UConn, USF eager to put poor October behind them
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Connecticut and South Florida are determined to not let a wretched October get the best of them.
The Huskies and Bulls both went 0-3 last month and remain winless in Big East play entering a matchup between the struggling conference rivals on Saturday night.
The teams are in jeopardy of missing the postseason for the second straight year, however neither is conceding anything with four games remaining.
"We're just focused on getting back on the right path," UConn linebacker Jory Johnson said. "We had a bad month of October and we're trying to put that behind us."
The Huskies (3-5, 0-3) have dropped five of seven following a season-opening victory over Massachusetts. October losses to Rutgers, Temple and Syracuse dropped them into a tie for last place in the conference until USF (2-6, 0-4) squandered a 20-point halftime lead en route to a 37-36 loss to Syracuse that left the Bulls alone in the cellar.
At least one of the teams will leave Raymond James Stadium feeling a little better about themselves.
"Somebody has to win. Hopefully it's us," South Florida running back Demetris Murray said. "I think if we take care of the ball and follow our game plan, we'll have a good shot."
Connecticut is coming off a bye week that gave players some much-needed rest and allowed coach Paul Pasqualoni to address some of the team's shortcomings without having to prepare for an opponent.
Meanwhile, USF coach Skip Holtz has been searching for the answers to a school-record six-game tailspin that includes a 2-point loss unbeaten Louisville two weeks ago, as well as last Saturday's collapse against Syracuse. The Bulls led both games in the closing minutes before faltering defensively.
"These aren't trials and tribulations anybody wants to go through. I don't know you have to go through them, but we're going through them," said Holtz, who also watched his defense struggle late in losses to Ball State, Rutgers, Florida State and Temple.
"It's frustrating and hard for everybody. But the way they continue to work, that blue collar lunch pail approach, is something to see. They're not giving up, not giving in; everybody is frustrated, everybody wants to win," Holtz added. "They keep pushing, and thinking this is the week. We're that close. You get beat 40-10, walk off the field and say: 'OK, everybody take a deep breath, that's behind us, everybody move on.' This is more like having to make one more play on offense or defense. That's motivating us right now."
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