CFN Take: UConn Fumbles Away Loss To SMU

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Dec 6, 2014


Connecticut Huskies 2014 ... Head Coach: Bob Diaco

2014 Connecticut Huskies

2014 Schedule
Record: 2-10

Aug. 29 BYU L 35-10
Sep. 6 Stony Brook W 19-16
Sep. 13 Boise State L 38-21
Sep. 19 at USF L 27-14
Sep. 27 Temple L 36-10
Oct. 4 OPEN DATE
Oct. 11 at Tulane W 12-3
Oct. 18 OPEN DATE
Oct. 23 at East Carolina L 31-21
Nov. 1 UCF W 37-29
Nov. 8 Army (in NYC) L 35-21
Nov. 13 OPEN DATE
Nov. 22 Cincinnati L 41-0
Nov. 29 at Memphis
Dec. 6 SMU L 27-20
Dec. 6 SMU 27, at Connecticut 20
And You Care Because … SMU avoided a winless season with 21 unanswered points in the second half with Prescott Line running for scores from four and 12 yards out and Matt Davis taking off for a 26-yard score. The Mustangs started out the scoring with two Cody Rademacher field goals from 44 and 28 yards out, but UConn scored 20 straight points on a 32-yard fumble return for a score from Andrew Adams and touchdown runs from Max DeLorenzo and Ron Johnson, but five turnovers turned out to be a major problem, especially in the second half.
What Else? SMU QB Matt Davis completed 15-of-33 passes for 145 yards and a score, and ran 22 times for 191 yards and a touchdown
- Connecticut QB Chandler Whitmer completed 1-of-3 passes for 38 yards and a pick, and Tim Boyle completed 4-of-11 passes for 28 yards
- SMU WR Darius Joseph caught nine passes for 108 yards
- Turnovers: Connecticut 5 – SMU 3
Game Rating: B-

Nov. 29 at Memphis 41, Connecticut 10
And You Care Because … Paxton Lynch threw four touchdown passes with two to Keiwone Malone from six and nine yards out, and finding Tevin Jones from 12 yards away and Phil Mayhue from 21 yards out in the third. Connecticut could only managed a 45-yard field goal in a 34-3 Tiger run. The Huskies finally got into the end zone on a 39-yard Arkeel Newsome catch in the fourth. Memphis answered with a one-yard Jarvis Cooper run.
What Else? Memphis QB Paxton Lynch completed 22-of-41 passes for 194 yards and four scores, and ran nine times for 40 yards
- Connecticut QB Tim Boyle completed 12-of-24 passes for 160 yards and a touchdown with a pick
- Total yards: Memphis 372 – Connecticut 269
- Penalties: Connecticut 10 for 115 yards – Memphis 4 for 40 yards
Game Rating: D

Nov. 22 Cincinnati 41, at Connecticut 0
And You Care Because … It was all Cincinnati from the start, with Gunner Kiel finding Nate Cole on a six-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter, and Mike Boone scored on a three-yard touchdown run to spark a 20-point run in the final 9:13 in the third. Andrew Gantz hit two field goals, and Kiel found Jake Golic on a two-yard pass. UConn turned it over three times, with the mistakes leading to points, including an 18-yard Johnny Holton catch early in the third.
What Else? Total yards: Cincinnati 425 – Connecticut 129
- Cincinnati QB Gunner Kiel completed 17-of-30 passes for 161 yards and three scores with a pick, and ran five times for 28 yards
- Connecticut QB Tim Boyle completed 13-of-21 passes for 70 yards
- Cincinnati RB Rodriguez Moore ran 21 times for 108 yards and a score
Game Rating: D-

Nov. 8 at Army 35, Connecticut 21
And You Care Because … Connecticut was driving for a possible game-tying touchdown in the final seconds, but Chandler Whitmer’s pass was picked off by Chris Carnegie for a 99-yard touchdown to seal the win. Army to two touchdown runs from both Angel Santiago and Joe Walker, and the defense held on as Whitmer ran for a touchdown in the second and threw two touchdown passes in the fourth.
What Else? Rushing yards: Army 327 – Connecticut 163
- Connecticut QB Chandler Whitmer completed 19-of-31 passes for 170 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions, and ran seven times for a team-leading 62 yards and a score
- Army QB Angel Santiago completed 2-of-3 passes for 38 yards, and ran 25 times for a team-leading 97 yards and two touchdowns
- Time of possession: Army 34:15 – Connecticut 25:45
Game Rating: B

Nov. 1 at Connecticut 37, UCF 29
And You Care Because … Helped by four interceptions, Connecticut shocked UCF with two Chandler Whitmer touchdown passes including plays from 38 and 22 yards away to Noel Thomas, and helped by two Ron Johnson short scoring runs on the way to a 37-21 lead. UCF came up with several big plays to try to stay alive, with J. J. Worton catching a 73-yard touchdown pass and Breshad Perriman coming up with a 16-yard play – to go along with two short touchdown first half runs from William Stanback in the first half – but the final drive stalled at midfield.
What Else? Penalties: Connecticut 10 for 102 yards – UCF 8 for 89 yards
- Connecticut RB Deshon Foxx ran 11 times for 102 yards and a score
- UCF RB William Stanback ran 28 times for 141 yards and two touchdowns
- Connecticut DB Andrew Adams picked off three passes
Game Rating: B-

Oct. 23 at East Carolina 31, Connecticut 21
And You Care Because … The Pirates won, but it was a struggle. Shane Carden threw two first quarter touchdown passes and ECU looked like it was on its way to a rout, but UConn kept fighting back as Chandler Whitmer ran for a one-yard score and found Noel Thomas on a 32-yard touchdown pass to tie it. The Huskies always seemed to have an answer, coming back from a one-yard scoring run from ECU’s Breon Allen with a 88-yard Whitmer pass play to Deshon Foxx to tie it. It was all ECU in the fourth quarter with a field goal and a nine-yard Allen run to put it away.
What Else? East Carolina QB Shane Carden completed 38-of-64 passes for 445 yards and two touchdowns with an interception and ran nine times for 32 yards
- Penalties: UConn 12 for 119 yards – East Carolina 11 for 105 yards
- East Carolina WR Justin Hardy caught 14 passes for 186 yards and a score
- Connecticut QB Chandler Whitmer completed 18-of-30 passes for 303 yards and two scores with a pick, and ran seven times for 35 yards and a touchdown
Game Rating: B

Oct. 11 at Tulane 12, Connecticut 3
And You Care Because … UConn scored first on a 44-yard Bobby Puyol field goal midway through the first, and then the Tulane defense took over with three takeaways and a safety. Nick Montana and the Green Wave offense did enough to get by, with a seven-yard touchdown pass to Charles Jones and leading to a 38-yard Andrew DiRocco field goal in the fourth.
What Else? Total yards: Tulane 302 – Connecticut 217
- Tulane QB Nick Montana completed 19-of-26 passes for 135 yards and a touchdown
- Connecticut QB Chandler Whitmer completed 17-of-24 passes for 141 yards
- Turnovers: Connecticut 3 – Tulane 0
Game Rating: C-

Sept. 27 Temple 36, at Connecticut 10
And You Care Because … P.J. Walker threw a touchdown pass and ran for another, and Tavon Young returned an interception 93 yards for a touchdown as Temple rolled past a mistake-prone UConn. Up 7-3 going into the second half, the Owls had no problems scoring 21 straight points on a 42-yard pass play to Jalen Fitzpatrick and with a fumble return for a score by Praise Martin-Oguike to go along with Walker’s one-yard run. UConn’s lone touchdown came on a 74-yard Arkeel Newsome touchdown catch in the third, but Temple scored eight unanswered including a safety.
What Else? Temple QB P.J. Walker completed 20-of-29 passes for 231 yards and a score, and ran for seven yards and a score
- UConn QB Chandler Whitmer completed 12-of-23 passes for 163 yards and a score with a pick
- UConn turned it over seven times and committed seven penalties with one wiping out a touchdown
- Time of possession: UConn 35:28 – Temple 24:32
Game Rating: C-

Sept. 19 at South Florida 17, Connecticut 14
And You Care Because … In the rain, the South Florida defense held Connecticut to just 132 yards of total offense. The Bull offense got up 14-0 in the first quarter taking a Husky turnover for a one-yard Marlon Mack touchdown run and a 30-yard Rodney Adams scoring play. UConn needed the D to get on the board, getting a 70-yard pick six from Byron Jones late in the first half. Down ten, UConn went on its best drive of the night late in the game, scoring on a 32-yard catch from Geremy Davis, but USF got the onside kick.
What Else? USF RB Marlon Mack ran 31 times for 103 yards and a score, and caught a pass for ten yards.
- UConn ran 27 times for 44 yards. QB Chandler Whitmer completed 6-of-9 passes for 88 yards and a score.
- Time of Possession: South Florida 39:02 – UConn 20:58
- Third Down Conversions: South Florida 7-of-16 – UConn 0-for-9
Game Rating: C-

Sept. 13 Boise State 38, at Connecticut 21
And You Care Because … Connecticut somehow hung around with Boise State, despite playing sloppily throughout. The Huskies made a series of gaffes and turnovers, yet only trailed the Broncos, 24-21, at the outset of the fourth quarter. Boise State, though, closed the deal with a pair of touchdowns over the final 10 minutes, capped by a Donte Deayon 50-yard interception return, the team’s second defensive touchdown of the afternoon.
What Else? New UConn coach Bob Diaco has a laundry list of things to work on in his first year. Topping that list will be improving in pass protection after allowing eight sacks to Boise State.
- It was a buy day for Bronco pitch-and-catch combo Grant Hedrick to Matt Miller. Hedrick threw a pair of touchdowns to Miller and caught one … from Miller.
- Despite getting battered from start to finish, Husky QB Chandler Whitmer stood tall in the pocket to help keep UConn in the game. He went 16-of-29 for 209 yards, two touchdowns and two picks.
- Boise State won despite not getting its usual production from star RB Jay Ajayi. Ajayi only managed to rush for 39 yards on 18 carries, while being a non-factor in the passing game. However, it was encouraging that the Broncos could win a game with defense and Hedrick’s arm.
Game Rating: C

Sept. 6 at Connecticut 19, Stony Brook 16
And You Care Because … Deshonn Foxx returned a punt 72 yards for a score to cap off a run of 16 straight points to take control. Stony Brook took a 10-3 lead on a fumble return for a score and a 33-yard field goal, but 12 penalties and no passing game proved to be disastrous. UConn’s Chandler Whitmer only completed 12-of-27 passes for 142 yards with a score. The two teams combined for just 523 yards.
Game Rating: C

Aug. 29 BYU 35, at Connecticut 10
And You Care Because … BYU cranked up 513 yards of total offense, getting up early on a seven-yard Taysom Hill touchdown run and two scoring passes to get up 21-0, and coasted from there. UConn turned the ball over on its first play from scrimmage, and failed to get into the game until it was way too late, managing a one-yard Joshua Marriner touchdown run and a 35-yard Bobby Puyol field goal.
What Else? BYU appears to be more than ready for Texas. If the Longhorns want to get physical, even with revenge on their minds, the Cougars looked against UConn like they could probably handle it. Meanwhile, the Huskies needed the opener to come against Stony Brook – they were shaky on both sides of the ball.
- BYU didn’t have star RB Jamaal Williams or top WR Devon Blackmon due to suspension, but it didn’t matter. Taysom Hill took the game over early completing 28-of-36 passes for 308 yards and three touchdowns, and carrying the ground game with 97 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries – it was almost too easy. The O line dominated in the first half.
- The UConn defense settled down in the second half, but the offense couldn’t take advantage. The two quarterback system combined for 284 passing yards, but no rhythm, and there was no ground game whatsoever. There was no room to run – the longest dash was just eight yards.
- BYU committed 15 penalties for 150 yards and UConn got tagged for eight flags for 90 yards.
Game Rating: C-

2014 UConn Preview 

The healing has slowly begun in Storrs.

Connecticut feels as if it’s already won, months before a down will be played. The disastrous, ill-conceived Paul Pasqualoni experiment is mercifully over, replaced by the fresh outlook and high energy of rookie head coach Bob Diaco. In Diaco, who spent the last four seasons on Brian Kelly’s Notre Dame staff, the Huskies are hoping they’ve landed the second-coming of Randy Edsall.

Edsall was a 40-year-old defensive coordinator when he was hired by UConn in 1998. Diaco was a 40-year defensive coordinator when he became a Husky last December. Yeah, the program is looking to repeat history. Edsall was the architect for 12 seasons, guiding a basketball school from I-AA obscurity to the Fiesta Bowl before moving on to Maryland. He achieved things, such as four-straight eight-win seasons, that once seemed unimaginable. It’s now up to Diaco and his staff to build a bridge to those Edsall teams, while erasing all memories of Pasqualoni.

Patience will need to be exercised, since UConn still has a long way to go before narrowing the talent gap on the better programs in the American. Although the D has shown a knack for overachieving and producing pro-caliber players, the offense perennially operates in least mode.

While the rest of the world seems to be supercharging their offenses, Connecticut can’t get out of neutral. Over the past three years, the Huskies have averaged 21 points per game to rank among the feeblest in the country. The dire situation won’t change until the team learns how to block better. UConn gave up 42 sacks and rushed for 2.6 yards per carry in 2013. And from that unit, four senior linemen must be replaced. New coordinator Mike Cummings and O-line coach Mike Foley would be well-advised to stock up on blood pressure medication this summer.

UConn is ordinary again. It hasn’t had a winning season since 2010, and interest in the program has waned accordingly. Oh, and the national championships won by the men’s and women’s basketball teams only confirmed where the balance of power exists in Storrs. Diaco, though, brings a glimmer of hope that often comes with the hiring of a new staff. The Huskies finally have a young and energetic leader, one it believes it can grow with and rally around during the current phase of the ongoing rebuilding plan.

What to watch for on offense: Casey at the bat. Sophomore Casey Cochran unexpectedly infused hope into the quarterback position late last year. What does he do for an encore? The Huskies haven’t had an accelerant under center since Dan Orlovsky graduated a decade ago. Cochran, though, ran the offense as if he plans to reverse recent history, throwing 10 touchdown passes and three picks in November. UConn also won three of the four games he started. All eyes this offseason are on Cochran to see if he can build on what he started last fall.

What to watch for on defense: Shifting to a 3-4 alignment. Everything is changing at UConn, from terminology and playbooks to nutritional expectations and the base D. Diaco is a disciple of the 3-4, which he employed in South Bend over the past four years. In the new system, the ends will be bigger, the outside linebackers must be versatile and the nose tackle will be central to controlling both “A” gaps. The Huskies have spent the offseason getting in the best shape of their lives. They’ll spend the summer flexing their mental muscles, as they learn different assignments and expectations under Diaco.

The team will be far better if… it has more success on the ground. When the Huskies were thriving under Edsall, it was usually fueled by the defense and the running game. After ranking 119th on the ground in 2013, while averaging just 2.6 yards per carry, UConn must get back to basics on offense. While young QB Casey Cochran gave the passing attack a late lift, it’s now up to a beleaguered offensive line to create more daylight for underrated backs Lyle McCombs and Max DeLorenzo to navigate.

The Schedule: The Diaco era starts out with a three straight home games, but they're going to be rough with BYU and Boise State wrapped around a winnable layup against Stony Brook. After a trip to USF to start the conference schedule, the Temple game makes if four home dates in the first five September games. And then come the problems with three of the next four and five of the next seven games on the road before closing out against SMU. The big positive, though, is UCF and Cincinnati - the two best teams in the American - at home.

Best offensive player: Senior WR Geremy Davis. Davis doesn’t line up behind center, but he’s been an integral part of UConn’s improved passing attack. The 6-3, 216-pounder gives the Husky quarterbacks a big, sure-handed target in the middle of the field. By catching 115 passes over the past two seasons, Davis headlines a receiving corps that’ll be the deepest unit for the Huskies in 2014. And with two seasons as a starter and improved play at quarterback, he’s eyeing a monster season this fall.

Best defensive player: Senior CB Byron Jones. Jones harbors all of the qualities, both tangible and intangible, that the new staff wants in a cornerback. He’s big, a 6-1, 196-pounder who’s flourished in Bob Diaco’s offseason conditioning program. He’s been starting since his freshman year. And he’s the smartest player on the UConn defense. Now that Jones has had a full season to adjust after shifting from free safety, he’s on the brink of becoming one of the American’s top pass defenders.

Key players to a successful season: The offensive linemen. The Huskies have enough potential at the skill positions to up their potency in 2014. But the backs and receivers aren’t going anywhere unless a makeshift line can make a quantum leap from the past few seasons. UConn got whipped at the point of attack in 2013, neutralizing the talent in the backfield. The Huskies have a ton of room for improvement on offense. And that talent gap is no more obvious than along a tattered and apprehensive O-line.

The season will be a success if ... UConn reaches six wins to squeak out a bowl berth. This is not the old Big East. It’s a watered-down version of the old league. A rich-man’s Conference USA, if you will. Even as the Huskies rebuild around a new staff, reaching .500 during the regular season is not unreasonable. They’ve got seven games at Rentschler Field, and only one nasty road game, the Oct. 23 trip to East Carolina. If the players buy in to Diaco, UConn has a shot of playing a bonus game in December.

Key game: Aug. 29 vs. BYU. What better way to kick off a new era than with a stopover from a nationally-known opponent? A Friday night visit from the Cougars affords Diaco and his team a chance to show the country what they’ve accomplished during the offseason. An upset in the opener would be exactly what Connecticut needs to energize a disinterested fan base, while kick-starting the 2014 season.

2013 Fun Stats:
- Average yards per rush: Connecticut 2.6 – Opponents 3.7
- Sacks: Connecticut 16 – Opponents 42
- Points per game: Connecticut 20.6 - Opponents 30.2

- 2014 Connecticut Preview - What You Need To Know & Top Players


   


 
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