UConn coach struggling in return to Big East
Paul Pasqualoni left his heart in Connecticut and his coaching soul in college football. He reclaimed them both in January 2011, replacing Randy Edsall as coach of the UConn Huskies.
“This was, for me, absolutely the right fit,” Pasqualoni said during his introductory news conference. “Being comfortable, knowing the terrain.”
Two seasons into the job, back in the Big East after six years in the NFL, the terrain remains rocky, a comfort zone elusive.
As the Syracuse coach for 14 seasons, Pasqualoni won more games there than anyone except the legendary Ben Schwartzwalder.
But this time around is different, so far. After just five wins last season, the Huskies are 3-6 going into Friday's home game against Pitt. They have four straight losses. One more and UConn will miss postseason play for a second straight year.
Led by school career sack leader Trevardo Williams, the Huskies top the Big East in total defense and only 20 FBS teams have yielded fewer points per game. But nationally, UConn ranks 117th out of 120 in scoring, 116th in rushing and 100th in sacks allowed, due mainly to departures and injury along the offensive line and general inconsistency.
“It's been an accumulation of a bunch of little things,” said Pasqualoni, 63. “I can't say it's any one guy or any particular position. ... That's uncharacteristic of the University of Connecticut.
“This is a team that's done a good job running the football over the years. We expected to be better at running the football than we've been.”
The Huskies lost, 13-6, last week to South Florida. They are scoreless in the fourth quarter of their last four games.
“It's kind of been one thing after another,” Pasqualoni said.
A native of Cheshire, Conn., the genial, white-haired Pasqualoni coached at his hometown high school before working six years as an assistant at Southern Connecticut and another six as head coach at Western Connecticut State. He took an assistant's job at Syracuse and after four years became head coach in 1991. During 14 seasons, the Orangemen won four Big East titles and six of nine bowl games. Only Schwarzwalder, a Hall of Famer who won 153 games from 1949-1973, has more wins at Syracuse than Pasqualoni's 107.
“A very well-respected coach,” Pitt coach Paul Chryst said. “Shoot, we all remember what he did as an assistant and as a head coach at Syracuse.”
Notes: Chryst said middle linebacker Shane Gordon, who hasn't started the past three games due to a high-ankle sprain, may return Friday. “He's gotten better,” Chryst said. “The more that he has done this week, it hasn't blown up more. Shane is one of our better linebackers. It can give a thin group some depth.” ... Backup outside linebacker Emanuel Rackard (knee) won't make the trip. ... Chryst said it was not his intention to give Rushel Shell only one carry against Notre Dame. “Truthfully, I don't feel good about that,” he said.
Jerry DiPaola contributed to this report. Bob Cohn is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com or 412-320-7810.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Starkey: Pederson had to go at Pitt
- Chryst returns home, named football coach at Wisconsin
- Many Pitt fans endorse move to oust Pederson as athletic director
- Pederson’s 2nd tenure as the athletic director at Pitt comes to abrupt end
- Penguins continue to thrive, despite spate of ailments
- Steelers, young and old, thirst for opportunity to reach the postseason
- 50 years later, Vietnam vet gets his degree at Westminster
- High school roundup: Norwin wrestling edges rival Penn-Trafford
- Pitt uses 2 2nd-half flurries to hold off Manhattan, 65-56
- Son charged in dismemberment death of mother, stepfather in Penn Hills
- QB Smith is chief concern for Steelers’ defense