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Husky Football Flashback: Opening day at Rentschler Field

In this series, we go back into the annals of UConn history, starting with the Huskies’ first game at the Rent.

NCAA Football - Wake Forest vs Connecticut - September 16, 2006 Photo by Brian A. Westerholt/Getty Images

If you’re like me, you’ve been missing actual athletic competitions being played in front of your eyeballs on the television. and thus, you’ve been looking for something to fill that void. You might have turned to sports video games (like me) or waking up early to watch baseball going on at the exact opposite side of the globe (okay, also like me).

If you’re also obsessed with sports history, especially UConn sports history, another option becomes clear. In this series, I’ll be watching important games from UConn football history and making comments, observations, anything else that becomes crystal clear looking back.

We start off what appears to be a Hartford Wolfpack warmup video, introducing the UConn Huskies for their first-ever game at Rentschler Field on August 30, 2003. Let’s sit back, grab some low-fat popcorn, and revisit this historic contest in all its glory:

First quarter

15:00 - I didn’t realize how early Dan Orlovsky was getting draft hype, he’s hailed as a “Prototypical NFL quarterback” before even the first snap. Before kickoff, highlights of Orlovsky and Terry Caulley show the halcyon days before the block C.

13:45 - Right off the bat, Orlovsky’s arm talent slaps you in the face. The ball is zipping out of the pocket. He’s athletic, too - 10-yard scramble

13:30 - It’s fitting that the first field goal in Rentschler field history was taken on a 4th and 1 from the opponent’s 37 yard line

11:46 - Indiana fumble recovered by Maurice Lloyd after the running back just tosses the ball out of his hands like a sandbag, and an unnecessary celebration penalty. Remember when UConn football used to be fun?

11:55 - Orlovsky is really slinging it around now. OL is giving him great protection, in fact, they’re really doing a solid job today in general.

11:30 - Terry Cauley has an amazing center of gravity, it always takes two or three players to take him down. Wearing 44 is an incredible power move for a halfback too.

9:55 - UConn’s first touchdown of the day comes courtesy of a beautiful play-action pass on a slant to O’Neil Wilson. It’s clear how terrified the Indiana defense is of Caulley already, the entire secondary seemed to bite on it.

7:23 - Great debate is had in the commentary booth on the new rule to protect punt returners after a UConn player absolutely demolishes a punt returner well before the ball reaches him. Football has changed a little.

5:21 - It’s impossible to overstate how much the UConn defensive line is dominating a “P5” opponent. Nobody on Indiana can get any push whatsoever.

3:55 - A big reason for that is James Hargreave, who’s in the backfield untouched to force a 3rd and long.

Second Quarter

13:20 - (Tyler) KING BACK. UConn defensive line dominating again, just an absolute thrashing being laid down.

11:21 - Keron Henry! Dude is a YAC monster. Almost everyone on this team seems hard to bring down, probably thanks to strength coach Jerry Martin, who ran the program for 24 years.

10:00 - Uyi Osunde looks menacing as hell with the big shoulderpads and blacked out face mask. I don’t blame the Indiana offensive line for running away from him on every run blocking play.

9:50 - Don McPherson repeatedly referring to Benjarvis Green-Ellis as Benjarvis Ellis-Green, despite the PA commentator apparently getting the right name card.

8:30 - Alfred Fincher is one of like 10 UConn front seven dudes having a career day.

7:25 - No idea why Indiana is still trying to establish the run. Another TFL for King, Hargraves, Osunde & co.

5:30 - Now Sean Mulcahey has the third down stop.

4:05 - Can maybe count on one hand the number of bad passes Orlovsky has thrown this game, seems like every one either hits his receivers on his hands.

3:21 - Computer enhance... enhance... look at those beautiful Aeropostale uniforms

3:19 - Guy shows up here with a Texas Longhorns hat, and the commentators note that big things are expected out of them this season. Never heard that one before.

3:10 - O’Neil Wilson running very crisp routes today, with a 26-yard catch on a post route to extend the drive.

2:29 - This is just too easy for Orlovsky, the play-action pass is ripping Indiana up. Shaun Feldeisen had the option to hit the post or corner on the passing concept. He ends up reading the safety’s hips and hitting the post.

1:12 - Feel like a broken record at this point but, Caulley’s sense of balance is unreal. It’s practically impossible for one dude to bring him down.

0:30 - Indiana QB Matt Loveccio is skittish behind a young offensive line. Guess we know now why Indiana keeps bashing their heads against the wall with the run.

0:11 - Caulley with impressive awareness to get out of bounds, but it comes to naught

Third Quarter

13:54 - Tyler King got credit for the fourth sack of the game, but the entire defensive line just mauled the bejesus out of Indiana.

13:07 - Jesus Christ, Caulley is an entirely different animal, dragging multiple Hoosiers all around the field on every other play.

13:01 - Wilson again! Dude is having a ridiculous day. UConn’s third touchdown of the day, and were officially in commentators telling stories about the coaching staff territory

9:49 - REF DOWN REF DOWN. Caulley definitely fumbled before his knee went down, but alas, the magic of instant replay had not been invented yet.

8:30 - Wilson is a damn machine.

7:05 - Wilson dropped the easy touchdown, but we got a very early version of the run/pass option (RPO) with Orlovsky rolling to his right after a fake give to Caulley.

3:40- Indiana gets one back, there’s still time for them to make it...HAHAHAHA nope Terrence Smith plants the IU running back into the turf, then Hargrove picks up the ball.

2:10 - Caulley might not be the best UConn running back of all time, but he’s definitely the most painful to play against.

1:03 - Indiana is seemingly uninterested in tackling.

Fourth Quarter

14:54 - Orlovsky is just trying Patrick Mahomes throws now

11:45 - Not sure why Caulley is still in the game, but he’s still doing cool things.

11:05 - Osunde just ran probably 30 yards across the field to force a fourth down

7:35 - Very glad Caulley wasn’t subbed out, his best run of the day. Simple power run goes for 67 yards and a touchdown.

Final Score: UConn 34, Indiana 10

All in all, a thorough thrashing for Randy Edsall and company’s debut in Rentschler Field, a venue that will surely retain its sparkle for years to come. Orlovsky showed his future NFL talent, Terry Caulley refused to be tackled by any fewer than three (3) Indiana defender, and UConn was victorious in their first game of the season.