UConn football exorcised a very large demon on Saturday in its 13-3 win over Boston College. The Huskies had not beaten a Power 5 opponent in six years and had never defeated their neighbors from Chestnut Hill, much to the pleasure of that fanbase.
After ditching UConn for the ACC, throwing them under a tractor-trailer when they tried to join them there, all while their fans lorded their school’s superior bank balance over the Huskies for years with mediocre on-field results, Boston College got their just desserts on Saturday in the minds of many UConn fans.
The on-field product might not have been the most exciting, but we still learned plenty about the Huskies and the trajectory of this season (and beyond).
Beating the bad guys, badly
UConn outmatched Boston College in every phase of the game on Saturday afternoon. The Husky defense had no trouble getting through the BC O-line and into the backfield, as the front seven accounted for four sacks, five quarterback hits, and eight tackles for loss.
The Eagles’ offensive game plan never even got off the ground: They had more drives ending in turnovers than drives that went longer than 20 yards. Phil Jurkovec had a tough day at the office with two interceptions, and his team’s rushing offense didn’t fair better, gaining a paltry 2.2 yards per carry. And at halftime, with the thought of last week’s Ball State collapse fresh in their minds, the UConn defense made a pact and stuck to it: No more points in the second half.
With such a dominant performance on defense, UConn’s offense did just enough to hold the opponents at arms’ length for the majority of the day. Despite missing their leading rusher, Devontae Houston, for the second consecutive week and their star receiver, Keelan Marion, after the first snap of the game, the Huskies took just as much as they needed from the Boston College defense to hold their lead.
Jackson “NFL” Mitchell
If you wanted to pin Jackson Mitchell as the sole reason for UConn’s victory on Saturday, it’s hard to find a fault in that line of view. In the fourth quarter, Mitchell forced a fumble, recovered a muffed punt, and intercepted Jurkovec, snuffing out all hope of victory from the team that deemed him not good enough to play in red and gold.
Mitchell has taken a major leadership role in the locker room according to Jim Mora and has led by example so far in 2022, ranking fourth in the country in tackles per game (11.1) and leading the team in tackles (100), and tied for the lead in sacks (4.5). Mitchell is the heart of the UConn defense and now, for the first time in his career, it’s on a team that’s doing alright.
Turner managing well
Zion Turner’s stat line doesn’t jump out at you—10-for-18 with 173 yards and a touchdown—but to win the game, it didn’t have to be. Turner kept mistakes to a minimum and pulled some bold throws out of the bag when needed. He confidently led UConn down the field in the opening possession, finishing with a strike to Justin Joly, who rumbled 62 yards for the only touchdown of the day.
Despite multiple hard-to-handle snaps, Turner held onto the ball, and like the previous few weeks, showed decisiveness leading the offense both as a thrower and a runner. He’s not asked to do much, but he’s made decent progress this year and should continue to do so across the remainder of the season.
Four was the floor! Is a bowl game on the table?
Aman: After the Huskies’ second win, a very famous UConn football podcast once said, “four is the floor,” and that prophecy has come true. With three games remaining, Husky fans now have their sights set on winning two more for six and *gasp* bowl eligibility.
The fact that this is even a conversation is nothing short of insane. UConn looked so inept over the last five years that people were talking seriously about the program being shut down. For those still supporting, it was hard to refute the idea that UConn trying to compete at the highest level of college football was/is a mistake.
One of the important thresholds that UConn football has crossed in its first year under Jim Mora is proving that it’s not impossible to play competent football at this school. Many people doubted that, but now it is looking clearer and clearer that the issues plaguing UConn football were centered around head coaching. Paul, Bob, and Randy 2.0 were just straight-up not good at their jobs, and it accumulated to a point where many believed the program was FUBAR.
It is possible to succeed at UConn. Independence is not a “death knell.”
The Huskies could make a bowl this year. They could be an 8+ win team in the near future. This isn’t wishful thinking, it’s what the future holds when a team progresses from losing against Holy Cross to beating Boston College in one year with a new head coach.