Sunday, October 15, 2006

Big drive pays dividends

The University of Connecticut football team accomplished something in Saturday’s 21-7 win over Army that it hasn’t been able to pull off against a Division I-A opponent this season.

The offense came through with a clutch scoring drive, this taking the pressure off the defense in the fourth quarter.

Not including an easy season-opening win against Division I-AA Rhode Island, the Huskies’ offense hadn’t come through in the clutch this season.

Chances to take the lead late against Wake Forest were squandered. In a 14-7 win at Indiana, coach Randy Edsall had so little faith in the offense, he put the game squarely on the shoulders of the defense with conservative play calling in the second half.

On Saturday, however, UConn was finally able to manage a long, time-consuming scoring drive to put a close game away in the fourth quarter.

The Huskies surrendered some momentum when Army scored on a 5-play, 80-yard drive to pull within 14-7 early in the fourth quarter.

But UConn answered with an efficient 12-play, 80 yard scoring drive that killed 6 minutes and 17 seconds off the clock and ended the Black Knights chances by making it a two-touchdown lead.

“To go down the field and take that many plays and take that much time off the clock and come away with seven points,” Edsall said. “It really took the air out of (Army). It also says when we want to hunker down, concentrate and don’t commit foolish penalties, we can be successful.”

The drive was as balanced as it could be. Tailbacks Terry Caulley (3 carries, 25 yards), Lou Allen (2-6) and fullback Deon Anderson (2-13) offset a pair of Matt Bonislawski completions to Brandon Young for 33 yards abd set up a naked bootleg by Bonislawski that resulted in a 1-yard touchdown run.

“It was a great finish and nice to get it when the game was still in the balance,” Bonislawski said. “If you go three-and-out there, they still have a chance to come back and tie it.”

Big plays aren’t the Huskies forte, though you’d never tell by Saturday. Terry Caulley’s Big East-record 98-yard touchdown run and Larry Taylor’s 72-yard punt return helped UConn build an early 14-0 lead.

But that was it for the offense, at least until the final drive. The offense stalled, and weren’t helped by missing all three field goals attempts.

“We’re not a team that can get off schedule and recover from it on a consistent basis,” Edsall said.

Tough road to hoe

Some laughed and said the Huskies’ 2006 schedule was too easy.
But UConn has played the toughest schedule in the country through the first half of the season. Four of the five Division I-A opponents so far has a winning record, while Army falls to 3-4 with the loss on Saturday.
It only gets tougher. No. 5 West Virginia comes to Rentschler Field Friday, while games against No. 19 Rutgers, No. 26 Pittsburgh and No. 7 Louisville await. Only Cincinnati and Syracuse, both 3-4, have losing records.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Really now, damn the staistics - this is not the toughest schedule in America.

Wake Forest is an average team with a soft schedule that lost to the only decent team it played (NC State, for the record, lost to Akron and Southern Miss - I'm not counting them).

Navy's a gimmick offense whose best win was either against Air Force or East Carolina.

Indiana's 4-3 thanks to beating two bad MAC teams and Illinois and a fluke upset of Iowa.

South Florida's not terrible, but lost to Kansas and struggled with Florida International.

The fact that Army's 3-4 (wins over Kent State, Baylor and VMI and losses to Arkansas State and Rice) counts the same as if we had played 3-4 Michigan State really makes the rankings meaningless.

Sure, the 4 good Big East teams left may be among the tougher schedules in the country, but you can't tell me that the other 8 games weren't reasonably winnable games against bad-to-decent teams.

As if Notre Dame wouldn't have killed for our first six games.

October 16, 2006 12:46 PM 

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