UConn Plagued by Turnovers

The main topic of conversation on coach Paul Pasqualoni's conference call with reporters Sunday was turnovers. That seemed appropriate, given the way Connecticut lost to Western Michigan 30-24 Saturday in Kalamazoo, Mich.

The Huskies (2-2) made mistakes. Physical mistakes. Mental mistakes. Big play mistakes. They've become bad habits for UConn.

Quarterback Chandler Whitmer was intercepted once – but it likely cost the Huskies a score. The Huskies lost just one of four fumbles - but it turned out to be the biggest play of the game. Add in six sacks, blown assignments, bad coverage and bad protection by the offensive line and there was no way the Huskies were going to win, especially when Western Michigan didn't lose a fumble or get interepted.

"If you're losing the turnover battle, which we clearly did yesterday, you're going to have to be awfully, awfully good to win games against a good opponent and Western Michigan is a quality team," Pasqualoni said Sunday.

In the latest NCAA statistics, UConn is tied for 111th (out of 120) in turnover margin. The Huskies are at -1.50 and tied with Syracuse and Troy. Combine that with UConn's ranking of 106th in total offense, and it's easy to see why the Huskies are struggling.

If there's a one-shot solution to correcting the mistakes, the Huskies haven't discovered it.

"Every game is its own entity, obviously," he said about the turnovers. "The first one [Whitmer's interception] down near the end zone was really costly because it cost us at least three and probably seven [points]. And it was just a miscue with the receiver [Nick Williams]and the quarterback. We just did not execute the play with the detail that needed to be executed so that one got us.

"And then we talked about the other turnover, the strip-sack fumble. There might not be a more devastating play. That and the blocked punt are two pretty big plays. It's hard to overcome."

On that strip-sack of Whitmer, Western's Desmond Bozeman picked up the fumble and ran 53 yards for a touchdown to essentially put the game away for the Broncos.

"And don't forget, we missed a field goal and we dropped a pass on fourth down that really would have put us in really good position on a fourth-and-10," Pasqualoni said. "Not only did we have an interception. we missed a field goal where we gave the ball up without changing the field position or scoring points and on the fourth-and-10 we did the same thing. So those things factor in to me."

UConn still had a chance to win after Western Michigan quarterback Alex Carder left the game with an injury. Despite the interception and fumble, Whitmer actually had his best game in a UConn uniform, completing 28 of 44 passes and throwing the first three TD passes of his major college career. UConn outgained Carder and the Broncos 333-253 in passing yards.

"We had enough explosive plays," Pasqualoni said. "We had enough yardage. If somebody were to tell me we'd have more passing yards than Western Michigan going in, I probably wouldn't have believed it. At the end of the day, the thing [that hurt] were the turnovers. We have to find a way to eliminate the turnovers."

NOTES: Safety Ty-Meer Brown (shoulder) and center Alex Mateas (ankle) were both injured in the Western Michigan game. Both came out of the game, but returned. Pasqualoni said both will watched carefully early in the week and decision on their availability for Saturday's game against Buffalo will likely be made by Wednesday. . . . Pasqualoni said he was pleased with the tempo and timing with Tyler Bullock filling in at center. . . . It looks as if Angelo Pruitt is the choice for now at defensive end, replacing Jesse Joseph. E.J. Norris and Tim Willman are in back-up roles. . . . UConn's national defensive rankings didn't drop too much despite the sub-par performance, especially in the first half. The Huskies rank fourth in rushing defense, 11th in passing defense and 24th in scoring defense. UConn is fifth in total defense – behind Texas Tech, Florida State, Alabama and LSU. Not bad company there.

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