NASHVILLE, Tennessee (AP) – The Vanderbilt Commodores and UConn Huskies both work to rebuild effort and adversity while trying to win games.
On Saturday night, first-year coach Clark Lea and his Commodores have what could be their best chance for a win this season.
If Lea can refocus them after painful 62-0 loss to No.2 Georgia.
“This is where our program is,” Lea said. “That’s how we faced off against Georgia on Saturday. Now let’s see how we can evolve through this. … let’s make it a galvanizing experience so that we can do our best again on Saturday against UConn. ”
After that game, Vanderbilt (1-3) ended the season against opponents from the Southeastern Conference and the Commodores have lost 14 straight league games. They broke an 11-game skid in their second game of the season, beating Colorado State on the road. But that program also lost eight straight home games to a November 23, 2019 win over ETSU.
At least Lea has a coaching victory.
The winless Huskies (0-5) saw coach Randy Edsall first announce his intention to retire after the season before leaving immediately on September 6.. Edsall was just 6-32 on his second stint with the Huskies.
Acting head coach Lou Spanos just suffered UConn’s closest loss this season, 24-22 to Wyoming. He sees an evolving culture.
“Now, is there room for improvement? Most definitely, ”Spanos said. “But, we come together as a team. They play for each other and they work hard. They work for good on game day. ”
Lea knew he was getting ready to rebuild his alma mater. His first season at the back was 2002 when Vanderbilt first played at UConn, a game the Commodores won 28-24 with Jay Cutler at quarterback.
The first-year coach saw a lot of progress until the start of the season. Now he and his assistants are busy coaching and trying to train the players at the same time.
“We’re looking for that identity here,” Lea said. “We are looking for this through a team learning to overcome what has been a traumatized past, and I strive every day so that we can overcome this trauma and focus on what this team is capable of.”
UConn’s losses fell to 3-1 Holy Cross of the FCS, a result that led to Edsall’s early retirement and four Bowl Subdivision teams. These schools, Fresno State, Purdue, Army and Wyoming are a combined 15-2. The Huskies lost their first four games by an aggregate score of 184-49.
Vandy also lost to an FCS program, East Tennessee State, in Game 1 of the season.
Ken Seals remains Vanderbilt’s starting quarterback with Mike Wright coming in for plays and playoffs. The two are in their second seasons with the Commodores, and Lea noted that they were in another new attack this year.
Lea wants the Seals to relax and slow down a bit more. Seals has more interceptions (four) than touchdowns (three). Wright is also urgent and Lea wants him to understand that he doesn’t have to do everything on his own.
UConn first-year quarterback Tyler Phommachanh will be making his third start and says the game is slowing down for him. His name may sound familiar. He is the younger brother of Clemson’s backup quarterback Taisun Phommachanh.
“We’re definitely on the phone,” said young Phommachanh. “We talk a lot about the things I see, the things he sees, and he gives me good information about the things that I can learn and that I can rely on.”
AP Sports writer Pat Eaton-Robb contributed to this report.
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