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UConn, Cavaliers hope to learn from early road losses

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Connecticut head coach Bob Diaco, left, signals for a timeout to an official in the second half of an NCAA college football game against Navy in Annapolis, Md., Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016. Navy won 28-24. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

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STORRS, Conn. (AP) — Virginia hasn't been able to win on the road. UConn has had clock management issues.

The Huskies (1-1) and the Cavaliers (0-2) will look for a bit of redemption when they meet Saturday in East Hartford.

UConn's Bob Diaco spent much of his weekly press conference defending the play calling at the end of last Saturday's 28-24 loss to Navy, when the Huskies were stuffed on second down at the goal line with 17 seconds left and never got off another play.

Defensive end Luke Carrezola said the team will try to turn that experience into a positive.

"It might sound peculiar, because it was such a way to lose, but in the locker room it wasn't like, 'We should have done this on that play,'" he said. "It was more an overall understanding that this was an experience that we're going to learn and grow from."

Virginia lost its 16th straight road game last week , falling behind 30-6, before dropping a 44-26 decision at Oregon. But linebacker Chris Peace said his team is learning what it takes to win away from home.

"It's something we haven't done here in a while, and something we've been working toward, and that's definitely a big goal for us," he said. "That first one's going to feel great."

The teams haven't met since 2008, but UConn is familiar with the system run by first-year Virginia coach Bronco Mendenhall. The Huskies lost to Mendenhall-coached BYU teams the past two seasons, falling 35-10 at home in 2014 and 30-13 in Utah last season.

Here are some other things to watch for as UConn hosts Virginia on Saturday:

CAVALIER CONNECTIONS

UConn has four coaches who either played or coached in Charlottesville. Diaco was a linebacker coach and special teams coordinator at Virginia from 2006-2008. Co-defensive coordinators Anthony Poindexter and Vincent Brown also were defensive position coaches there. But Poindexter's ties go deeper. He was an All-American safety for the Cavaliers and had number retired. UConn quarterback coach Wayne Lineburg also played for Virginia, where he was a backup signal caller on three bowl teams in the 1990s.

THE NON-CONFERENCE CONFERENCE

This is the first of three non-conference games UConn will play against ACC opponents this season. Syracuse visits East Hartford next week and the Huskies travel to Boston College on Nov. 19. UConn's seven other remaining games are all within the American Athletic Conference. The Huskies are 18-37 against current members of the ACC.

LONG ROAD HOME

Virginia has logged more than 6,000 miles over the last week, travelling to Oregon and back to the East Coast. This is the first time since 2003 that the team has played back-to-back non-conference games on the road. It's also the first time UVa has played two non-conference games away from home in the same season since 2007.

DUAL THREAT

UConn quarterback Bryant Shirreffs is the Huskies leading passer and rusher so far this season. Shirreffs set a single-game record for completion percentage against Navy, connecting on 23 of 26 passes (88.4 percent). He's completed 39 of 49 throws this season for 401 yards, and run 33 times for 127 yards. Tailbacks Ron Johnson (98 yards) and Arkeel Newsome (53 yards) have combined for 151 yards on the ground.

LOOKING FOR 100

A Virginia win on a Saturday would be the 100th in coach Mendenhall's career. He was 99-43 during his 11-year tenure at BYU and is the 14th on the wins list for active FBS coaches with more than five years of experience.

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AP Sports Writer Hank Kurz in Charlottesville, Virginia, contributed to this report.

 

 
 

 

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