Spoke with UConn football coach Paul Pasqualoni a short time ago for a story I’m working on for tomorrow but we’ll leave a couple bites to chew on: the record five draft picks and the question some have about why if there’s many draft picks why weren’t there more wins.
“I thought the draft went good for our guys and I liked the fit for each of the guys,” Pasqualoni said. “I think Sio [Moore] being out with Oakland they’re a little bit more of a 3-4 team so there’s things there that he can do and rush the passer on third down. I like the fit for Trevardo [Williams] a lot down in Houston. They’ll make him a 3-4 outside linebacker so he’ll be in a two-point stance on first and second down which we tried to do a little bit with here and on third down he’ll put his hand down in the ground and rush the passer.
“I think with the people down in Houston [linebackers coach] Reggie Herring and [defensive coordinator] Wade Phillips, I think in that system, if Trevardo is going to be able to make the transition to the outside linebacker position I think the 3-4 scheme that the Texans are in is as good as it gets for him.
“Ryan Griffin down there [also in Houston] with all the tight ends, obviously they’ve got a Pro Bowl tight end in [Owen] Daniels. Brian Pariani, the tight ends coach, liked the flexibility and how many different things that Ryan Griffin did here as a tight end. He played the regular tight end spot, he played the fullback spot and he played the wide receiver spot which are all the things in the [head coach Gary] Kubiak system that the tight ends have got to be able to do. The terminology will be different but the concepts will all be the same so I think they feel like Ryan Griffin is going to go in there and learn this stuff right away so they can see what he can do.
“Nick Williams getting a chance with the Redskins as a returner and slot receiver I think that’s good. I think Mike Smith [also with the Texans] getting an opportunity is good as well. I like the fit for Blidi [Wreh-Wilson] the Titans are more of a man-to-man, bump and run team. That’s what they want to do. I think that’s Blidi’s strong suit. Jacksonville wants a mixed zone along with some man and I think that’s what [Dwayne] Gratz does well.
“I think these guys in the NFL did their job. They knew the kids well and I think for our players it worked out and I just a call from the Ravens and they’re going to bring [defensive tackle] Ryan Wirth in on Thursday. They’re going to bring him in with the rookies and see what he can do.”
And now to this draft picks/talent/wins deal we’ve been hearing and talking about.
“Well if you turn the ball over [on offense] and you give up a big play at an inopportune time [on defense] regardless you’re chances of winning are slim,” Pasqualoni said. “That would be my first response to it. The biggest factor in winning football games, still, and it’s no revelation, nothing new and it’s not anything anybody doesn’t know, it’s that the turnover…if you turn the ball over in tight games you stand a good chance of losing, No.1.”
That answer won’t be good enough for those who simply don’t like Pasqualoni so then we’ll go to the facts which are challenged more today than they’ve ever been but…
Did you know UConn was tied for 88th in the country for the most turnovers lost by the offense with 26? Did you know UConn ranked 110th in interceptions thrown with 18? Idaho was the worst in Division I-A with 22. Did you know the UConn was ranked 100th in the nation allowing 2.75 sacks per game? We already know about rushing attack, ranked 117th of 120 schools, 88 yards per game. QB Chandler Whitmer (222 yards per game) ranked in the top 60 throwers but he only had nine touchdown passes.
If you want to know why UConn didn’t win more games, folks? Start with the offense. If you want to know how and why the Huskies stayed in games and had opportunities to win them it was because of the defense led by four players who got drafted. The people who saw the games know that.
“No.2,” Pasqualoni said. “Over the last two years we’ve had good representation of defensive players at the Combine. We’ve got to get to the point where we’re sending offensive players to the Combine but we need more playmakers and we need more production on offense and hopefully as we move forward that will happen for us.”