In a season full of sobering weeks for UConn football fans, the UMass game week was most likely the lowest of the low. Interim head coach Lou Spanos was one of three coaches and two players who tested positive for COVID-19 earlier in the week, then the Huskies went out and laid a stinker in their most winnable FBS game of the season on Saturday.
What did we learn about the state of the program against UMass?
Carter Better Faster Stronger
One player who the next coaching staff should try like hell to make sure he stays is freshman running back Nate Carter. He has been the definition of a workhorse back, starting with the game against Wyoming, the first time he got double-digit carries.
With the mysterious disappearance of 1000-yard rusher Kevin Mensah, Carter has filled his shoes nicely against Vanderbilt and UMass, averaging 5.9 yards per carry on 44 total touches. It helps that UConn’s new-look offensive line is finally starting to gel more than halfway through the season, but Carter has the ability to hit the hole hard and evade defenders, and will only get better.
More Than A Keelan
Likewise, freshman wideout Keelan Marion has made a name for himself as Tyler Phommachanh and now Steven Krajewski’s favorite target. He’s only caught eight passes in the past two games but made every one of them count, with 182 yards receiving and two touchdowns against Vanderbilt and UMass.
Marion has also gathered a string of SportsCenter highlight plays this season, with a Mossing of a Vanderbilt defender to keep the Huskies in the game, and acrobatic leaping catches against Holy Cross and UMass.
Keelan says GIVE ME THAT!— UConn Football (@UConnFootball) October 3, 2021
Krajewski to Marion gets this back to a one-point game. pic.twitter.com/Ti95Tt6jIV
The Huskies have a real budding talent on their hands with the Atlanta native, and he’s another diamond in the rough who UConn would be wise to hold on to.
Turn the page
If there was any lingering doubt that UConn would move on from interim head coach Lou Spanos after the end of this season, losing by two touchdowns to one of the worst teams in the country just about probably eliminated it. We can find some leeway given that Spanos, two other coaches, and the starting left tackle were out due to COVID-19, but nevertheless, this week’s performance left a lot to be desired.
The Huskies clearly received a bump in motivation after former head coach Randy Edsall was kindly asked to leave. Then the introduction of Noel Mazzone as an offensive analyst and de facto coordinator seemed to work out well starting with the second half against Army when the Huskies scored their first points against an FBS opponent. They followed that up by destroying the point spread in near-wins against Vanderbilt and Wyoming.
UConn really needed a win against UMass and it just wasn’t in the cards because the team didn’t play nearly good enough to earn it. A sloppy second half made the loss inevitable.
History has shown that interims don’t tend to do well anyway if they get the job. Spanos was maybe making the case, and still could make a stronger one with two wins in the next two weeks, but that seems unlikely to happen.