UConn football: The bruised, the battered, and the bad

To say that Jim Mora Jr. is starting from scratch at UConn is to put things mildly—this is a program that has won only 11 games since the beginning of the 2016 season, and one that has little in the way of history of fertile recruiting ground to draw from as it attempts to climb out of the depths of despair.

The Huskies are independent these days, which probably doesn’t help, but may be just as well: they went 0-8 in each of their last two seasons in the AAC.

They’re going to need to get lucky at some point, namely by finding a quarterback good enough to cover for flaws elsewhere, just to begin to approach being competitive again. That won’t be the case this season, as they’ve already lost their starting quarterback for the season, ensuring further struggle as they’re forced to play a freshman.

That new quarterback, Zion Turner, has completed only 51.2% of his pass attempts this season, while averaging just 4.5 yards per attempt. That level of inefficiency in the passing game is a rather serious problem as opposing defenses really have to hunt to find matchups to concern them.

UConn’s offense was horrific in 2021, averaging barely over 4.0 yards per play against FBS opponents, and that unit is so far on a very similar trajectory in 2022. If the Huskies had a chance to be better this fall, it likely evaporated with key injuries at the skill positions, never mind quarterback. The team is without its top two running backs—starter Nate Carter is sixth nationally in rushing yardage, but hurt his shoulder last week. They also lost their top returning receiver in Week 1.

The Huskies have sophomores on top of the depth chart at every skill position, and in the passing game they’ve leaned on flanker Aaron Turner, who has 13 grabs for 164 yards on the year. Three of the team’s top six receivers are running backs—two of whom are out—which is telling. There’s just not much here, and while UConn has clearly done what it can to give Turner some easy throws, that hasn’t led to sustained drives.

Defensively, the issues have been just as pronounced. UConn’s three FBS opponents to date have completed 74.7% of their throws while averaging 10.5 yards per attempt, and have seven passing touchdowns against zero interceptions.

Those opponents also averaged 4.1 yards per carry, more than 200 rushing yards per game, and scored 10 rushing TDs. They’ve made 17 trips to the red zone and scored every time, with 14 resulting in touchdowns.

It’s rough times all around, man.

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