Randy Edsall Decries State of UConn Program: It's A Shame What Happened Between 2011 and 2017

Alex Putterman
Contact Reporteraputterman@courant.com

Randy Edsall channeled his inner Eeyore on Tuesday, bemoaning the state of UConn’s football program during a gloomy 20-minute press conference in Storrs.

Despite praising his players’ effort and attitudes, Edsall made plain what was obvious over the Huskies’ first two games: that the team simply didn’t have the talent to keep up with ranked teams such as UCF and Boise State — and wouldn’t anytime soon.

“This is a massive rebuild,” he said.

The coach said the current rebuilding project is even more difficult than the one he embarked on during the late 1990s and early 2000s, when he helped transition the program to college football’s highest level. Then, he said, the Huskies could schedule carefully as they built up the program. Now, they have no such option.

Edsall suggested that UConn’s current struggles have less to do with who’s currently in the program and more to do with who was there between his two stints as Huskies coach. At one point, the coach put his hand above his head, then lowered it to his waist, saying, “We went from here to here.”

“It’s just a shame what has happened from 2011 to 2017,” he said. “You can’t get it back.”

Edsall famously built UConn from a Division 1-AA program to a Big East champion before departing for Maryland after the 2010 season. Under subsequent coaches Paul Pasqualoni and Bob Diaco, the Huskies endured a string of losing seasons, while failing to secure membership in a Power-Five conference.

Edsall implied that the UConn athletic department had squandered the momentum he built up during his initial run as coach.

“Take a look at Boise State,” Edsall said. “They lost coaches, and what did they do? They promoted coaches from within. They kept the same system all the way through. … Because those [coaches] knew what it took to be successful there, and they kept it going. That didn’t happen here, so that’s what we’re working through right now.”

The result is a team, overloaded with freshmen, that has been outscored 118-24 over its first two games and is no lock to beat FCS Rhode Island on Saturday.

Edsall said some days he struggles to be patient but that he remains committed to rebuilding the program “the right way,” without shortcuts.

“I see that we’re on the right track and we’re doing the right thing,” he said. “And I know it’s not going to be as quick as maybe some people like.”

Depth Chart Shakeup on D

UConn announced three significant changes on defense to its two-deep depth chart Tuesday:

  • Sophomore Darrian Beavers, who has started the first two games at linebacker, will shift to defensive end, where he is listed as a backup to freshman Jonathan Pace.
  • In Beavers’ place, the Huskies will (as of now, at least) start sophomore Eddie Hahn, who played extensively in the second half against Boise State.
  • Freshman Jeremy Lucien will become the third UConn player in as many games to start opposite Tahj Herring-Wilson at cornerback. Lucien played during the second half against Boise State after missing the season opener with a separated shoulder.

Edsall said there were several factors in moving Beavers to defensive end, including the team’s new reliance on a 4-3 defense and Hahn’s emergence at linebacker.

“Eddie’s smart,” Edsall said of Hahn. “Eddie’s a guy that will help take some of the things off of [freshman Kevon Jones’] plate by going in there inside.”

Edsall said Lucien would likely have started earlier if not for his preseason shoulder injury.

“He was somebody that we liked when we got here to camp,” Edsall said. “And once he got healthy and we saw him out there practicing, he could do things, he’s really smart, intelligent, understands things.”

However, Edsall tempered any enthusiasm about Lucien by reiterating where the program stands.

“He’s another kid that in the real world probably wouldn’t be playing,” the coach said. “But we’re not in the real world this year.”

Fortt Doubtful For Rhode Island Game

Sophomore safety Omar Fortt, who suffered a concussion Saturday, did not practice Tuesday and is “doubtful” for the game against Rhode Island, Edsall said.

Freshman Oneil Robinson will likely start in Fortt’s place, backed up by fellow freshman Jalon Ferrell.


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