If you're reading this, it's because you have decided to commit a Friday night after 10pm to watching the UConn Huskies attempt to get back over .500 against the BYU Cougars. Welcome! Projections have them losing by nearly 20 points, but the football team has turned it around in the face of worse odds before. So join me, won't you, as I live blog the matchup.
Full disclosure, due to a packed schedule I have only seen 45 minutes of one game of the season. That was, naturally, the second half of the loss to Missouri. Which means my main expectation of this team tonight is that they will repeatedly miss field goals and suffer enough in other areas of the offense that it might doom them. On a more positive note, I expect the defense to be overmatched but not out of their depth. BYU's offense might be without their most productive rushing threat Adam Hine. There is also the very real chance that UConn gets on a roll offensively almost out of nowhere, as they have been known to do in the past. It all comes down to how the first few possessions shake out and if they get out to a quick start, especially with the relatively late start on a Friday night. Mostly, I'm excited to watch what Bryant Shirreffs can do for a complete game.
This will be equal parts analysis, entertainment, and trying hard not to fall asleep once it hits the third quarter. After the game, stick around for a live Google Hangout with myself, Aman Kidwai, and Tim Fontenault.
10:20pm: It's after 10 o'clock, do you know where your children are? Hopefully not watching the start of this game, because those close ups of Bob Diaco's stubble might necessitate a PG-13 rating. Bob is killin' it out there with the "I look like I stayed up all night planning for this game" facial hair.
10:22pm: A reference to the Fiesta Bowl trip and/or Randy Edsall. Drink!
10:23pm: And they're off! It's a quarterback who sounds like he's a German Shepherd who just won the "TSA Bomb Sniffing Dog of the Month" award and a quarterback who sounds like he just graduate college and only went into law enforcement because his last name fits the gig.
10:26pm: An early three-and-out is not what UConn was looking for to start off. Diaco's decision to burn a timeout early might come back to bite him later since the possession didn't pan out as he hoped, but it would have also helped if Shirreffs didn't send one flying no one near any member of the offense.
10:31pm: BYU makes it deep into Huskies territory...and UConn recovers a fumble. How appropriate that UConn ushers in October by their very own Mikal Myers saving them early.
10:34pm: A great run by Newsome, followed by some poor clock management by the offense. UConn football giveth and UConn football taketh away.
10:43pm: The good news is Mangum probably won't be able to complete passes into double coverage so effectively all night. The bad news is I'm only about 65% confident in that statement.
10:43pm: Double coverage that doesn't work is better than no coverage at all, Huskies. Think on it, I swear it makes sense.
10:44pm: The only thing less shocking than UConn's defense having some trouble with the BYU offense is that the announcers didn't even wait until the end of the 1st quarter to compare a skinny white receiver to Wes Welker.
10:46pm: Ah yes, the trusty UConn defensive strategy of "hope he slips" to prevent a touchdown.
10:49pm: That touchdown would sting a lot more if it wasn't practically a guarantee to happen based on BYU's offensive efforts thus far. The upside is that UConn held off long enough for their confidence to not be completely shattered because of that drive (although it should definitely be bruised). Coverage on the receivers has to improve, but all is not lost yet. Let's see what the offense can do now that they've settled in a bit more.
10:53pm: Play fake and a sack. I would say drink but if we establish that as a rule now no one is making it through this game.
10:59pm: Fatukasi with the sack! In other news, the announcers have now completely committed to calling Mangum "Magnum". We're only one step away from one of them talking through his divorce on live television, that's how little they seem to care.
11:04pm: Arm strength is great and all, and Mangum most certainly has it. However, the secondary is making him look a lot better than necessary. This game is going to be half his highlight reel at this rate.
11:05pm: Somebody missed a field goal who wasn't a UConn kicker! This game could shift back to UConn's favor yet!
11:10pm: Still without a completion, and another play fake results in Shirreffs on his back. 4th & 12, things are falling apart quickly. Not nearly enough shots of Diaco and his stubble on the sideline to make this offensive effort feel better.
11:11pm: 11:11 make a wish. I wish that the aliens from Space Jam would swing by and steal Mangum's talents. Bill Murray can come too.
11:16pm: The announcer just said nice coverage...and I fully agree. Is that what this is supposed to feel like?
In all seriousness, that was a much improved defensive series for the secondary and could be the turning point UConn needs to get something started before the end of the half. Emphasis on the "could be" though, let's not get too ahead of ourselves. The next possession might end with a sink hole opening up beneath Arkeel Newsome five yards from taking the ball to the house.
11:18pm: No sinkhole, but a nice run by Newsome to get a first down. Baby steps...
11:20pm: I didn't mean baby steps literally as in "babies take a few steps then fall on their faces." Shirreffs had so much time in the pocket Hurricane Joaquin could have come and gone and he still would have been untouched. Naturally, no one was open.
11:26pm: Mangum underthrows. Jhavon Williams gets an interception after spending the entire game taking credit for things that were not his doing. The breaks keep going UConn's way, not it's time for them to actually - and here's where we really get crazy - do something with the opportunity. What an idea!
Side note: did anybody else hear the announcer say "that was just a little too much ass"?
11:30pm: Not sure that was an ejectable play, but how nice of ESPN2 to cut away from the reply before the moment in question actually gets there.
11:34pm: How nice of BYU to run UConn's signature defensive play, "don't cover the receiver", on that pass. Really Cougars, you are too kind.
With a made extra point (phew!) we are tied! Only a few more minutes until you can spend all of halftime wondering if the announcer was trying for a pun when he said "that's why they call it execution, because he's wide open on the other end" or if he's just completely checked out at this point.
11:40pm: Provo, Utah pulling a really Provo, Utah move and playing Brown Eyed Girl before a home team offensive possession with one minute left in the half and the game tied. You do you, Utah.
11:43pm: Stop leaving receivers more wide open than a Utah ranch. I beg of you, Huskies. BEG.
11:52pm: Fatukasi gets his fingertips on the ball and BYU misses another field goal. Whoever found a voodoo doll for their kicker, I thank you for your hard work.
The announcers openly wondering why UConn is running a play with 2 seconds left on the clock clearly haven't come across Bob Diaco before. Nothing comes of Shirreff's pass though so the half is over and somehow, somehow, UConn and BYU are all tied up at 7. Anybody who predicted this would have been considered for institutionalization before the start of the game. UConn had a 13% chance of winning coming into Provo, and it could still very well all fall apart in the second half, but UConn is settling into their roles and making less and less mistakes while BYU is making more and more. As long as the Huskies continue to take advantage of those slips they have a chance.
The live blog will get rolling again after halftime. A short break is needed for sustenance, a stretch of the legs, and a quick google search for "Bob Diaco stubble".
12:10am: We are back! It's officially after midnight on the East Coast so the uninhibited craziness can officially start. Diaco using all three timeouts in less than five minutes? UConn actually employing some form of pass coverage? The BYU DJ playing a song that came out after 2012? Only time will tell!
12:16am: JAMAR SUMMERS WITH THE INTERCEPTION. I take back everything I said about the cornerbacks in the first half (not really) because that was a well positioned jump on the ball and a great way to take advantage of Mangum's slow pace on the ball. Magical things happen after midnight.
12:18am: UConn stuck with a fourth down and are forced to call a timeout again with 2 seconds left on the play clock. Diaco and his stubble are not pleased.
12:24am: The Huskies convert on a fourth down because Shirreffs found a fairy in the locker room at halftime and promised her his first born in exchange for inexplicable plays to happen in the second half.
Unfortunately, he forgot to wish for the ability to not throw over Newsome's head from less than 10 yards away. You can't win 'em all.
12:25am: UConn is winning because they made another field goal. I'm just going to leave that there with no further analysis lest I ruin all the fun. UConn football after midnight is sure something to witness.
UConn Football to some of these pick opportunities.
12:33am: "It's tough to overthrow an open receiver who's 6'5"." Announcers now blatantly throwing shade at Mangum. The world is a beautiful place.
12:36am: A commercial break reminder that Aman, Tim, and I will be participating in a live Google Hangout after the game. If nothing else, I will be entertainingly delirious. Stick around for that!
12:39am: Going for the long shot pass on first down from inside your own 10-yard line is both inadvisable and inexplicable. I'm hoping Shirreffs just wanted to remind us what kind of mental decisions UConn was making before midnight. But now that it's after midnight they should be playing smart and sharp, right? Right?!
12:43am: Two UConn backs run into each other trying to make a tackle. Congratulations Huskies, you made it nearly an entire quarter without turning back into a pumpkin. BYU rolling and Mangum back in a groove.
12:53am: BYU's Kurtz can't reel the ball in in the back of the endzone, presumably because Shirreffs found that stadium fairy again and offered up another future child. Whatever wishes are being made, they're helping.
12:56am: "They're playing from behind once again here" is now the official slogan of 2015 UConn football. It's been five games, the slogan sticks.
12:57am: WHY WOULD YOU THROW THAT. Why. Would. You. Throw. That.
1:03am: We've made it to one in the morning. Congratulations all. Regrettably, UConn's decision making capabilities on both sides of the ball did not make it. Things now going downhill faster than a freshman's study habits after their first weekend on Hunting Lodge.
1:09am: I'm not saying they should pull an onside kick, but I'm not not saying that.
1:11am: That went...less than optimally.
1:13am: An idiotic penalty because we got frustrated and decide to kick the ball into the stands. Almost come up with an interception but can't hold on. Things are going OFF THE RAILS in Provo, Utah tonight.
1:21am: UConn is huddling for so long there are breeding penguins who think they're taking too long. Someone should alert them to the existence of a play clock.
1:26am: Not to give up on this team, because many things are possible, but would it be so bad to run the clock out? If for nothing else than so Bryant can pull a Coach Carter and sneak out of the hotel so he can throw down for his 21st birthday.
1:34am: Bob Diaco is doing his best impression of a dad going off on his teenage son for throwing a party while the parents were out of town.
"You broke the case where my signed Joe Montana football was sitting? And somebody started playing catch with it in the street and it got run over by a car!? How could you be so irresponsible!?!?"
1:41am: With that, UConn drops to 2-3 and everyone can start focusing their energy on thinking of good insults for UCF. Next week is the Civil ConFLiCT and by golly even if they don't win another game this season if that ends with UConn on top the season is worth it. What else can we look forward to besides made up rivalry games and further questionable offensive decisions?
Thanks for hanging out in the open thread tonight everyone and hopefully you all enjoyed my inaugural (possibly recurring?) live blog of UConn football. Come join the Google Hangout if you are so inclined, otherwise get some sleep!