has played a pair of big games as well in their first two games when they traveled to take on #2 Ohio State (a 40-20 loss) and #23 Baylor (a 70-13 loss) and are about to enter their conference schedule after the Huskies game on Saturday.
For UConn, their running game showed bits of improvement but still needs to ramp it up to make them a more than one-dimensional team.
Running backs Max DeLorenzo and Deshon Foxx give the Huskies a different look when Lyle McCombs is not on the field.
DeLorenzo is more of a power runner while Foxx gives the team a speed rusher on the outside.
McCombs had 38 yards on eight carries and a touchdown reception in the Michigan game and had a vintage 16-yard run that saw him spin away from potential tackles.
Spencer Parker broke onto the national scene with an 11-yard touchdown grab on the same drive that saw a call go against the home team after an apparent diving touchdown grab by Geremy Davis was reversed on replay.
That same drive featured something else that impressed the head coach, his quarterback’s attitude.
“I liked the look Chandler (Whitmer) had in his eyes on the sidelines when they were reviewing the play,” Pasqualoni said. “We started planning the next play in case the reversed it and he had a great look about him. It’s the look I want to see in all my quarterbacks.”
That confidence translated into the touchdown pass to Parker on a drive that may have stalled in the past.
Losing the touchdown against a team like Michigan can be deflating to an offense that is challenged to start but the Huskies responded well and got the TD.
Taking what they learned on Saturday night, even though it was in a loss, may be a great lesson for a Huskies team itching to post their first win.