Veteran Connecticut coach Randy Edsall said early in the week that his team is aware of its winless football record in the American Athletic Conference this season and winless mark from a year ago. Since the Huskies are preparing to leaving the AAC after this season, those logistics within the conference are not motivating the Huskies.
UConn (2-8, 0-6) hosts ECU (3-7, 0-6) on Saturday, both teams desperately in need of a victory this late in the year. The loser Saturday will finish in last place in the AAC East Division, a position UConn has occupied each of the last three years.
“We can’t focus on anything but trying to play our best each and every game, to try to win each and every game,” Edsall said. “That has not changed. It has been our approach all along.”
Houston, whose team is motivated in part to finish better than a 3-9 record like each of the last three seasons under a previous coaching staff, agreed that conference affiliation isn’t a major factor in the matchup set for noon on Saturday in East Hartford, Conn.
“I don’t know how much all of that other stuff has to do with it, but I think they just want a win on Saturday,” he said. “When you look at their scores throughout the year, particularly at home and Navy is the one outlier (56-10) but Navy has done that to a lot of people, including us, they have had tight ball games at home.”
The Huskies’ first four home games were a 24-21 win over Wagner, 31-23 loss to Illinois, 48-22 setback to South Florida and 24-17 loss to Houston. Navy, which beat the Pirates 42-10 on Sept. 14, then out-rushed UConn 408-108 for a 56-10 victory Nov. 1.
After playing UConn with the Pirates favored by more than two touchdowns, ECU will host Tulsa to conclude the regular season.
This is Houston’s first season with the Pirates after compiling a 37-6 overall record at James Madison, and Houston believes his Pirates still have some fight in them for the rest of November.
“It’s about believing in yourself and believing in your teammates and being really committed to doing your part,” Houston said. “I think that is a place where there has been so much growth with our players is not being so worried about themselves, but worried about doing their piece and their job on the team. ... We all are having a lot more fun when we are putting up points and scoring and moving the ball, but we have to equate that to a win is the key.”