Another Saturday, another daunting challenge for the UConn football team

Five games into the UConn football season, reality is setting in.

While the Huskies are making progress in some areas, they're still not as competitive as they need to be to dig out of their massive hole.

It's hard to find many winnable games left on their schedule.

Odds are against them again on Saturday at Tulane (4-1, 1-0) in an American Athletic Conference game at Yulman Stadium in New Orleans (3:45 p.m., ESPNU).

UConn (1-4, 0-1) has dropped 20 straight to Football Bowl Subdivision opponents.

"Your record is what you are," coach Randy Edsall said. "And we're a 1-4 team. We're not good from a  record standpoint. But, to me, there's guys making improvements. That's my whole thing is I'm seeing guys making improvements. As long as we can continue to make improvements, that's all you can ask. Then you want the wins to come.

"Until we can get consistent and then we can get consistent for 60 minutes, we're not going to give ourselves that opportunity. But there's a bunch of guys who are getting better. Then there's guys that I feel can do more and we're telling them those things."

So far, the Huskies aren't hanging their heads.

They remain determined to push the program forward and are enthusiastically embracing the growth process.

"No matter the record, you've got to come in and work every single day," quarterback Mike Beaudry said. "You can't let that get you down. You can't let that take that love away from you. At the end of the day, if you love the game and you love being here with these guys, it's fun.

"... I know these dudes are going to keep fighting and we're going to keep fighting for wins and working our butts off every day. So it will come."

Edsall sees every week as a new opportunity, a chance to learn from their mistakes and get better. Effort is there on a consistent basis, but not execution.

Until the Huskies master the latter, they'll continue to come up on the short end.

"We've got to take our execution to another level and our consistency to another level," Edsall said. "And sometimes that's hard when you have so many young kids. We've just got to keep working at it."

Saturday's game ends a difficult stretch that features the Huskies playing three of four games on the road.

Tulane is off to its best start since 1998. The Green Wave will be going for their fourth straight victory.

"We have a tough task ahead of us this weekend against a very good Tulane team," Edsall said. "They're playing very, very well. A talented team offensively and defensively. ... We'll have our work cut out for us."

A powerful running game has helped fuel Tulane's success. The Green Wave have rushed for over 250 yard in five of their last six games, including 324 in last week's 42-33 win at Army. They're sixth in the country in yards per game on the ground at 283.4. Seniors Darius Bradwell (325 yards) and Corey Dauphine (277) are the leading rushers. Quarterback Justin McMillan (264 rushing yards, 811 passing yards), a transfer from LSU, is a dual threat.

The Huskies have to play physical, according to Edsall. Not exactly a strengthen for the Huskies.

Throw in that UConn is last in the AAC in rushing defense and the Huskies could be in big trouble.

"We've got to tackle better," Edsall said. "We're not tackling well enough. We're still not strong enough at the point on some of these things. We're not wrapping up and we're not running through people. We have some guys that are missing gaps.

"We're going to be challenged this week because they're in the top 10 in the country rushing the football."

Challenges certainly are something that UConn is used to facing.

g.keefe@theday.com

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