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Takeaways from UConn football’s loss to Ball State

UConn’s second-half performance doomed them in Muncie, Indiana

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

UConn might have been on the receiving end of some questionable calls from the referees on Saturday in their loss against Ball State, but make no mistake, UConn had to be much better in all phases of the game in the second half if they wanted to come out of Muncie, Indiana with the win.

The Huskies were shut out in the second half after scoring 21 in the first, and even despite the penalties, the defense gave up 131 yards of total offense in the third quarter to deliver the victory to Ball State.

UConn’s second half collapse might have been painful to fans, but there’s still plenty to learn after their week seven loss.

Offense takes a step back

We knew UConn was just about at the end of their rope injury-wise on Saturday, but it became painfully obvious as the game wore on. At the heaviest-impacted position, UConn running backs went from averaging 6.8 yards per carry in the first half to just 2.3 in the second half, with a shocking negative-5 total rushing yards in the fourth quarter.

Both Rosa and Burns were able to break a few long runs early on in the game, but Ball State was much more disciplined with their run fits in the second half and were able to stymie UConn’s main avenue of offense. UConn was unable to counter this with an effective passing game, attempting just four passes in the third quarter and six in the fourth.

Turnover luck runs out

If the Fresno State and FIU games were an experiment on how far a positive turnover differential and solid run defense can take you, Ball State is when that magic started to wear off.

After recovering six turnovers in their past two games for a plus-4 turnover margin, UConn lost the proverbial flip of the coin on Saturday against Ball, giving up an interception just before halftime fumble while driving to put the game away in the fourth quarter.

UConn could have easily overcome that deficit with stingy defense even with the offense misfiring, but their usually respectable run defense went missing in the fourth quarter. Carson Steele, Ball State’s golden-locked running back, gathered over 100 rushing yards in the first quarter, hurdling and otherwise eluding UConn defenders on his way to two rushing touchdowns in the period. UConn will need a reset this bye week to get their run defense back on track