Today's game actually started off competitively, with the Huskies holding Memphis to six points on two redzone chances. By the half, the scoreboard showed a manageable 13-3 Tigers lead. Unfortunately, Memphis ran away with the game, aided by two UConn turnovers and ten penalties which led to 28 second-half points. By the end the Tigers had racked up 41 points and UConn scored a meaningless touchdown to finish with 10. The Huskies fall to 2-9 on the season with one more game remaining.
This is what happens when you rebuild. The stats, terrifying as they are, don't matter as much as the small victories Bob Diaco and his staff can capture on film. At the most important position on the field, sophomore quarterback Tim Boyle learned some valuable lessons, such as sliding when you run the ball, or making sure you're on the same page as your receivers before a play.
Boyle can sling it, and certainly made his fair share of mistakes, but these reps are invaluable for the one who will likely be the man under center for the Huskies next year. Don't worry about the completion percentage or the interception, which actually wasn't such a bad throw, this offense will be returning most of its starters and has the talent to make a significant jump next year. By my (very) amateur initial analysis, he did seem to improve from last week.
Once again, the defense will not receive much credit despite some very stout play early in the game. The front seven held up well but the young secondary struggled-- the Huskies were called for six pass interference or defensive holding calls in the game. The offense didn't help the cause. Both Husky turnovers, a Boyle fumble and interception, led to touchdown drives of 39 and 40 yards, respectively.
UConn's lone touchdown came in the fourth quarter with the game very much out of hand but still it was nice to see Arkeel Newsome effortlessly evade tacklers on a 39-yard catch and run off a screen pass. It was the first touchdown of Tim Boyle's career. Elsewhere on the team, Geremy Davis caught five passes for 62 yards and Ron Johnson saw most of the action out of the backfield, carrying the ball 22 times for 67 yards. Johnson had what would have been his longest run of the season called back due to a so-so holding penalty on tight end Tommy Myers.
The win clinches a share of the AAC regular season championship for Memphis, ending their regular season with six straight wins and a 9-3 record which will have them in very good shape for a quality bowl berth. After going 3-9 last year, and 4-8 the year before, head coach Justin Fuente's turnaround efforts have finally reached fruition in his third year at the helm.
Since an uplifting win against UCF at homecoming, UConn is 0-3 with a rough loss to Army and two blowout losses to conference-leading teams. They will finish their season against a winless SMU squad at Rentschler field at noon. Then we can finally put this 2014 season to rest and look forward to what is hopefully a brighter tomorrow.