Randy Edsall: COVID-19 impact on UConn 'pretty significant'

Connecticut head coach Randy Edsall walks along the sideline during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Connecticut Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019, in Orlando, Fla.

Connecticut head coach Randy Edsall walks along the sideline during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Connecticut Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019, in Orlando, Fla.

Phelan M. Ebenhack / Associated Press

Four months removed from the decision to cancel the season because of complications associated with COVID-19 pandemic, UConn football coach Randy Edsall is still asked if he stands by the decision.

His answer: “Most definitely.”

And the two-word answer is followed by a litany of numbers. Speaking to reporters on a Zoom call Thursday, Edsall painted a picture of how COVID has impacted his program during its fall without a slate of games.

According to Edsall, UConn had 23 positive COVID tests. Most players were asymptomatic, but they were forced to isolate for a total of 708 days.

Edsall said 70 players had to quarantine from July 1 through around Nov. 20. Some quarantined more than once and the average quarantine stint for the team was 22 days.

“The decision (to cancel the season) was best for us and our student-athletes,” Edsall said. “But when you go and take a look at what we ended up having to deal with even ourselves by not playing, it's pretty, pretty significant here.”

Edsall said 14 players decided to return home and work out remotely. Of the players who remained, only 20 did not isolate or quarantine during the semester.

“The contact tracing is the thing that really put a lot of teams down and you saw why there was so many games missed,” Edsall said.

Edsall said the fall without games has been useful for conditioning. With an independent schedule ahead, the program has been in flux.

But the time off allowed for a reboot.

“We were able to really get a lot accomplished,” Edsall said. “I was really proud of our kids for how they handled everything. … All that time, it was very, very significant for our overall development as players, as an offense, as a defense, and on special teams.

“Because we were able to get a lot of really good work in, in terms of fundamentals, techniques, running our plays, running our defenses, doing drill work for special teams that you really got a chance to teach it, and go over it, and rep it, and correct it, and coach it without the process of a game plan.”

Edsall said the players will return to campus in mid-January and players will start weight work on Feb. 1. Spring practice begins Feb. 15.

The team will hold three scrimmages indoors during the spring. There will be no spring games — there was speculation UConn and UMass could play in the spring — as Edsall instead prepares for the fall of 2021 season.

And that schedule will include Yale, as the state programs meet for the first time since 1998. UConn and Yale will play Oct. 16, 2021 at Rentschler Field.

It will be the 50th meeting. Yale holds a 32-17 edge in the series, which began in 1948.

“It's a team that UConn has had a rivalry with previously,” Edsall said.. “And because of the scheduling situation that we were in, we felt it made sense for us and it made sense for them. And hopefully what it'll be, it'll be a sellout crowd at the Rent when we play them.”

paul.doyle@hearstmediact.com;@pauldoyle1