Sunday, September 15, 2013

Another second-half meltdown for Huskies

The final numbers were not pretty:
501 yards of total offense allowed
33 rushes for 34 yards
5 sacks
3 injured starters

All in all it was not the best of nights at Rentschler Field, especially those hoping to see former UConn head coach Randy Edsall sent home on a losing end of things.

By game’s end, an elated former UConn coach Randy Edsall was able to leave on the winning side and the Huskies were left to ponder where it all got away from them in a 32-21 loss to Maryland before a crowd of 38,916 at Rentschler Field on Saturday.

A strong running game and a physical defense were staples of the Edsall-coached teams in his 12 seasons as the Huskies head coach. UConn showed neither the ability to run the ball with 34 rushing yards on 33 carries nor the penchant for stopping the Terrapins.

“We worked really hard coming off the bye week, we did a lot of preparation,” UConn senior cornerback Taylor Mack said. “It was 10-13 at halftime. A couple of things didn’t go our way and it was a tough loss but we need to come back for Michigan.
“They kept hitting us in soft zone areas. We tried to go in and make some adjustments but they also made adjustments.”

UConn made things interesting late when Chandler Whitmer teamed up with Shakim Phillips on a 75-yard touchdown with 4:26 left to play. Whitmer then connected with Geremy Davis on the two-point conversion pass to pull the Huskies within 11.

UConn chose not to go for the onsides kick, hoping it could use all three timeouts and get a stop to get the ball work. The gamble paid off and the Huskies got to the Maryland 30. However, with injured starting offensive linemen Kevin Friend and Gus Cruz on the sidelines, Whitmer was sacked on both third and fourth downs.

Maryland went into the victory formation and even with three kneel downs costing the Terrapins seven yards, they finished with 501 yards of total offense.

“We did not have enough plays on (quarterback) C.J. Brown tonight,” UConn coach Paul Pasqualoni said. “They had a big night running the ball and we had a hard time tackling.

“(UConn gave up) 10 points in my mind that were totally self inflicted. I said to the team that 10 points in a game like this is a lot of points.”

Brown ran for 122 yards and passed for 277 more. Brandon Ross added 95 yards rushing while Stefon Diggs had 110 receiving yards on five catches for Maryland (3-0).

Whitmer finished with 349 passing yards. Phillips had 10 catches for 178 yards. He is the first UConn player with at least 10 catches since Cornell Brockington had 10 receptions against Syracuse in 2004 and the 178 yards is the most by a Husky since Dak Newton had 222 yards against Villanova in 1996. However, Pasqualoni said that Phillips tweaked his hamstring although he did not know the severity of the injury. 

Starting offensive tackle Kevin Friend and linebacker Graham Stewart were knocked out of the game with ankle injuries that Pasqualoni termed high-ankle sprains.
The inability to run the ball put Whitmer in position to turn the ball over and get sacks. He did just that, throwing two interceptions to McDougle and getting sacked five times.
UConn’s defense twice stopped Maryland on fourth down in the first half and also had an interception and two fumble recoveries.

Yawin Smallwood led UConn with 14 tackles, giving him 30 in two games.Edsall won a program-record 74 games at UConn and the victory was his 50th in the state of Connecticut at a collegiate head coach.

“This is a very special place to me and my family,” Edsall said. “I appreciate everything everyone did for me and the program here. It’s good to come back and have another great memory but this time it’s on the Maryland sideline. I’ll never lose the memories here.”


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