CINCINNATI — UConn running backs coach Kermit Buggs came out of the UConn locker room Saturday quite peeved.
He found a place to be alone, and then tears began to slide down his face.
Buggs spent nine seasons as an assistant at Penn State. He's not used to the kind of stuff he's seeing now.
The losses the Huskies are turning in after what linebacker Yawin Smallwood called "so many long days, so many long hours" are becoming unbearable to watch and even harder to describe.
The Huskies don't execute enough. They don't do it consistently enough or long enough. And until they start, because they have no room for error with so much youth and inexperience, these blowout losses are going to happen.
The Bearcats improved to 5-2 and 2-1 in the American. UConn's slide keeps getting more slippery at 0-6, 0-2 in the league.
UConn is the only team in the American without a win.
"We have to find ways to get momentum and to keep it," UConn interim coach T.J. Weist said. "We show signs on offense, defense and special teams, of making plays. We have to put it all together. We haven't had a game yet where we've put it all together. We've had great emotion, we've had great energy — but for us, we get momentum and then we lose it."
Trailing 14-3, following a 2-yard rush by Lyle McCombs and a 9-yard catch by Max DeLorenzo, freshman quarterback Tim Boyle (22 of 39, 310 yards, three interceptions, eight sacks) delivered a ball to Geremy Davis that was tipped and intercepted by Deven Drane and returned to the UConn 2. Bearcats quarterback Brendon Kay (17 of 24, 300 yards, four TDs) barreled in from a yard out with 1:31 left in the half. The UConn offense did not respond, and punter Cole Wagner lifted one just 38 yards. Three plays later, Kay found Max Morrison for a 32-yard strike and a 27-3 lead, leaving UConn with 17 seconds more to think about what just happened before going to the locker room. The Bearcats missed the extra point. It didn't matter.
What the Bearcats had on the board at that point was plenty. They spent much of the second half trying new things on offense, using fullback Jordan Luallen in the Wildcat; bringing in backup QB Bennie Coney. Kay was lining up at receiver.
That's the kind of game it was.
The Huskies' touchdowns came on a 12-yard rush by Max DeLorenzo for the first touchdown of his career in the third quarter, and linebacker Marquise Vann picked up a fumble by Coney and raced 40 yards for a touchdown in the fourth.
"For us to be 0-6, it's frustrating and it's tough," DeLorenzo said. "We have talent to put points on the board. We're not clicking right now. If we played the way in the first half the way we did in the second, it's a different game, but credit Cincinnati. They put up 525 yards of offense. It's tough to stay in a game when that happens."
It's really tough to stay in the game when the quarterback is on his backside eight times, like Boyle found himself. Kay wasn't sacked once.
"When it comes down to the offense, we have to execute when it really matters," Boyle said.
The Huskies got another nice game from receiver Geremy Davis (eight receptions for 140 yards). Deshon Foxx (five for 61), who dropped a couple of touchdown passes against South Florida last week, made some big plays and only dropped one ball. And he saved a touchdown by safety Mike Tyson, who was in the midst of returning an interception 87 yards before Foxx came up and knocked it out of his hands, forcing the ball to bounce out of the end zone for a touchback and UConn possession.
The Huskies need more of those big plays, and more regularly.
"It's hard because we put in a lot of work," Smallwood said. "A lot of people don't see all the work we put in for a game, and we have one day to come out and show it, and we didn't do it. We have to play a complete football game. Defense has to play a complete game, offense has to play a complete game and special teams. We have to find a way to put it all together."
Cincinnati did not have that issue on defense. The Huskies had 377 yards of offense, including 56 on the ground. Forcing a young quarterback to throw on the road played right into the Bearcats' hands — three times.
The Bearcats were full of momentum from the opening whistle, with Kay finding Mekale McKay for a 56-yard strike to the UConn 20 to start the game. Five plays later Kay found Chris Moore from eight yards out for what was just the beginning for the Bearcats and the beginning of the end for the Huskies.
"We're very close. We really are because we've got good athletes" said Weist, receivers coach at Cincinnati from 2010 to 2012. "At times you can see it. We move the ball down the field, throw it down the field. It's enjoyable to see the competitiveness of our players and see our quarterback throw the ball and our running backs run the ball. When we're good, we're good. Problem is, at times, when we're bad, we're bad."