(WTNH)–For the first time ever this Sunday, local football fans will have a choice to make—a choice that cuts to the heart of their loyalties.
UConn, or the NFL?
The Huskies are hosting East Carolina starting at noon on Sunday, and given the team’s err–inauspicious– start, you wouldn’t blame fans for staying home with a six-pack and watching the professionals sling the rock and smash into each other instead.
For Patriots fans, the choice seems easy. You guys are probably going to watch Tom Brady carve up the Texans’ D starting at 1 p.m., eager to also discover what devious strategy Bill Belichick has in store for poor Deshaun Watson in his first trip to Foxborough.
For Giants and Jets fans though, I mean….you guys got Netflix?
Last week was ugly for the Huskies. No doubt about that.
A 38-18 loss to a team that was 2-10 last season, an offensive line that seemed dwarfed by UVA’s D-line, and an offense that couldn’t move the ball downfield if that thing from ‘IT’ was chasing it. (Sounds like the Giants, actually).
UConn was throttled by Virginia, and the 20-point margin doesn’t even do it justice. The Huskies were lucky to score a couple of garbage-time touchdowns (though they gave up one too), but they trailed 31-0 with 1 minute left in the third and were non-competitive.
Randy Edsall says this is a work in progress, and admits that it’s going to take time. Just how long? Well, we’ll start to find out on Sunday against East Carolina.
Despite the horrendous performance last week, this is–believe it or not–a winnable game.
At home, against a school that’s been blasted three times in its first three games, losing 34-14 to James Madison, 56-20 to West Virginia, and 64-17 to No. 13 Virginia Tech last week, after leading 17-7 in the first quarter.
The Pirates have been shipwrecked ever since the administration fired head coach Ruffin McNeill in 2015, which was a horrendous decision then.
New head man Scottie Montgomery has not gotten the job done (he’s 3-12 so far), and this will go down as just another classic example of what happens when you fire a good coach because you have ridiculous and unfair standards for your program.
This game is going down at the Rent at noon on Sunday (Sept. 24), after being rescheduled from its original November 4th date. That likely won’t help the Huskies, as a lot of fans might opt to stay home and watch the NFL (even if it’s the Jets).
So what can those hearty fans who do show up on Sunday expect to see?
Well, there were some bright spots for the Huskies against UVA—Hergy Mayala went for 77 yards and two scores–and freshman running back Nate Hopkins was productive in limited carries, breaking off a 17-yard run that was reminiscent of his breakout 20-carry, 130-yard performance in Week 1.
Both teams will be desparate for a ‘W’ on Sunday, and ECU has already seen much better competition. Even their FCS opponent, James Madison, is the defending national champ.
The Pirates have a situation at quarterback, as season-opening starter and Duke transfer Thomas Sirk went down with a concussion against West Virginia, and it’s unclear whether or not he’ll be ready to play this week.
Junior Gardner Mishew started in his abscence last week against Virginia Tech, and led the team to a quick 17 points before the Hokies rolled off 57 straight. Mishew hasn’t been very good otherwise—he’s 25-for-61 on the season (41% completion percentage) for 460 yards and three touchdowns against two picks.
ECU’s backfield is crowded, with leading rusher Tyshon Dye averaging 4.1 yards per carry, but two other backs have carried the ball around 20 times so far this season.
PREDICTION: There might not be much of a home-field advantage in this one, but we’re going with the Huskies anyway. Yeah, call us homers. There’s enough firepower there with Nate Hopkins and Hergy Mayala to outlast this reeling ECU squad at home.