First Half Recap: ECU 14 - UConn 7
Going into this game, UConn fans were expecting blowout. After being manhandled by Temple and showing up lame at Tulane, they faced the No. 18 team in the country in the road next on the schedule.
The start of the game followed this script, as the ECU offense took the field first, quickly gaining yards and running plays to keep the Husky defense on their heels. They swiftly moved down the field and on third and goal from the 13 Shane Carden hit Justin Hardy for a 13 yard touchdown.
After a UConn 3-and-out, the Pirates again moved the field and this time converted two 4th downs on their way to a second touchdown drive to quickly make it a 14-0 lead with 5:41 left in the first quarter.
Then something miraculous happened: UConn produced a very competent offensive drive. Chandler Whitmer completed three straight passes of 43, 13 and 11 yards to Thomas Lucas, Deshon Foxx, and Dhameer Bradley. Two Ron Johnson runs got UConn to the ECU 1, at third and goal. Another Johnson run fell short, but a Whitmer sneak on 4th down got the Huskies into the end zone for their first, first-quarter touchdown of the season. WOOO!
The defense kept UConn in this game, and it appeared Bob Diaco's bend but don't break approach was keeping the Pirates out of the end zone. They were able to force a bunch of third and longs, but a wide-open passing game and a willingness to go for it on fourth down allowed the Pirates to keep drives alive.
The Huskies made a nice stop on 4th and 2 when Graham Stewart led a pack of Huskies into the backfield to make the tackle. Unfortunately, on the subsequent drive, Whitmer was intercepted on a tipped ball. The Huskies answered back by forcing their own interception, after Graham Stweart pressure forced Carden to loft a ball into the endzone over his receiver and into the outstretched arms of Byron Jones
Tim Boyle came in and after getting a quick first down the drive fizzled due to a sack where the pocket completely collapsed in front of the young passer on 2nd and 8. A screen pass on third down failed to convert.
Offense looked sharp as Whitmer took the field. A couple of penalties and couple of plays had UConn just outside PIrate territory, but the Huskies gave those yards back with some penalties of their own, eventually pushing themselves outside of field goal position after ECU iced us into an offsides penalty on a 48-yard field goal attempt.
On the ensuing drive, ECU drove 90+ yards down the field, but missed on a short field goal at the end of the half to keep the score 14-7. The Huskies will get the ball at the half and have to feel encouraged by their performance thus far. We really could win this one!!
Gametime/TV: 8pm on ESPNews
Location: Yulman Stadium, New Orleans, LA
Broadcast Team: Mike Couzens, Brian Kinchen
Radio: WTIC-AM - Joe D'Ambrosio, Wayne Norman, Kevin Nathan
Vegas Line: Tulane -4
Forecast: high-70's, Scattered Thunderstorms, 50% chance of precipitation
History: First match-up between these two teams. Tulane is in their first year in the American Athletic Conference
UCONN - OUT - T Dalton Gifford - leg, out indefinitely, DB Ellis Marder - lower body, out indefinitely - QUESTIONABLE - P Justin Wain, undisclosed - PROBABLE - QB Tim Boyle - leg, S Obi Melifonwu - upper body;
TULANE - QUESTIONABLE - DT Eric Bell, disciplinary (?), LB Rae Juan Marley, illness, G Alex Paul, knee, QB Tanner Lee, shoulder, CB Jarrod Franklin, knee
Our view from the booth at YulmanStadium @UConnFootball @GreenWaveFB at 630 @WTIC1080 @IMGAudio @tunein pic.twitter.com/DCodR35Bcj— Joe D'Ambrosio (@JoeDSports) October 11, 2014
I'm gonna keep this short and sweet since I'm on vacation this weekend. UConn is bad. Tulane is bad. Tonight under the bright lights of ESPNews we will find out who is worse.
The Huskies have had two weeks to shake off the horrid stench of their home loss against Temple. That 36-10 final score looks atrocious, but the Temple lead was only 7-3 at the half and UConn was able to move the ball to open the game until the demoralizing pick-six by Chandler Whitmer. The defense held strong for as long as they could, but ultimately disadvantageous field positions and lack of rest caught up to them.
By my unofficial estimation, there are only two games on the schedule after this one where a sober person could predict UConn winning- Army and SMU. Never say never, we all know that Forumla 2007 is a miracle worker, but it's hard to like our chances against East Carolina, UCF, Cincinnati or Memphis.
Tulane's season thus far features excusable losses to Georgia Tech, Duke, and Rutgers, but they also lost their season opener in double overtime at Tulsa. Tulsa hasn't won a game since.
Because of Tulane's weaknesses on the offensive line (really important part of the game imo) and instability at quarterback, I like UConn's chances tonight. The Green Wave, like us, are a young, mistake-prone team. But they're in luck, because the Huskies love sharing the football- giving away eleven turnovers so far through five games.
If UConn can get anything going offensively, they can win. If the offensive line still can't function after Bob Diaco's scaled back approach then it'll be grinning, shoulder shrugging, hands to the air emoji's for everyone.
Prediction: UConn 20, Tulane 16
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ pic.twitter.com/BmAvxyNHF8— TheUConnBlog (@TheUConnBlog) September 27, 2014