Any Good Lines Lately?

"We're not picking up the slants," Bennett said. "Sometimes we're a little too heavy on some guys, not getting off to the second level. You're seeing the linebackers making the plays on us. We've got to really work on getting to the second level. Last game against UMass, the middle linebacker made all the plays. We've got to identify the rifles off the side or the guys flowing over top."

How's that for honesty of X's and O's?

Whitmer has five interceptions and no touchdown passes in two games. On two of his three interceptions Saturday he forced passes. He got greedy. Although Whitmer made more of the third pick when he forced it long off a fake reverse, the second into double coverage was worse. The more frustrating it got in the second half, the more his throws seemed to take off on him.

"I've got to protect the football," Whitmer said. "This isn't high school or [junior college]."

No, it isn't.

Whitmer is under the microscope. And so, to an extent, is McCombs. Mike Ryan and Moe Petrus aren't around to run behind anymore. Granted the line gave up a slew of sacks last year and the pass protection appears to be better, but the run blocking sure isn't.

McCombs ran for 1,151 yards last year. He's also 166 pounds. If UConn doesn't find another running back to take some pressure off him and if the blocking doesn't improve markedly, well, there's something called diminishing returns.

"I think we're just having a problem finding our identity in the run game right now," McCombs said. "Yeah, I'm surprised. We just have to learn from these two games. I have no doubt in my mind we will get the running game going soon enough."

Pasqualoni said it wasn't like the team wasn't prepared. He said the Huskies worked hard on the run game all week.

"We just didn't get it done," Pasqualoni said.

"It's a matter of fundamentals and technique and taking care of your responsibility," Masters said.

Yet Bennett, who said he thought the pass protection was very good, did introduce an interesting point.

"We've gone against one of the best defenses for three weeks in camp," he said. "I think we come out and maybe take it a little too easy. In practice it goes a certain way and they expect it to be that way in a game. We've got to recognize things change, like [N.C. State] was supposed to do [strong-side] rifle. This week they did [weakside] rifle.

"It's the speed of the game, getting into it and blocking at that speed. Practice isn't as fast as we'd like it to be, so when we get to the games maybe we're a little shocked about it."

Masters' take?

"There's obviously a difference between the scout team and the starters for the other team. You've have to understand what the defenses are going to do on game day and you have to practice like it's game day every day."

After Dan Orlovsky left, there wasn't a running play Edsall didn't seem to love. Donald Brown, Andre Dixon, Jordan Todman — the heavy-lifting was done on the ground. That why, going into the Deserted in the Desert Bowl, it's somewhat ironic that it's the UConn running game under duress.

"It's extremely frustrating," Masters said. "We've always been good at the run and these past two games haven't been good enough. That's going to change, because we're still going to be a running team."

"I want to see perfect execution. I want to see more physicality. I want to see O-linemen getting nasty."

Adam Masters isn't alone.

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