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Final: UConn Football Crushed by No. 21 UCF, 56-17

The Huskies were simply outclassed by the better team in their season opener.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

UConn football’s 2018 season got off to a rough, yet unsurprising, start with a loss to the No. 21 UCF Knights, 56-17.

Quarterback David Pindell was the bright spot for the Huskies, rushing for 157 yards and a touchdown on 22 attempts, frequently making UCF defenders look silly. He was solid through the air as well, completing 27-41 passes (65%) for 266 yards and a touchdown, although he had a bad interception deep in the Knights’ territory at the end of the first half.

UConn got the ball first and started off with a promising opening drive that included a 26-yard scramble by Pindell. However, it was quickly over after running back Zavier Scott lost a fumble on his first career carry.

The Knights made quick work of the turnover and a subsequent Husky three-and-out, scoring two touchdowns on back-to-back lightning-quick drives of 2:07 and 1:04 for 61 and 81 yards, respectively.

The Husky defense did stand up on a 3rd-and-one on their next drive, stopping UCF short of the first down and forcing them to punt. UConn responded with a 49-yard drive to set up a 44-yard field goal from Michael Tarbutt that made it 14-3. Pindell was electric on that drive, rushing for 30 of those yards and frequently slipping away from UCF defenders.

Unfortunately, following the field goal, the Knights drove 76 yards in just 53 seconds to put push the lead to 18 points.

Eventually, the Husky offense seemed to finally find a groove. Pindell led a 75-yard scoring drive that was capped off by a five-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Davis. The senior signal caller was accurate with his throws — even with pressure coming — and the run game also found some openings.

UConn went into the halftime break trailing 28-10.

The Knights quickly put the game away by starting the second half with a touchdown to increase the lead to 25. UCF tacked on three more touchdowns across the second half while the Huskies only other score came late in garbage time.

Outside of Pindell, UConn’s run game struggled, as the running backs managed just 63 yards on 24 carries.

Kyle Buss led UConn pass-catchers with seven receptions for 113 yards, but did fumble in the fourth quarter after a 46-yard gain. Overall, he was effective in the short game but also broke off a handful of chunk plays once he found space.

On defense, UConn was clearly outmatched by UCF’s fast-paced, high-powered offense. The Knights scored a touchdown on all but one drive aside from a possession with 23 seconds left in the first half. The Husky defense generously allowed 652 total yards at an impressive clip of 9.3 yards per play. The tackling was bad, the coverage was bad, but hopefully this is the best offense they face all year.

Overall, it was a rough effort, but nobody who has been following the Huskies closely should be surprised by a rebuilding squad losing big to a very good team coming off a 13-0 season. The offense looked alright, and could win some games, and ideally the defense can perform better with more experience and against teams with less firepower than UCF had.

The Huskies will be in action next at Boise State on September 8th at 10:15 p.m. ET in a game which will be televised on ESPNU or ESPN2.

UConn postgame video (Randy Edsall, David Pindell, Omar Fortt)