The final score will read 31-21 and the American Athletic Conference can breathe a sigh of relief, for their access bowl stallion's bid is still intact. The CFB Selection Committee, along with anyone else who didn't see this game, will see that this was ten point win and confirm that the Pirates took care of business.
But boy howdy did UConn give them a run for their money. As UConn fans, we should be THRILLED by tonight's performance. This really came out of nowhere. If you thought this was happening after the last two games-- a combined 13 points scored against Temple and Tulane-- I simply don't believe you.
For starters, Chandler Whitmer threw for over 250 yards and had 3 touchdowns- two in the air and one on the ground. Even though Geremy Davis went down and didn't return, multiple receivers stepped up to get open and make plays. Deshon Foxx had 4 receptions for 120 yards and a touchdown and freshman Thomas Lucas had two catches for 80 yards.
After quickly mounting a 14-0 lead, ECU's offense was stymied by an aggressive but disciplined Husky defense, who executed Bob Diaco's 'bend but don't break' philosophy exquisitely. By the end of the game, ECU's 31 points scored seems like a lot, and it certainly is, but for the defense to play the way that it did- generating pressure, holding their zones, frustrating a potent attack- is very encouraging.
Offensively, the story of the game was UConn's sudden ability to move the ball through the air. There were short passes to keep the defense honest, and Chandler Whitmer found himself throwing deep more often that I have seen all year. The offensive line was shaky at times, but overall I would say they held up really well- we have to believe this is the best they've played all year.
I have nothing but pride for UConn's performance tonight. Nobody gave this team a chance, and all the Huskies did was travel to hostile territory and take the No. 18 team in the country to the wire. Now the challenge will be to see if they can keep this up across the rest of the season.
UCF is another tough but beatable team who we'll have the chance to face at home with the added juice of Homecoming and the revealing of the Jasper Howard statue, I'm optimistic we can find a way to get the win next weekend.
(also, I happened to recently make plans to attend on 11/1, my first time in the Rent since 2009, so LET'S GO HUSKIES!!)