Looking Back: NC State

Connecticut coach Paul Pasqualoni wasn't ready yet to talk about any lineup changes on Sunday as he reviewed his team's 10-7 loss to North Carolina State. The concern, of course, was the abysmal performance by the offensive unit.

On his Sunday conference call with reporters, Pasqualoni said the coaching staff was still working through the game film. And if there are any changes, he said that would be announced during the week.

Two quick opinions and then we will get to Pasqualoni comments from Sunday.

First, what about Chandler Whitmer at quarterback? He's taking the heat now that UConn is 1-1. He's been picked off five times and doesn't have a touchdown pass. Not good, but not all on him. Part of the problem is the pass protection. When it breaks down, Whitmer adjusts better than Johnny McEntee did last season. But he still rushes and that leads to bad decisions. Whitmer's eyes may be the biggest problem. More often than not, he is locking in on his primary receiver and throwing there. It's like sending out an invitation for an interception. Whitmer keeps talking about going through his progressions. Instead of talking about it, he needs to do a better job and keep the secondary honest.

Second opinion regards that offensive line. The guys on this line are not undersized. They seem big enough and physical enough. I think they are getting defeated mentally. Maybe the coaching staff needs to simplify things a bit. In preseason camp, it was fine to work on learning two or three positions. But in the rhythm of the season, why not find the best spot for everyone and let them focus on doing that job until an injury requires moving guys around. There seems to be a communication problem as well. Center Moe Petrus handled all that last year and tackle Jimmy Bennett has said several times that the adjustment has been difficult.

After the game Saturday, Bennett said the Wolfpack confused the Huskies with their slanting. One can only imagine how fast things seem when the play clock is ticking and the line is confused, adjusting, calling out signals. Bennett said UConn couldn't adjust to the speed of the game Saturday.

Pasqualoni said: "That's something in practice that you always try to duplicate. It's the hardest thing in preparation. We try to do as great a job as you can with the scout teams and the look teams. I think what Jimmy May have been referring to yesterday is that they changed up some of the things they did. They changed up some of their line movements on us and I think at times we got caught anticipating one thing and we got another thing and I think when that happens to a player it always looks much faster when you're anticipating a particular movement and you get something different that maybe they hadn't necessarily shown and it just seems like ‘geez, that really happened' and it happened fast. I think some of it yesterday was a product of that."

That should have been recognized and fixed by halftime. Put that on the coaches.

"What we saw on the film was not good execution, not consistent enough execution," Pasqualoni said of the offense. "We had 15 drives in the game. It seemed like 14 of those 15 drives we made a mistake that really put us behind the chains, so to speak, or there was a turnover created. I would say it was just a lack of consistency."

What takes away consistency?

"People game-plan you and change some things sometimes. It's usually just a little thing maybe a missed block here or mis-communication in the protection, or maybe the route wasn't run with the appropriate depth. It's not any one particular area but I would say this past week from an offensive standpoint, I would say each position had a chance, each position group, each unit, could have done better, which in the end could have resulted in a couple more plays that would have put us in position to win the game. It's just a matter of everybody doing a little bit more and a little bit better."

Pasqualoni criticized the receiving corps.

"I want to make this statement," he said "I thought that in this game, like a lot of positions on offense, I thought the wide receivers, as a unit, could have been more productive. Not just one particular player, but as a unit, we've got to make more plays.

Trailing 3-0 just before halftime, UConn took timeout with 36 seconds left. The Huskies had the ball at the N.C. State 29 and faced fourth-and-2. Instead of sending in Chad Christen to try a field goal on a windy day, UConn went for first down and was denied. Whitmer was sacked for a loss of five yards and UConn relinquished the ball on downs.

"Before the game I had decided to give Chad a legit shot into the wind it was going to have to be from around the 24, 25-yard line," Pasqualoni said. "We were out on the 29. I just felt like, ‘Hey let's take a shot at this 4th-and-2, make the first down and still have 25 seconds or so with a timeout and maybe we can get the ball five yards closer then kick the field goal. But that's the old hindsight is 20-20 deal. The fourth-and 2 didn't work so maybe we should have tried the field goal but I was thinking more of the 24, 25 (yard-line)."

INJURY REPORT

Pasqualoni didn't rule out DT Shamar Stephen or DE Teddy Jennings for Saturday's game against Maryland (2-0). But more medical testing will be needed before a decision can be made. "We're going to evaluate that this week very, very closely," Pasqualoni said of Stephen. "We're optimistic. I would say right now questionable and we'd keep you posted day by day." . . . On Jennings: "I would say the swelling is going down so we're going to get a little bit more of a good evaluation this week. We're waiting for the swelling to go down to do the pictures and all that, so we'll see this week."

UCONN LEADS NCAA IN RUSHING DEFENSE

Those preseason predictions by linebacker Sio Moore and others on the defensive side are looking pretty good through two weeks. Moore was the first to say that UConn had a top-five national defense. Through two weeks, NCAA team statistics reveal the Huskies are first in rushing defense, having given up just 57 net yards on 65 carries. Florida State is second with 58 yards on 50 carries. UConn ranks ninth in passing defense (158.5 yard per game) and third in total defense, just behind TCU and Florida State. By the way, former UConn coach Randy Edsall has Maryland's D ranked ninth in total defense. The Huskies also rank third in scoring defense, giving up 5.0 points per game.

On the flip side, UConn ranks 104th (of 120) in total offense. That breaks down to 105th in rushing offense and 72nd in passing offense. That's isn't exactly surprising.

Check out all the statistics from the loss to North Carolina State here.


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