STORRS - The UConn football team’s offense has been a marvel of consistency in recent years but that’s not exactly a good thing.
The Huskies ranked 122nd or lower nationally in total offense in each of the last three seasons under former coach Bob Diaco. That’s among 128 teams.
But coach Randy Edsall’s return has signaled confidence from the Huskies, including Edsall himself, that the Husky offense will undergo a dramatic resurgence this season.
“It’s a unit that hasn’t had a lot of success. But that’s in the past. We don’t worry about that,” Edsall said Sunday as his team prepared for Thursday night’s season opener against Holy Cross at Pratt & Whitney Stadium (7:30 p.m., SNY). “It’s now. I can see this unit having success.”
Despite the fact that UConn was shut out in consecutive games during the spiral downward that ended its 2016 season, the Huskies expect big things - and big plays - from their offense in 2017.
“I think we’ve progressed offensively. And I think we’re going to continue or progress offensively,” Edsall said.
UConn, which finished the 2016 season with six straight losses and ended up 3-9, will be playing its first game under new/old coach Edsall, who guided the program from 1999-2010 before leaving to coach Maryland.
Not long after returning to Storrs, Edsall hired Auburn offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee to fill the same position at UConn. The latter - who worked with UConn athletic director David Benedict when both were with the SEC’s Tigers - has brought his fast-paced, no-huddle attack to help change the Huskies’ scoring woes.
Leading the Huskies’ attack will be junior college transfer David Pindell. He won a training camp battle with incumbent Bryant Shirreffs for the starting quarterback job.
Although Edsall was displeased with Pindell and nearly all of the offense during a practice one week ago, he said Sunday that the group as a whole and Pindell in particular bounced back nicely.
“He’s gotten better. You can see he’s getting more comfortable,” Edsall said. “You can see he’s getting a bit more vocal, starting to take charge a little more.
“I just think the more reps he gets, the more he plays, the better he’s going to be,” Edsall continued.”
The Huskies have also begun to tailor their play-calling to Pindell’s strengths. The 6-foot, 192-pound Columbia, Maryland, native appears to throw well on the move and also can scramble out of the pocket if need be.
“Don’t run plays that he’s not comfortable running,” Edsall said of his approach. “Have him have a say in the game plan. We have those meetings where tells us these are the things he feels comfortable with. If there’s a play he doesn’t feel comfortable with, Rhett’s not going to call it. I don’t want him to call it.”
Last season, Pindell threw for 2,424 yards and ran for 459, throwing 31 touchdown passes and running for eight as Lackawanna Junior College averaged 485 yards and 46 points a game. On the other hand, UConn averaged 320 yards and 14 points a game last season, scoring just 19 touchdowns.