Yesterday afternoon, after Geremy Davis hauled in a 10-yard touchdown reception from Chandler Whitmer to pull UConn within three of Boise State late in the third quarter, I felt an emotion I haven't felt regarding UConn football in a very long time.
It's been awhile since I've felt hope as a UConn football fan. Three years of conference realignment, Paul Pasqualoni and terrible, terrible football have essentially beat all of the hope that I once felt for the program back during the Fiesta Bowl season in 2010-11 out of me. But yesterday, despite everything that's happened, UConn competed against Boise State and I honestly thought we could win.
Obviously that didn't work out, because in the fourth quarter the Huskies went full UConn on us and pretty much did everything they could possibly do to lose a game short of running the ball into their own end zone. I guess at this point I shouldn't have expected any different, but despite all of my urges to by cynical today, yesterday really was a big step for a team that hasn't been competitive in a long time, and now the key will be seeing where the Huskies go from here.
The fact is that over the past few years, UConn has lost a lot of football games. They've lost to some very good teams, and they've lost to some very bad teams. This season, it's probably unrealistic for us to expect to beat the good teams, but being able to compete with them is a sign that we're at least making progress. So the big thing is being able to beat the bad teams, and fortunately for us, there are a lot of winnable games on UConn's schedule the rest of the way.
Next week the Huskies open conference play against South Florida, a familiar opponent who is also 1-2 on the season so far. After that, it's Temple and Tulane, and down the road the Huskies will also get Army at Yankee Stadium, Memphis and SMU. All of those should be winnable games, and based on what we've seen so far, the Huskies have it in them to beat all of those teams. They've just got to actually go out and do it.
That's one of the main things that made the past few years so frustrating. There have been so many games where the you go in thinking "ok, these guys aren't that great, the Huskies should be able to take them," and then next thing you know, the team is getting blown out. Western Michigan, Buffalo, Towson, you can't lose those games if you want to be taken seriously as a program. If UConn is going to get back to where it needs to be, it needs to build a foundation of respectability by winning the games it should. That way, when the Huskies do finally get that big signature win, it'll be looked at as a sign that "UConn is back!" rather than some kind of aberration.
We now know they have it in them, so now is the time to go out and actually get the job done.