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Takeaways from UConn football’s win over Yale

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

It may not have been easy, or pretty, or against an FBS opponent, but UConn football finally won its first football game in nearly two years, beating Yale 21-15.

With the win, the Huskies no longer have to worry about a winless season. It also marks the first win for interim coach Lou Spanos, who returned to the sidelines after missing last week’s UMass game due to COVID-19.

Some takeaways from the game.

Krajewski gets the job done

Steven Krajewski’s performance wasn’t really eye-opening on Saturday, but UConn’s staff doesn’t seem to have trust in anyone else with Tyler Phommachanh out. Krajewski threw for just under 200 yards and two scores, with no turnovers, and added 24 yards and a score on the ground. He completed 21 of his 32 passes.

Krajewski isn’t a dangerous running threat and maybe doesn’t have as strong an arm as Jack Zergiotis, but is making better decisions and some big plays, hitting Keelan Marion for a long one on the Huskies’ first touchdown of the day. His touchdown run was his second of the season, after the run against Vanderbilt that gave the Huskies a fourth-quarter lead. He’s certainly not the quarterback of the future, but is definitely improving and giving the Huskies a shot to be competitive.

Defense sets the stage

Aside from some bad “bend but don’t break” at the end of the game, UConn took care of business defensively against Yale, something all FBS teams should do against FCS opponents but is often in question with UConn. A sputtering, inconsistent offense was held up by the defensive effort.

Kevon Jones and Eric Watts constantly pressured the Yale quarterbacks, and Travis Jones made his presence known as a run game stopper. All in all, UConn held Yale to under 300 total yards and just 108 rushing yards while grabbing four interceptions, two of which came on great plays from Tre Wortham.

Even though the Bulldogs are an FCS team, this is the same UConn team that got torched by Holy Cross, so the defensive performance Saturday is at least a good sign of progress.

It’s just nice to win one

Between some really bad football seasons and COVID-19, it’s been a while since UConn football won a game. The Huskies were on the doorstep a few times this season but couldn’t seal the deal until this week. This victory is something Spanos and the team can build around going into a Friday night game against Middle Tennessee State that should be competitive.

It’s always good to beat an old rival and win the Homecoming game. The staff and players need to build on this with a respectable performance against MTSU before ending the season with road games at Clemson and UCF that are likely to be disasters and a home finale against Houston that will probably be tough as well.

Coaching needs work

Last week’s takeaways pointed out that it is probably not in the cards for Lou Spanos to drop the interim label and hold on to the head coaching gig. This week appears to have cemented that. The coaching staff still struggles. In particular, the closing of the offensive playbook after taking a 21-0 lead while failing to run as much clock as possible is a baffling set of decisions that allowed Yale to come back and make it close. There is no reason UConn, even in its current state, should not beat an FCS Ivy League team comfortably, and they weren’t able to do that. This isn’t a talent issue.