After a promising performance against a Big Ten opponent at home, UConn football went on the road and laid down a stinker, falling to Indiana 38-3 in Bloomington.
New starting quarterback Jack Zergiotis’ growing pains were more present in this game than his debut. The freshman completed just 14 of 28 for 90 yards and an interception that was returned for six. The Husky offense managed just 145 yards and converted just three third downs out of 14 tries.
The game was total domination in almost every form. Indiana had 25 first downs to UConn’s nine and outgained the Huskies by nearly 300 yards. Peyton Ramsey, the Hoosiers’ second-string quarterback, completed 23 of 27 passes for 247 yards.
UConn’s new-look defense started off well, as Kevon Jones forced a fumble that Omar Fortt recovered. The Huskies got on the board first after a quick 15-yard drive followed by a 41-yard field goal from Clayton Harris.
On Indiana’s next drive, they dink-and-dunked UConn to death. Ramsey easily found holes in the Huskies’ zone defense, expediently driving the Hoosiers 75 yards down the field for a touchdown that gave them the lead, 7-3.
UConn’s running game wasn’t working and Indiana put a lot of pressure on Zergiotis which forced a lot of bad throws.
Ramsey and Indiana were driving again on their next drive, but good pursuit from Kevon Jones on 3rd down forced a field goal attempt that made it 10-3. After another stymied drive from their anemic offense, we saw more solid defense from the Huskies — a Lwal Uguak sack and good coverage from freshman DB Myles Bell, the highest-rated recruit of the second Edsall era, forced an end to Indiana’s next drive.
UConn couldn’t capitalize on the defense’s solid stop. The Huskies’ longest drive of the day stalled at the Indiana 32 after a crippling false start penalty on third and two. Edsall called for a field goal against the wind after Zergiotis’ third and long attempt fell incomplete. Clayton Harris’ 50-yard attempt, against the wind, sailed short and right for his first miss of the season.
This gave the ball right back to the Indiana offense, which was really starting to click. Nine plays and 68 yards later, Indiana was in the end zone again, taking a 17-3 lead into halftime.
Coming out of the first half, it looked like things would start to improve for the UConn offense. Zergiotis was starting to settle in, with his first completion of over 15 yards on the day to Cam Ross over the middle, but it quickly came toppling down.
Under pressure and on the run, Zergiotis was getting pulled down by an Indiana defender. He looked to his left and saw Art Thompkins just beyond the mass of linemen. Possibly having seen too many Patrick Mahomes highlight videos, the freshman tried to flip the ball to Thompkins with his left hand. Indiana linebacker Cam Jones grabbed the weak flip and took it to the house, a pick-six that broke the game open.
Indiana would tack on two more touchdowns in the second half, one rushing and one passing. As if the day couldn’t get any worse for UConn, critical pieces of their defense, Tyler Coyle and DJ Morgan, exited the game with injuries and did not return.
With the game out of hand, one of the few highlights was a nifty one-handed interception from defensive lineman Dillon Harris. UConn was in this game into the second quarter, but just had nothing going offensively, and is still clearly vulnerable defensively.
UConn will have to regroup this week for their toughest test of the year, an away game next Saturday against UCF, the American conference favorite and other side of the storied #ConFLiCT rivalry. The matchup will take place at 7 p.m. on ESPN 2.