If there was a person at Rentschler Field who understood what the members of the UConn football team was going through during another humbling defeat, Dan Orlovsky would certainly fill the bill.
The program's all-time leader in passing yards, completions, attempts and touchdown passes was on the field as UConn lost 10 games by at least 14 points in the first 18 games that the former Shelton High star was on the UConn squad.
"My first 18 games here were bludgeonings, they weren't fun," Orlovsky said at halftime of UConn's 52-12 loss to Missouri. "We were so committed to the big picture where it came to the point where it not happening was not an option for us. it truly just became a way of life where we were going to do it no matter what. I know this, we fully committed to Coach (Randy Edsall) and what he was saying the same thing over and over, we were getting waxed over and over again so at some point you go, 'what is the deal because we aren't necessarily seeing the results, he was and we weren't.
"We committed to Coach and we committed to ourselves. I feel for them, I know it stinks. It is not fun especially playing games like this at home but I am a big believer of failure, getting beat up, having that sensation and, 'I don't want that any more.' That was the thing we did, we just decided we weren't going to walk around campus like that anymore, it was kind of embarrassing. It takes time but you don't have all day so you want to feel the pain of loss and failure and turn that into motivation and success."
Senior linebacker Junior Joseph and senior defensive end Luke Carrezola are two of the team's unquestioned leaders and both addressed what Orlovsky had to say.
"Dan knows, he's the face of the program, he hit the nail (on the head).You get to the point that you can't take it anymore," Carrezola said. "I think every play is a fight, you have to come as a man and no matter what happens it is a next-play mentality."
Joseph, who had five tackles to move into 18th place on UConn's career list in that category, came from a winning program in high school as did most of his classmates but the Huskies are 14-31 in the last four seasons.
"Nobody likes losing, we are definitely tired of losing but we still have a lot of young players, a lot of guys who haven't had a lot of game experience," Joseph said.
Joseph admitted that he lost his composure at times during the game but it was another senior who really lost control.
Cornerback Jamar Summers had his first interception of the season late in the third quarter, it was his 12th career pick tying him with Justin Perkins for seventh in UConn history. However. Summers fired the ball at the legs of Missouri J'Mon Moore drawing a 15-yard penalty. Summers wasn't ejected on the play since it was his first unsportsmanlike penalty of the game. However, when he got to the sidelined, an irate Edsall was waiting. The one-sided conversation ended with Edsall pointing to the locker room and telling Summers to get off the sideline.
"You are not going to disrespect the game that way and play in this program," Edsall said. "It is all about respecting the game and doing what you are supposed to do. If you aren't going to do that, yuou don't deserve to be on the field, that is my opinion, that is how I am going to do things."
Carrezola said he didn't see what Summers did and didn't offer much of a reaction to Summers' play and Edsall's reaction. Joseph, however, did address it.
"That is not going to fly with Coach Edsall," Joseph said. "I totally expected him to bench Jamar after that and even kick him out of the game. We have to keep our cool and stay together. We are down by a lot but you still can't do anything selfish to hurt the team even more."
Joseph said he wants to talk to Summers and make sure his mind is right.
Missouri finished with 583 yards of total offense and if the 27 yards Missouri lost when a snap went over the head of punter Corey Fatony for a safety, it would have been the third time this season the UConn defense gave up more than 600 yards.
"We are definitely at a point where we have to draw a line, really step up," Carrezola said, "It starts with the seniors, with the leaders and we have to do a better job. We have to come out ready to play."
It doesn't get any easier with USF coming to Rentschler next week and a game at undefeated UCF the following week.
Edsall said he won't even bother showing the film of the game to the team. He will, however, address the missed tackles and dropped passes. Edsall estimated a dozen dropped passes which might have been a little on the high side but the missed tackle number would probably be more than a dozen.
Edsall didn't do into details but freshman running back Nate Hopkins was knocked out of the game as was starting guard Trey Rutherford. If Hopkins is forced to miss time, UConn will be getting extremely thin at the running back spot with Arkeel Newsome already sidelined.
The game was a chance for fans to receive Orlovsky bobbleheads. Orlovsky, who recently retired from football after he failed to make the Los Angeles Rams roster this year, reflected on his four years at UConn and 12 seasons in the NFL.
"To come back and have a night I can share with my friends and family is special," Orlovsky said. "I think the thing that has hit me the most recently is being from the state of Connecticut and coming here means even more to me now than it did back then because I've shared some of the memories, any time I come back here is great."
Orlovsky, who worked with the team as a volunteer coach in the spring as he was finishing up the work required for him to graduate from UConn, feels the pain the team is feeling.
"It's hard because I know Coach, I know a couple of guys on the staff, how much time they put into it and how much they care," Orlovsky said.
"As you watch the game, it is not like the kids aren't trying, they aren't quitting, They are out there throwing their best punch but they've got better punches."
Orlovsky finds himself suddenly with no football games to prepare for. A jump into the coaching profession is a possibility.
"Last five or six years of my career is pseudo coaching in some ways," Orlovsky said. "I've had a couple of opportunities to join some staffs in the NFL. I am not in the mindset of doing that right now because I didn't want to jump into anything. I talked to Coach Edsall about it, he knows where I stand, to coach college football isa little bit of a different animal especially when you have young kids."
UConn holds a special place in Orlovsky's heart.
"I don't know what would have happened if I would have gone somewhere else," Orlovsky said.
So what games or game stands out?
"The game against Indiana when Rentschler (in 2003) opened up was special to me. As you sit in the tunnel, it was OK you came here for a specific reason and this is the reason everybody said it could happen so that was a big moment. There are so many of them but that was the one that was, 'let's go.'"
He admits that the first NFL football Sunday was a little odd for him as he was in his home in Philadelphia.
"My wife was a little hesitant, how do you want to do it, where do you want to watch it," Orlovsky said. "I said lets just watch the opening kick at home, opening kickoff went off, she kind of looked at me and I said, I promise you, I am OK.' It was weird, different but not emotional for me. I was ready. I always told myself that when I was younger in my career if I played one year or 12 years when I was emotionally not invested in it anymore as a player, I wanted to be done. My sundays certainly are different."