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Takeaways from UConn Football’s 56-49 Win Over Rhode Island

The Huskies are we thought they were.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

It was a little too close for comfort, but the UConn Huskies secured their first win of 2018 with a 56-49 victory over former Yankee Conference rival Rhode Island. While it’s nice for the Huskies to finally have a win under their belt, it was far from a convincing one. URI — ranked No. 25 in FCS at the time — is certainly no joke, but an easy win would have done wonders for fans who suffered through two absolute thrashings to start the season.

Nonetheless, the game didn’t really show us anything new about this young Huskies team. If anything, it confirmed what we already knew, both good and bad.

David Pindell Is Good, Folks

David Pindell is not a magician, but he was pretty darn close to one in the win over Rhody. The senior quarterback threw for 319 yards with four touchdowns and ran for 137 yards with two more scores. Pindell took advantage of an FCS defense and was able to help this UConn offense score enough to grab the win.

Pindell’s mobility is a problem for defenses at any level and one of the biggest assets this UConn team has. He can extend plays to let receivers work to get open or can scramble to pick up yards and salvage plays. He also excels on designed runs, where the Huskies can mask some of their offensive line issues by having an extra blocker and letting Pindell work his magic.

Speaking of the offensive line, the unit is better than it has been in the past, but it’s still a work in progress. They’re averaging about a yard more per carry (4.9) than last year (3.6), but Pindell is still getting his fair share of pressure on passing plays. Even with this, Pindell as been sacked just once this year, which is a testament to his mobility more than anything else.

The Defense Might Actually Be Bad

Make no mistake, the defense was awful for the first two games, but it was more or less expected to be bad against two juggernaut offenses in UCF and Boise State. This game was far more concerning. Overall, the defense did their job of giving less points than the offense scored. That’s about the only good thing that happened.

Rhode Island seemingly scored at will against the Huskies all day. The Rams ran for nearly 200 yards overall and quarterback JaJuan Lawson torched UConn for 351 yards and four touchdowns through the air. They were 5-of-6 in the red zone and only faced four third down opportunities all game. They averaged 8.9 yards per offensive play and at times were scoring seemingly at will.

If it wasn’t for a nice interception from Oneil Robinson in the first half, a costly fumble and later a a fourth-quarter sack from Eli Thomas, this game could have had a very different result. If UConn wants to win any more games this season, this young (and now banged up) defense needs to get better fast.

Banged Up Huskies

Tahj Herring-Wilson and Marshe Terry both went down with ankle injuries against URI, and Omar Fortt missed the game entirely due to a concussion. For a defensive unit that already has some problems, missing key starters won’t help either. Ideally, these players get healthy fast so they can contribute and try to right the ship, but if not, even more young players will get snaps on defense.