Saturday, December 01, 2012

Tough ending for Huskies

Heading into the fourth quarter UConn was just four points down to a bowl-bound Cincinnati team and if somehow the Huskies could rally for a victory in its regular-season finale, the UConn seniors would have one more game to play.

However, starting quarterback Chandler Whitmer was knocked out of his second straight game with a concussion, tight end Ryan Griffin would also be forced to watch the final minutes after a hard fall on his hip. Record-breaking defensive end Trevardo Williams was limited to a handful of plays due to a tender ankle while kicker Chad Christen was supposed to be limited to short field goal tries and extra point although he attempted neither.

What followed was a meager end to a disappointing season as the Huskies wilted late en route to a 34-17 loss to Cincinnati.

"We were kind of working with a patchwork team," UConn coach Paul Pasqualoni said. "We were certainly far from healthy. We had guys who were playing who were banged up. They are trying to do the best they can do limping around out there."

Whitmer said he was feeling OK after the game although he did not remember getting assistance from the Cincinnati coaches after he was wobbly following his final play of the season.

"I remember getting up and Lyle (McCombs) telling me to go down," Whitmer said. "Other than that I was fine. It was just a headache, they took precautions based on last week and didn’t want me to go back in. I just remember talking to Lyle. I will get some rest and I will be fine. I will do whatever they tell me to do. I'll get back to work and get ready for the offseason."

Not only did the UConn seniors not get the win which would have made them bowl eligible but they had to watch Cincinnati coach Butch Jones and the Bearcats celebrate after earning a share of the Big East title.

"It sucks," UConn senior tight end Ryan Griffin said. "They are dumping Gatorade on their coach and it sucks.

"We can’t complain, it is the team that we are. We finished 5-7 and we are what our record said we are."

That doesn't mean it did hurt.

"Right now in the moment I am playing for UConn and I wanted to play one more with UConn," senior cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson said. "Walking off the field I was thinking ‘this is really happening.’ I remember a couple years ago we played Pitt that was Darius Butler’s (senior season) and it was like an eerie scene. They were fighting trying to get back into the game and the stands were empty and it just came to an end. Now I am in the same situation without a bowl game."

Wreh-Wilson and UConn's nationally-ranked defense would like to have the first drives of the first and third quarters back when Cincinnati QB Brendon Kay when he was 7 of 8 for 119 yards and a pair of touchdowns on those two drives. He was just 12 of 21 for 126 yards for the remainder of the game.

"That was bad," Wreh-Wilson said. "Usually the way we start reflects the way we play. We bounced back after it. We got close, it was 14-10 at halftime and when we started we wanted to start fast. It was a one-possession game, it was a two-possession game and that made it tough for our offense. They got us in it again and they scored again."

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