UConn football seniors set foundation for program's future

Few UConn football senior classes have dealt with more adversity during their careers than the group being honored on Saturday.

They've experienced regular turnover on the coaching staff, some players on their fourth head coach (Randy Edsall). They've adjusted to several new schemes and styles.

They've yet to enjoy a winning season, but do have a bowl game to their credit in 2015.

It's been an interesting journey, to say the least, and one full of life lessons.

"It teaches you have to overcome adversity, not just in football but life," redshirt senior Tommy Myers said. "Adversity happens. Sometimes you get fired from your job or you get a new boss. That's something that comes easy to us now. I've enjoyed this ride with coach Edsall and I'm going to continue to enjoy it and we'll see where it goes."

Edsall appreciates the contribution of the 24 seniors that will be saluted before Saturday's American Athletic Conference game against No. 17 South Florida (7-1, 5-1) at Rentschler Field in East Hartford (3:30 p.m., ESPNU).

The seniors can take satisfaction in laying the foundation for the future even though they won't be around to reap all the benefits, Edsall said.

"When you build a house, you better have a sturdy foundation," Edsall said. "If you don't, it's going to crumble ... You've got to make sure that you have those proper ingredients to set down the foundation to build it on.

"Basically, a lot of these guys are that foundation. They're the ones that have to have all that weight sitting on top of them and everybody else will see the finished product at some point, but they forget about that foundation the whole thing is standing on. That's what these guys are."

Senior Day comes earlier than usual. The Huskies (3-5, 2-3) still have three games remaining after Saturday. They gave up a home contest to play Boston College on Nov. 18 as part of the Gridiron Series at Fenway Park in Boston.

"It's just weird to have Senior Night," Myers said. "I just can't believe it. It's just absolutely crazy to think about. I'm going to go out and give everything I've got, just like every other game."

The Huskies will playing their normal underdog role. They've struggled against top 25 competition, going 3-25 all-time including beating No. 11 USF in 2007.

It won't help that the Bulls are on the heels of their first loss of the season, falling to Houston 28-24. Their torrid streak of scoring at least 30 points in a game ended at 24 straight last week. Dangerous dual-threat quarterback Quinton Flowers has thrown for 1,570 yards and 12 touchdowns while rushing for 620 yards and nine touchdowns. He's closing in on becoming the seventh FBS player to reach 7,000 yards passing and 3,000 yards rushing in his career.

USF ranks in the top 25 nationally in rushing offense (9th), total offense (14th), rushing defense (14th) and total defense (22nd). It leads the nation with 16 interceptions and resides fifth in turnovers gained with 20.

So it could be another long day for UConn.

"We have another difficult challenge this week," Edsall said. "It doesn't get any easier. South Florida is a very talented, experienced football team. It does a good job running the ball offensively and does a good job throwing the ball.

"... Defensively, they're really aggressive and really get after you. ... Again, we're going to have our work cut out for us."

Despite the long odds and team struggles this season, redshirt senior Junior Joseph remains optimistic about the remainder of the season.

"There's four games left and each team we have left is beatable," Joseph said. "I feel the next four games we match up well with all the teams we play, more running style teams. I feel it's very possible for us to make a bowl game. So we've got to take it one game at a time and it starts with South Florida."

g.keefe@theday.com

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