BYU came into to Rentschler Field today and put up a dominant, though mistake-filled, 60 minutes of football, beating the UConn Huskies 35-10. If the Cougars hadn't committed 15 penalties for 150 yards, this could have been more of a blowout. That said, it wasn't a terrible showing by the team against one of the toughest opponents on the schedule in Bob Diaco's first game as head coach.
The visitors quickly took a 14-point lead by effortlessly scoring a touchdown on their first drive and then again right after Max DeLorenzo fumbled on UConn's first offensive play.
UConn followed with a solid drive into BYU territory, but Casey Cochran threw an interception under heavy pressure and once again BYU made it look way too easy as they scored another touchdown to make it 21-0. UConn couldn't generate any pass rush and struggled to contain BYU quarterback Taysom Hill.
It looked like things might get ugly for the Huskies, as another UConn drive stalled and BYU was driving to push the lead to 28. Then Junior Joseph forced and recovered a fumble to give UConn the ball with 4:49 left in the half.
On the ensuing drive UConn, quarterbacked by Chandler Whitmer this time, drove 52 yards down the field in six plays, capped off by a 1-yard TD run by redshirt freshman Joshua Marriner. All of a sudden it was 21-7 and the Huskies had some life.
Unfortunately BYU took the ball with 2:33 left and promptly moved 69 yards in 90 seconds to make it 28-7, which was the score at the end of the first half.
UConn started with the ball in the second half and authoritatively marched down the field. Unfortunately, Cochran was sacked on back-to-back plays and the Huskies were forced to settle for a field goal. Except UConn decided to go for a fake (on 4th and 16) which was easily thwarted by the Cougars.
UConn hung around the rest of the game thanks to a comical amount of BYU mistakes. There was a missed 34-yard field goal attempt. There was an interception taken back by a late hit and a weak fumble late in the third quarter. They just kept making mistakes and UConn, admirably, kept their spirits up and tried to make a game out of it. They were stopped in the red zone on a couple of fourth-down attempts and BYU iced it with a touchdown.
Overall the outcome is poor, but this is not the time to be discouraged. Bob Diaco's team played with spirit for 60 minutes and despite what the score may look like there was a possibility, small as it was, that UConn could win going into the fourth quarter. Believe it or not, there are positive takeaways from this game.
- Obi Melifonwu had a rough go in the first half. He was called for a couple of penalties early and was burned on BYU's second touchdown. I didn't hear much of his name in the second half.
- Whitmer (8/17, 113 yards) had the touchdown drive, but I think Cochran (17/31, 171 yards) looked better overall. Just one man's opinion.
- Max DeLorenzo had the fumble, but looked solid overall and was UConn's leading rusher in the game with 38 yards on 9 carries. Marriner had 9 runs for 27 yards and scored the touchdown. The freshmen Arkeel Newsome and Ron Johnson both saw time as well, getting 3 carries and one reception each. Newsome combined for 28 yards from scrimmage on four touches and Johnson had 20 yards on his four.
- I thought Graham Stewart looked great; Jefferson Ashiru was solid as well.
- Geremy Davis is a beast and is going to have some monster games. He finished with seven catches for 96 yards. The next highest receivers were WR Kamal Abrams (3 rec, 38 yards), and TE Sean McQuillan (3 rec, 33 yards).
- I don't think the two-QB system will be popular after tonight.
- A lot of true freshmen and depth players saw time today.
I'm getting the feeling, with the substitutions of so many and the decisions, that Diaco is preparing for the next few weeks before AAC play— Ed Daigneault (@EdDaigneault) August 30, 2014