The Bulls opened up conference play on Saturday afternoon with a messy 48-21 loss to the SMU Mustangs. Jordan McCloud started the game for the Bulls and struggled mightily through the first half. He was 8-19 and 66 yards passing with two interceptions. The defense struggled as well, dropping a sure-fire interception that would have ended SMU’s first scoring drive of the game. The entire team seemed sluggish out of the gate falling behind 0-34 at the half.
“When you allow their drive to continue,” Head Coach Charlie Strong said in his post-game presser, “early there we had a chance to get an interception, and probably get a 7-0 lead. But instead we let the ball go through our hand and they end up catching it. It’s just one of those games that I told our guys, ‘we are going to correct it’.”
The biggest story coming into this week’s game was Jordan McCloud and his impressive debut against South Carolina State. His struggles against a red hot FBS team like SMU showed the cracks in his armor. Blake Barnett started the second half for the Bulls after McCloud was shaken up late in the 3rd quarter and things didn’t get much better. A few garbage time touchdowns helped Barnett to go 13-21, 222 yards and three touchdowns in the second half. The real question Bulls fans are asking now is: Who is going to be playing quarterback next week at UConn?
“Well Jordan went down and Blake came in an played very well.” Coach Strong said when asked about a quarterback competition going forward. “What we need to do is make a decision on a guy and just go with him, but Blake did well when he came in.”
All of Bulls Country is frustrated with the performances this team has been able to put together in their first four games of the season, none more than the players themselves. With a young team and a seemingly disorganized coaching staff, the Bulls have to make significant strides this week to avoid losing two straight games for the second time this season. As the Bulls begin preparations for a UConn team that they haven’t lost to since 2011, they must have a short memory if they hope to keep up in the race for the conference title.
“You have to move on and go get ready for the next one,” Coach Strong said, “because you’ve got to believe that we’re going to get a W. As a coach, if you’re confident, they’re going to be confident. If you walk in there and try to beat them down because they feel bad enough. If you start beating them down, you lose your team and don’t win any games.”