Coach Bob Diaco’s UConn football team took two steps back last weekend in a very discouraging 41-3 road loss to the East Carolina Pirates.
The loss to the Pirates (3-5, 1-3 AAC) was the most one-sided defeat that the Huskies absorbed in the 2016 season and it extended their losing streak to three games (five of the last six).
The Huskies (3-6, 1-5 AAC) host the Temple Owls (6-3, 4-1 AAC) this evening at Rentschler Field (7 p.m.) in a game that is without a doubt in the ‘must have’ category. With Boston College and Tulane remaining on the schedule Diaco’s squad must win all three games in order to get to bowl eligible status or it’s on to basketball for UConn Nation.
UConn’s offensive woes continued against East Carolina as they fell behind 7-0 at the end of the first quarter, 14-3 at the break and then 31-3 after three quarters.
Once again the Huskies offense failed to jell not only in the first half but for the entire game. UConn has been outscored 45-9 in the first quarter this season. The defense turned in their worst performance of the year. The bottom line is that the Huskies appear to be a team that is physically and mentally beat up.
Temple enters the contest riding a three-game winning streak under Coach Mark Ruhle. Temple and USF are currently leading the East Division standings.
Temple quarterback Phillip Walker has been very effective passing for five touchdowns in the winning streak. The UConn secondary has struggled all season long and Walker will provide another huge challenge in tonight’s game.
The Owls running attack is led by Ryquell Armstead and Jahad Thomas.
Defensively, the Owls sport one of the top defensive secondary’s in the country.
For UConn, Diaco is pondering a move at quarterback with freshman Donovan Williams taking over for Bryant Shirreffs.
Temple leads the series 11-5. Last year Temple won 27-3 at Lincoln Financial Field. Tonight’s kickoff in Hartford is scheduled for 7 p.m.
It can be heard on the UConn IMG Sports Radio Network (WTIC – Hartford, 1080 AM) with Joe D’Ambrosio on the call with Wayne Norman providing the color commentary. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN2 with Adam Amin, Mack Brown and Molly McGrath on the call.
Around the AAC
UConn has a woeful road record in Diaco’s reign (2-12) and they have yet to snatch a win in four games this season. Finally, Diaco made a change in his offensive coaching staff.
Noel Thomas leads the Huskies in receiving with 83 catches (third in the nation) for 1,058 yards and three touchdowns. Thomas is the first UConn receiver to record 100 yards or more in six consecutive games.
Temple defensive end Praise Martin-Oguike ranks second among FBS players with 10 career forced fumbles
Four AAC teams (USF, Houston, Temple and Tulsa) have clinched bowl eligibility this season. Navy and Memphis both stand one win away from bowl eligibility. Surprising Navy sits atop the AAC West Division with a 4-1 record. The Midshipmen face Notre Dame this week in their annual rivalry game.
The second annual American Athletic Conference Football Championship will be played Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016, at 12 p.m. and will be televised nationally on either ABC or ESPN. The game will be played at the home field of the divisional champion with the best conference record.
The Huskies renew a once bitter Big East rivalry at Boston College on Nov. 19
Follow Bob for all the UConn football game highlights, features and more: @WhitneyBob
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