JOE D’S NOTEBOOK
HAPPY FIRST DAY OF FOOTBALL : It’s here! The UConn players and coaches have been waiting for this day ever since the clock showed 0:00 at the end of the season finale of the Cincinnati game. The issues of last season are in the rear view mirror. Players have left, new players are here. Coaches have left, new coaches are here. And so, the journey begins.
Nobody has to tell Paul Pasqualoni the situation. Another 5-7 season will probably result in a change in the head coaches office. Nobody works harder than Coach P. But it is a results driven business and the results the last two years haven’t been satisfactory. There are three new coordinators, T.J Weist is expected to have a more wide open offense, but don’t expect just run and gun football. I don’t think Hank Hughes will be as blitz happy as Don Brown, but that doesn’t mean UConn won’t be aggressive. And special teams coordinator Kermit Buggs doesn’t have Nick Williams to run back kicks. But there is talent back there.
Keys to the season? Good question. I will give you three
1)- Better Quarterback play- Chandler Whitmer has to make better decisions. He can’t throw the ball up for grabs. I think there would be no reticence to put Casey Cochrane in the game if Whitmer struggles. And some point, maybe even Tim Boyle. Unlike a year ago, there is depth at QB.
2)- Force Turnovers – For all the aggression that Don Brown’s defense displayed, they only forced 12 turnovers. That’s not enough.I like what I have seen from the defense during the summer. But now, they aren’t playing their own offense. It is imperative that the UConn defense does a better job of taking the ball away.
3)- Consistency – This doesn’t mean only in games but from game to game. The Huskies haven’t won back to back games in the last two years. Think about that. Yes, it’s surprising. But the consistency has to be in games as well. UConn never scored more than 24 points in a game aginst FBS opposition. At some point, the offense has to be consistent in a game and put some points on the board. You can’t always leave it up to the defense.
Our coverage begins at 4 with a special edition of “The Tailgate Show”. I will join Bob Joyce and Kevin Nathan for that. Then the pre game begins at 6.
It will be strange not to have Wayne to my right side in the broadcast booth. Wayno’s mom, Marcie Mason, passed away on Friday after a long illness. Wayne and his sisters Stacy and Kim, are in our thoughts. It’s the first opener he has missed since 1980. Kevin will move upstairs to do color and former Husky captain Sean Mulcahy will be on the sidelines. We also welcome a new network studio host in Keith Brake.
We are all looking forward to starting the season and hope you will be with us either on the radio or in the stands.