UConn Searching for More Offense

Connecticut football coach Paul Pasqualoni made it clear Tuesday that the Huskies will not unveil a revamped offensive philosophy Saturday night when they play South Florida at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla.

There was a train of thought the Huskies (3-5, 0-3 Big East) might try to simplify or streamline their offense coming off a 40-10 loss at Syracuse and with an extra week to prepare for the Bulls. But in a conference call, Pasqualoni told UConn beat writers that his goal is better execution in conjunction with getting the running game going.

Of course, if Pasqualoni did shake things up, he probably wouldn't have given USF coach Skip Holtz an alert this early in the week.

"It's awfully hard after eight games to just change everything you do," Pasqualoni said. "That's not easy to do. We've been very, very close in a lot of these games. It has been one thing here and one thing there. I just look for greater efficiency and not turning the ball over, not getting behind, not giving up plays in the kicking game. I don't think you can start to make wholesale changes at this point."

USF (2-6, 0-4) may be the only team in the Big East that's a bigger disappointment than UConn. The winner of this game will cling to the hope of a bowl appearance but the loser can basically start preparing for next season.

These may be drastic times but it seems UConn will not take drastic measures. Pasqualoni said he gave the Huskies some time away from football during the bye week to improve their physical and mental condition.

"It has been a long season with eight games in a row," UConn quarterback Chandler Whitmer said. "It's nice to get the bye week and re-group and look at everything. I'm just trying to stay within myself and can't get caught looking down the road. South Florida is the next opponent and we have to just look at the game in front of us and take it play-by-play.

"We just wanted to re-group. Personally, I worked on my fundamentals. During the season, when you get caught up in game-planning, it gets difficult to stay focused on the fundamentals and mechanics. I took the opportunity to work on my game."

Storm Sandy closed the UConn campus and prevented the Huskies from practicing on Monday. Classes were cancelled again Tuesday but the Huskies were allowed to practice in their indoor facility Tuesday afternoon. There was a practice Sunday night, so the team didn't actually miss any time but the storm, coming off a bye week, was a distraction to preparation.

Pasqualoni said the coaches had film they could study on their computers, "so we didn't fall too far behind."

Much of the criticism for UConn's poor offensive performance has been aimed at offensive coordinator George DeLeone, who also serves as offensive line coach. Pasqualoni stood by his longtime assistant and friend Tuesday.

"I think what George is doing is he's trying to run the offense that we'd like to establish around here, which is a pro-style attack," Pasqualoni said. "It's been very successful here. It's been in the DNA at UConn, so George is doing a great job of preparing every day for practice, trying to help the team win, coaching the players, the offensive line plus coordinating it. He's a tremendously conscientious individual and everything he does is planned and well thought out."

When it was suggested that two hats might be too many for DeLeone, Pasqualoni disagreed.

"No, no, no," he said. "I've coached a position and coordinated the defense in the NFL. George has done this all his life. We were together for a lot of years [at Syracuse], coached the offensive line, coordinated it. He's got a good support staff. Everybody has input. I would not say that, no."

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