Saturday, October 13, 2012

UConn suffers a stunning loss

There are teams that seem to find a way to win games. In my first season covering UConn, the Huskies seem to find way to lose games.

None of the four losses this season will hurt as much as Saturday's 17-14 overtime loss to Temple.

UConn jumped out to a 14-0 first quarter lead against Temple and seemed to be in complete control against the Owls.

The UConn offensive coaches finally took the training wheels off of first-year starting quarterback Chandler Whitmer and allowed the junior-college transfer to take more shots down the field than at any other time this season. The defense rose to the occasion and twice stopped the Owls on 4th-and-short to seemingly wrap up the Huskies’ first Big East victory of the season.However, an untimely defensive breakdown, the inability of the Huskies to score after a 14-point first quarter and four missed field goals by Chad Christen resulted in one of the most disappointing home losses in recent memory.

“I think it was the last three drives it was ‘how did we walk off the field without scoring points,’” said UConn senior tight end Ryan Griffin, whose 42-yard touchdown reception with 5 seconds left in the first quarter gave UConn a 14-0 lead. “It hit me before the field goal went through As an offense you put it on our shoulders. We should have closed the game out. “It leaves a bad taste in our mouths going into Syracuse. It is going to be interesting to see how we respond.”


The player asked to be replace the always reliable Dave Teggart should have been bursting with confidence considering that he hadn’t miss a kick under 49 yards in the Huskies first six games. Yet, just two days before the Temple game Christen’s kicking mojo was nowhere to be found.Perhaps it was a torn up playing surface on UConn’s on-campus practice field but Christen couldn’t find the range on kicks he normally makes with little difficulty.

Well, it turned out that the playing surface was not the issue.

Christen was wide right on kicks of 36 yards in the first quarter, 44 yards in the fourth quarter, 28 yards in overtime and had a 45-yard attempt blocked. Had any of those kicks made it through the uprights, UConn would have beaten the Owls. Instead, UConn suffered a demoralizing 17-14 overtime loss.

“We talked all week about going out there all week and doing your job to the best of your ability and that is what I hope to do next week,” Christen said. “Thursday I didn’t have a good practice and Thursday is our dress rehearsal day. It is a direct reflection of what I did on Thursday and that carried over to the game. You have to be able to bounce back.

“It is very frustrating when you miss back to back kicks and then you take away the one that is blocked. I just have to take a step forward.”

Talk about your memorable homecomings...

A week after recording 15 tackles in his first start at linebacker for Temple, Stratford's Tyler Matakevich made 19 shots in Temple's win. It was an effort all the sweeter for Matakevich since UConn did not recruit him either when he was a star at St. Joseph of Trumbull or at Milford Academy.

“Playing here means everything in the world,” Matakevich said. “I’ve always wanted to come here (UConn) growing up. UConn never really gave me any looks so after prep school I was fortunate enough to get a scholarship here and just making the best of it.

“This week I definitely put a lot of time in the film room. I was in there all night long. I couldn’t sleep. I’d wake up and go there early in the morning. I definitely wanted this game a little more than others. To come back into the Big East and be 2-0, there is no greater feeling.”


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