Last weekend was a much needed bye week for Central Connecticut State University football.
After getting blanked in a lopsided event against University of Miami 69-0, the Blue Devils (1-3) took some time off, getting Sunday, Monday and Tuesday to take a break and look inward for answers on the team’s struggles so far this season.
For head coach Ryan McCarthy, the last weeks has been getting back into the swing of things with a fresh team that is still looking for answers. The answers may be within the team’s schemes on both sides of the ball, and was a point of emphasis over the weekend as practice kicked back into swing.
“As a staff, we really concentrated on self analysis in terms of things we're doing schematically,” said McCarthy. “[We] looked at what was good, what was bad, and really put most of our attention into that.”
A scheme adjustment may help the Blue Devils, who are allowing 485.8 yards per game on defense. Notably, the Blue Devils rank second to last in the Northeast Conference when it comes to defense, leading only Long Island (534.3).
Much of that is from the passing game, which has been exposed by Southeastern and Miami across the last two weeks. Seven passing touchdowns of 30 yards or more have been allowed by CCSU’s secondary. On top of that, pass defense efficiency is last in the conference with the most passing touchdowns allowed (13), yardage allowed (1,336) and completion percentage allowed (69.4%) .
But self reflection, in any sport when struggling, is difficult. McCarthy and his team are aware the program has not been playing good football as of late, and have been outscored in the last two weeks 125-10 by the two best teams in regards to talent on their schedule (Southeastern Louisiana and Miami).
"I think the hardest thing to do is to look at yourself, and I challenged the staff [to do that]. It's going to sting, obviously we didn't play good football in the first four weeks and it's hard to watch the same movie over and over again,” said McCarthy. “You're not going to grow if you don't look at the things you need to do to improve. It's certainly not all on the players, it's on the coaches as well. ... That's coaching and getting the most out of your players. ... I think the coaches showed (the players) certain things where a certain coverage doesn't work or this defense didn't work. ... Against a team like Miami, with the talent level, one guy makes a mistake in the open field and it's over. Really, going back to the fundamentals and technique and concentrating on our scheme, that was the most important thing.”
The disconnect to recharge has been needed for the team, who are turning their attention to a tilt against the Ivy League’s Columbia this Saturday. Kickoff comes at 1 p.m. in New Britain.
"It wasn't [hard] for me,” said McCarthy about refreshing the mind in the three days off following the loss to Miami. “… For me, it was not hard. It was really therapeutic to be honest. To look and say 'hey, this is why it's not working.' ... You critique and look and analyze everything you do, and if it's not working you've got to find a way to fix it and that's what we're trying to do. Ultimately, it starts with us and concentrating on our fundamentals and our scheme. It doesn't matter what they put on the other side of the ball, we've got to be able to execute the base assignments."
With October now here, the elevated competition has lessened as a slate of conference games follow Saturday’s Columbia game. McCarthy knows the losses aren’t a good look, but is focusing on the next few weeks with firm belief that improvement in the most important games of the season will come.
“What I said over and over [to the team] is nobody is going to remember September. They're going to remember what it is in November and I want to be playing our best football in November. I think this team is going to improve, I really do,” McCarthy said.